The BLF specials, my "rules" and FAQ :)

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The Miller
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The BLF specials, my "rules" and FAQ :)

BLF specials proceedings

This applies for the way I do the projects I am involved in, other teams or people have their own ways of doing it.
A set of general guidelines, methods.

New members and old members signing up for a BLF special started of done by me, are advised to read this carefully for it should answer a lot of questions.
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Terminology
OP: Original Post, or first post of a thread.

PM or plural PMs: Personal Message(s) a message send to a BLFer, showing top of BLF “you have x new personal messages” and by default BLF will send an email if one receives a PM.
In case of a group PM, send to more then 1 recipient, a reply of one of those who received the group PM will be seen by all recipients, this mean that if one wants to respond about a personal matter please send a new PM to those you want to see it, and if one wants to respond with something that is general and nice/good/important for the whole of BLF to see, please post it in the thread where the PM was about.

XSYP (for example 4S1P or 2S2P or 1S4P) cell configuration:
X is for the number of cells in series, the number X is also showing the voltage that the driver is working with (for li ion 3,6V this is 2,5 to 4,2V per cell, so a 1S configurations means the driver operates at 2,5 to 4,2V, 2S is 5 to 8,4V) .A light will not work with less cells then the number X states.
Y is the number of cells in parallel, more cells in parallel does not raise voltage but increases mAh and the amperage load is distributed among all cells used. This means it is possible to use less cells (or series cells) then the number Y, sometimes limiting the maximum output in case of a high amp drawing light.

Li Ion Safety: how to treat the Lithium Ion cells used in most of our flashlights safely.
Though many who know what they are doing, can divert from the safest way of doing it, one shoul always treat cells with respect and read about how to in the Li Ion Safety topic where the information can be found in several languages, link in my SIG (signature, the part of text that the forum places under each post one makes.)

AFF link: affiliated link, a special link that ties a visit and consecutive sales at a website/shop to somebody who gets a percentage of the profits.

CS: Customer Support, the ones answering to “tickets”, emails about orders
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PREMISES
All the team members work on the BLF specials as a hobby, despite very professional input.
All BLFers helping and giving input work on the BLF specials as a hobby, despite very professional input.
All BLF input is read and taken seriously.
The team and helpers are not in it for monetary gains, if however there are gains it will be made public for all to see and know what it was and what happened with it. See for example the AFF link situation with the Q8, a few weeks or months after the buying closes an overview is planned on being posted. You know what I will reserve post 2 of this thread to copy paste this in as well for full transparency so people know how things have gone.
BLF as a whole is seen as designer of projects and parts of the projects, the team and helpers channel it into useable or practical info a manufacturer can work with.
Designs are considered Open Source, to be used by all who want to freely.
Designs are considered to be freely given to manufacturer to do with what they want.
Our BLF special projects are aimed at getting a fully working flashlight produced how it is specified.
Our BLF special projects are aimed at bringing these flashlights for as low price as is possible, this is a fine line, with lots of estimations and looking at commercially available lights for comparison
There is a BLF fund for development available, donating BLFers created this, many thanks!. For more information or if another team or BLFer agrees with the above and can be helped by money for development, see BLF future projects and donations topic and feel free to ask questions about it there.
Basically we provide the designs, a platform to sell the first X number of flashlights and do first testing and reviews, the financial risk is fully for manufacturer/vendor without who no special light would be made.
I consider this method a fair tradeoff, “free” marketing/PR, “free” R&D and buzz for a new light that can be sold at a higher price when the group buy on BLF is over as gains for the manufacturer who is taking the risk of investing a lot of money before it comes to fruition and a lot of flashlight for a very good price for BLF.
We aim for a complete working flashlight as end result. No extras or parts. It can very well be something to go for besides it, but by default, no hosts, no spare parts, no host parts, no fancy packaging. If it does happen, great (for example, the Q8 came with spare orings, switch cover in a nice box)

“It is done when it is done”, since it is our hobby the focus is on specs rather then speed of production. One can only choose 2 of FAST/GOOD/CHEAP and we choose GOOD and CHEAP meaning a lot of waiting and a lot of manufatureres not willing to work with us, yes make it expensive and sure more doors would open, this is not an option here : . . . . .

