SKBOWE Batch 3 Ready to Ship

Of 25 units potted so far in Batch3, 12 have sold, and 13 are ready to ship! There are still two AL Gen2 bi-xenon pigtails available as well.

There are another 17 units of PCB assemblies ready for potting, but without an ETA on when they will be finished, they are being pushed to Batch4.

SKBOWE Batch 4 is ready to pot

When these are complete, I am waiting on 8 units worth of capacitors which are backorder until Mid-April, to round out all 100 SKBOWEs.  Based on average monthly sales, total remaining inventory should cover until October or November. After that, the future of the SKBOWE project is uncertain…

Batch 3 In Production

Batch 3 is on schedule for Feb 15 ship date! Building 40 sets this time, which leaves 10 sets worth of parts left in Batch 4 to experiment with different designs or for custom orders (harnesses, DRLs, etc).

Batch 3 – 80x PCBs fully assembled

Some fun stats about 40 sets of SKBOWE (80 units):

  • 320 wires cut, 640 stripped, 400 soldered
  • 400 capacitors + 240 diodes + 80 resistors = 1440 leads soldered
  • 80 heatsinks cut and bent, 80 enclosures notched, 80 covers taped
Bending the heatsinks for batch 3

After stuffing the enclosures (heat wire, form wires, tape wires, then test-fit heatsink and insulator), it’s time to mix up some potting compound.

Stuffing enclosures, prepping covers

Then each one gets a thin layer of compound, board goes back in, another layer of compound, cover gets glued and goes on, then the whole thing gets wrapped with electrical tape to compress it. Once all of them are done, into the oven for 2 hours at 165F.

Baking the first potting pour of Batch 3

I ran out of ABS cement (more on order) so for now there are 11 (so the 9 pre-orders will go out on time).

Stay tuned for more updates!

SKBOWE Batch 2 Sold Out, Batch3 open for Pre Order

Batch 2 Sold Out!

Wow! Hard to believe but all 50 of the original Batch 1 / Batch 2 SKBOWEs have sold in just 6 months. They have shipped all over the US, as well as Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, and Netherlands. While there were 16 units in the initial pre-order, sales have been stronger than I expected, averaging 6 units/month from August onwards.

Batch 3 / 4 open for Pre Order

It’s sad to see the bin empty, and thinking of the stories that I have heard I can’t let it stay that way – so I have decided to go ahead and order parts for another 50 SKBOWEv2. Again, some the capacitors are backordered so there will be a Batch 3 shipping in February and Batch 4 shipping some time after that. The pre-order is open now if you want to guarantee yourself a set.

It kills me to do so, but after selling the 50 Batch1/2 units with an average profit of -$3.49/each (negative three dollars) I have no choice but to raise the price for Batch 3/4 to $110 to cover the rising cost of components and unanticipated PayPal fee increases (which happened during the course of Preorder/Batch1/Batch2).

Again I apologize and hope that a small price increase is better than no SKBOWEs at all.

Looking Forward

The original SKBOWE business plan called for 100 units total, and at this time it looks like Batch 4 will be the last of SKBOWE v2. There are several ideas for features to SKBOWEv3, such as a removable harness and a DRL detector, but the design is still tentative. I guess for now, you’ll just have to wait and see!

AL Gen2 Projector Pigtails in Volvo OEM Colors

I found the connectors that AL use on their bi-xenon projector solenoid control boards (Mouser #571-2-1718346-1 and #571-965906-1-CT) and ordered a few to make pigtails that connect the high beam solenoid into the factory wiring. The OEM connector locks securely into place, and the 12″ (30cm) automotive GXL wire is designed to hold up inside of the headlight housing. Wire is color-coded to match factory wires (yellow = +12, brown = ground) to ensure correct polarity and not look out of place inside of the housing.

AL (OEM) Salvaged Projectors

Image of projector pigtails in brown and yellow wiring
Custom made Volvo OEM color AL projector bi-xenon solenoid controller PCB pigtails.

Most used (salvaged) projectors come with short (cut pigtails) of various colors or no harness at all. I have never seen a set in yellow and brown, the wire colors used in the Volvo headlight housing for the 9005 high-beam connector.

If you want to wire up a projector retrofit without using messy splitters, I am selling these for $20 shipped (Priority Mail) to the US, or $12 with your SKBOWE order (just contact me first!) anywhere. Each order comes with a pair (2x) of 12″ GXL pigtails and four (4x) 4″ black zip-ties to match the OEM internals. You will need to provide insulated butt-style (if you cut-and-splice) or 9005 female (join inside of the high-beam connector) crimps – see this post for details.

Replica Projector Pigtails

Replicas use the same connector but a different pinout: the yellow wire is on the center (pin 2) rather than on the end (pin 1). All new replica projectors come with pigtails, usually white (+12) and black (ground). These will work fine, but if you want to go for a 100% OEM look, you can order a set of these color matched pigtails and swap the pin across. It is pretty easy to swap the pin over using a jewelers screwdriver. Or let me know first and I’d be glad to do it for you.

Building SKBOWE Batch #2

I had originally said October (based on the DigiKey backorder estimate) but the caps came early. Haven’t had too many Batch2 orders yet so I thought I’d get a head start on building them…

All of SKBOWE Batch #2 (22 units)

Got all of them soldered together, and 10 sets potted…

10 SKBOWE Batch2 sets potted

I’ll be traveling for the rest of the month, so I am pushing to finish these tomorrow so orders placed before 9/15 will get in the mail on Monday. If you haven’t ordered yet, yours will ship out before October 15th.

