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.
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 preorders shipped out today (2/14) so check your emails for tracking #s! New orders will have a little lead time (3-4 days) as I ran out of split loom and had to order more. Once I get the rest of them built I’ll update the order page, until then, just use the pre-order form.
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).
Some fun stats about 40 sets of SKBOWE (80 units):
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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
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.
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…
Got all of them soldered together, and 10 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.
Started packing. Each order gets a whole bunch of stuff that needs to be put together…
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.
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?
Epoxy Encapsulation (potting) serves to waterproof the SKBOWEs, insulate them from vibration, prevent corrosion, and conduct heat away from the components to the enclosure. It’s the messiest and trickiest part of the build process, as there is no turning back once you’ve mixed a batch of compound – and it’s $260/gallon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Next I cut the wire pen into the enclosures. Took a little extra time to jig it up but it was well worth it.
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:
Also jigged up a workstation for potting so spills are easier to contain. Just a piece of plywood with the right shape cut out.
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