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Author Topic: Electronic Kits  (Read 15780 times)

JeffVolp

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Electronic Kits
« on: November 29, 2010, 02:36:19 PM »


I would like some input on how to deal with a situation regarding kits.

An XTB-IIR that was not working was shipped back to me for repair.  The unit was purchased from someone else who assembled it from a kit.  When I opened it, it was immediately clear that it was not my work.  There are a number of bad solder joints with broken connections.  The unit is repairable, but I dont know what other problems may surface in the future unless the board is completely reworked.

After seeing that workmanship, I am questioning whether I should continue offering kits.  Clearly a poorly assembled unit can give my devices a bad name.  Since many of you on this forum have assembled my kits, I would like some feedback on how best to deal with this issue before I discontinue them.

Jeff
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hawk1

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2010, 04:09:40 PM »

Jeff, you could just say no warranty on the kits except the warranty that all parts are there.  But then again like you said in another post it could still give you a bad name.  I like the concept that the kits are less expensive but if you have a novice trying to assemble it there is a good chance that it will fail.  I think that I myself would rather have something that worked when I plugged it in opposed to assembling it myself then not working at all.  I think this is probably just the first of the returns as more and more users will want to try to save money and assemble it themselves.  Just my 2 cents.

Just to add, your product the XTB-IIR has worked flawlessly ever since I bought it back several months ago!  When you assemble your product you know its going to work.  Thank you for a great product!   #:)
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Brandt

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2010, 04:26:39 PM »

Serialized them with different policies applying to kits
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Dave4720

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2010, 05:28:04 PM »

You must keep kits for those of us in the business but yes, that may be a small percentage.

You know, its not just soldering, its electronic component identification / insertion direction.  Sure, you separate the parts into bags, but then someone dumps them all on the table and has no idea of the difference between a 1N5231 5V Zener and a 1N914 General Purpose diode.

Id like to see the results of a buyer-user poll:  Those who have ordered the kit, what is your level of expertise?

1) None I ordered an assembled kit.
2) None but electronic components and soldering? Sure, Ill try it.
3) Little played with stuff now and then.
4) Some I have built small electronic projects successfully and have reasonable skills.
5) Much I am in the electronic or similar field; I have appreciable electronic component identification and soldering skills.

I looked at the waiver I signed.  It states DO NOT ASSEMBLE THIS DEVICE YOURSELF UNLESS YOU POSSESS THE NECESSARY SKILLS TO DO SO.  Unfortunately, many consider their skills above what they truly are.

Tough call.   Just make sure you still make them available for the experienced crowd.
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dave w

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2010, 05:53:17 PM »

My $0.02 is: "I really miss Heathkit". I really love kit building electronic stuff. So perhaps an answer is some "negative advertising" in your product descriptions.

Borrowing on Brandt, hawk1, and Dave4720 suggestions, perhaps something like:

"The xxxx kit from JV Digital Engineering should not be attempted by the novice kit builder.

For successful results, the builder should have previous experience building electronic kits and knowledge of electronic components, and their sensitivities to excess heat and static discharges. The kit builder should have a temperature controlled, grounded tip, soldering iron with a fine tip size, and small diameter rosin core 60/40, or 63/37 or 62/36/2 solder. If these requirements are unfamiliar to you, do not order a kit form of the product.

Kits are warrented for working components and correct component content only.

Completed kits which are non functional may be sent to JV Digital Engineering for analysis. If it is determined the finished kit failure is due to improper assembly, a repair fee will be charged at the discretion of JV Digital Engineering."




Edited to clairify opening statement.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2010, 08:19:57 PM by dave w »
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Brian H

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2010, 06:35:28 PM »

I agree with dave w.
Your not selling a Heathkit. Where you hold the users hand and walk them through every step. With a big diagram with arrows pointing to each part and giving the color code bands.
If someone is not experienced enough to know proper soldering; have the proper tools or assembly skills. They should go for the assembled ones.

I too miss the Heathkits. I got as far as a Master Builder status.
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Knightrider

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2010, 06:54:48 PM »

I own the XTBM - K and proud of it. I'm not in the electronics field, but will give any of you pros a run for the money. 

