Recently, certain events, discussion and remarks called my attention enough so that I though I'll place a public answer here, and a few statements too.Crystal Focus
Price & Availability:
Possibly because of the Petit Crouton
, board that has been developed at JSSDC, (where I've been invited to be a member about 2 years ago) and which has certain restrictions about its availability, Certain people start thinking that JSSDC is "controlling" availability of the CF boards (understand *they* have all of them). That's of course incorrect. Almost all my affiliates are JSSDC members, but not ALL of them, and not ALL JSSDC members are my affiliates (FAR from it).
I work in 2 different "phases" : one providing boards to the "regular" customers, another for supplying affiliates. I have to do both. If affiliates don't get CF in a reasonable amount of time, commissioned sabers cannot be completed and runs like the Yun sabers or the Starkiller would simply not exist.
Other people state that I take advantage of making CF a "rare" item so that I can control the market. That's again ignoring 2 facts
** First is that when I "only" put for sale 80 boards in a year, I actually make 150 minimum, usually 200, and in 2007 I made 300. The past 2 years have been difficult for me since we move to a new place and I spent most of my free time renovating the house, hence having no time for props or making boards.
At the end, people want them and there's never enough. Some call me stupid and don't understand why I don't push the button to get 1,000s of them to make big $$$. Usually those people have only their single little project on the bench and they are not happy they can't get the missing part to complete it. You might send this to the R2 builders for instance. And ask them how often they get the R2 dome made, and how many units are made each time. I'm not blaming anyone, the hobby has grown up, but I didn't ask anything. I do things my way (or no way). I've always wanted to be a craftsman of electronics, and I keep going with that. People seem to be happy with the boards they get from me, especially if I put in there the features they asked for. Then when I "revive" some old 2.5 to turn it into something close to a 4.31 for a small fee, they go for a happy dance.
Ask around for my customer service and communication. Aside 1 or 2 boards over now close to 2000, I fixed ANY thing that was sent back (not so many btw).
Other people seem to have very little to add to the hobby and sell my boards on the forums or on ebay, sometimes with very high reserve price. I don't like it but at the end I don't care, other people make cool sabers with the board and that's the main point. And there's nothing wrong neither for a Mr Deep Pockets to buy an overpriced CF on ebay if he has the money for that, but I still call it black market.
I designed CF back in 2005 (at that time it was just a sound module) because there was nothing satisfying on the market, and I kept going because people enjoy it, not because of the $$$, which is always helpful but I could live without. My goal remains to provide something nice to the community.
** second is that... I have a day job. A "regular" job if you prefer. I have to state that again since it doesn't seem to be common knowledge. While handling several products (production and R&D) like voice core, blaster core, and CF, I spend at least 10 hours a day a research engineer in a research institute where I'm specialized in gesture recognition and embedded electronics. I don't do saber boards for a living and I only have a couple of hours a day plus the week ends to handle that. Do the maths.
People tend to think that getting those boards made is simple, like pressing a button to get 1,000. There are so many reasons why it's not that simple, starting with the fact I'm in France and people just ignore how hard it is to find a company that accepts to work with small batches (<1000) and without charging you a silly amount of $$$. Sure... why not then manufacturing in the USA or in China ?? Everyone involved in remote production knows that you need to travel to check quality, meet people and so on. What a hassle ! Again, I have some experience about that. I got quotes. The best solution was finally to have just the assembly made, but now, with a reflow oven, I can optimize the production so that I can make more boards in less time. Why would I get a company in china doing that for me while I can do everything at home.
I don't think I *owe* people some CF. When sony is out of PS3 after they sold out in 5 minutes with hundreds of people queuing in the street when they're out, sony doesn't *OWE* you anything. You'll wait like others. Sony doesn't have waiting lists worldwide.
I'm a single man, and I'm already doing my best. If you're not happy with that, I'm sorry, that's what I have to offer.
CF boards, just like my other boards, and the items I build in general are assembled by hand. I get the bare PCB made by a company of course, who wants to get PCBs made at home looking like the were made in a Junior High dirty lab. Those PCB are professional FR4 ones with solder mask and resist to heat. Then I assemble all SMD parts, one after the other, by hand, at home.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woqknbHkHe4
Crystal Focus Board Design, Features etc :
I believe in the art of embedded electronics. The CF design has evolved along the years to become more and more elegant, and not eat too much power, include most of the features people required (except a color mixing, which I'm still not convinced). I don't use ready made and generic libraries simply because I can do a more optimized job so that I don't need several processor to do the job when it can be done with a single one.
Keep asking for features, just make sure they aren't there already. It makes the CF improving.
Certain people wonder why only a very few number of sounds boards type are on the market ?Maybe it's just difficult. Myself I can't operate a CNC and I suck at photoshop, however, I've been told by pros that "it's however not that difficult". Well, making a sound board isn't "that difficult" and I never called myself the only one. Now there are several things on the market and I don't care if some of them are made by using raw schematics found on the internet and using ready made libraries, I just keep going with CF trying to make it USEFUL and FUN for user's. My Ethic is strong, and I have nothing to "prove" in term of electronic engineering, I'm a former EE and I do that job everyday, so the quality of my design is the same of what I do at the institute. I believe in optimization, not in 30 seconds code pissing.
If more things must be added to that topic, I'll keep it growing, so that it becomes more of a knowledge base. Don't get me started again with "what about getting CF in kit" or "why don't you quit your day job then ?".
At the end I'm running my business the way I want. However, for many newcomers and even to certain people in the hobby, certain things are unknown and they just deserve to be informed that I overall have a quite limited time to the hobby.
Actual discussion is permitted here. This is not a support thread, so please keep that for yourself.