PRACTICAL
I start a topic with an OP containing most important information
The title has the projects name at the beginning (Q8 / GT) then some text, then date of last important change to OP, then summary of projects (“an elegant TLF/BLF triple”) During the time the projects runs the OP will be updated with the latest important news and input, all the way at the top with a link to the post from where it can be discussed (one click and one is at the start of talk about that.) This proved to become messy, so from now on post 3 is gonna be an overview post with all these changes and links to posts chronologically so people joining later can easier find info, why choices were made and where to find all that info that otherwise could be buried in the thread as now has happened with Q8 GT and FW3A, lesson learned Smile (and in this thread I will practice what I preach and reserve post 3 for updates)
Interest list is important for showing manufacturers there are people wanting to buy the light at some point. And for us to be able to PM people when the project calls for it.
OP first post, information and interest list.
Second post in the thread is for the software used (this is important post when the lights are reaching their owners, hence post 2)
Third post is the updates of the OP
Fourth, reserved for things like designs
Fifth, reserved for things like translations, special notes
And then two reserved posts for it seems it is better to have a few too much then 1 too little reserved Smile
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COMPLEX
Sometimes things can become complex, with the two stage group buy price of the GT.
If the OP is not clear enough, and make sure the info really is not there by reading it twice, it can be good to ask or trust I know what is going on. The other team members are highly skilled in technical aspects, lucky for the process I often am reading technical things way above my head, leaving the organizational aspect to me, this I can wrap my head around and keep track of easy Smile

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Project nearing completion WARRANTY AND SUPPORT

Relax and do not actively wait for anything. It is just as exciting for us as for you and we really want it to go as fast as possible.
Clarifications, instructions, links, it will come to you.
Whether it is in a PM or in the thread with a topic title change, it will happen.

The further down the road we are the less can be changed, please read up before asking for changes.

Do not trust tracking information, even better, it is really best to “order and forget”, things can take up to two months from China to arrive for almost any product, our BLF specials are no exception.
There is no gain in contacting CS, they will gve the default response to wait and only will do something after a lot of weeks have passed. Save yourself, the supplier and the rest of BLF the trouble and start by just relaxing and adding a note to your calander(app) six weeks after you placed your order. You will see in most cases the light has already arrived and you will have had no stress over it and did not cause people to react with “of this is too long, I am checking now, they should do it faster” the chain between the manufacturer and you is long, each link can cause delays.
It is part of the ordering process from China.

We really try to learn from mistakes, previous issues, issues that we have seen in prototyping and of course during the last stages of our projects.
Yet it is hardly possible to get so many lights out without a few having some sort of problem.
This is not good and 1 problem is 1 problem that should not have happened (and hurts a little on a personal level)
I will take notes, and work on solutions.

When you have a light that has issues please note that there will be a list of issues and problems being created in the OP and:
1 document it, videos/pictures, description or what happened are all very helpful.
2 post it in the thread, you will be added to the OP
3 relax, I am there and have noted it, we will do our best to come up with a solution but as always, this may take time.
Important; Not until all lights are in and it is clear what the issues are and who has them we will present a solution, so again your are advised to relax and stay calm, you are being listened too and are taken serious Big Smile

Contacting customer support is usually a not all that positive experience to say it mildly Wink
Lot of people feel like they are not treated as they deserve and receiving standard answers and not being listened to can make ones blood boil.
Best advice here, for my projects, do not contact CS, just check if you and your issue are added to the OP and know there will be a solution at a later time

Important, an issue that requires a solution is something that hinders the actual use of the stock light in using it as was intended. If one encounters something that makes modding harder or taking it apart I will note it, but we aim for a complete light that works out of the box.
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FLUIDITY
Things can change, if it does it will be communicated.
If things are decided upon it will be communicated.
If somebody does not agree on a change or has a preference not implemented, that is fine of course and please share it. However, if it is clear ones wish or preference will not be done, there is no point in keep on repeating what your wish or preference is.
We have understood it the first and absolutely certainly the second time you have said it, there is no reason to express it more often.
If a project is not to your liking, that is fine of course, just forget about it existing, nobody is forcing you to read up on it or react in the thread.
BLF is a very friendly community and if you want to get something done, just know you can start your own project and do it the way you want to, the Q8 coming to reality, started by newbie me proves anybody can do it. So please save yourself and us the frustration, channel negativity with how and what we do into something good by doing it the proper way in your opinion, this benefits all and remember the BLF fund is there for your project as well, just check the topic about it.
If a project nears completion, and there is something, or even a lot of things you would have liked to see different, post it in the “talk about future projects” topic in case of something bugging you about something that can be done in future projects. If not just keep it to yourself if it only about that particular project, you now it is not going to be changed, so please be polite and just leave it unsaid.
There is no point in saying “oh man those fins are so ugly and should have been designed much better” in a thread of a light already in production. It can even be seen as very impolite to talk negative about something that has taken so much time and energy to come to reality
There is not point in arguing preferences, so just don’t do it Smile
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WAITING
It is done when it is done.
Be prepared to wait, or better, don’t actively wait, there is no point in doing so.
Communication is hard between languages and cultures, holidays on either side delay.
Things take time.
When we have made progress it will be shared ASAP.
When we have news it will be posted ASAP
Asking when it will be done can only be answered with “it is done when it is done” and I am grateful a lot of BLFers have picked up on this so when somebody asks it I do not have to type it once more for a lot of the times others have already said it for us Thumbs Up

