After this campaign closes you can read more about the EEW here.
The Electric Eel Wheel Mini is an affordable electric spinning wheel that makes yarn out of fiber.
The guy talking in the video is me, Maurice. Also in the video were my wife, Emily, and my daughter. The whole spinning wheel project started about eight years ago as a request from my girlfriend (now wife) to make her a travel friendly spinning wheel. Then her friends wanted one, and I eventually started selling them online. There is a great community around the Electric Eel Wheel spinning wheels at Ravelry (it is like the Facebook for knitters and spinners and requires a login). The community has been giving me great ideas on what kinds of features they would like to see in electric spinning wheels, and being an engineer I do my best to implement those great ideas. I'm currently on version 5 of the EEW, but this is my first version of this miniaturized EEW.
Here are some of the best EEW Mini features:
- Small and lightweight design makes it very portable
- The metal sliding hooks are easy to use
- No foot treadle means you can use is in more places like in your recliner or at a table
- The motor handles the spinning which lets you focus on feeding the fiber to the wheel making this much faster and easier to use than drop spindles
- Cost optimized design enables a much lower price than other spinning wheels
The Mini is on Kickstarter to help fund our first batch of manufacturing. The retail price will be higher so you're getting a deal and you are getting one sooner.
One important note to backers outside the USA: the power supply that ships with the Mini works with voltages around the world, but it has a Type A plug. If you don't have Type A plugs, you would need to provide a physical adapter to convert from Type A to whatever plug type you have.
Stretch goals reward backers with extra features if this project is funded beyond our initial goal. Let me know what you would like to see as a stretch goal!
- $25K (GOAL REACHED!) - Every Mini comes with a plastic spin card to help improve twist consistency of your yarn.
- $50K (GOAL REACHED!) - Every Mini comes with an extra belt sized for plying yarn.
- $75K (GOAL REACHED!) - Every Mini comes with an orifice hook.
The more of your friends you tell about the EEW Mini, the more likely we are to hit the stretch goals and I will add more. So spread the word on your favorite social websites.
Plying yarn is when you take two separate strands of yarn you've already spun and twist them together. To do this you must twist the strands of yarn together in the opposite direction you've spun them. The Mini can support this in two different ways. The first is to swap the position of the black and red wires on the circuit board. To do this you need a small flat head screwdriver to swap the wires according to the photo below.
The second option is to add a twist to the drive belt, but you will need a different sized one than the one included. If you twist the one included it will be too tight and the wheel won't spin. Here is the belt you'd need if you want to do the twisted method of plying.
While the Mini can do plying, it isn't the ideal wheel for this. When plying it's often nice to go at very high speeds with lots of tension. The smaller motor on the Mini means you can only go at a moderate speed with light tension. Also, the small bobbin means you'll have to change bobbins frequently since plying fills up bobbins much faster than spinning.
The bobbins on the Mini hold about 1.1 ounce.
I source parts from around the world, but assembly and testing is done near my home in rural Massachusetts, USA. I've used knowledge from the other spinning wheels I've designed and optimized the Mini for cost.
The major custom parts I've designed for this spinning wheel are:
- Circuit board
- Wooden case laser cut pieces
- Injection molded spindle and slider bars
- Triangle wire clamps for the slide bars
All of these parts are either ready for manufacturing or very close to ready.
Comparison to other Spinning Wheels
It is important to realize the Mini is a new category of spinning wheel. It is much faster and easier to use than a drop spindle, and available at an amazing price that no other spinning wheel on the market approaches. It's design makes it great for new spinners and or more experienced spinners when they have a special niche that needs filling (like traveling, teaching younger children, or just experimenting with an electric spinning wheel without breaking the bank). However, the Mini is not meant to work as a production spinning wheel. So if you are an experienced spinner don't expect this to replace your primary spinning wheel.
The EEW5 is a high-end electric wheel I've made and sold, so I'll be using that as the basis for comparison. The EEW5 is similar to other good quality spinning wheel thus making this a good source of comparison for people familiar with other spinning wheels even if they aren't electric. The reason for these differences is the Mini is five times less expensive than the EEW5. To meet that price I made many design changes. I have listed some of the major ones below:
- The Mini uses a much smaller motor. This also allows a smaller power supply. It also means the max speed is slower on the EEW Mini, and the torque is lower.
- The Mini's smaller size reduces the cost of the wooden pieces used in the case. This also results in a very lightweight spinning wheel. You see the Mini is attached to a book with a rubber band in the video to give it some weight. The lightweight design is important because it reduces shipping costs.
- The Mini's new flyer design uses sliding wire hooks instead of the stainless hooks used on the EEW5. While I like the hook system on the EEW5 better, the hooks on the Mini are still better than a lot of other much more expensive spinning wheels out there.
- The circuit board on the Mini uses a much simpler design that can only go in a single direction instead of both directions. Also since the motor is smaller, the circuit board can use less expensive parts.
- The Mini's flyer is plastic instead of metal like the one on the EEW5. Where the yarn rubs on the plastic flyer will eventually start to wear. If you use the Mini a lot you'll need to add something like aluminum tape to where the groove might form in the flyer, but that would take a substantial amount of spinning.
Please spread the word! If you want to post to your news site, blog, Facebook page, forums, email your friends, or tell people about the EEW Mini, then I put high resolution of many photos of the EEW Mini on this page for your use. Feel free to use anything from this Kickstarter page as well to tell others about the EEW Mini.
Risks and challenges
I have done a lot of testing with the current version of the EEW Mini. This includes sending out EEW Mini kits to seven other spinners for them to test. The testing results have been positive, so I'm happy with the current design. I have even had the injection molds for the plastic parts made already because I wanted to verify those parts before starting this Kickstarter.
One significant risk is production scale if this Kickstarter gets many more backers than the goal. While selling a lot of extra EEW Minis would be a blessing in some ways, it could also be a problem because might cause me to adjust manufacturing plans which could lead to delays. As long as the number of EEW5 Minis I need to ship to backers stays under 500 this won't be a problem. After that I should be able to handle 1000-2000 with only minor delays and hiring a few extra local assemblers. Beyond that delays will probably increase.
It is always possible for factors beyond my control to delay shipping, such as one of my suppliers going out of business, but these risks are minimized since I have been working with most of my major suppliers for years. If this happens, the parts for the EEW Mini are not so specialized that I couldn't find alternative sources, so this rare scenario should only delay release.
This is not my first product so I know about a lot of the pitfalls and have worked hard to avoid them. If you look at my previous two Kickstarter campaigns you'll see one shipped on time and the other actually shipped early. That said, I will delay shipping if some issue with quality is found. I would rather delay shipping than ship a defective product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)