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Electronics => Crowd Funded Projects => Topic started by: rthorntn on November 09, 2016, 10:27:15 am

Title: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: rthorntn on November 09, 2016, 10:27:15 am
Hi,

I'm a bit of a beginner with electronics, does this project look feasible:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2120665567/wirebutter-smart-powerboard/ (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2120665567/wirebutter-smart-powerboard/)

Red flags around all the testing and certification costs to work with mains power in a bunch of countries would probably cost a lot more than the A$59K target?

Thanks.

Richard
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 10:44:47 am
$165 for a 4-channel energy measurement system plus a whatever 2.4GHz wireless module? No, thanks. I can build one for $50.
Also, regarding to the certificate cost, a UL60950-1 test+cert can cost you $3000 easily if you get it done correctly in one pass.
An FCC cert for intentional radiator (if they decided to roll out their own WiFi design) will also run you easily $10k.
And that's only for US/Canada. National level certificates for each major regulatory body cost roughly the same, so multiply that by 5 you get the number: $65k.
Even though some regulatory bodies recon each others' certificates, $59k, in AUD, still seems far less than required if they want to sell world wide.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Cerebus on November 09, 2016, 11:01:18 am
$165 for a 4-channel energy measurement system plus a whatever 2.4GHz wireless module? No, thanks. I can build one for $50.

Easy for you to say, but can you buy one for $50? What it'd cost you or I to whip one up for has little to do with what's a reasonable retail price.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 11:03:09 am
Not speaking to the validity of the product (I just scrolled through the page and looked at the pictures).

$165 is not a bad price. You can't do it cheaper with similar slick industrial design and proposed apps.

They won't need FCC certification if they use off the shelf certified modules. There is a problem if you use more than one at a time, but it resolvable much cheaper than full-blown certification.

I don't know if they will actually need UL certification for KS type of product. And KS can be used to actually kick start the real product.

They still ask too little. There is no way they can order injection molded parts for all country variations for  $45k.

PS: Yeah, and the whole idea of smart socket with iPhone app is kind of stupid, but so is most of the newly invented stuff.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 11:06:10 am
Easy for you to say, but can you buy one for $50? What it'd cost you or I to whip one up for has little to do with what's a reasonable retail price.

I can buy parts to build one for $50 excluding PCB prototyping service and my time cost.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 11:07:09 am
excluding PCB prototyping service and my time cost.
And if you include that, you will get a number way higher than $170. That's the point of having a commercial product.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 11:08:33 am
They won't need FCC certification if they use off the shelf certified modules. There is a problem if you use more than one at a time, but it resolvable much cheaper than full-blown certification.

Yes they do. With a pre-certified module they will have to do FCC15B test for unintentional radiation. Without a pre-certified module, they need FCC15B for unintentional radiator (logic and power part) and FCC15C for intentional one.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 11:12:00 am
FCC15B test for unintentional radiation
I'm not sure in what cases unintentional radiation actually has to be tested. I think most of the time you just claim compliance somehow.

And KS units can be shipped as prototypes/dev.kits, so they won't need certification either.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 11:15:22 am
I'm not sure in what cases unintentional radiation actually has to be tested. I think most of the time you just claim compliance somehow.

And KS units can be shipped as prototypes/dev.kits, so they won't need certification either.

That's called verification, they don't have to pay for a cert, but they have to pay for the actual testing, otherwise they will be in trouble if someone later report it has excessive radiation.
FCC15 exempts things for ISM purposes, but kits are not exempted unless it is solely for ISM purpose, including hobbyist engineering, which is the gray zone where Adafruit survives in.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 11:23:40 am
otherwise they will be in trouble if someone later report it has excessive radiation.
Well, obviously they need to make sure that it does not actually radiate a lot of noise. But this can be reasonably done in-house.

FCC15 exempts things for ISM purposes, but kits are not exempted unless it is solely for ISM purpose, including hobbyist engineering, which is the gray zone where Adafruit survives in.
I don't see how this thing is any more different than any other form-factor dev. kit. It is obviously shipped though a KS campaign, which naturally attracts people willing to mess with the thing, update the firmware, etc. I really believe this is a valid argument. Plus KS distribution is fairly limited.

When they want to scale this for actual production, they will have to get all the certification, but by that time they will have a very tangible product (or nothing), so getting some financing should not be a big deal.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Cerebus on November 09, 2016, 11:24:30 am
Easy for you to say, but can you buy one for $50? What it'd cost you or I to whip one up for has little to do with what's a reasonable retail price.