Batch 1 + Preorders Complete & Shipped

Sorry for the delay since the last update – been really busy getting Batch 1 together – so I’ll consolidate the last of the build updates into one post.

Thursday

The second order of potting goop came Thursday so I knocked that out.

final bunch potted
The third and final bunch potted after waiting for the second order of potting compound to arrive.

As it turns out, it’s 10 units to the ZipLoc gallon bag, and two bags to the 0.45 Gallon kit, so it was only 6 pairs, not too bad.

Friday

Was a long day… Started with 52 potted units, each needs to be unwrapped, cleaned of flashing (belt sander), and given a good wipe down with isopropyl alcohol.

potting done
After tape has been removed, flashing ground down, and cleaning with isopropyl

Then 7 hours here…

One Down 51 to go
Setup a improvised workstation. There are a lot of steps.

After the potting is set, the procedure is:

  1. Clip temporary zip tie, discard
  2. Cut wire loop to correct lengths for input/output/ground
  3. Crimp on ring terminal
  4. Heat shrink ring terminal
  5. Cut split loom to length for input  + output
  6. Tape one end of input + output split loom and slide on to respective leads
  7. Secure split loom at base of enclosure
  8. Install weather seals on wires (4x)
  9. Strip wire ends (4x)
  10. Crimp terminals (4x)
  11. Install male connector housing and seat weather seals
  12. Install female connector housing, seat weather seals, and install retaining clip
  13. Tape up split loom
  14. Test
  15. Sticker
Testbench used for burnin
Each unit got a burn in while the next one was being built – about 8 or 9 minutes running an HID ballast on 82Hz PWM (Start at 50%, run at 80%). Units that work get a yellow paint-pen mark, matching a commonly used Volvo OEM QC color.

Anyway, around 1AM

26 finished SKBOWEs…

Saturday

Started packing. Each order gets a whole bunch of stuff that needs to be put together…

skbowe kit contents
SKBOWE kit ready for shipping

By 3PM I had the pre-orders packed and off to the post office. Not sure if they will get processed today or tomorrow, but they are in the mail! Finished the Batch1 orders when I got home and will take them in to the regional hub tomorrow.

Packed and off to the post office

Then I took a nap. And then wrote this post. Mic drop.


PS. There are only two lonely SKBOWE kits left that are in need of a good home… Can anyone take them in?

These poor SKBOWEs need a good home!

Building SKBOWE Batch 1

Long day of work (8AM – 7PM) but Batch 1 is nearly complete! Enjoy the pics…

Last night, I was able to get all the resistors and the flyback diodes (R1 and D3) installed and leads trimmed. I also got the wires soldered on, and ended with this lovely ball.

giant ball of wire
This is where I started this AM – a giant ball of wire… Each board has the five leads, R1 and D3.

This AM I got the primary wires trimmed, and capacitors stuffed, soldered, and trimmed… This is a lot of capacitors – 2,132,000uF aka 2.132 Farads to be precise.

All capacitors soldered to the boards
All 26 pairs with their caps soldered on. This is a lot of capacitors! (2,132,000 uF aka 2.132F to be precise).

Next came the diodes. As I had suspected laying out the new PCB, and confirmed when building #002, the heat sink (anode) of D2 does overlap the leads of D1. This shouldn’t be an issue if it’s assembled properly, but once the potting goes it it’s impossible to verify or adjust so I added some UHMWPE tape over the leads of D1 just to be safe.

diodes ready for stuffing
Diodes with leads bent and ready for stuffing. Note tape on leads of D1. This is not all of them, I had already done 16 or so when I remembered to take a picture.

By 3PM everything was soldered, trimmed, and ready to go. I have a lot of respect for the poor souls at Foxcon who do this all day, every day, with much smaller components. Wow.

SKBOWE Batch 1 electrically complete
SKBOWE Batch 1 electrically complete.

Next I cut the wire pen into the enclosures. Took a little extra time to jig it up but it was well worth it.

Enclosures cut and ready to go
Enclosures cut for wire passthrough.

Finally, and this was the most physically exhausting part, assembling the PCB assembly, heatsink, and insulator into the enclosure. But 2 hours later, sweet victory:

SKBOWE batch 1 ready for potting
SKBOWE batch 1 ready for potting. The insulator saves about 800mL of potting, a minimum of 1200mL will be required (assuming no leaks, spills, etc) to fill these boxes.

Also jigged up a workstation for potting so spills are easier to contain. Just a piece of plywood with the right shape cut out.

Jig for potting holds two SKBOWE units
Jig for potting holds two SKBOWE units (one pair) and has disposable parchment paper on top to help contain spills & overflow.

As much as I want to jump in to the potting, I’m mentally wiped and will almost certainly make a mistake. Better to wait till tomorrow.

The 11 hours I was working today I left SKBOWE #002 running on the testbench, powering Morimoto XB55 at worst case DRL duty cycle (50%). The temp never broke 90°F (ambient +20°) anywhere on the enclosure. That’s really cool (excuse the pun), especially compared to the only other error eliminator that seems to (barely) work on 82Hz PWM, which had a +80°F rise after an hour at 80% duty. For comparison, the XB55 was hanging around 140°F

SKBOWE temperature after 11 hours of operation
SKBOWE temperature after 11 hours of operation does not exceed 90F (+20° above ambient) anywhere on the enclosure. This is excellent.
XB55 after 11 hours
XB55 after 11 hours, hanging around 130°F