• You must be a Supporting Member to participate in the Candle Power Forums Marketplace.

    You can become a Supporting Member.

Virtual Tour of HDS Systems

Hogokansatsukan

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
5,234
Location
Tucson
Virtual tour of HDS and some of the reasons there are delays.
There are a lot of inaccurate assumptions about HDS Systems and let me dispel some of those with a virtual tour.
Occasionally someone calls HDS and asks if they can tour the factory. When this happens, Henry accuses me of giggling. I don't giggle. It is a nervous laugh. I want to dispel that giggling accusation right away. I don't giggle. I have never giggled even when a small child. I have always been dead serious. It is a nervous laugh.
Why the nervous laugh? There is no factory. There are no employees.
Henry is the head engineer, president, chief toilet cleaner, and occasionally the Titular Head of HDS (generally when I'm mad at him.)
I am the idea guy, the chief nose picker, and in charge of human resources (I was made that because I have to constantly reprimand myself for my behavior at work, and it was just easier to do it this way. Henry and I are partners (not in the hold your hand watching a movie kind of way) but in that we both have a say in where HDS is going and can both veto the other guy… though Henry does most of the vetoing because it is usually me coming up with unrealistic things I want him to engineer. It's a lot easier when you don't have to do the engineering yourself. I still think the floating anti-gravity flashlight would have been cool though.
On to the tour.
Henry designs the light and continues to make modifications to it. All of the electronic components are purchased from US suppliers. These components are then sent to the HDS Factor… which is a PO Box. It is a very small factory. Custom designed boards are made for these parts to get put on as every aspect of the light is custom built. This is all hand delivered to a very small company in Tucson that does this sort of thing for the US Government on Super Secret Squirrel stuff. We deal with the owner and one of the "shop guys".
They mount all the electronics to the various boards and mount the emitters as well, which we then drive over and pick up directly from them. Sometimes when we need something done, they are in the middle of some Super Secret Squirrel crap and can't get to ours right away.
Now, let's go off to the People's Republic of Kalifornia where our machinist lives. He is a one man shop. Really nice guy and one of the few machinists who seems capable of making the parts that go into an HDS light. He has no employees except for his wife. Being a one man shop, he doesn't have a lot extra equipment laying around not being used, so when a machine goes down, it creates a delay. When he is vacationing in England where his wife is from, it creates a delay. He does not do the anodizing. That is another mom and pop shop near our machinist. Actually mom and pop and a couple of their kids. They all do much more than just HDS parts.
Let's go back to Tucson now. We have the electronics mounted to the boards, we have the various machined parts, and we give the empty heads and electronics to… PJ. He puts the basic heads together and pots the heads. He has a lot of experience in electronics production. He will sometimes swing by HDS to pick up the things he needs, or I will deliver them to him. Being he is a one man operation, things like getting Covid (which happened over the Holidays creating a delay) and other things that can come up to throw your life a curveball will effect production times.
The Rotary tails come home with me where I do some sub assembly. I am a one man one dog shop and my dog prefers not to work. . After I finish what I need to do on the tails, they then go to PJ who also puts the electronics in them.
So we have now been to a tiny pick and place shop, a single man machine shop, a guys house at the base of a mountain, another guys house at the base of a mountain, and we return to HDS… another guys house but this time not at the base of a mountain.
Henry then completes final assembly and inspection on the head. He programs the head for what model it will be, then hands it off to me where I attache it to a little computer/calibrator that Henry made. It takes about 5 minutes per light to calibrate. The machine measures the light output, and adjusts the power to reach the various 24 levels. I have to tell the machine which emitter is being calibrated in order for it to do its job right. While the light is being calibrated, I can see how efficient the emitter is on the screen as a percentage at each light level. It is quite interesting to see the variations in each emitter.
After I am done calibrating a batch of heads, they are then handed back to Henry who completes the final tail assembly, puts the light together, boxes it up, and ships it out.
At any point in this, one person being ill, on vacation, having a family member die, having to suddenly care for a 7 year old full-time, can cause a delay. All of these have happened. Some will continue to happen (please Lord... Not the 7 year old again!!!!)
Why do we use little shops and individuals? We know where the money is going. Yes, we could contract out and have a larger company do it all for us. Would probably be cheaper. Would most likely put an end to the delays, probably lower the price… especially if we took it overseas. Have we considered this? HELL NO! It will be a very cold day in hell when that happens. We know the people directly who we are helping by farming out this work to them. We are helping small business and individuals right here at home, and I'll be damned if it isn't going to stay that way. So yes, it plaques us with unforeseen delays. It makes the cost higher. It can make if very hard to give an accurate estimate on exactly when a delay will be over. I try to be more accurate than Henry's infamous "two weeks"… but it still isn't easy.
So there is the tour. Please leave your visitor badges and hard hats at the door on your way out.

Any questions?
Yes. I have a question. What happens when one of you dies… specifically Henry?
Now would be a good time to get some paper towel. I'm going to scare the bejeezus out of you, and if you don't get it wiped up quick, it can stain the floor.
I'll take over. Now wipe up the bejeezus quick before it stains the floor. Open a window as well to get the smell out of the room.

What happens if you die?
Probably a lot of celebrations by people who knew me.
 

thermal guy

Flashaholic
Joined
Jan 28, 2007
Messages
9,801
Location
ny
HDS has been around longer than that. I’m just curious as to whether or not this has been the way when Henry was putting out lights during the old days. U60’s U42’s the twisty?
 

Elmie

Enlightened
Joined
Mar 30, 2001
Messages
422
Location
Toronto, Ontario
HDS has been around longer than that. I’m just curious as to whether or not this has been the way when Henry was putting out lights during the old days. U60’s U42’s the twisty?
I'm almost positive this is how it's been since the beginning and I'm talking about the days of the cave lights.

The only light I had to wait months for was the HDS EDC U60 which I still own today and longest order to be fulfilled was the special run 18350/18500. I've been lucky with the rotaries I currently own as the longest I've waited was 2 weeks (titanium rotary, SS40, NLT 325, NB45).
 

thermal guy

Flashaholic
Joined
Jan 28, 2007
Messages
9,801
Location
ny
unless I’m mistaken HDS had some pretty big government contracts. If so then it was not always like this.
 

thermal guy

Flashaholic
Joined
Jan 28, 2007
Messages
9,801
Location
ny
I remember many moons ago saying that we are HDS biggest customer and the reply was not even close. They had very big contracts with government/law enforcement. But it was quite a while ago and I may be mistaken. But it was definitely before novatac days
 

Hogokansatsukan

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
5,234
Location
Tucson
It has always been like that. Except PJ wasn't PJ, he was Glen (another really great guy... haven't seen him for awhile... I need to call him.) A different place (actually an individual guy) with a pick and place machine did the electronics. When his machine broke and he didn't fix it, we moved to the small shop in Tucson for that. The original machine shop used changed owners and management and we switched from them as they suddenly forgot how to machine parts.

HDS fulfilled the government contracts the same way we fill orders now... except now we don't have to boil the lights. That was part of the production process on the first lights. I've seen photos of Henry and Glenn boiling them (it was a temperature sensor thing). Thank goodness we haven't had to boil them for years... though I heard the broth created was good.

What Novatac did after leaving Tucson is in no way part of how business at HDS is or was done.
 

Hogokansatsukan

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
5,234
Location
Tucson
Would have responded sooner but I was out of cell phone range... quite on purpose.
IMG_6787.jpeg
 
Top