Saturday, January 25, 2014

Monday I'm sending out an Argonaut to a company up north that makes custom bags for the military and outdoor use. They are doing a sample bag ($250.00) The only layout idea I have is one similar to the Mistral bag that Aqua Lung made a few years ago. I've asked this company to give me their ideas of what would work best before they make it.  Since the Argonaut is designed to allow removal of the yoke by simply unscrewing it I think the yoke and knob could be stored in a pouch on or in the bag and it would allow the regulator to be stored flat. Overall size of the bag is a concern because leaving the hose loop in a relaxed circle makes for a large diameter bag. There are many options if you don't leave it that way.  The bag may be more of a travel solution as opposed to a long term storage unit.....More details to follow on this.

I visited the shop that I had planned to do the custom serial numbers on the Argonaut bodies and as luck would have it the device that holds parts for stamping would not accommodate the Argonaut body.  Luckily they knew another local company they felt could do them.  I'll check it out next week. 
Standard serial numbers are no problem as they will be done during the finishing process.  

Another meeting with the attorney and all looks good on that front (aside from the large check I had to write them)  Everyone will still need to do the waiver but I can shorten it up a bit and make it easy to do on line.  Hope for the best.....Plan for the worst.

Shop that is doing the Cerakoting is good to go. Had a nice visit with them today and they are excited about the Argonaut project and the possibility of doing some work on original regulators if folks are interested....More details on this to follow. 
In what world does this make sense?......Company I have been working with for 10 years.  I asked them to quote making large diameter custom oval stickers for the Argonaut shipping boxes....Sent them the details and artwork.  Credit department has called me three times today asking for a credit card number to process the order....Two of the three times they called I said....I'm not paying for something until I approve the proof.....Send me something to look at and I'll be glad to pay for it...Finally the third time I said....Do you need me to pay for artwork to get the artwork done?  No, we need payment for the order so we can process it.....I said, What am I ordering? ...She says I don't know....I said when you do know please call me back and have the artwork in front of you so you can describe the sticker that I'm ordering and we can go from there.....She says, Well I can't process the order without a credit card....I say, I can't pay for your imagination.Produce a proof for approval and I'll decide if I want to pay for a thousand sticker or not....She called back twice after that leaving messages about needing payment to process the order.....Never a dull moment here!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Should have said this on post one but to backtrack for the moment....A lot of what you read on this blog over the next few months will be ideas that don't show up right away or may never show up at all.
 I have a clear vision of what the Argonaut series of regulators is going to be but I am always looking for new and interesting ideas for it.  Just because I share it here does not mean I'm committed to it and it will magically appear on your doorstep. 

I had a couple of E-mails from this group wanting to know more about how things get done around here so here goes.

VDH as we know it now is still based out of my garage/workshop. Since we moved here three years ago a car has never parked in it :) I immediately installed a 8 bottle air station with NITROX blending and all that goes with it. I have my main workbench, and an area for packaging, shipping and a majority of the web stores inventory is stored here. These areas never change and I have a fixed process for service work no matter what regulator is sent here. 
Mixed in are several tables used as work stations for experiments, things I'm working on or things that I'm thinking about. There is usually something or other in a salt bath, regulators hooked up to cylinders or on the Quick Set machine.    and several boxes of parts that are either being tested or put in inventory to be sold.  There is another big box of regulators I have purchased that are waiting for me to decide if they get rebuilt, offered for sale or parted out. 
Like many of you I work 24/7. Without a smartphone and an internet connection I feel lost. I don't have set work hours or days but if I'm awake you can figure something is going on the two hose world.. 

An idea I have been toying with for a while is to include a USB Flash drive with each Kraken. It would come loaded with a detail sheet for the particular regulator, i.e. date, serial number, configuration etc and some care and maintenance instructions in PDF form that could be printed if you wanted to. 
So far the cost of customized drives with logo are a little out of reach but it's something I'll continue to pursue. 

Luis and I have been revising the final yoke design a bit. As it is it's based on the Conshelf yoke which works great but I would prefer if it had it's own look to further personalize it. This is the rough drawing of it. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

If you are reading this you most likely have a vested interest in the Argonaut Kraken project.  I started this blog not because I like to talk about myself but to have a place to keep the investors and supporters up to date with the latest information and progress on the project.  The VDH website Forum and Facebook pages are great but they are very impersonal and get hundreds of visitors a day but the majority of readers have no personal involvement in the project so I won't clutter them up with my miscellaneous ramblings. 

I am not a professional writer and the language I use may be colorful at times but it reflects what is going on in my head and what I'm up to at the moment.  I tend to go 2 or 3 directions at once so this is not going to read like a novel or newspaper.  At the bottom of each entry you can comment and I hope that you do. 

The Fundable campaign has been far more successful than I dared to believe it would be.  I have had dozens of requests to offer more regulators but at the moment I don't think I can commit to doing anymore in the time frame I have allotted for myself. 
There are 21 days remaining to raise funds and they will not charge your card until the campaign ends.  After that it takes about two weeks to clear all the legal paperwork I have to agree to and for the funds to be collected and transferred to my bank. 

So what's new 
The Jury is still out on the Kraken Red hoses. I have been collecting votes on FB and the VDH forum and more than 80% of the responses have been positive.
Luckily I have a good relationship (means I have spent a lot of $$) with the hose manufacture so they agreed to make the samples. Normally they require an order of 300 hoses to start.  As I said elsewhere the shade/color was a personal choice that I liked and thought would be unique.  When they arrived I HATED THEM I was ready to write it off and never even show pictures of them.  I put them on a regulator and propped it up in my work area so I had to see it hundreds of times a day and after a while they grew on me.  The Argonaut Kraken is NEW and deserves to break out of the confinements of what double hose regulators have been in the past. I am still not sure if they are a go or not but for those of you who don't like them please go back a time or two and take a look and I bet they grow on you like they did me.  If they are made they will be an option at least at first and you will still be able to outfit your Kraken with hoses in your choice of black, yellow, gray, green and possibly Kraken Red.

Cerakote Metal Finishing
Click to visit Cerakote main page

This finish shows real promise and I am currently banking on it being the finish for the Kraken and for restoration of a lot of other regulators that I do in the future.  Chrome plating is virtually dead here in the US especially for a small scale producer like me. Dave Ali does amazing work on restoring regulators but he does it as a hobby, a favor to me and because he enjoys it.  If you had to pay a company that did this type of work for a profit the cost to re-chrome a regulator would cost at least $500.00 to his level of quality and I'll bet you will have a hard time finding someone with his skills and patience to do it!
I'm no tree hugger but the whole chrome process with the EPA and toxic chemicals is not something I want to get bogged down into for the future. 
Samples of the coating on actual regulator parts are in route to me and I'll start abusing them next week.  I will follow up here with my results.  I have spoken with a couple of guys who have used it on their gear and they really liked the results.  Both of them applied it themselves and that's not something I'm interested in doing.  If I use this coating I will have it done by a professional applicator that is certified by the manufacture to apply the coating. I will follow up here as I get started.