Author Topic: How to make money in electronics, uController ???  (Read 12208 times)

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Offline Galenbo

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How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« on: October 09, 2014, 08:55:13 am »
With some tools, some place and a little expierience, somebody can make money on cars: change oil, repair little accidents,...

How to do this in electronics? It seems to me everything is on a way bigger scale: You have to design a product, have to get access to multi 1000's euro equipment, and if you can't reach +5000 units, there's no way to get a profit.

Is it possible to do some "stuff" that makes money?
If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a nonworking cat.
 

Offline lapoltba

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2014, 10:30:53 am »
I tried at one point to do just what you are talking about.  I am reasonably skilled with computers and general electronics stuff.  I offered my services for a little over 6 months at ridiculously cheap rates.  I would do work for $15/hr plus parts with free estimates.  I would do anything from replacing hard drives, removing viruses, reinstalling operating systems, custom builds, replacing power supplies, whatever.   I also fixed monitors/lcd tvs that were on the fritz.  Those were hit and miss depending on the symptoms.  I would also pick up free "broken" TVs from Craigslist and fix them.  Most of the time it was something simple, like a bad power supply/caps or backlight inverter.  I got a 2 year old 52" Samsung LCD for the cost of an inverter board that way ($40).

In the 6 months I was offering my services, I got three inquiries.  1 laptop with a bad HD, 1 laptop with a bad power connector, and one LCD TV that likely had bad Caps.  I offered to fix all for about $100.  All three people opted to buy a new device instead of fixing the one they had.

The problem, at least as I see it in the US, is that we are a "throw-away" "push-button" society. 

Consumer goods have planned obsolescence and are guaranteed to fail sometime after the warranty expires.  Replacement parts and repair service (factory authorized) are made prohibitively expensive.  To anyone not comfortable holding a tool more complicated than a hammer or screwdriver, the cost analysis leads them to buying a shiny new device and toss the old one in the trash.

In addition, we (Americans at least), have become accustomed to getting what we want, when we want.  We don't have to wait for anything.  Want to stuff your face with terrible food, dial a number have it delivered to your door in 20 minutes.  The quick solution is to go buy a new device rather than wait days, weeks, or months getting your gizmo fixed. 

There's also a keeping up with the Jones' mentality where you have to have the latest and greatest thing because everyone else does.  I never understood that one.

</rant>
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2014, 10:59:27 am »
With some tools, some place and a little expierience, somebody can make money on cars: change oil, repair little accidents,...

How to do this in electronics? It seems to me everything is on a way bigger scale: You have to design a product, have to get access to multi 1000's euro equipment, and if you can't reach +5000 units, there's no way to get a profit.

Is it possible to do some "stuff" that makes money?
Work as a consultant. And sure there is money to be made on smaller volumes but those are more specialistic products. I wouldn't recommend getting into assembling circuit boards though. Just do design and testing. Also set a tarif which is in accordance with your competence level and never compete on price because your income will go downhill from there.
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Offline Psi

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2014, 12:45:39 pm »
When a distributor company needs some sort of "electronic box" to connect one of their products to some other product or sensor they usually just buy something off-the-shelf which is way overpriced due to being so "universal" that it has inputs and outputs and protocol support for everything you can imagine.


For example...
A company that imports industrial LED signs might want to also import load cells and offer a joined product to customers where the weight on the load cell is shown on the LED sign in realtime.  Lets say the Load cell comes with built in electronics and outputs a analog voltage for weight, or maybe its I2C, doesnt matter.

Since the company is not an engineering company, only a distributor, they are forced to buy off-the-shelf programmable sensor/coms bridging modules.
They then need to pay someone to write them some simple code and show them out to configure the bridge modules so it sends the LED sign UART commands based on the analog input value.
These sort of industrial universal programmable bridges often cost around the US$500 mark etc.. and the time charged to set them up can run into the $1000's. (paying a contract engineer $200 and hour etc..)

