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subscribers
How do you advise backers to combine rewards and manage pledges?
Last activity on  |  3 answers
Simply: "With Difficulty", or "Use IndieGoGo/CrowdSupply".This is something Kickstarter does *very* badly, along with assisting people to fulfil rewards.I've had people back twice using two accounts just so they could get multiple rewards, despite the description saying to just add the value of the other items. Even after explaining to people via messages how to do it, and giving them a link to the pledge page and saying "just enter $x into the top box" - they still don't get it.I'm lucky enough to have 10 years professional software development behind me, so I can write tools to help me wrangle Kickstarter's data so I can begin to try to figure out what backers want with their extra pledges. There is no way to know what the extra money is for, so make sure you use odd numbers for the extra items or you'll have to message each backer and hope they respond in a reasonable amount of time. For example, have $5/6/7 items rather than 3x $5 items.If you're set on using Kickstarter, you might want to give BackerKit or similar a hefty percentage of your campaign funds to manage this process.This, the inability to choose a currency, and the complete lack of tools to handle backers/shipping after the campaign are my big pain points with Kickstarter. I've been complaining here on Campus for almost a year about these, and I know others have been complaining directly for much longer. My next campaign is likely to be on IndieGoGo or CrowdSupply because of these issues. Don't get me wrong, Kickstarter is a great platform for getting backers.. its just awful to have to put in dozens and dozens of extra hours after the campaign trying to deal with everything that the platform really should handle.
Mark Harris

10

subscribers
What do people generally do about certifying their products (eg. FCC, CE, etc.)?
Last activity on  |  2 answers
I think a lot of people either don't know they are required to, or don't bother to. Personally, as an electronics engineer, I think every product should be fully and properly certified. Many products coming from hobbyist origins probably would not pass due to lack of filter/poor circuit design :(Products that are not RF based (or using pre-certified modules) only need to be certified as an unintentional radiator - this can be pretty cheap if your design is good - under $1k with many labs, under $2k with almost all.If you are creating an RF based product and not using a pre-certified module (consider using one if your volume is under 20k over 2 years, it almost always works out cheaper) then you need to be certified as an intentional radiator, that WILL cost you over $10k, if your design is bad and you haven't done in house pre-electromagnetic compliance testing and need to make changes, it can easily cost into the $20-30k range. Labs give you a certain amount of time to make changes and resubmit without extra cost... but if you can't just hack the board and need to actually make changes to the PCB, get new boards made, and arrive... you might run out of time and have start from scratch (paying the fee again).I recommend EMC Fast Pass to all my clients coming from hobbyist backgrounds: www.emcfastpass.com it covers much of what you need to do to certify, and what you can do on your pcb to help it pass.If you're looking for a lab to certify an RF product with, my recommendation for those new to the game is to find a product similar to yours then look up the FCC ID. The FCC ID will tell you the lab who certified it - reach out to them and say "hey you certified [this product] thats very similar to ours, how much will it cost me to have my similar product globally certified?"... contact 3 or 4 labs like this and you should have some reasonably accurate quotes - assuming the lab isn't just a flat fee.As a note on this however, FCC are changing their rules this year (in a few weeks?) and require all labs to be inspected, not just "self certified". Meaning things are about to get a whole lot more expensive - no more using the cheap labs that havent spent the money on inspections. A lot of labs are going to close  soon i think, or only do pre-compliance testing to help you pass.If you're not sure if your design will pass, and you don't have the equipment to test it, and you don't have the budget to go to a lab for pre-compliance testing... then head to a freelancing website like upwork.com and post a job for an EMC review. Get someone to check over your board design and give you suggestions, and send them a sample board so they can test it on their equipment (make sure they have the right equipment! 2.4GHz based systems need a 12.4GHz analyser to get all the required harmonics).And finally... if you are using a pre-certified module (such as an XBee or wifi module), make sure you're using the right antenna with it. The pre-certified module is ONLY certified with specific antennas. If your device has a PCB or chip antenna already on board - you don't need to worry. If you however need to use a u.fl or sma connected antenna... you MUST use one of the antennas specified under their certification or you will have to certify as an intentional radiator - their certificate is void if you dont use that specific antenna. This means you can't grab a cheap (likely very crappy) antenna from China that claims to operate in the band you are using (based on my testing of dozens of antennas... chances are its not going to be very well matched LOL.)
Mark Harris
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