I can buy parts to build one for $50 excluding PCB prototyping service and my time cost.

So your point is that it's overpriced because it, as a complete working assembly, is more than its raw parts costs.

You're beginning to sound like the stereotypical Chinese cousin/Jewish uncle/Indian brother-in-law who can 'get it for you wholesale'.  :)
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 11:28:09 am
So your point is that it's overpriced because it, as a complete working assembly, is more than its raw parts costs.

You're beginning to sound like the stereotypical Chinese cousin/Jewish uncle/Indian brother-in-law who can 'get it for you wholesale'.  :)

I will either expect it to be fully certified and tested and pay for a premium, or be a hobbyist level stuff with minimal price margin.
A product that clearly won't have enough money to pass all sorts of certification while charging a premium? No way.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Cerebus on November 09, 2016, 11:35:58 am
So your point is that it's overpriced because it, as a complete working assembly, is more than its raw parts costs.

You're beginning to sound like the stereotypical Chinese cousin/Jewish uncle/Indian brother-in-law who can 'get it for you wholesale'.  :)

I will either expect it to be fully certified and tested and pay for a premium, or be a hobbyist level stuff with minimal price margin.
A product that clearly won't have enough money to pass all sorts of certification while charging a premium? No way.

That's not where you started from. You started from a dismissive "No, thanks. I can build one for $50.". Not quite the same thing.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 11:45:33 am
That's not where you started from. You started from a dismissive "No, thanks. I can build one for $50.". Not quite the same thing.

If you read it carefully, you will find in my first post I already addressed the certification cost issue.
I have no problems buying high quality, legitimate products, but I don't want to pay more than 20% margin for anything that's not properly made unless I absolutely have to.

Also, I do not have mercy to overpriced things if the price cannot be justified.
Check out this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U9YU0K2?psc=1 (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U9YU0K2?psc=1)
The same function as an energy measurement unit plus smart switch, at $22. Four of them together would be $88, then considering the WiFi part and PSU part will be duplicated, I would say for a commercial ready unit with thin but reasonable margin, $70 is the maximum I will pay for this as a fully assembled unit.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: hendorog on November 09, 2016, 06:11:28 pm
Not sure if they have changed the pricing, or I've missed something, or if you guys are smoking something fun, but the KS pricing _is_ USD 50 right now.



Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 06:15:44 pm
Not sure if they have changed the pricing, or I've missed something, or if you guys are smoking something fun, but the KS pricing _is_ USD 50 right now.

It was $165, and now $65. For such a price it is making much better sense.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: hendorog on November 09, 2016, 06:20:57 pm
Not sure if they have changed the pricing, or I've missed something, or if you guys are smoking something fun, but the KS pricing _is_ USD 50 right now.

It was $165, and now $65. For such a price it is making much better sense.

65 AUD = 50 USD

Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 06:25:50 pm
65 AUD = 50 USD

Yes, that's very promising.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 06:27:51 pm
There is still no way they are getting injection moldings for 4 country variations for $45K. Well, may be barely, but there is other stuff as well.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: hendorog on November 09, 2016, 06:33:16 pm
There is still no way they are getting injection moldings for 4 country variations for $45K. Well, may be barely, but there is other stuff as well.

They are just changing the inserts though, how much can that cost?

The really bleedin obvious thing missing is IFTTT integration
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 06:38:27 pm
They are just changing the inserts though, how much can that cost?
I don't think you can get away with just the inserts. EU and UK models are substantially different from the other two, and there will be a visible seam on the flat surface if you just change the inserts, no matter how good your machining is.

If they could somehow make all things circular with the same diameter, then the seam can go inside the circle
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: hendorog on November 09, 2016, 06:47:54 pm
They are just changing the inserts though, how much can that cost?
I don't think you can get away with just the inserts. EU and UK models are substantially different from the other two, and there will be a visible seam on the flat surface if you just change the inserts, no matter how good your machining is.

If they could somehow make all things circular with the same diameter, then the seam can go inside the circle

Yes you are right - going by their own pics the UK version has square inserts and the rest are circular.

Maybe they can get away with two base mouldings though:- UK, and everyone else.

I don't think the visible seam matters - it doesn't matter to Apple as they do the same thing on their laptop adapters.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: hendorog on November 09, 2016, 06:54:11 pm
65 AUD = 50 USD

Yes, that's very promising.

One crazy thing with the pricing is that the 2 unit package costs more than double the single unit package.