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THINGSS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION
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List entries
If people ask to be put on the list I will add new entries to the list in IRREGULAR intervals, and MOSTLY DAYS APART..
When I do, I post a new post with MARK in it, then go to the previous MARKED post and work my way down ALL the posts posted after that.
If you have asked to be put on the list after a MARKED post you will be added, no worries, but ask twice because you think I missed it, you probably will be added twice.
Please do not PM with the question to be added, I get tons of PMs, they sink to second page of my inbox and I will most likely not add you, just post “I am in” and relax, it will sort itself out.
When we near completion or at some times along the way I will change the topic title saying PLEASE CHECK YOU LIST ENTRY and with CTRL F / CMD F /Find in page / you can then check if you are on it and if not or too any, post it and it will get corrected next time the list updates.
I have a limited amount of time, asking why you are going to be added, asking twice and then asking to be removed once when you are added twice for asking a second time instead of just waiting, adding psts with questions when you will be added or a lot of off topic posts means I need to work through a lot more posts between MARKED post, answering it or PMs cost time to read and respond, making it likely list updates are done with more days in between them so it results in the opposite of what you want.
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ISSUES AND PROBLEMS
Is it very hard, if not impossible, to avoid some issues despite our best efforts.
Do take into consideration what real issues we have seen in other BLF/community driven projects I was no part of:
Different tinted LEDs installed without prior notice
_Different MCUs and/or driver parts of inferior quality used without prior notice _
Packaged in such a way dings, scratches, shipped wood during shipping made BLF specials no longer useable as nice show items
Different drivers
3 ways of a possible dead short leading to a direct short of the cell
3 ways of a possible short leading to only direct driven LED
Vanishing organizer
Now we have yet to see such serious issues with our projects and all Q8 flashlights worked, despite the issues they had.
Yet to be clear and transparent post 4 is reserved for issues, and a calculation of failure rate when the lights are delivered and reports are gathered.
Let this also be a little warning, we aim for a lot of lights for little money, in all mass produced items there can be issues in a certain percentage.
You cannot expect us to do better then industry norms here, despite our will to get it perfect and energy put into avoiding issues.
So post 4 shows there are issues.
Or course solutions will be posted when they are found.
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MATCHED MARRIED CELLS
Officially we can only suggest protected cells from a known good supplier and matched (married) cells for lights that use more then 1 cell) or in the rare case only an unprotected cell fits, the use of a DMM(Digital Multi Meter) to check health of the cell.
In any cell choice, there are cells that can give better performance, being brightness or runtimes, and if tests are available they will be posted, yet offiial standpoint is safety first, good quality (protected) cell from good source, good quality charger from good source, regular checking of cells with a DMM.
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“Free” R&D, PR and marketing
Do not think lightly about what we ask manufacturers.
I did not wrote “free” without reason
Most manufacturers are constantly working on lights themselves, what may seem like a sure win from BLF perspective sure is not always perceived as such by the manufacturer.
It means production capacity used for our projects.
Can very well mean making planned or current lights obsolete.
Does mean selling lights at a loss, no profits of hardly any profits.
Doing work while being looked at through a microscope that is the critical BLF audience, I have already received emails that read like “is it ever good enough for BLF?”
Then all flaws being heavily discussed, demands for outstanding after sales practices and all customers being pointed to flaws. Please do realize that “normal” sold flashlights with flaws or issues only mean a much smaller percentage actually comes back to bite the manufacturer for most people accept the strange warranty situation buying thing from far away China.
So it is not as clear a win as it may seem, yet clearly we can convince them it is good to participate, I have had conversations with a lot of commercial parties and the reluctance is very high with most. It takes a special kind to step in and they ought to be applauded!

Edited by: The Miller on 10/03/2017 - 11:26
The Miller
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Gains and profits for the team by project
To be transparent the gains we have had from doing the BLF special projects will be listed here.