The point i'm making is that distributors often end up paying quite a lot for "interface" or "bridging" electronics.
Something you can do with a $4 Arduino, a few extra bits and a few hours programming. You just have to show them you can make a box that does the same task as the $600 box they're currently using, except yours only costs $200 :) and you can add custom features.

You can also open doors the distributor didn't expect by asking them what they would like to be able to do, then show whats possible. Often the distributor will expect things to be far to expensive to be profitable because they are expecting $200 an hour rates.
But if you just want to make a bit of money on the side you can make stuff WAY cheaper than that.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2014, 12:55:26 pm by Psi »
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Offline Kjelt

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2014, 01:58:36 pm »
I tried at one point to do just what you are talking about.  I am reasonably skilled with computers and general electronics stuff.  I offered my services for a little over 6 months at ridiculously cheap rates.  I would do work for $15/hr plus parts with free estimates.  I would do anything from replacing hard drives, removing viruses, reinstalling operating systems, custom builds, replacing power supplies, whatever.   I also fixed monitors/lcd tvs that were on the fritz.  Those were hit and miss depending on the symptoms.  I would also pick up free "broken" TVs from Craigslist and fix them.  Most of the time it was something simple, like a bad power supply/caps or backlight inverter.  I got a 2 year old 52" Samsung LCD for the cost of an inverter board that way ($40).
In the 6 months I was offering my services, I got three inquiries.  1 laptop with a bad HD, 1 laptop with a bad power connector, and one LCD TV that likely had bad Caps.  I offered to fix all for about $100.  All three people opted to buy a new device instead of fixing the one they had.
The problem, at least as I see it in the US, is that we are a "throw-away" "push-button" society.   
That is great, youre niche in the market is not to repair it for the original owner but to buy all their throw away laptops for low prices (anything is more than nothing right?) and succeed in fixing one out of two, then sell it second handed for the right price (ebay even international markets).
If you do this with the more expensive laptops maybe even upgrade to SSD with newer OS (small investment) and not the cheapo's you can still make money.
In my country there are a lot of small laptop repair shops appearing in the small sub centres of town, usually foreigners that can not get a steady job and make their money this way. I bought something there recently (a rs232 adapter not able to get it in the normal channels) and talked to the guy, he was making more money than I do. His trick was:
Step1  say nothing untill you get the laptop from the customer and offer an analysis for $50.- (or less whatever takes care of your half hour effort).
Step2 make an priceanalysis based on investigation of problem. Do not commit to this price but say that it will at least cost this.
Step3 Most customers (as you found out) decline to make the repair for that price.
Step4 Bill customer $50 for the analysis and time for the cost estimation.
Step5a You get $50 and did not do much more than make the estimation and you can ask the customer if he wants to sell the laptop to you (if interesting) and offer low amount above the original cost of estimation.
Step5b You never see the customer again and get the laptop

Anyway you have some money for some time and/or you have a nice laptop. Enough laptops make a great stock for future repairs (so recycle the components for future repairs).
 

