Occasionally I get stuff to review, but I also buy stuff to review. Fact is, however, most of the stuff I get either sent or I buy I don’t review.
I try not to publicly criticize. Plus, I don’t think it is a good idea to publicize things that are bad.
Praise in public, criticize in private.
When I get sent things that don’t work in some way I will let the manufacturer or retailer know. They don’t always appreciate that even.
So why kits? Why now?
Ben and I have talked about creating kits on and off for years, but hesitated.
There is some obvious financial risk involved, not least the risk we could end up with a lock up full of components that we can’t sell.
Added to that is the amount of competition, the fact we don’t have the economy of scale, the subsidy from a friendly government, terrible postage costs, the low margin on these things even before taking into account the hidden costs …
… and, of course, we have families to support so need to make a living wage in addition to/despite this venture, because we doubt there is enough profit to be made from it.
No, I am not talking myself out of it 😉
But with all that in mind, we still get frustrated with the quality of kits out there, and want to do something about it.
I have a corny-but-true goal:
By the time I am 50 I want to have inspired a million makers to start making.
Note, I don’t say I want them to pay me, or even read my content. I just want to have contributed to a significant number of new people getting into making and I set a target number and deadline.
What is wrong with the existing kits?
I’ve looked at and reviewed dozens of educational or starter kits.
There are some wonderful products out there from Adafruit and Sparkfun. Even better, they are open source hardware and they contribute libraries and education. They are the high bar, and due to that high bar, they are the premium option.
When you spend a lot on DIY electronics, people tend to be more timid with pushing the boundaries of their experiments.
So it comes down to researching the more affordable options, especially if you are trying to put together enough kits for a maker space, robotics club, or school classroom, then the quality plummets.
There you don’t get good documentation, if at all. You certainly don’t get educated, as the focus is on minimal instructions so that you can build that specific thing. Often the starter kits are a big box of cheap stuff rather than a curated mix of what will help push your knowledge forward.
Many times the kit will consist of proprietary boards with proprietary connectors and proprietary libraries, so any experienced gained has limited transferability to future projects.
That is without getting into sketchy apps that you need to install on your phone or computer that get access to stuff without you knowing exactly what they are doing behind the scenes …
But you said you couldn’t compete?
I realized my analysis-paralysis, imposter syndrome, and financial fear was stopping me from doing something I really wanted to do again.
While I am not about to quit my job any time soon, I also don’t want to lose money. At the same time, I want as many people as possible to benefit. That one million makers thing.
Then it struck me. Daniel Noree had already shown us the way with his Open RC projects.
The BOM, code, and instructions can be open source.
If anyone wants the convenience of getting everything in one box, they can get them from us as an option.
Plus, we can throw in some additional, more hands-on or tangible education for those who would benefit from that.
But … your free content!
Nothing will change with our free content. In fact Ben is running the 12 Days of Makemas right now on our YouTube channel.
We dipped our first toes into this venture but running the 30 Days to Arduino project (you can still get all the free lessons over at the Making Arduino site), and the Open 8 Ball project. The first kits will likely complement those projects.
Next, in the new
Over to you.
Rather than have comments in two places, I have moved conversations over to the Facebook Group.
What do you think about our idea of making kits? Good idea?
Share your thoughts in the Facebook Group.