Author Topic: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am  (Read 927 times)

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Offline djacobow

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I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« on: September 21, 2019, 06:01:43 am »
The other day I came across this simple Kickstarter: kickstarter.com/projects/279405789/hardware-watchdog-hat-and-power-manager-for-raspberry-pi

The guy is building a "hat" that goes on Raspberry Pi's to serve as a hardware watchdog that can cut and restore the power. OK, good idea.

Thing is, I've been selling a device with a superset of that functionality for the better part of a year: https://www.southberkeleyelectronics.com/home/pidog2

Now, I didn't invent Pi hats or watchdog timers, and the devices are both very simple. It's not like I have IP to protect. Still, it just kind of bugs me that the dude raised $1800 on kickstarter for what was an idea that you could already buy on Amazon.

Bah.
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2019, 06:09:18 am »
Still, it just kind of bugs me that the dude raised $1800 on kickstarter for what was an idea that you could already buy on Amazon.

If that offends you, you would get pissed when you see people raising millions on free energy devices.
 
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Offline djacobow

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2019, 06:16:19 am »
Still, it just kind of bugs me that the dude raised $1800 on kickstarter for what was an idea that you could already buy on Amazon.

If that offends you, you would get pissed when you see people raising millions on free energy devices.

Ha. That's a good point. But they're not making free energy devices just like my free energy device.  :)
 

Offline amyk

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2019, 08:25:53 pm »
That's just the clueless "maker" crowd behaving as usual. ::)
 
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Offline magic

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2019, 08:57:55 pm »
Think positively. Next time run a kickstarter instead of just selling the product like a loser :D

Is there no built-in watchdog in the SoC?

If that offends you, you would get pissed when you see people raising millions on free energy devices.
Free energy isn't something you can buy off the shelf. I would invest in that if it will work :)
 

Offline edavid

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2019, 09:05:48 pm »
Maybe he wouldn't have been as successful if you had hit the same price point.  I think selling a similar product for a lot less is a valid form of innovation.

(It's also fine for you to charge what you charge.  After all, your product is actually available now.)

@amyk, I don't think it's fair to call people clueless for preferring a cheaper product.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2019, 02:34:55 am by edavid »
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2019, 12:16:19 am »
Is there no built-in watchdog in the SoC?

There is a watchdog in the SoC, but it can only reset the part. This is very often not what you want in remote sensing applications because the fault that causes the lockup is likely to be a battery voltage problem or loss of network problem. In both cases, you don't want to just boot again. You want to wait, preferably, at the lowest power level possible. It is an odd quirk of the Raspberry Pi that the unit cannot be turned off, so an external device that can say "things are not looking good right now, let's shut down and try again in 24 hours" is quite valuable. It lets a battery + solar setup recover, for example, where if the device just kept rebooting it might never.

Anyway, that was the application for which I designed the original, and I have had devices deployed in remote, not-easily-visited locations running on battery + pv for years now.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2019, 12:22:37 am »
Maybe he wouldn't have been as successful you had hit the same price point.  I think selling a similar product for a lot less is a valid form of innovation.

(It's also fine for you to charge what you charge.  After all, your product is actually available now.)

@amyk, I don't think it's fair to call people clueless for preferring a cheaper product.

It's funny, I didn't even think about the price, but I don't think that's much of a factor. He's raised ~$2k and has to deliver about 240 units. Having been through the exercise of making a similar unit, doing it at ~$8 it is likely not going to be a profitable venture for him, even if he values his time at $0. Perhaps with that new JLCPCB PCBA service it can work. I know what it costs with PCBWay and you might be able to land the boards for $8/ea but you still need to program, test, document, ship them, etc. Also, I don't know about Kickstarter, but they obviously get their piece, etc.
 

Online Circlotron

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2019, 12:25:56 am »
After they have stolen your idea, they'll get a patent on theirs, then sue you.
 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2019, 12:26:26 am »
I shouldn't be annoying, but I am.
 

Online CatalinaWOW

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2019, 04:03:48 am »
Maybe he wouldn't have been as successful you had hit the same price point.  I think selling a similar product for a lot less is a valid form of innovation.

(It's also fine for you to charge what you charge.  After all, your product is actually available now.)

@amyk, I don't think it's fair to call people clueless for preferring a cheaper product.

It's funny, I didn't even think about the price, but I don't think that's much of a factor. He's raised ~$2k and has to deliver about 240 units. Having been through the exercise of making a similar unit, doing it at ~$8 it is likely not going to be a profitable venture for him, even if he values his time at $0. Perhaps with that new JLCPCB PCBA service it can work. I know what it costs with PCBWay and you might be able to land the boards for $8/ea but you still need to program, test, document, ship them, etc. Also, I don't know about Kickstarter, but they obviously get their piece, etc.

If your volume is high enough or some other factor has developed which makes it possible for you to sell them for $8 or less you might get some satisfaction by becoming the savior that delivers the product to him that lets him have a penny or two of profit while you collect a larger, but tiny amount.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2019, 05:12:48 pm »
If your volume is high enough or some other factor has developed which makes it possible for you to sell them for $8 or less you might get some satisfaction by becoming the savior that delivers the product to him that lets him have a penny or two of profit while you collect a larger, but tiny amount.

I just sell this stuff as a little side business. The unit is useful, but pretty niche. I don't think I'll ever get to high volumes (nor will he), which makes it good that I'm not counting on this for my retirement. I just thought it would be nice to generate some income to offset the occasional new toy I need for my lab.
 

Online SiliconWizard

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2019, 07:01:22 pm »
I understand you're annoyed, but couldn't really see your point at first, unless of course they "stole" anything from you.

That just looked like basic competition at first sight? I think there are many such solutions on the market already, and there probably were when you released yours.