Offline lapoltba

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2014, 02:21:40 pm »
I tried at one point to do just what you are talking about.  I am reasonably skilled with computers and general electronics stuff.  I offered my services for a little over 6 months at ridiculously cheap rates.  I would do work for $15/hr plus parts with free estimates.  I would do anything from replacing hard drives, removing viruses, reinstalling operating systems, custom builds, replacing power supplies, whatever.   I also fixed monitors/lcd tvs that were on the fritz.  Those were hit and miss depending on the symptoms.  I would also pick up free "broken" TVs from Craigslist and fix them.  Most of the time it was something simple, like a bad power supply/caps or backlight inverter.  I got a 2 year old 52" Samsung LCD for the cost of an inverter board that way ($40).
In the 6 months I was offering my services, I got three inquiries.  1 laptop with a bad HD, 1 laptop with a bad power connector, and one LCD TV that likely had bad Caps.  I offered to fix all for about $100.  All three people opted to buy a new device instead of fixing the one they had.
The problem, at least as I see it in the US, is that we are a "throw-away" "push-button" society.   
That is great, youre niche in the market is not to repair it for the original owner but to buy all their throw away laptops for low prices (anything is more than nothing right?) and succeed in fixing one out of two, then sell it second handed for the right price (ebay even international markets).
If you do this with the more expensive laptops maybe even upgrade to SSD with newer OS (small investment) and not the cheapo's you can still make money.
In my country there are a lot of small laptop repair shops appearing in the small sub centres of town, usually foreigners that can not get a steady job and make their money this way. I bought something there recently (a rs232 adapter not able to get it in the normal channels) and talked to the guy, he was making more money than I do. His trick was:
Step1  say nothing untill you get the laptop from the customer and offer an analysis for $50.- (or less whatever takes care of your half hour effort).
Step2 make an priceanalysis based on investigation of problem. Do not commit to this price but say that it will at least cost this.
Step3 Most customers (as you found out) decline to make the repair for that price.
Step4 Bill customer $50 for the analysis and time for the cost estimation.
Step5a You get $50 and did not do much more than make the estimation and you can ask the customer if he wants to sell the laptop to you (if interesting) and offer low amount above the original cost of estimation.
Step5b You never see the customer again and get the laptop

Anyway you have some money for some time and/or you have a nice laptop. Enough laptops make a great stock for future repairs (so recycle the components for future repairs).

To me, that is a bit morally questionable.  I did offer estimates, but I wouldn't exaggerate or lie by omission.  I was very up front on costs and hours needed.   The market for repair and resell isn't great here for the reasons I already mentioned.  You would have to be able to get things for basically free and put very little into them to make any profit. 

Exaggerating repair costs and getting someone to give you their easily repairable computer for free isn't something I'm comfortable with.  I am sure there are many places/people that do this though. 
 

Offline poorchava

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2014, 02:33:22 pm »
I do some electronics related freelancing aside from my day job as a way to get some extra income, fund my hobby and reduce the woman annoyance level. In general there are two ways: you can either specialize in something (eg. power supplies, led lighting and so on) and come up with a product that stands out on the market in some way, so that you have customers. Another way (the one I'm going) is to offer various services to people who who want to pay.

Bright side is you'll never get bored, because every project is different. Doing projects from A to Z (spec, design, prototyping, testing, and so on) is most pofitable but it will also take a lot of your time, which translates to high cost for the customer, so you won't have many, as people who have that kinda money will rather hire a full-blown engineering outsourcing company rather than an individual and private individuals or small companies donlt want to spend that much. Also, there is a lot of places where something may go sideways and you'll end up at a loss.

I think there's more money in small jobs, especially is this is your side activity. I'm talikng about stuff like debugging some part of the circuit (eg. my power supply will shut down from time to time), repairs of specialistic equipment (eg. replacement of transistors and caps in a high-power smps for which an authorized repair shop would charge an arm and a leg), designing small to medium pcb's (it's easier to screw up a schematic than the layout), doing some projects for desperate students when end of semester is approaching (if you want this stuff done tomorrow, you will pay this $50 for half an hour of my work and the napkin on which I drew the circuit), Change a connector in a pcb design to a different one, because the original one is hard to source.

Consulting is a good way to make quick buck, but you need to be prepared for interactions with VERY stupid people. Companies tend to hire consultants when they are in a pinch which usually means that you land in a sticky situation (customer claim), monstrous design screwup (people will later be able to explain to their bosses that "they even hired a consultant, but he wasn't able to help" and they have to respin $10k worth of pcbs), company has low credibility because of previous screwups ("this time it's ok, we even had an external consultant look at this design"). Anyway, from few experiences I had with consulting it's a well paid, but stressful and often frustrating job.