Q8
Team 7 people
3 prototype Q8s (Tom)
7 prototypes/samples (1 for whole team)
2 Archeer A320 BT speaker (The Miller and Djozz)
Thorfire lights (TK4A, S1, TD26) send for different switch options, with the S70 all the sideswtiches Thorfire used at the time, switch research (The Miller)
Astrolux MF01, unexpected present from Swi and Marunce for the work doing this (The Miller, I tried to change it into a bunch of smaller lights for the team and BLF GAW but this was not possible and not accepting would have been met with feelings of being insulted, I am grateful and see it as a good research light for the Q16, being both mega (10K+) lumens lights)

Aff link result:
??? (takes a few weeks to et this clear or I might agree on a fixed number to get this done faster)
? for team/what individual team members choose)
? for some BLFers who helped a lot
? for GAW among the BLFers on the interest ist before the PMs were send.
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GT
Team 7 people
3 prototype GTs (shorty MRsDNF and DEL, longer normal Texas_Ace)
improved reflector and carrier TA

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Updates with dates to the OP (possible with link to posts where it is starting to be debated)

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Issue overview projects completed, % failure rate and such

Q8
Led switch assembly. Some indicator leds are failing, issue reveals itself the first day of use.
Solution in the making
% of total

First 500 were assembled too fast with screws too tight, and not properly sized here and there, did not cause the lights to malfunction but could be done better, solution, next production runs after that changed to good screws and better assembly.

0.2% of first 500 (0.05% of first 2000) 1 case of a dinged head, 2 small but visible dings near switch, and sings to be seen with the switch assembly opened up. Before shipping damage

0.2% of first 500 (0.05% of first 2000) 1 case of a dinged tailcap and heavily damaged packaging when arriving. During shipping damage

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Reserved

MRsDNF
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Thumbs Up

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure.

Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unknowingly paid for by a hard working wife. 

djozz said "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

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Hmm..
Most drivers cut off at 3 Volts (1S) or 6 Volts (2S) or 9 Volts (3S) or 12 Volts (4S).

..waiting for parts..

Still looking for 5” parabolic reflector (for recoil light)

CheapThrills
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How about a sticky? Smile

Muto
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Very Through and explained well.

Maybe this could be included with any PM’s when the member is being notified of the codes. May help unclog the threads, etc.
Anyway
Thanks to The Miller!

Later,
Keith

Call ‘Em as You See ‘Em
Never dare to question the Great Oz
The beatings will continue until morale improves

Litefighter
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Great thread, Miller. Thumbs Up

maildroid
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Thanks and well said .

"Let your lite shine "

pommie
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Not quite sure what you are trying to say here, could you explain a bit more SillySillySillySillyWink

Cheers David

Nothing to see here folks, move along...BLF GT proto

keengeorge
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G'Day Wim aka The Miller, smile

 

Congratulations on everything you have done to this date in running/shepherding/managing the BLF projects (Q8, GT, FW3A), and

   particularly your thoroughness, good spirit, and incredible patience particularly under duress.

In my opinion this thread represents a huge potential advance in methodology for BLF projects and their documentation.

 

Best Regards,

George

 

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All I can say is Thank You!

DarthTader
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Wow, reading this has given some pretty cool insight to exactly how you go through the process for these projects – thanks for the great post!

Quote:
Maybe this could be included with any PM’s when the member is being notified of the codes. May help unclog the threads, etc.

Could also slap it on the top of every project also and make it impossible to miss! Smile

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Thanks for all the kind words.
Yes trying to have some sort of FAQ, then linked in SIG, with all the new people wanting to know how and what, seemed good.
And at the same time structure things better AMD clearer for new things.
And I thought it would be good to have issues and failure rates to be seen for projects nearing completion and in time that have been completed.

Tender
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Great post The Miller. Thank you for your time and effort.

I’m pretty new to BLF, I have been reading through the forum and threads extensively since, and jumped on some group-buys/projects as well.

In the OP of the Q8 thread you have/added a section called: “Checking your newly arrived Q8” which links to a post by Lazy-R-us that explains extensively what to do when the light arrives; how to inspect it, what to look for, etc.

I believe that it would be beneficial to reserve one post for such instructions, (post production), for when the respective lights begin to arrive so that members could reference on how to inspect and proceed with their newly arrived light. (Perhaps a small amount pictures could be added for reference as well). Or maybe just copy or link to that post by Lazy-R-us, which is well written and thorough already.

keengeorge wrote:

In my opinion this thread represents a huge potential advance in methodology for BLF projects and their documentation.

