Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Early access to Serval Mesh Extender hardware

A quick post in response to a few enquiries we have had recently, where folks have been asking about getting their hands on some prototype Serval Mesh Extender devices.

So far, we have only produced 50 of these units, which have our (hopefully) IP65/IP66 injection-moulded case, IP67 power/external radio cable, integrated solar panel controller and battery charger if you wish to operate them off-grid.   Most of those are currently deployed in Vanuatu, or are in use in the lab here or with a few other partner organisations.

Although we are still in the process of testing them, they have already been in some interesting places in Vanuatu and beyond, as the images at the end of the post show.

Thus, we would like to gauge the interest in us having another production run, so that folks who would like to work with these experimental units, including to help us identify, document and fix any problems with them, can do so.

A reminder and warning: The devices would be experimental, and have known software issues that need to be resolved before they can be sensibly deployed.  It is also possible that hardware issues will be found in the process, and that these units may well never be deployable by you in any useful way, i.e., cannot be considered as a finished product or fit for merchantability. Rather, you are being given the opportunity to purchase hardware that would allow you to participate in the ongoing development of these devices.

If you want to buy Mesh Extenders to use in a serious way, this is not the offer you are looking for. As soon as we are ready to make them commercially available, we will be sure to let everyone know, and will update this post as well.

Because of the small production size that we would anticipate for this, the per-unit price will likely be quite high -- potentially as high as AU$700 each (and you really need a pair for them to be useful).  If we were able to get 100 or more manufactured in a single run, then this cost would come down, quite likely a lot.  (But please note, this is not at all representative of the final price of these units when we hopefully bring them to market -- we intend that the end price to be a LOT lower than this.  Again, the purpose of this current offer now is to provide early access that would support the finalisation of these devices, and allow us to get a few extra devices made for our internal use at the same time.)

So, given the above, is there any one else out there who would also like to get their hands on one or more Mesh Extenders, in your choice of Wholly White, Rather Red or Generally Grey?

(We realise the price at this stage is rather high, and that this might preclude interest from some folks from participating. During this pre-production stage, we have a couple of options to reduce the cost a little: First, if you already own an RFD900 or RFD868 radio, or want a Wi-Fi-only Mesh Extender, you can subtract AU$100 from the price.  Second, if you want to make an offer contingent on a production run of at least 100 units, which should get the price down by AU$100 - AU$200 per unit (subject to confirming with our suppliers), you are welcome to indicate this.  We will in any case come back to the community before we proceed with any production run.)