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Author Topic: Plecter Labs Products & Important Announcements  (Read 76268 times)

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Offline erv

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Plecter Labs Products & Important Announcements
« on: August 29, 2010, 01:18:27 AM »
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.

CF manufacturing:
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.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2012, 12:12:42 AM by erv »

Offline Ronan

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2010, 11:47:27 AM »
Bon travaille comme d'hab.

Peut etre le temp de vendre ton patent a une company ou mass produce.

#1 On aura plus besoin de payer +$500 pour une CF sur ebay.
#2 Le monde sera content.
#3 Ta sante sera contente.

Merci frero.
MTFBWY

Offline Master Durangus

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2010, 12:02:37 PM »
Thank you for that detailed explanation, Erv. :) It answered a lot of my questions, as well.

I am curious - and this will help to serve for people who want to see the effort spent to make the CF boards - how long does it take you to make 1 CF? As opposed to a Petit Cruton?

Thank you again for continuing to offer this product at an affordable cost to us, and continuing to work hard to improve this hobby, despite the stresses and added time it puts on your day :).

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Offline erv

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2010, 12:09:41 PM »
@Ronan,
thanks for your post.
All that has been addressed before (mass manufacturing) plus developed above.
I don't have any patent,
that forum is in english (please translate so that everybody can read your post.). As for the rest, I have no interest in selling/licensing my work so that it's used or marketed by someone else (read above). I also don't feel like I need or want to explain someone else how I do it. Fair enough I suppose.
No one is "forced" to buy an overpriced CF (read above) unless he/she wants to.

@MD: I honestly don't know. Around one hour, maybe, from pre-tinning to flashing and testing. I almost never make them one by one so it's hard to tell. The PC isn't really "faster" to build per say, I think it actually has more parts.

Offline Salvatore1971

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2010, 01:03:35 PM »
I'm curious too, erv: once you have made 1 CF, do you test it? And how?

BTW, I need 1.000 CFs for tomorrow!  ;D  ;D  ;D

Don't send me to xxx, please! ;D
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:05:08 PM by Salvatore1971 »




I'm Italian. Sorry in advance for my bad english! :D

Offline Rhyen Skytracker

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2010, 01:14:22 PM »
Erv, I think that answered a lot of questions that many of us had.  What people have to consider is that if you do send them off for mass production then the quality will drop and we don't want that.  With you making them yourself you can guarantee the quality.  I for one would much rather to have to wait for one and ensure it's quality than to be able to get one quick and have to worry about bugs and faulty compolents and traces.  I think the best thing is to move forward like you are doing with finding better, faster ways for YOU to make then.  We appreciate all that you do and keep up the great work.

Offline gchu149

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2010, 01:16:39 PM »
I'm curious too, erv: once you have made 1 CF, do you test it? And how?

BTW, I need 1.000 CFs for tomorrow!  ;D  ;D  ;D

Don't send me to xxx, please! ;D

Erv test each board by hand. The way he tests it, I wouldn't really know since I don't know much about these sort of things.
de CF
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http://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/index.php?topic=20080.msg330140#msg330140

Offline Salvatore1971

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2010, 01:34:16 PM »
I'm curious too, erv: once you have made 1 CF, do you test it? And how?
BTW, I need 1.000 CFs for tomorrow!  ;D  ;D  ;D
Don't send me to xxx, please! ;D
Erv test each board by hand. The way he tests it, I wouldn't really know since I don't know much about these sort of things.

Oh, ok. What I would know is if he uses an empty saber to test the CF, or other ways. Ok, it doesn't matter.  :-\ Thanks anyway, guys.  :)




I'm Italian. Sorry in advance for my bad english! :D

Offline Scorpion

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2010, 01:53:59 PM »
when they are on sale again whats the max amount of boards i can buy?

oh and when you put them in the oven what exactly does that do? and why dont they melt?
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:56:40 PM by darthsteve »


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Offline ASAJJ VENTRESS

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2010, 01:54:43 PM »
I'm sure that when Erv said that discussion was permitted, I'm thinking he was hoping for more discussing and less joking - and speculation.


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Offline QUI-GON JINN

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2010, 02:20:47 PM »
when they are on sale again whats the max amount of boards i can buy?

oh and when you put them in the oven what exactly does that do? and why dont they melt?
The pcb's don't melt because of the material they are made form....the baking in the oven is for melting the solder paste on the board's electronic components,  soldering them to the pcb all at once....that way,  erv doesn't have to 100's of tiny solder joints by hand.

Erv pretty much explained that in this topic:
http://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/index.php?topic=25641.30


Offline Rhyen Skytracker

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2010, 03:25:06 PM »
The reflow oven will save a good bit of time.  Erv will still have to use solder paste to keep all the components in place.  The paste not only holds the components in place, it is the solder too.  So, once the reflow oven gets up to temp it will melt the solder paste and once it cools down all the components will be soldered.  The reflow oven is not just a toaster oven, it has a controller too which will regulate the heat to a specific temperture for a specific amount of time.  This keeps the board from getting too hot to melt and gets the solder paste hot enough to melt.  It is a very efficient set up and Erv has found a very economic way to do it.

Offline Jm419

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2010, 06:55:20 PM »
Bon travaille comme d'hab.

Peut etre le temp de vendre ton patent a une company ou mass produce.

#1 On aura plus besoin de payer +$500 pour une CF sur ebay.
#2 Le monde sera content.
#3 Ta sante sera contente.

Merci frero.

This says, for everyone's benefit:

Good work for how you live as usual.

It may be the time to sell your patent to a company that can mass produce.

1. No one will need to pay $500 for one on ebay.
2. Everyone The whole World will be happy.
3. Your health will be good will be happy .

Thanks Bro.

edited by Erv'
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 10:35:31 PM by erv »
    


Offline LUMINARA UNDULI

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2010, 07:04:34 PM »
Once again, telling Erv' how to run his business ::).



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Offline Jm419

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Re: Important things about Plecter Labs and Crystal Focus
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2010, 07:14:46 PM »
Once again, telling Erv' how to run his business ::).

Those weren't my words, Luminara.  I translated the quote into English, as Erv asked the original poster to do.  I simply did that for the benefit of everyone in the thread.

As for the topic;

Thanks for the info, Erv.   I understand the method a little better now, and I appreciate it.