I second that. It appears that these projects are growing in scope and frequency, so it would be beneficial to develop and document a standard and/or methodology which future projects can follow to streamline the process from inception to final delivery. I be happy to be part of that effort.

The Miller
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Great idea Tender, this is clever!
Thanks

Tender
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I think it will ease concern for a lot of people and reduce the sheer amount of unnecessary posts/questions.

Tender
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Here is the link to that post I referenced above (for those who are interested).
Credit to Lazy-R-us

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OK how is this for thread layout?

The title has the projects name at the beginning (Q8 / GT) then some text, then date of last important change to OP, then summary of projects (“an elegant TLF/BLF triple”)

OP containing most important information
During the time the projects runs the OP will be updated with the latest important news and input, all the way at the top with a link to the post from where it can be discussed (one click and one is at the start of talk about that.)
If new important news with link to post is added, the previous gets moved to Post 3 that is gonna be an overview post with all these changes and links to posts chronologically so people joining later can easier find info, why choices were made and where to find all that info that otherwise could be buried in the thread as now has happened with Q8 GT and FW3A, lesson learned.
Second post in the thread is for the software used (this is important post when the lights are reaching their owners, hence post 2)
Third post is the updates of the OP
Fourth, Checklist
People ask how far are we, what is happening? An in depth checklist of what needs be done gives a clear overview here right?
Fifth, reserved for things like translations, special notes
And then two reserved posts for it seems it is better to have a few too much then 1 too little reserved

Title: Name, short text, date last text change, short summary
OP: important info and interest list
Post 2: software, becoming place for software manual towards the end
Post 3: texts that called for title change, with links to the post where talk about this happened (including the temporary title with date above this text), chronological
Post 4: project checklist (all things that need be done)
Post 5: special note like translations
Post 6: reserved (if things like the complicated double groupbuy of the GT call for complicated things like several lists)
Post 7: reserved (if things like the complicated double groupbuy of the GT call for complicated things like several lists)
Post 8: reserved, for during of after (like issues on the Q8, it would have been nice to have a post reserved for that.
Post 9: reserved
Post 10: reserved

Does this makes sense? Forgotten something?

teacher
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Looks good…… Thumbs Up

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The Miller
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Thinking maybe a checklist for the actual light as well
Like an extended specs list with litterally all things and finishes that are in a flashlight.
Not looking forward yo compiling this but done once ought to be a good foundation to copy paste in new projects
Can act as checklist for checking the prototypes, also letting manufacturer know what we look at and thus what needs done during production.

MRsDNF
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You seem a little reserved from number 6 down. Facepalm

I have a few things you could add but they would probably get us kicked of the forum. Smile

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure.

Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unknowingly paid for by a hard working wife. 

djozz said "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

Tender
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Yes Miller, looks very organized.

I like the idea of a detailed specs list post where things get compiled and updated as the project moves along (doesn’t have to be done all at once). Many of the parameters are already enumerated in some of the other projects.

Great work as always!

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ha so one more reserved has gotten a goal making t:
OP: important info and interest list
Post 2: software, becoming place for software manual towards the end
Post 3: texts that called for title change, with links to the post where talk about this happened (including the temporary title with date above this text), chronological
Post 4: project checklist (all things that need be done)
Post 5: flashlight checklist (all specs and parts and finishes)
Post 6: special note like translations
Post 7: reserved (if things like the complicated double groupbuy of the GT call for complicated things like several lists)
Post 8: reserved (if things like the complicated double groupbuy of the GT call for complicated things like several lists)
Post 9: reserved, for during of after (like issues on the Q8, it would have been nice to have a post reserved for that.
Post 10: reserved

Phlogiston
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DarthTader wrote:
Wow, reading this has given some pretty cool insight to exactly how you go through the process for these projects – thanks for the great post!

That’s what I thought, too – reading it was definitely an interesting learning experience. Good work from The Miller Beer

Arildb
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How can i order one blf giga?

The Miller
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Welcome to BLF
Read this OP, read the GT thread OP and post in that thread you want one and I add you to the list, further details will follow when clear or steps needed Wink

Viking 3XL
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Hi, could you please put me on the list? What else do I have to do to order one BLF GT?
Thanks in advance!

The Miller
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Viking 3XL wrote:
Hi, could you please put me on the list? What else do I have to do to order one BLF GT? Thanks in advance!
Wink
The Miller wrote:
Welcome to BLF Read this OP, read the GT thread OP and post in that thread you want one and I add you to the list, further details will follow when clear or steps needed Wink

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