I get asked fairly often why we don’t offer kits and if we plan on offering them.
Kiitting (make a kit) is labor intensive, and has a lot of extra steps that require more labor than building/testing a board myself:
- Pulling all the parts and labeling them so the customer can identify which part is which.
- Documenting substitutions – we do change values of capacitors and resistors during the lifetime of a product.
- Some boards need modifications. We do find design flaws and make the changes for the next spin of the board, but I really can’t afford to toss out hundreds of dollars of boards, so as I build a board I apply the required changes. A kit would need additional instructions and some customers might not be comfortable cutting traces and installing jumpers.
- New documentation has to be written with building instructions. There also needs to be a debugging section for when a board doesn’t work.
- Many parts need to be tested before being packaged, as opposed to my building a board and then testing it as a single piece. I’ve also got test software to help automate some of the testing.
- I can’t control the customer’s build environment; do they have a decent soldering iron, are they skilled at soldering, are boards assembled in an ESD safe environment?
- More emails from customers with questions on how to build a board or asking why it doesn’t work.
And the single biggest reason:
- Due to all the extra labor, the price would be exactly the same as an assembled and tested board!
So the short answer is that we’re not planning on offering kits short-term, but might start making this an option for some of the simpler boards in the future.
We survived the big snowstorm without any problems. The winds were a concern but they were only really strong down by the shore, not near our location, and we only got about 18 inches of snow. Fortunately power never went out so the soldering iron was hot and the bench had some experiments going.
Production quality RAM/ROM boards for the KIM should arrive this week and I’ll get a few assembled by the weekend. Manuals still need to be written and some more minor changes to the extended KIM monitor but it’s all close to being released.
I also ordered prototypes of the SS-30 Super Serial Board, which has two high speed RS-232 serial ports. The breadboard version was running nicely with interrupt driven I/O. This board will only work on 6809 systems (needs 16 addresses for the board) and is really meant to support more modern OSes that are available for the 6809 and need interrupt driven I/O.
The next show we’re going to is VCF East in mid April, so if you’re interesting in seeing our products running, that’s the best place. I’m also planning on VCF MW in Chicago again this year.
The design of the new SS-30 Super Serial RS-232 board has been completed, so the next step is to order some prototypes for debugging. This board is only for 6809 based systems; it needs all 16 ports for a given slot and will not work in a 6800 system with normal addressing.
The SS-30 Timer board is also ready. I got quotes for some prototypes and should be ordering them soon.
The new KIM-1 60K RAM/ROM board has been ordered and will hopefully arrive within a week. The engineering version had only one minor problem so this board should be on the price list within a couple days after arriving.
VCF East is getting close enough that I’ve got to finalize exactly what we plan on bringing along. This year I’ll have a quite a bit of stuff on display, but might try to squeeze in one more project before then. Once products are finalized it takes a few weeks to have enough built in order to display at a show.