If you want to offer boards that would be great. I don’t recommend kits although I won’t say you can’t. Give it a try and I think you’ll see the economics of offering kits is crushingly expensive. It is a sizable upfront investment for even a small lot of boards.
It would make sense to me to consider regional distribution of boards. Say someone each in Europe, Australia, and the US. There are probably enough builders in each region to support local community. The costs would be lower too considering less shipping.
I don’t think I like the collection agents idea too much though. If other builders get involved in distribution of boards then they should be autonomous and basically self-directing. It would be better if they were able to take on the whole task rather than bundle it back to me since then I am the choke-point/weak-link in the process. Its better they stand alone in my opinion.
Thanks and have a nice day!
Feel free to put me down as a minder as well. I’d be happy to take care of some of the simpler boards first – perhaps the backplane and/or prototype boards?
The only complication is that because I am in Australia, that’s going to increase shipping costs. So if you would prefer to allocate the task to someone in the U.S. instead, that’s perfectly understandable.
Is there any interest in the minders optionally making available a kit of parts for their boards? I would be happy to pay a premium to cover the cost of the minder maintaining a parts list, placing orders, preparing kits, etc.
Here is another option: If the volume of transactions is a problem, perhaps you could allocate “collection agents” for each board instead? The collection agent would collect the funds for their board, and then transfer the total amount to you in one payment (once the viable threshold for an order has been reached). That should significantly reduce the transaction volume. You would control the board ordering process, so there is consistent control over PCB quoting and ordering. I realise this would still leave you with the bulk of the admin tasks though - and I agree these tasks should also be shared.
Thanks for the clarification. Clearly, this is a burden you shouldn’t have to bear. I can’t layout circuits or design boards but I can put labels on envelopes and mail boards. I’d love to distribute the Z80 Vxx boards.
The problem with PayPal is once the number of transactions passes a threshold they treat it as “income” and declare it. Now I have to deal with it like I had a business which of course I don’t have. It is not an unsolvable problem but is a huge PITA I was not planning on dealing with. This is like I invited my friends over to watch a football game and we decided to order pizza. Everyone tossed in their $5 and now PayPal is treating it like I was running a business. No, everyone bought their slice of pizza and ate it. I did not “sell” any pizza to anyone. It is the same analogy with group orders of boards. The builders paid for their boards before they even were ordered. The boards were theirs the entire time. I organized and did administrative tasks for the “club” (for lack of a better term).
The way the N8VEM ECB hobbyists are doing it is some builders designed and distribute their own boards. For example Sergey has all the Xi8088 and Zeta boards. I don’t get involved and it is completely separate from me. John is doing similar with the ECB 12 slot backplane and the new super-duper Z180 SBC mark IV board. We could do this with the S-100 boards just as easily.
If we were to get builders to “adopt” boards as their own we could spread this out so everyone gets a chance to order and distribute boards. For example you want an S-100 Z80 CPU V2 board. I send you the file set which you now are in charge of so that you make the orders and distribute to the other builders. Paul is responsible for the S-100 regular prototyping board, etc. Basically every builder who wants to gets a board or boards they are in charge of. Spread it out over the whole group and let everyone participate.
While this adds some complexity it basically preserves the structure we have now. The difference being is anyone who wants a board looks up who the board “minder” (for lack of a better term) is and contacts them directly rather than me for that particular board. They could be in the US or internationally and even have regional builders to handle boards locally without the global shipping we do now. The advantage is more builders get “skin in the game” and also John and I can concentrate more of our time on developing new boards and updating the existing ones. Please see the N8VEM wiki PCB inventory sheet to illustrate the concept
I really against starting a business and any sort of organized club or non-profit makes me cringe. I really like the totally ad hoc peer-to-peer approach of “by hobbyists for hobbyists”. Basically the self-organized semi-chaotic state we find ourselves in now. If the N8VEM home brew computing project were run like a business it would collapse in seconds. It has basically been sponsored and maintained by some “patrons” (for lack of a better term) and the builders themselves. Without them none of this would be possible. That’s the facts.
Thanks and have a nice day!
Could we back up a little bit to clearer definition of the problems with PayPal? What kind of account do you have now and what demands have they made of you? Is it something like a limit on volume of transactions or dollars/month? I ask because I think that, all things being equal, PayPal is still the best way to handle payment, especially when you consider the number of international buyers involved.
If it is a matter of additional fees, I don’t think there would be any objection to increasing the cost of the boards to include whatever administrative overhead is involved. For that matter, you should also be compensated for your time, shipping and mailing supplies, transportation costs, etc. Of course this is a volunteer effort but it shouldn’t be an expense for you.
If there are additional personal, business or regulatory issues involved, then that is surely your call. I just don’t want to walk away from PayPal if we can find a comfortable accommodation for you and all concerned.
Meanwhile, following on the lead of several other N8VEM members, I’m happy to volunteer to help in whatever way you see fit.
Thanks to you and John for keeping this great project alive.
Honestly I have not figured this out yet. I am thinking that some analog of how we would do this were we all in the same small town. Think of a ham radio club that wanted to raise funds for a new repeater antenna. All the club members contribute to the fund, they buy it, install it, and they all use it. Part of the problem though is the N8VEM home brew computer project is definitely not a business and it more like a hobby club but just not well organized. There is no official leadership or treasurer and is basically an ad hoc group of random hobbyists that are globally dispersed.
What I am thinking about is basically every interested builder puts their money into a “kitty” and we use that to order the boards. The closest thing I can think of is to just mail a check, money order, or cash which I or some other builder then uses to order the PCBs. It is more hassle for everyone than PayPal but it avoids all of their problems too. I think any sort of electronic funds transfer service (Amazon, etc) has this problem. PayPal is just following the law to report when they see the number of transactions exceed some limit.
I am not sure of how WU or Money Gram works but if it involves posting bank account information that is a non-starter due to internet privacy concerns (really the total lack thereof). However there are some banks/credit unions that allow a sort of electronic paper check to be sent. The builder tells the bank to send the check and the bank/credit union literally mails a physical check to the specified address. It appears automatic and fully electronic from the senders end but the receiver gets an actual check. Sort of the best of both worlds if it is available.
Thanks and have a nice day!
Would it just be easier to have those of us who want a board to wire you the money via WU or Money Gram?
Just a thought.
Consciousness affects the medium. Think happy, be happy, and happiness will follow you.
On Tuesday, February 4, 2014 9:07 PM, nbreeden <nbre...@me.com> wrote:
Please put me down for one.
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