This weekend, then a pause, price changes maybe

Hello, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the success of this project, and it’s taken over everything else for the last week or so.  I’m probably going to stop taking new orders after this weekend, for a few days at least.  I’ve got plenty of work, but importantly, need to review the pricing. 

I am making a profit on this kit, but not an awful lot, and I don’t know if it’s enough to justify me having no time to work on any other projects.  It’s still very much a hobby-sized profit, and I’ve eaten into it a little bit by upgrading the quality of the kit too.  Also haven’t really found what the real cost of packaging and things is – I think I have estimated ok here, but we’ll see!

I know it’ll get cheaper if volume increases, but the thing that won’t decrease is the time taken to make up harnesses and finish parts, and packaging and that kind of thing, and the profit (as it stands) could never hope to support employing help, even if I was in a position to manage that.

So this current price will be here until next week, but after that it might go up a bit.  Probably not much, and maybe not at all, but probably a little bit.

On the other hand, I’ll be working on a custom board to replace the arduino + motorshield combo (while still being arduino compatible), and that might shave a few quid off the price at a future date.  I quite like shipping actual general-purpose boards with this kit because it makes it a real tinkerer’s kit, but it’s an expensive way of doing it.

More parts, and thanks to everyone!

Have just asked for another batch of controllers and some more sprockets.  Lead time to get parts, if I had none at all in stock, is about two and a half weeks I think.  That sounds good to me, but of course that’s only possible for fairly small quantities.

Small quantities are easy enough to get quickly, bigger batches (where the real cost savings are) will ship direct from manufacturers, and that normally means months rather than days.  I’ve got a dozen orders now, and expect to have shipped them all during the second week in October, the first couple will go sooner than that.

Just wanted to say too, that the response to this project has been amazing – a total surprise to me.  I mean, I knew it was a cool project (that’s why I did it) but I thought that it was only me that thought that, and I always think the stuff I do is cool, so it doesn’t count.

I’m so grateful for all the support, and hope I can deliver and make everybody happy!  I’ve had my busiest week EVAR, yet still seem to have got very little achieved beyond antagonising my postman with the number of parcels I have streaming into me.

I have been threatening some illustrated build / setup instructions, and will get onto that next week since my weekend is already written off

I have also got some ideas for code changes that will take priority:

  • Save the machine size into EEPROM using the regular interface rather than having to reprogram the arduino every time.
  • Give the machine a name to make controller set up easier / safer.

I hope I’ve got enough program space for the EEPROM library.

After that, I’ll be bullying the controller into a more practical shape.  Promise.

Paypal fixed

Thanks for letting me know my paypal button was goosed.  Not sure why, something about options being too long, or bad characters or something.

Anyway, I’ve fixed it.  I think!  Beautiful day in Edinburgh today.

Parts come rolling in

What a lot of suppliers. I guess I’d forgotten about that.  I got a big batch of parts in the post on Friday, and just about kernackered myself carrying them home (big box of motors), but that’s just half of it.  The mail room people here are getting a bit cross I think.

Each kit is made up of two dozen items from eight different suppliers – lots to go wrong, so I’m a little nervous about it.

Box of fragrant laser cuttings has just landed on my desk.  Love that smell of lasered plywood. I’ve made a couple of improvements to the gondola, it’s got a wider front plate (stabiliser), and the hooks for the cords are now one piece rather than two glued together.  I added some little nodes so they locked together better, but now I’m nervous it’s too tight, so I’ll be shaving those off.  I was doing a very large drawing last night using this double-bearing gondola, and

Ordered a bunch of lovely little latching connectors last week, so the wiring harnesses will be much neater and not need screwing in.  Need to look at the suggested routing. I am going to supply one long (4ft) motor cable and one short one, on the basis that the arduino will be next to one of the motors.  If anyone is planning a bigger machine than 4ft wide, or if this is a stupid size, just let me know.

Still en route: Power supplies, cabling, 3D printed sprockets.  Oh, servo motors! Ha!

First orders for machines in!

A big thank you to the first couple of polargraph machine buyers – I’m waiting for a few more bits to be delivered / manufactured, but it’ll all be done as soon as possible.

I’m going to produce some proper illustrated setup instructions in time for delivery, so that’ll be nice, and also revamp the controller software somewhat.  It’s a bit haphazard as it stands.  As paying customers, I know you expect better than haphazard. You demand it, and YOU DESERVE IT.

Thanks folks, I do hope you enjoy it!