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So, in The 8-Bit Guy's latest video on the Mini PET, he mentions his apprehension about releasing a solder-it-yourself kit version of the X16p because of how difficult it can be to solder something as complicated a computer. My heart sank a little when I heard that.

Of course, he's right - it is challenging.  I've done a number of solder projects now and problems have always come up!  But that's part of the fun and challenge of this particular subset of the hobby.  And even though there have always been problems, it's also the case that anything I've ever soldered I've eventually gotten working in the end.  Most recently I put together one of those Putnam Electronics PE6502 kits and of course it didn't work at first, but troubleshooting it was part of the fun.  The troubleshooting took an entire extra day, but it was so satisfying when it finally turned on.

I know from other comments (I think on this forum?) that David is concerned about not being able to offer "customer service", i.e. troubleshooting help to those people who are brave enough to try to solder together their own X16p.  Again, he's right - support is a valid concern.  All I can say in response to that is, I would hope that anyone brave enough to want to try the kit would be understanding of the risks.  A big, noticeable disclaimer before placing an order for a kit version should help stave away any potential buyers who were only trying to save money (if the kit is even any cheaper).  "Not suitable for a first-time solder project" would be a good start, or even just "not suitable for beginners."  And make it clear that no help can be provided or should be expected from the official team. 

I'll still be buying an X16 even if there's no kit version (though, probably the 'c' instead of 'p').  I'm still excited about the X16 as a platform.  I even totally understand his reasons for being wary of releasing a kit.  But after the most recent video, if David is leaning toward not releasing one, I'm hoping this thread will politely nudge him in the other direction. Soldering stuff together is fun and challenging and I'm hoping I'm not the only one looking forward to undertaking that challenge with the X16.

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One way to filter out some of those who shouldn't be buying the kit is to increase the kit purchase price ... and one good way to do that is to include a x16e with the kit, "to verify correct performance".

If the Kickstarter is organized as a x16p and x16c wave, and then if successful a following x16e wave, that also postpones the kit version until the second wave.

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I also think that an X16 kit would be great - I'd buy one for sure. But I can also see why the team is hesitant about it. Let's face it - there's no way that there won't be at least a handful of idiots that think "not for beginners, eh? come on, how hard can it be?", then f*ck it up and blame the team for it. This will of course cost resources (and nerves), and so I understand that the kit option is something that they don't want to decide on right now.

Many projects fail because they get side-tracked and change their plan and/or goals too often along the way, so they never finish in the end. (I've backed more than one of those on Kickstarter.)
But I have the impression that the X16 team does a pretty good job at avoiding this, and postponing the decision about a kit version is certainly an aspect of that.

TL;DR: If kits will be available, I'll want one, but it's a good thing not to rush the decision.

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I'm 99% sure we will release the first wave with a kit option. Worst case it will have a clear message at the point of purchase that we are not responsible for any issues/damage during assembly. There will be plentiful community support available to everyone (as I said in another thread about this same topic recently), and you can bet team-members will also jump in and out to offer help and guidance.

David's main concern is that he not have to offer direct support via email. All support will be via the Support button at this very website.

 

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I fully expect I'll be purchasing a pre-assembled X16. But as one of those folks who are more on the novice end of soldering, I'm not sure if I'll buy a kit:

  1. I fully expect to bollocks something up.
  2. I may never even realize my error, as it would be the largest kit I'd ever attempted and I might not finish it. 😅

That said, I'm still somewhat interested in trying, and I'd like to learn more about troubleshooting problems when I do make mistakes.

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I think as more we get tracktion in this forum (and we are getting more and more people on it every day) the more we will get people to help. You could also restrict help request to a specific section of the forum, where you state right at the beginning that there is no support from the main development team in the soldering and that any question and help will come from the community to set expectation right. And yes a disclaimer on the project site as well as on the kit itself "IN BIG RED LETTERS" will help to understand that it is not for the faint hearted.

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9 hours ago, StephenHorn said:

I fully expect I'll be purchasing a pre-assembled X16.

Same. My soldering skills are much less proficient than my programming skills. I would much rather spend extra buying a pre-assembled X16 with the option of buying expansion boards should the soldering bug ever bite.

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4 hours ago, AndyB said:

Same. My soldering skills are much less proficient than my programming skills. I would much rather spend extra buying a pre-assembled X16 with the option of buying expansion boards should the soldering bug ever bite.

The economics of modern finished board assembly versus parts logistics for a kit means that there isn't any clear reason for any "spend extra" involved in the assembled board ... because there isn't any cost reason for the kit to be noticeably cheaper. In effect, the reduction in packaging overheads in keeping all of the fiddly little parts organized by soldering them onto the board offsets the cost of the professional board assembly.

Buying the kits has to be due to love of the challenge of soldering, not in hopes of getting cheaper gear.

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Agreed .. I would be one of those guys. When will you have the chance to build a whole computer on your own? Love it. But I can understand all the concerns. They are valid and it is a huge soldering project.

