In late 2014 we launched a campaign for the Public Radio v1.0, and eight months later shipped roughly 2,500 radios to backers all over the world. But maintaining inventory after our initial production run proved difficult, and for the past two years we've been looking for a way to reconfigure our manufacturing process so that the Public Radio can live on in a sustainable way. With the help of this Kickstarter Gold campaign, we'll be setting up production here in the United States and adding a few improvements to the radio's internal design and functionality.
One station for your daily routine
The Public Radio will be the most straightforward device you own - and the easiest to use. It comes pre-tuned to a single station and has only one knob, to turn the radio on and adjust the volume. It’s that simple. In case you ever move, it's easy to reprogram the radio to your default station.
We’re used to having unlimited options these days, but radio is different. For us, there’s just one station we tune into throughout the day, whether it’s the local NPR affiliate or Top 40 hits. The Public Radio responds to this dedicated interaction. Sometimes, it’s nice when things are so simple.
The Public Radio is built around a Silicon Labs Si4702, a high quality FM receiver chip used in both consumer and military applications. The mechanical assembly is engineered for a balance of practicality, economy, and excellent performance.
- It's easily re-tunable! This is kind of a secret, but it only takes a minute to re-tune your Public Radio in case you ever move. Instructions on our website, here.
- 30+ hour battery life on two AA batteries. The Public Radio runs just fine off of rechargeable batteries too! The battery life depends on how loud you're listening, and the type of batteries you're using.
- Fits any wide mouth mason jar. We like the look and sound of the half-pint jar that the Public Radio ships in, but you can always swap it out for something else! Larger jars make the radio a bit more bass heavy.
Made in the U.S.A.
With the help of the 1,600 backers of our 2014 Kickstarter campaign, we were able to pay for the tooling and large order quantities to bring the Public Radio to life. Then, we assembled 2,500 of them ourselves - by hand - on nights and weekends. Artisanal, maybe, but exhausting.
With this campaign, we will set up a permanent and sustainable manufacturing chain for the Public Radio - here in the U.S.
For manufacturing, we’re partnering with our friends at Accelerated Assemblies in Elk Grove, Illinois. We've worked with them to develop a manufacturing process that'll keep the Public Radio available, affordable, and high-quality into the future.
NEW! Custom engraved logos for station managers
If you’re a radio station manager and are interested in using the Public Radio as part of an upcoming fund drive or other function, we’ve got you covered! We now offer custom laser engraving on the Public Radio’s stainless steel lid so you can personalize it with your logo or station name. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
The Public Radio is a collaboration between Zach Dunham and Spencer Wright, two longtime friends now living in Brooklyn. We're both hackers, makers, and engineers of sorts - Zach's background skews towards audio, and Spencer tends towards mechanical stuff. We’ve been involved in complex and large scale projects in the past, and enjoy sharing openly about the journey.
Our first Kickstarter campaign was a serious learning experience - as were the 2,500 radios that we built for it with the help of a generous group of New York City friends. We’ve since gotten a lot of feedback from our backers, and have used their suggestions in making significant improvements to the Public Radio's mechanical design for ease of use. We’ve also made some changes that will help Accelerated Assembly manufacture our radios more efficiently.
Risks and challenges
Manufacturing a consumer product is complicated. With that in mind, we've done a ton of the heavy lifting in advance of this campaign in order to minimize risk: We've vetted and visited all of our component suppliers, obsessively reengineered the Public Radio's entire assembly to be durable and nearly foolproof, and crunched and re-crunched the numbers to make sure we won't dip into the red. And with direct experience working with Accelerated Assembly in the past, we have total confidence that they’ll be a strong partner for The Public Radio.
After manufacturing 2,500 Public Radios and shipping them around the world, we’re aware of many of this process’s inherent challenges and confident that we can tackle any new ones that may arise.
During our original campaign, we were committed to sharing all of the steps along the way with our backers, and gave them a financial breakdown at the end of manufacturing. This time around will be no different: you can count on being kept in the loop on every part of the process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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