I, too miss  Heathkit, but still love to play with Velleman products from Ramsey. 

IMHO, JVDE kits are very enjoyable.  I'd hate for one bonehead's work to take away from the rest of us who love building and love saving money.
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JeffVolp

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2010, 07:39:28 PM »


Thank you all for the feedback.

There is a warning on the XTB ordering page that says:

Assembly should only be attempted by someone skilled at soldering high-density printed circuit boards.

I will make that much more obvious.

Up until now I have had a policy to repair a kit at no charge except for return shipping.  You fellows have been doing a good job because only a handful have come back for repair, and all but one were simple mistakes - a diode backwards, interchanged components, or an unsoldered joint.  Never had one come back in this condition.  Even that one board that had lifted traces due to too much heat, most of the board was fine.

So, I will make that warning more obvious.  And I will change my policy that any kit that comes back for repair will be charged the full custom assembly fee.  That should make people think twice as to whether they should attempt to assemble one themselves.

FYI:  It took me twice as long to rework this board than it would have been to assemble one from scratch.  There were at least half a dozen unsoldered connections, including a transformer pin cut too short to contact the PCB.  At least another dozen pins had bad solder joints.  Most (but not all) of the 1K and 10K resistors were interchanged.  And two diodes were swapped.  After putting components where they belonged, and re-soldering most of the board, the unit works fine.  Funny about that, huh?

Jeff
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Brian H

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2010, 06:25:53 AM »

I am not a bit surprised it worked after all the corrections.
Your design is solid.

I made a mistake on mine. By interchanging the 15 volt and 35 volt caps. Even with the well placed warnings.

The nice heavy supply power supply buss runs made it hard to swap them. So I left the 35 volt one in the 15 volt position and just replaced the lower voltage one with a exact part from Mouser. Luckily there where pad holes for two different sized lead spacings and used the other set.

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Dave4720

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2010, 10:21:32 AM »

These kits are a snap ... relatively speaking.  Through hole components how 1970s!  ;D How many of you hand solder 0605s and SSOPs?

BTW board level rework?  Id not go that route.  What if a failure occurs later now who is responsible?  Id suggest an at-cost pro-built replacement swap-out.  Sure, the original buyer pays for the kit plus and assembled board as well, but the buyer takes responsibility for his/her poor assembly.


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JeffVolp

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2010, 10:23:01 AM »

I made a mistake on mine. By interchanging the 15 volt and 35 volt caps. Even with the well placed warnings.

The nice heavy supply power supply buss runs made it hard to swap them.

Someone else put the 35V one in backwards, and said it was my fault because the one that did not explode was rated 16V.

(That 2 ounce copper bus does suck away some heat.)

Jeff
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JeffVolp

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2010, 11:06:22 AM »

BTW board level rework?  Id not go that route.  What if a failure occurs later now who is responsible?  Id suggest an at-cost pro-built replacement swap-out.  Sure, the original buyer pays for the kit plus and assembled board as well, but the buyer takes responsibility for his/her poor assembly.

The problem with that is the components are the majority of the cost.  So, unless the expensive componests are transferred to the new board (which is extra labor) almost the entire kit price is thrown away.  The assembled units are pretty much sold at-cost when labor is included.  That's why you won't find these available from a distributor.  There is just not enough margin in them.

Jeff
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JeffVolp

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2010, 01:12:35 PM »


OK, I added this to the ordering page along with individual warnings after each kit entry.

"KIT WARNING:  Do not order a kit if you are not skilled at assembling high-density PCBs.  My policy had been to repair a kit at no charge except for return shipping.  One came back in such horrible condition that it took twice as long to rework than to assemble a new PCB from scratch.  As a result, any kit that comes back for repair must include the full labor charge for an assembled unit.  I hope this makes potential kit builders honestly evaluate their skills before trying to save money by building a kit."

That will keep the kits available for those of you who do have the required skills and enjoy assembling them yourselves.

Jeff
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troll334

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2010, 01:39:19 PM »

Jeff,
That is perfect. I can't imagine anyone having a beef with that.
No complaints here.
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Brian H

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Re: Electronic Kits
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2010, 03:07:15 PM »

That looks very clear and fair to me.
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