Are you annoyed just because they are funding their projects on Kickstarter, whereas maybe you had to do your own project with your own funds?
As someone said above, you could use Kickstarter as well. It's not necessarily the ideal deal either though, because it comes with constraints you may not want to deal with as a business, like having to describe too much of a future product before it even exists (which is not always that great...)

Now, what I can understand with all this is the following. Do some of those crowd-funded projects, and startups, have the potential to harm the business of others (in more ways that mere competition)? Actually, I think so. They give a false sense of profusion of offering to potential customers, which is not exactly normal competition. It's virtual competition taken to an extreme. Many of those projects (didn't say all...) are actually badly designed, end up not getting delivered, etc, and if nicely funded, don't cost anything much to their authors. That's twisted competition, and tends to make people forget about what's a good product backed by a decent company. The notion of "product" itself tends to become fuzzy.

Are a fraction of all people getting projects crowd-funded some kind of spongers? I think so. Especially the serial-campaigning ones...
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2019, 07:59:54 pm »
Yeah, I don't disagree. Hence, the original point that I should not be annoyed. I guess what bugged me is that I thought Kickstarter was for projects in the category of "wouldn't it be cool if there was an X that could Y?" And in this case, there was an X that could Y, actually a few of them. This is just one. Definitely not in the "spirit" of kickstarter as I understood it.
 

Offline sokoloff

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2019, 08:29:06 pm »
Price itself is a feature.
Awareness/availability is a feature.
Size is another feature that is sometimes featured on Kickstarter (Tinyduino, etc).

Running a successful Kickstarter is strong evidence to me that the creator is making something of value.
 

Online Circlotron

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2019, 10:49:09 pm »
I think part of the problem is that the Kickstarter funded guy is getting undeserved recognition for something he didn’t necessarily come up with himself. Kind of like that annoying “clock boy” a while back that simply pulled the guts out of an old digital bedside clock and literally dropped it into a box, and then gets feted and lionised and rewarded by industry leaders and even  the president himself as if he were some kind of cutting edge genius and the next Einstein. Meanwhile the rest of us can see right through this and just roll our eyes.
 

Offline splin

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2019, 11:30:09 pm »
Chances are they had no idea your product exists. The problem with many niche products is they can be very hard to find even if you know exactly what you are looking for.

There have been plenty of times when I've spent ages looking through masses of Ebay listings knowing the search terms are far too broad but not having a clue what the thing is called - and frequently the sellors don't either. Mechanical products such as plastic clips or electrical connectors are examples.

Multi-fuctional modules can be a particular problem, especially if there is no obvious title or short description that encompasses the particular sub-function(s) that you are after. (I'm not suggesting this is the case for your product BTW).

Some niche products can be especially hard to find because you have to read the whole description to understand what the hell it is and why might need it even though you had no idea that the problem it addresses was a problem. Pity the poor sods at Digikey, Mouser etc. who have to try to find a suitable category for them - how many people start searching under miscellaneous ooj-ama-flips?

I expect there are many, many duplicated products and DIY projects that only exist because people didn't know there were existing, possibly better and/or cheaper solutions - or they suspected they exist but didn't know how to find them. Or designing and making a new one might be quicker than finding the one you are certain exists – or even own already! Perhaps it's just me lacking knowledge of the good Internet resources and search tools.

This forum is of course an excellent resource, especially for the "What is this thingy-ma-bob in the photo" type question but sometimes you don't know exactly what you need and people have only so much patience answering vague and often dumb questions while you thash around before hopefully properly understanding your needs.

BTW, how might I have found the PiDog2, should I have needed one, other than finding your link here
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2019, 01:36:49 am »
Chances are they had no idea your product exists.

This is not as far-fetched as some may think.

I have had a number of ideas over the years that I thought would be good - and I've spent some time thinking through the issues and have come up with some prototyping concepts.  I've then started looking around and stumbled upon commercial products that have been around for years.   :palm:  I then feel a bit silly - but console myself with the thought: I knew it would be good.
 

Offline djacobow

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2019, 04:01:13 am »
BTW, how might I have found the PiDog2, should I have needed one, other than finding your link here

I don't know. I'm not great at advertising, that is fore sure.

I just tried googling "raspberry pi watchdog" and "raspberry pi power manager"  in an incognito window, and my stuff didn't come up at all.

The same searches on Amazon and Tindie do bring up my thing, though not to the top of the screen.

I've sold about 50 of these, though, so people do seem to find them.

I actually hadn't searched on this for awhile; it's a product I designed awhile back. There are a lot of other devices out there doing the same thing. A couple of them are pretty cleverly designed. There are some with RTC's, which I thought about putting but didn't, but I can definitely see the advantage. (http://www.uugear.com/product/witty-pi-3-realtime-clock-and-power-management-for-raspberry-pi/) And there is one very small one, which I like for the elegance of being minimalist. (https://www.tindie.com/products/omzlo/piwatcher-the-best-watchdog-for-your-raspberry-pi/)

None of the products bug me, though. I think what sort of ticked me off was the Kickstarter, as if this is something special that needed doing. If the guy doing the Kickstarter had done a search on "raspberry pi watchdog", he would have seen products, maybe mine, but at least others.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 04:05:57 am by djacobow »
 

Offline basinstreetdesign

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Re: I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2019, 06:34:20 pm »
After they have stolen your idea, they'll get a patent on theirs, then sue you.
There was a guy famously making the rounds of the broadcast video industry doing just that.  He made quite a living off of that deal and perfectly legally, too.  My consulting company even did work for him once until we were told in no uncertain terms to never go near him again or WE would not find work anymore.
STAND BACK!  I'm going to try SCIENCE!
 


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