If you want to concentrate on designing stuff from ground up, then speciality items are the way IMO. There are situations when people need a device that is very specific and has to be designed specially for them because there is nothing on the market that fits the bill. This includes exotic devices that will be produced in low quantities or even 1-offs. I did numerous jobs that went like: "we want something like that [a link to some product] but powered from [something] instead of [something else] or with output that will soure [number] amps more". Or "we need [link to a product] but with 50 outputs on a small connector instead of 8 on a terminal block that will fit [LxWxH] slot in out product". Those jobs are often simpler than ground-up design, because you can typically buy (or get from the customer) a sample base device to analyze.

And don't hestitate to work for foreign customers if you live in a poor country. It pays off. My fees are rather low compared to most people living in the western EU or US, but they make for a really nice addition to the home budget in my home country.
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Offline Kjelt

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2014, 08:36:17 pm »
Exaggerating repair costs and getting someone to give you their easily repairable computer for free isn't something I'm comfortable with.  I am sure there are many places/people that do this though.
You don,t have to exaggerate you said yourself noone accepted your proposal, the only difference is that you get paid for the time you already spent at looking at the cause instead of spending time and get nothing.
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2014, 09:43:15 pm »
Use innovation and design something good and unique that people will buy. And make it highly profitable. I have found repairing things for people generally does not make you money. In the early 80's I fixed colour TVs on the side. No money in that. But buying dead colour TV's, fixing them and reselling them made me a small fortune.

The least profitable venture was designing and building the feature-rich Interractive Morse code beacon which transmits 24/7 on 145.650 MHz in Melbourne. Fun to design and build, but it cost me a lot of time. However, it is also important to use some of your skills and time helping the community for free.

 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2014, 10:00:50 pm »
Is it possible to do some "stuff" that makes money?

Yes, consulting. The real kind of consulting, not contracting disguised as "consulting".

If you need an idea how real consulting works (although I don't recommend you join that particular line of work):

I delete PMs unread. If you have something to say, say it in public.
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Offline nctnico

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2014, 11:02:10 pm »
It's interesting to see other people working in electronics now have fixed computers in the past. It made me really hate having to deal with computerproblems though.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2014, 11:39:39 pm »
There are two basic avenues. Product design and sale, or services (circuit or system designer, PCB layout, assembler, repair, cable puller etc).
In both cases you want a niche, the nichier the better, although not so niche that that your market dries up  ;D

In the circuit/system design space, take for example Mike from Mike's Electric Stuff. He stumbled(?) upon a good niche in interactive art installations, and now is one of the go-to guys for such work. His name would get passed around the niche interactive arts field, so work should always eventually come along.
In such cases it also helps to perhaps tee up with a bigger contract design house as some sort of specialist in something.

My mate Doug Ford who you've seen on the blog set up an analog design consultancy, initially specialising in his main field of audio and acoustics. But one side job for a LED light system led to dozens more, and now that's one of his main focuses. Not only designing LED light systems but also selling his own systems.

It gets harder the more broad you go, like for example, just general PCB layout. In those cases you have to rely on a few major companies to keep hiring your services because they trust you. If you find yourself back on the street looking for new jobs in that field it can be tough, as there are so many others who can do that job.
 

Offline PA4TIM

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2014, 06:24:16 am »
I started repairing measurement a few months ago. But upto now most repairs were calibration gear (repair and
precalibration) The key is to have knowledge and the right tools (i have my own private cal lab)
www.pa4tim.nl my collection measurement gear and experiments Also lots of info about network analyse
www.schneiderelectronicsrepair.nl  repair of test and calibration equipment
https://www.youtube.com/user/pa4tim my youtube channel
 

Online ivaylo

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2014, 07:17:48 am »
I guess the question is about smaller scale stuff, but here are a few examples from a non-western country (read a bit lax standards and greedy new bourgeoisie) with somewhat booming economy:
 - We are building 50 hotels in this resort and we'll need a card reader for every door and an electronic strong box in every room, can you do it cheaper than those pesky Germans?
 - I am building a 100000 chicken egg hatchery can you do the temperature controls for me for $10K?
 - Every maintenance on my turbine (chief engineer of a plant) cost me $500K only in hiring western companies to measure balance, vibrations, safety valves closing times, you name it. Can you do any of it cheaper with the same quality?
Etc, etc. Then people do it. A college professor here, a couple of engineers there, with mixed success and pay I've seen people make living this way working on interesting stuff. But again, haven't seen this in the west.
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2014, 07:34:25 am »
It's interesting to see other people working in electronics now have fixed computers in the past. It made me really hate having to deal with computerproblems though.