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6 hours ago, BruceMcF said:

Buying the kits has to be due to love of the challenge of soldering, not in hopes of getting cheaper gear.

For me, that's exactly it - I enjoy putting them together, and having a working, finished product. Some kits are easier to assemble than others; I'm at the point where a through-hole kit I can do.  But with the beginning of essential tremors, SMD is a no-go. Looking at the X16 prototype boards that have been shown, this looks to be an easier assembly job than a number of projects I've tackled. It's definitely not trivial, though.

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On 8/29/2020 at 12:27 PM, StephenHorn said:

I fully expect I'll be purchasing a pre-assembled X16. But as one of those folks who are more on the novice end of soldering, I'm not sure if I'll buy a kit:

  1. I fully expect to bollocks something up.
  2. I may never even realize my error, as it would be the largest kit I'd ever attempted and I might not finish it. 😅

That said, I'm still somewhat interested in trying, and I'd like to learn more about troubleshooting problems when I do make mistakes.

This is exactly my sentiment. 

I can solder a header onto a Raspberry Pi Zero.  But I lack the experience and equipment for the inevitable troubleshooting -- I mean if those guys on YouTube make mistakes on computer kits, my odds are very poor.

Don't Fear The Soldering Iron has been my mantra for decades.   So while I cannot buy the kit, I am yet drawn to it.  It's a KIT!!!  But I'm going to buy the pre-built version because, as Clint Eastwood taught us, a man's got to know his limitations.

 

 

 

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By contrast my approach to soldering where soldering was absolutely necessary would be "get it working in a breadboard then go to Shenzhen and leave the soldering to the pros"

Since there are going to be assembled boards, I am just going to take the economies of scale cost reduction that implies and say"thank you very much, let's get some programming tools on this thing".

Edited by BruceMcF
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I think the boards should come as fully assembled as possible. The last time I made my own board and soldered it, it exploded because of a very small short and destroyed a lead, which then required a patch wire.

This is one of those things I think will need to be done on the safe and costly side because the hazards of someone destroying their own product (Very bad) )or harming themselves are very high, even if they'd done hobby projects before.

And, as stated above - not everyone has the tools and skills to diagnose electrical problems.

If you think of it in terms of added cost - I'd gladly pay to avoid the hours and hours of work (I don't consider my own labor cheap) that troubleshooting would require if the cost per wave-solder machine job on a single unit is far less expensive. I have a hunch that the wave-solder machine is not as expensive as I am. EDIT: It also does a better job, every time.

Edited by Starsickle
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1 hour ago, Starsickle said:

I think the boards should come as fully assembled as possible. The last time I made my own board and soldered it, it exploded because of a very small short and destroyed a lead, which then required a patch wire.

This is one of those things I think will need to be done on the safe and costly side because the hazards of someone destroying their own product (Very bad) )or harming themselves are very high, even if they'd done hobby projects before.

And, as stated above - not everyone has the tools and skills to diagnose electrical problems.

If you think of it in terms of added cost - I'd gladly pay to avoid the hours and hours of work (I don't consider my own labor cheap) that troubleshooting would require if the cost per wave-solder machine job on a single unit is far less expensive. I have a hunch that the wave-solder machine is not as expensive as I am. EDIT: It also does a better job, every time.

Note that fully assembled boards are promised, the question is whether kits will ALSO be offered.

My point is, if people think in terms of the assembled boards having an added cost, then they are being a bit naive about the full range of costs of something like this. There is no reason for the full cost-to-market of a kit of a project this complex to be cheaper than an assembled board, and with no cost savings to bring it to market, there's no reason to expect the kit to have a lower price.

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10 hours ago, Starsickle said:

I think the boards should come as fully assembled as possible. The last time I made my own board and soldered it, it exploded because of a very small short and destroyed a lead, which then required a patch wire.

This is one of those things I think will need to be done on the safe and costly side because the hazards of someone destroying their own product (Very bad) )or harming themselves are very high, even if they'd done hobby projects before.

And, as stated above - not everyone has the tools and skills to diagnose electrical problems.

If you think of it in terms of added cost - I'd gladly pay to avoid the hours and hours of work (I don't consider my own labor cheap) that troubleshooting would require if the cost per wave-solder machine job on a single unit is far less expensive. I have a hunch that the wave-solder machine is not as expensive as I am. EDIT: It also does a better job, every time.

The computers will be sold as completely assembled units. 

You MAY ALSO be able to buy bare boards and kit boards.... but someone pointed out in the FB group (I can't find the original post) that this can actually be MORE expensive to manufacture than a fully built system. Wholesale electronic manufacturers buy parts and materials in quantity and have a streamlined  process for building systems. I've ordered some electronics kits in the past, and they're not actually cheaper than buying a similar, completely manufactured device 

I'd suggest that if you really want a kit PC, look at something like RC2014, Altairduino, or even the Mini PET kit that David demoed on his channel a few days ago. Those are the kind of small quantity projects where kits are more efficient. 

