An important part of releasing any product is to make sure the product functions as intended and is reliable. To that end, we’ve run an extensive beta test with over a dozen participants testing the Storm and Storm X controllers in real-world reef tank environments. This follows months of development and testing (years if you count the first prototype, which has been running flawlessly for over two years). The beta testers play an important role in verification of the product’s intended function in a wide variety of environments and situations.
There’s excitement and risk that come as part of beta testing. Excitement at finally getting your product into customers’ hands, and excitement of the testers at having the opportunity to test a cutting-edge device. The risk is that the product fails; fails to live up to expectations, or even fails to function completely! The tester is putting his or her precious aquarium at risk. What if the controller causes overheating, electrical problems, or coral bleaching due to overexposure? Beta testing is not a trivial process. Here we hope to share with you some of the ups and downs of our beta test phase, which commenced in early May 2013 and ran through mid-June.
“I was wondering if I qualified for your beta test”
“I’m still in the process of building mine. I got the stormx board with sixteen channels. Mine is for a six ft build going over a 265 gallon. I’m waiting on drivers to be delivered and the rest of my LEDs.”
Whoops, found a bug in the code! Luckily the firmware can be updated. Also received some feedback on the cloud frequency.
“I was able to reprogram the board and everything is working good. The only thing that I would like to change is the clouds frequently. I think even on low its to frequent. I don’t know if there is a way to program it to be an percent from 0-100 and a time to it. So you can have clouds on for a few hours and not all day long.”
“Initial impressions of the Storm X. Out of the box took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to program it and set up two channels of LEDs (that I just happened to have on my work bench). Very intuitive interface.”
“The hardware is great! provides all sorts of possibilities on the software side for upgrades and customization. will be perfect for dialing in multiple color channels to get the right daylight look while still having some fun left to right and right to left dimming for sunrise/sunset.”
So, in spite of my consternation there haven’t been any spectacular failures yet! In fact the beta testers seem pretty happy about the Storm and Storm X controllers, and they’ve moved beyond the initial functionality to explore expanding the features of the controllers.
“Is there anyway to rename the channels to reflect the colors we want to control.
for instance RB (royal blue), NW (neutral white), WW (Warm White), HV (Hyper Violet), V Violet), R (red), DR (deep Red), TV (true Violet) etc.”
Yes you’d have to go into the code and modify the function channel_display(). You’ll want to make sure your replacement text is four characters long so that something like “CH1 ” is replaced by “RB1 ” or “V1 ” (note the space character at the end). This helps to preserve the nice formatting.
“Very nice! So this uses latitude and longitude, eh? Have you considered adding realistic lunar cycles?”
Hmm lunar cycles… interesting! So much learned from this beta test, and we continue to look forward to learning from our users and improving the product and experience
And here we have user Skyler who looks to be using all six channels of his Storm.