65x2 = 130 or you can get a bundle of 2 for 160.  :wtf:
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 06:55:33 pm
65x2 = 130 or you can get a bundle of 2 for 160.  :wtf:
That's what last minute price change does for you :)
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: coppice on November 09, 2016, 06:57:12 pm
This looks like just another load monitoring power strip, like numerous ones already being produced in China. In fact, the style of it looks like something which started its life in China. The price seems unreasonably high. A thing like this can be made pretty cheap, as long as the volume is sufficient to amortise the mouldings.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: blueskull on November 09, 2016, 07:01:42 pm
This looks like just another load monitoring power strip, like numerous ones already being produced in China. In fact, the style of it looks like something which started its life in China. The price seems unreasonably high. A thing like this can be made pretty cheap, as long as the volume is sufficient to amortise the mouldings.

This one has 4 channels that can be metered and controlled individually. Considering the cost of 4 AFE channels and regulatory cost, the price is quite decent.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: coppice on November 09, 2016, 07:03:19 pm
This looks like just another load monitoring power strip, like numerous ones already being produced in China. In fact, the style of it looks like something which started its life in China. The price seems unreasonably high. A thing like this can be made pretty cheap, as long as the volume is sufficient to amortise the mouldings.

This one has 4 channels that can be metered and controlled individually. Considering the cost of 4 AFE channels and regulatory cost, the price is quite decent.
4 power channels can be monitored for <$1 with 0.5% accuracy. Hardly a major cost.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 07:03:22 pm
Considering the cost of 4 AFE channels
But those things actually exist in a real world, this one is a fantasy at the moment.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 07:05:18 pm
4 AFE channels can be monitored for <$1 with 0.5% accuracy. Hardly a major cost.
Care to elaborate?
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: coppice on November 09, 2016, 07:06:07 pm
Considering the cost of 4 AFE channels
But those things actually exist in a real world, this one is a fantasy at the moment.
Why is this one a fantasy? There are a number of power strips with wireless monitoring and switching for each outlet.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ataradov on November 09, 2016, 07:08:47 pm
Why is this one a fantasy?
Because it is a KS campaign at the moment, asking for a ridiculously low amount of money. If they had a warehouse of 100000 of them, I can see a price of $50, or even $100, if their software is decent.

But at the moment they don't exist. And for them to exist at that $50 price, A LOT more people need to order. There is no "scale" in making 1000 units.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Kean on November 09, 2016, 07:12:14 pm
They are just changing the inserts though, how much can that cost?

Nope, they'll also need to completely redesign all the internal stamped metal parts for the electrical contacts, and also probably have slighly different moulds for the main housings to accommodate those and the necessary isolation barriers.  Also, to me it doesn't look like there is enough depth for the European (Schuko?) pins in their render, so that is another variation.

Then they'll need to pay many times for the various country safety tests, which is significantly more than an unintentional radiator test.  Plus product liability insurance in each country they intend to sell into (They may try to bypass this for KS.)

They appear to have the electronics and software prototypes, and 3D printed samples of the housing, and think that taking it into mass production is simple - e.g. see their reply in the comments re certification.  Although they have electrical engineers on the team, it doesn't sound like they have actual experience with product manufacturing.

Why does it need BT, WiFi, Zigbee, Ethernet, and Powerline networking.  Surely you're better off having them independant for "future proofing".  Also, I'm not a fan of them using metal buttons on a mains powered device, even/especially if it is prototype.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: coppice on November 09, 2016, 07:18:04 pm
4 AFE channels can be monitored for <$1 with 0.5% accuracy. Hardly a major cost.
Care to elaborate?
I'm only talking about the measurement. The power supply and radio stuff would obviously cost more on top of that. There are several ways to provide 4 channels of high accuracy wide dynamic range measurement for $1. What people are currently looking for is solutions which slash that price, and there are some. Just look around the utility metering market.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: hendorog on November 09, 2016, 07:20:54 pm
They are just changing the inserts though, how much can that cost?

Nope, they'll also need to completely redesign all the internal stamped metal parts for the electrical contacts, and also probably have slighly different moulds for the main housings to accommodate those and the necessary isolation barriers.  Also, to me it doesn't look like there is enough depth for the European (Schuko?) pins in their render, so that is another variation.

Why couldn't they just use the EU version as the 'standard' base, and then make inserts for the other two options that fit the same socket?