I'm really surprised at this, because as a general rule, I won't touch individual pieces of equipment at all, and I never have. If you have a product that's not working, and it's just one example of that product that's showing a problem, then you're on your own. Replace it, reconfigure it, send it back to the factory, whatever.

To quote the T-shirt: "No, I will not fix your computer".

On the other hand, if the faulty product is part of a batch you've built, and it's showing symptoms that are common to other units as well, then I'm interested. Now you don't just have a defective component or dry joint; you're looking at a design flaw, or maybe a repeated manufacturing fault... something which requires detailed understanding of how the circuit is working in order to find the true root cause of the failure. Hire me if you want a report containing an explanation of the problem with photographs and/or scope traces, not if you just want your PC back with a new video card installed.

I make around 1/3 of my income from redesigning existing products, to fix problems, improve reliability and generally make them better than they were before. It's surprisingly common to find products which are mostly OK, but where the original designer has clearly been unaware of some issue that's relevant, such as how to dissipate heat effectively, how to design for EMC, or what fault conditions they need to protect against.

Do a good job fixing the problem with one product, and that customer will come straight back to you when they need something completely new.

Offline Galenbo

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2014, 08:13:55 am »
Interesting answers, partly it says what I already knew, but most answers show me more aspects and possibilities.

Consulting is a good way to make quick buck, but you need to be prepared for interactions with VERY stupid people. Companies tend to hire consultants when they are in a pinch which usually means that you land in a sticky situation (customer claim), monstrous design screwup (people will later be able to explain to their bosses that "they even hired a consultant, but he wasn't able to help...
In everything I did as employee for a company, I get in touch with this kind of... Dilbert knows who they are :-)
So I don't look forward to get involved in their so called "projects" again.
I have no real problem with a very stupid person, it's their number that makes the problem. 

I make around 1/3 of my income from redesigning existing products, to fix problems, improve reliability and generally make them better than they were before. It's surprisingly common to find products which are mostly OK, but where the original designer has clearly been unaware of some issue that's relevant, such as how to dissipate heat effectively, ...
I think this is the most optimal route for me. I have a huge international expierience in different kinds of industrial machinery as tech, install, repair, reprogramming, debug. My pure electronics design knowledge isn't good enough to make a interesting new product in an efficient way. Modifying things, like adding network connectivity, monitoring, improving possibilities etc looks better suited for me.

« Last Edit: October 10, 2014, 08:15:35 am by Galenbo »
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Offline miguelvp

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2014, 08:20:56 am »
Easy, come up with some new non technical words but based on technical ones and create ultra HiFi stereo cables. You'll make millions.
 

Offline Galenbo

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2014, 08:40:02 am »
Easy, come up with some new non technical words but based on technical ones and create ultra HiFi stereo cables. You'll make millions.
I surely have the technical skills, but unfortunately I don't have the right sales and management skills for that.
If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a nonworking cat.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2014, 08:42:34 am »
Come on!

42.1 channels improbability driven amplifier.

See, it's easy  :-DD
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2014, 08:52:22 am »
I surely have the technical skills, but unfortunately I don't have the right sales and management skills for that.
It's easy, just take a perfectly valid, technical term, put it in quotes, and then use it incorrectly.

For example:

This product makes your CD player sound better because all the electrons are "in phase".
Our cosmic ray treated cables cause less "disturbance" to the audio signal, because all the defects that can make the sound harsh or grainy have been "inverted" by the cosmic "energy".
Try our 50 Hz notch filter on your mains cables and hear the difference when all the imperceptible ambient "hum" is removed at source. (Think about it....!)

