Comming back from OHM 2013

Past week I was in the OHM 2013, a hackers/makers international camping festival in Holland.

With the rest of the Spaniards that attended the camp, we mounted a “Spanish Village” where we offered cured ham (jamon serrano), spanish red wine (Rioja), “tinto de verano” and sangria. No topics here 😉

Ham operator

Myself as “ham operator”

Besides the food, we had time to share ideas, projects and good chats with some of the most interesting people out there.

Thanks to all the attendees for the good time and see you in two years!

New website

It has been quite a lot of time without updating the web… but now I am back with a new hosting and new CMS (WordPress instead of Joomla).

I suppose that after the migration to WordPress, something will be broken, but I will try my best to repair it as soon as I detect it.

 

 

Business card personalization

After a good reception and a lot of mails asking for it, I am studying the possibility of manufacturing personalized cards like mine.

However, I am not sure if this project is economically reasonable. There are a lot of problems to deal with.

In first place, the setup cost are high. VERY HIGH!

When you order a PCB production, the manufacturer has to setup the machines and create the masks with the PCB drawing. This process is expensive, around 180$. After that, the production cost of each PCB is cheap, around 1$.
The same happens with the assembling (soldering the electronic parts). The setup cost is even higher! 250$ approximately.

For a small batch of PCBs, the setup will be the most part of the final PCB cost. But, when a large batch is produced, the setup costs are “diluted” and represent only a fraction of the final cost. ECONOMY OF SCALE!!!

In our case, each personalized PCB card requires a different setup, so a there is fixed cost of around 450$ for each personalization… THAT IS ABSOLUTELY INFEASIBLE! No one is going to pay that for a bunch of business card!

But… most of the setup process is exactly the same for all the personalized business card. They only differ in the silkscreen mask (the contact info printed on the board). So… I am negotiating right now with some manufacturers, trying to reach to any kind of agreement to pay only the silkscreen mask for each personalization.

Other problem is the hole in the PCB that I made to accomodate the microcontroller. The assembling machines have problems soldering it, so probably a manual assembling is required. TOO EXPENSIVE!

Removing that hole and soldering the microcontroller on the PCB is not an option. It will make the card to thick! (4.4mm!)

An finally, we have the problem of the electronic parts price.

When I did my business card some months ago, I paid using euros. The euro-dollar exchange rate was very good then, so the electronic parts and the PCBs were relative cheap (for an European).

Now that the exchange rate is more equilibrated, the price for the parts (and the estimated final price for all the card) in euros is not very reasonable paying… I don’t want even to imagine paying in dollars! Only the electronic parts are 5$!.

The solution to all these problems is a mass production. A production of 10,000 unit would allow me to negotiate with the manufacturers and providers from a better position.
Unfortunately, 10,000 units is far away from the reality. 1,000 could me a more credible number.

With those numbers, I expect a final price around 8-9$ per unit. I will contact with more manufacturers/providers to try to get a better price…

The problem that I don’t know how to solve is how to automatize the personalization of the PCB layout. For each personalization I have to modify the PCB layout, and that is one hour of engineering (plus the work of sending the personalized PCB to the manufacturer, explaining everything, coordinating the shipping, etc)! I don’t mind to personalize two or three PCBs, but… I really do mind to personalize dozens!

The good news are that I am thinking in some changes.

I am considering to replace the PIC 24FJ64GB002 for a PIC 18F25J50. Less CPU power, but the dollar saved with the change will be used to put a 2MB SPI flash memory.

I will post news with more details about the negotiations, but the high estimated price per unit is making me think twice about going forward with the project.

As an alternative for those who wants a cool card, but do not want to spend a lot of money and do not need “fancy functions”, I am thinking offering PCB cards without any specific circuit electronic on it (no electronic parts). They will be much, much, much cheaper because there are no components and no assembling costs.

If you are interested in some business card, send me an email at “card (AT) t4f.org”.

[Edited:] Not any more! I am not making more business card at the moment.

More email problems!

MORE PROBLEMS!!!

I have been without mail server from the 26th May 17:30 (GMT+1) to 28th May 4:00 (GMT+1). If you send me an email in that period, I did not receive it.

Please, send me it again.

My business card and the avalanche of visits.

My god!!!

I published three days ago an article showing how is my new business card.
It seems that the idea really liked to the people, because it was posted soon in a lot of blogs and webzines, some of them with a lot of visitors (Make Magazine, Hack-a-day, Gizmodo and a lot more!).
THANKS A LOT FOR THE SUPPORT!
As consequence of this unexpected avalanche of visits, the server could not attend all the request and crashes from time to time and at the end, I surpassed the bandwidth monthly limit.
My hosting provider, instead of redirecting my site to a “bandwidth quota exceeded” page, they decided WITHOUT WARNING to redirect the site to a crappy Facebook-clone  of their own and similars. Moreover, some of those spam-pages had some kind of strange javascripts and your anti-malware software could warn you about it.
I finally have fixed it (by paying for a premium hosting).
Sorry for the  problems!