Maybe it's cheaper to not use inserts at all and just remould the base for each country. I'm just taking the hint from the way the renders look on their site.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: coppice on November 09, 2016, 07:21:25 pm
They are just changing the inserts though, how much can that cost?
Nope, they'll also need to completely redesign all the internal stamped metal parts for the electrical contacts, and also probably have slighly different moulds for the main housings to accommodate those and the necessary isolation barriers.  Also, to me it doesn't look like there is enough depth for the European (Schuko?) pins in their render, so that is another variation.
There are designs which work by just changing inserts, and fudge things around near the contacts. I'm not sure that really provides a benefit over a complete change of the moulding, though. It seems to just make things more complex.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: hendorog on November 09, 2016, 07:40:24 pm
I just took a punt on it, will see what happens... :scared:
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Kilrah on November 09, 2016, 07:43:58 pm
Nope, they'll also need to completely redesign all the internal stamped metal parts for the electrical contacts

(http://www.eevblog.com/forum/crowd-funded-projects/kickstarter-wirebutter/?action=dlattach;attach=268915;image)
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Kean on November 09, 2016, 08:00:39 pm
Nope, they'll also need to completely redesign all the internal stamped metal parts for the electrical contacts

(http://www.eevblog.com/forum/crowd-funded-projects/kickstarter-wirebutter/?action=dlattach;attach=268915;image)

What they're "selling" is rather different to that, but I agree there are ways to reduce the cost - it just doesn't look like they've approached it particularly well from the renders (especially Schuko).
And some of those multi-country sockets wouldn't pass approvals - they can be outright dangerous.  No idea about that one of course.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Kean on January 06, 2017, 12:55:17 am
The Wirebutter campaign is about to end.. and the funding graph looks a bit suspicious.
http://www.kicktraq.com/projects/2120665567/wirebutter-smart-powerboard/#chart-daily (http://www.kicktraq.com/projects/2120665567/wirebutter-smart-powerboard/#chart-daily)

Three days had very large pledges of around $9k each, and one of about $7k, with very few backers on these days.
So I guess these probably correspond with the backers of the 120 and 70 packs.
Who but an insider is going to pledge at those kinds of level?
Note that it has gotten them past their goal, which they had no hope of reaching otherwise.

And they're now promising free upgrades to 6 or 8 sockets - although they don't know which yet  :-DD
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: ferrix on January 06, 2017, 07:13:46 am
"Wirebutter" would be a good brand name for solder flux.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Kean on August 17, 2017, 11:38:55 am
Not surprising that these guys have run into certification issues.  :-DD

Backer only update from today:
Quote
Hi backers, we are continuing to work on the design elements that require further work to comply with the various compliance standards.

This work is requiring significant redesign work and so is extremely disruptive to our current plans as it is taking all of our effort to redesign the board in a way that leaves all the capability working - we have not been able to achieve this (meeting standards with all capability) when assessing the prototypes developed so far.

To give you some idea of the kind of problems we face, and how small changes in design can have such large impacts, I will outline an example of a design challenge.

Certain distances and organisation of components are required to meet certain standards. The impact of this drives changes to the design. For example, changes to the design of the PCB board can have implications for the design of the housing, which in turn may introduce issues previously overcome around the safety standards of the housing (and so on and so forth).

Thanks for your patience and understanding as we continue to work on this area of the product to ensure the capability can be safely used by backers in the future.

From that it seems pretty clear they didn't do much research on safety/EMC regulations up front.  Certification delays were originally announced back in May, the estimated shipping month.  They promised an update every 14 days in their mid June update after mentioning that there were further certification issues.  Not surprisingly have only managed two pretty trivial monthly updates since.

I'm ashamed they are fellow Aussies  :-[
Quote
Build a "working" prototype and she'll be right mate!

Just for the record, I only pledged $1 just to watch the train wreck.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: hendorog on August 17, 2017, 09:00:16 pm
Not surprising that these guys have run into certification issues.  :-DD

Backer only update from today:
Quote
Hi backers, we are continuing to work on the design elements that require further work to comply with the various compliance standards.

This work is requiring significant redesign work and so is extremely disruptive to our current plans as it is taking all of our effort to redesign the board in a way that leaves all the capability working - we have not been able to achieve this (meeting standards with all capability) when assessing the prototypes developed so far.

To give you some idea of the kind of problems we face, and how small changes in design can have such large impacts, I will outline an example of a design challenge.

Certain distances and organisation of components are required to meet certain standards. The impact of this drives changes to the design. For example, changes to the design of the PCB board can have implications for the design of the housing, which in turn may introduce issues previously overcome around the safety standards of the housing (and so on and so forth).