 

Edited by TomXP411

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For the record, I don't think anyone on the team has said that the kit might cost more than the assembled version... correct me if I'm wrong though.

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2 hours ago, BruceMcF said:

Note that fully assembled boards are promised, the question is whether kits will ALSO be offered.

 

1 hour ago, TomXP411 said:

You MAY ALSO be able to buy bare boards and kit boards...

Yikes - I misread. Apologies. Although - one would need a business attorney to understand the potential liability involved with such a thing, as well as the expectations for support.

Edited by Starsickle

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3 hours ago, Perifractic said:

For the record, I don't think anyone on the team has said that the kit might cost more than the assembled version... correct me if I'm wrong though.

Someone on the FB group definitely said it can actually cost more to make a kit than to sell fully assembled boards. However, FB's search is just plain broken, returning posts that don't even contain the word "kit" when I searched for it. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Edited by TomXP411
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6 hours ago, Perifractic said:

For the record, I don't think anyone on the team has said that the kit might cost more than the assembled version... correct me if I'm wrong though.

Bad habit as an economist ... when I say cost, I mean the cost to the seller to bring it to market, not the price to the buyer.

What would blow out supply cost would be providing full technical support for a kit build. That would definitely cost more to bring to market and support.

However, there is a strong perception among people that there is a big cost reduction in bringing a full parts kit to  the market, for a project of this scale ... not mass production but not small batch production either.

I am guessing that is based an imagining the extra build cost and not for a minute imagining the extra stocking costs of a full parts kit... plus extra packaging cost and greater risk of damage in shipment (bent pins are why they ship Arduino Shields with pin headers to solder on, not build cost).

At the likely scale of this project, the build overheads will not be as high as people think when they are used to small runs.

I'm not saying anything has been said that the PRICE would be higher, just that the full cost to bring a complete parts kit to market and to bring an assembled board to market would not be as far apart as a lot of people imagine ... and it's up in the air which one would be  the lower supply cost.

Edited by BruceMcF
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14 hours ago, BruceMcF said:

Bad habit as an economist ... when I say cost, I mean the cost to the seller to bring it to market, not the price to the buyer.

What would blow out supply cost would be providing full technical support for a kit build. That would definitely cost more to bring to market and support.

However, there is a strong perception among people that there is a big cost reduction in bringing a full parts kit to  the market, for a project of this scale ... not mass production but not small batch production either.

I am guessing that is based an imagining the extra build cost and not for a minute imagining the extra stocking costs of a full parts kit... plus extra packaging cost and greater risk of damage in shipment (bent pins are why they ship Arduino Shields with pin headers to solder on, not build cost).

At the likely scale of this project, the build overheads will not be as high as people think when they are used to small runs.

I'm not saying anything has been said that the PRICE would be higher, just that the full cost to bring a complete parts kit to market and to bring an assembled board to market would not be as far apart as a lot of people imagine ... and it's up in the air which one would be  the lower supply cost.

If there's a kit version, I expect each chip and component will come individually boxed and labeled, because that's obviously the least expensive path, since they don't even have unbox any of the components before shipping! 😉

No, really, if I order a kit in addition to a fully assembled version, I'd be happy as long as it doesn't arrive as a single ziplock bag of assorted parts... like a certain other homebrew computer project that was once mentioned, long ago. I really liked the idea from the Mini PET, of placing each component in approximately the correct position on a sheet of foam. But I imagine that adds even more cost than full assembly... unless machine pickers can already do it. 🤔

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I can deal with a bag of parts, within reason.  What, to me, is most helpful is a parts list that provides the information required to identify each component.  I have a kit I received that's difficult because the resistors provided didn't come with a list....and they substituted some resistors that are "close enough" so you can't really use a multimeter to properly identify them.

I have another kit that was a bag of parts, but the instructions provide how to differentiate the parts, which made it super easy.

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5 hours ago, StephenHorn said:

If there's a kit version, I expect each chip and component will come individually boxed and labeled, because that's obviously the least expensive path, since they don't even have unbox any of the components before shipping! 😉

Yes! That's the ticket!! 🤣 Individually boxed in anti-static foam, each one in their own individual 3d printed carrier. 😂

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Yes! That's the ticket!! Individually boxed in anti-static foam, each one in their own individual 3d printed carrier.
Definitely, and the launch price will be only $9,999.99!
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On 9/5/2020 at 4:25 PM, StephenHorn said:

I really liked the idea from the Mini PET, of placing each component in approximately the correct position on a sheet of foam. But I imagine that adds even more cost than full assembly... unless machine pickers can already do it. 🤔

Yes, I wonder about that.  I don't know exactly what volume the MiniPET has sold in, but it's probably low enough that someone might have arranged those by hand (?) Or has someone developed a machine that will arrange multiple components in a single foam block in a bespoke arrangement?

(In any case, while that was neat, I don't need it to be done like that... identifying minimally-labelled parts is part of the fun of the kit experience.)

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