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #20 on: October 10, 2014, 01:25:50 pm »
There are two basic avenues. Product design and sale, or services (circuit or system designer, PCB layout, assembler, repair, cable puller etc).
In both cases you want a niche, the nichier the better, although not so niche that that your market dries up  ;D

In the circuit/system design space, take for example Mike from Mike's Electric Stuff. He stumbled(?) upon a good niche in interactive art installations, and now is one of the go-to guys for such work. His name would get passed around the niche interactive arts field, so work should always eventually come along.
In such cases it also helps to perhaps tee up with a bigger contract design house as some sort of specialist in something.

My mate Doug Ford who you've seen on the blog set up an analog design consultancy, initially specialising in his main field of audio and acoustics. But one side job for a LED light system led to dozens more, and now that's one of his main focuses. Not only designing LED light systems but also selling his own systems.

It gets harder the more broad you go, like for example, just general PCB layout. In those cases you have to rely on a few major companies to keep hiring your services because they trust you. If you find yourself back on the street looking for new jobs in that field it can be tough, as there are so many others who can do that job.

Many companies look for multi-disciplined and talented people, such as those who can design PCBs AND do quality embedded coding and/or Windoze programming and can design-for-test and design-for-manufacturing. Being a generalist but really proficient at one discipline is also good. The multi-disciplined multi-talented engineer is often kept on board when things get tough.

The danger in specialising too much is when there is work, things can be lucrative; but when there is no work around you can be out on your arse.

"If you gradually know more and more about less and less, you will eventually know everything about nothing."
« Last Edit: October 10, 2014, 01:33:38 pm by VK3DRB »
 

Offline all_repair

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #21 on: October 10, 2014, 01:52:58 pm »
My view is you make money not from what you want to sell, and what you can sell, but from what payers willing to pay and willing to buy.   And having something you want to sell, and can sell, give you a chance to let  potential buyers want to listen and to meet you, and eventually give you a chance to find out what they are willing to pay, and want to buy.   After that are judgement call, luck and human skill.  At the end of the day, it is happiness that has to be delivered. 
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #22 on: October 10, 2014, 03:52:58 pm »
It's interesting to see other people working in electronics now have fixed computers in the past. It made me really hate having to deal with computerproblems though.
I'm really surprised at this, because as a general rule, I won't touch individual pieces of equipment at all, and I never have. If you have a product that's not working, and it's just one example of that product that's showing a problem, then you're on your own. Replace it, reconfigure it, send it back to the factory, whatever.
True but if you are still in school then fixing computers and monitors is easy money (and to me more appealing than working in the supermarket or delivering news papers) and it did get me some interesting projects involving deployment of file servers. That knowledge still helps with projects which need to somehow connect to IT infrastructure.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline Scrts

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #23 on: October 10, 2014, 05:37:45 pm »
Regarding repair: try something else. Something not so easy throwable away. E.g. try to fix some electrical component of the car.
 

Offline lapoltba

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Re: How to make money in electronics, uController ???
« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2014, 05:55:39 pm »
It's interesting to see other people working in electronics now have fixed computers in the past. It made me really hate having to deal with computerproblems though.
I'm really surprised at this, because as a general rule, I won't touch individual pieces of equipment at all, and I never have. If you have a product that's not working, and it's just one example of that product that's showing a problem, then you're on your own. Replace it, reconfigure it, send it back to the factory, whatever.
True but if you are still in school then fixing computers and monitors is easy money (and to me more appealing than working in the supermarket or delivering news papers) and it did get me some interesting projects involving deployment of file servers. That knowledge still helps with projects which need to somehow connect to IT infrastructure.

Yep, easy money for not a lot of effort.  That is exactly why I did it.  I also had access to a decent machine shop, and made money on the side making widgets for people.  That made me more money than fixing electronics.  It was also less frustrating.  :-+
 


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