Thanks for your patience and understanding as we continue to work on this area of the product to ensure the capability can be safely used by backers in the future.

From that it seems pretty clear they didn't do much research on safety/EMC regulations up front.  Certification delays were originally announced back in May, the estimated shipping month.  They promised an update every 14 days in their mid June update after mentioning that there were further certification issues.  Not surprisingly have only managed two pretty trivial monthly updates since.

I'm ashamed they are fellow Aussies  :-[
Quote
Build a "working" prototype and she'll be right mate!

Just for the record, I only pledged $1 just to watch the train wreck.

Yep fair cop, you called it early on.

Will be interesting to see how it plays out in the end...
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: coppice on August 17, 2017, 09:37:52 pm
Quote
To give you some idea of the kind of problems we face, and how small changes in design can have such large impacts, I will outline an example of a design challenge.

Certain distances and organisation of components are required to meet certain standards. The impact of this drives changes to the design. For example, changes to the design of the PCB board can have implications for the design of the housing, which in turn may introduce issues previously overcome around the safety standards of the housing (and so on and so forth).

Thanks for your patience and understanding as we continue to work on this area of the product to ensure the capability can be safely used by backers in the future.

From that it seems pretty clear they didn't do much research on safety/EMC regulations up front.  Certification delays were originally announced back in May, the estimated shipping month.  They promised an update every 14 days in their mid June update after mentioning that there were further certification issues.  Not surprisingly have only managed two pretty trivial monthly updates since.
Good EMC design requires some serious knowledge and understanding, but safety compliance is largely a matter of following simple rules. If they got to such a late stage in their work without following the simple safety rules, such as clearances, do you think they have even started working on EMC compliance?
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Kean on August 17, 2017, 09:50:16 pm
Good EMC design requires some serious knowledge and understanding, but safety compliance is largely a matter of following simple rules. If they got to such a late stage in their work without following the simple safety rules, such as clearances, do you think that have even started working on EMC compliance?
Precisely!
Remember, this is not just a device dealing with mains voltages, or typical emissions, but also 3 different wireless technologies (WiFi, BT, Zigbee) and implementing/supporting a bunch of protocols.
EMC compliance is potentially needed for AU, US, EU, UK, JP, etc - many of which have slighly different rules (allowed channels, power levels, etc).
I imagine that the costs of certifying for some countries will outweigh the amount pledged from that country - so they either have to refund, skip certification and hope not to get caught out, or eat the loss in the hope of selling more.
I'd be surprised if they ever ship anything at all.
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Cerebus on August 18, 2017, 12:16:13 am
... EMC compliance is potentially needed for AU, US, EU, UK, JP, etc ...

UK = EU for regulatory purposes like EMC compliance, that was kind of the whole purpose of the whole EU thing, one market with one set of rules. If you can pass compliance in any one EU jurisdiction, be that the UK, Germany, Spain, whatever then that is deemed a pass for all EU jurisdictions. (Whatever happens with the whole 'brexit' mess, and remember it hasn't actually happened yet, it's highly likely that, post-brexit, UK regulations will continue to track EU regulations for things like EMC compliance that affect commonly traded goods.)
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: Kean on August 18, 2017, 12:46:31 am
UK = EU for regulatory purposes
Yeah, I expected as much.  I just included it because (a) brexit & (b) your wonderful plugs & sockets  >:D
Title: Re: Kickstarter: Wirebutter
Post by: IanMacdonald on August 27, 2017, 03:24:58 pm
People think the EU should make things easy by standardising, but really it's about regulations designed to benefit vested interests. For example we now have to use brown for live and blue for neutral in house wiring, BUT there is no standard for how houses should be wired, and regulations in France and Germany require that it is done totally differently than in the UK. Meanwhile the EU has no control over the IEE, who continue to put out insanely complicated regulations for electrical installations. Then there are the Part P building regs, which basically try to turn electrical work into a 'closed shop' like gas work. (If you've ever had any gas work done in the UK, it's like asking the Freemasons to perform some secret ritual for you.)

It's a mess, and that's one of the reasons we want Brexit, is to reduce the mess. Our own bureaucrats produce enough regulatory mess on their own, thank you very much.

As for this Wirebutter thing, the overriding question is, why would I want one, and what advantage does it have? AFAICS it's a gimmick, and a costly one at that. You can buy wirelessly switched sockets in sets of three for £12 or so. UK approved too.