It’s been a few weeks since my last post, so I wanted to give you all an update on operations and what the next few months will look like here at VRSimpits. Challenges and opportunities continue to present themselves, and I plan to make the best use of them that I can. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, as the saying goes.
Firstly, my wife and I are now fully moved into our house! There are still plenty of boxes to unpack, but it’s starting to feel more like home. I am also nearly finished setting up my new temporary workshop in the garage. My plan is to eventually convert our unfinished basement into a workshop, but that will take some significant remodeling efforts and will likely need to wait a year or two. Despite this, the garage workshop is already leaps and bounds better than what I had at the old apartment workshop, and should allow me to be much more productive in the near future.
With regards to production of my existing products, a supply chain issue has arisen which will unfortunately force me to suspend production for an indeterminate period. Many of my products are made from a cast-able polyurethane resin, and the two primary manufacturers of polyurethanes in the USA have both been hit hard by a combination of Covid disruptions and some very severe winter storms this past February. Due to these disruptions, there is a severe shortage on all polyurethane products; everything from the resin I use in casting my products, to the urethanes used in Styrofoam and insulation. I will be in frequent contact with my resin supplier to acquire more material as soon as it is available, but for now I am unfortunately left without the raw materials needed to produce my products. I have enough resin on hand to do some prototyping with, but not enough for a production run.
So, in the spirit of making lemonade out of life’s lemons, I will be devoting this (unplanned) downtime towards further R&D for future products.
Which leads my to my most exciting announcement...
The SopGrip MK.II !!!
Building on the rousing success of the SopGrip MK.I, the SopGrip MK.II will bring improvements in almost every area, including increased strength and durability, a more accurate and true-to-life design, higher quality buttons and electronics, and a host of other improvements, many of which were obtained from customer feedback.
Despite how proud I am of the MK.I and the high level of overall customer satisfaction with the product, I fully admit that it is imperfect in many ways, and I have learned many lessons during its development and in later projects. I will be taking everything I have learned and shall refine the SopGrip into a truly world-class piece of simulator hardware. One of the main areas will be the trigger unit. The triggers in the MK.I were the best I was able to manage working only from period photos and images from replica builders around the world. However, a fellow simmer and WW1 enthusiast was kind enough to send me full engineering drawings of the entire trigger mechanism, so I can now recreate it in all its glory!
I have also been contacted by several individuals who wish to use SopGrips in the construction of their real-life aircraft (most often Sopwith replicas/look-alike craft from companies like Aerodrome Airplanes). I discovered a few quirks of the original MK.I design that prevented it from being a good fit for these aircraft, but I have since worked out ways to eliminate those issues. The SopGrip MK.II will be a control grip that is robust enough for use in real aircraft as well as simulators, and which is externally indistinguishable from an original Sopwith artifact! I am very excited about the new design, and I think you all will be very pleased with the final product. My goal is to have production quantities of the MK.II ready before I attend the Dawn Patrol Rendezvous at the USAF Museum this October.
I will continue to post updates on R&D progress and the production situation as events develop.