When we started the Kickstarter campaign in 2017, we couldn’t imagine what was coming. You can read all about that in our blogs and updates. After the campaign, we completely stopped whatever fun or lucrative we were doing, to focus solely on Wheel.
Fast forward till today. We’ve successfully completed development of what turned out to be a very complex product, and we’re shipping Wheels. Still way too slow, but we do.
We spent a significant part of the Kickstarter money on mistakes. When we decided to quit outsourcing and bring the entire development of Wheel in house, we continued to make many mistakes. But there’s a difference: in the beginning, the mistakes costed cold, hard money, at your expense. After the switch, they mostly cost time. And since our time is free, and Wheel is in our hearts and souls, we can just keep going. All funding from Kickstarter, and the healthy Wheel sales from then on, is spent on Wheel development and production, food, and a roof over our heads. It’s as simple as that.
We know what we’re doing, we’re in good shape, and absolutely confident to deliver your Wheel.
We’ve designed Wheel according to the RIAA Standards for Stereophonic Disc Records deposited on October 16, 1963.
All dimensional characteristics are extensively described in this paper, like outside and center hole diameters, outer and innermost groove margins, etc. More than 75 years worth of records are manufactured based on this specification.
While dimensions and tolerances are clearly described, reality is much different. Numerous records have larger or smaller outer diameters, looser, tighter or even eccentric center holes, and a wide range of thicknesses. To our surprise, a lot of records are wedge shaped. This means one half is heavier than the opposite half. And sometimes, an extra few minutes of music are squeezed onto a side, making grooves and pauses narrower than they should, ignoring the specifications. Rules are there to be broken.
Wheel’s design deals gracefully with this reality. Most records sound wonderful, every now and then a record sounds semi-wonderful. An upright Wheel can be more sensitive to unbalanced or out of spec records.
If the center hole of your record is too small, it might take a bit of wiggling the stick to unlock it from Wheel. And if the grooves between the tracks are too narrow, even Wheel’s track detection technology might not be able to discern it. A rule of thumb: if you can see the tracks with the naked eye, Wheel’s eye will also see the tracks. And thanks to Wheel’s construction, warped records are largely flattened out. There are some quirks, yes, but none of this gets in the way of the fun and enjoyment of playing records on your Wheel.
To further improve rigidity and centricity of the upper magnet bearing, we altered the design and changed the nylon bearing to bronze.
We’re delivering and installing Wheels to backers in our neighbourhood. This is a valuable experience, because we meet actual Wheel users and learn what’s expected from Wheel. And as vinyl enthusiasts, it’s always nice to have a peak into other people's record collections ;-)
These visits also made us realize that dust is everywhere. A lot of records, especially older ones, need at least a thorough dusting to be playable again. Wheel doesn’t add dust because it plays records dust-free in a closed chamber, but it’s always best to clean your records before you start playing them. It’s now clearer to us that a good record brush should be standard equipment with every record player. We’re working on that.
Production is still trickling. Slowly but surely building routine is kicking in, and Wheels are getting better and better. We expect to be in this situation for a few weeks. To make strides with the backlog sooner and to beat our forecasts, we decided to seek assistance to further upscale Wheel assembly. By itself another costly and time consuming venture, but in the long run this will benefit you, Wheel and us.
Thank you for your trust,
Peter and the Wheel team