Use this space to cheer the creator along, ask questions, and talk to your fellow backers. Please remember to be respectful and considerate. Thanks!
I guess this is not the best place where to discuss the good and the bad of another crowdfunding platform but...
I basically agree with you. There are things on that platform that I don't like very much as well, and the flexible funding, the limit on the comments and the ability to delete are some of these.
But there are things I like, and the two most important are:
1) they are people that treat anybody as people, not robots that doesn't offer any kind of support or interaction, beside automatic answers. If you had experience of interaction with PayPal's customer care, then you can imagine the feeling of interact with Kickstarter's one. The same. They don't read what you write, they just reply with pre-formatted messages (when they do) and basically doesn't care about you.
2) the other platform give opportunities to anyone. Yes it could be green field for scammers, but not a limit for the others. Please remember and note that Kickstarter filters the projects not checking if the owner is a potential cheater or not, but just according to the "fashion" and "style" of the pitch!
I had this experience with a client. Before running this Kickstarter I've made a project for this guy in Israel, that was a mix of hardware (from me) and software (from others). It was and is a very interesting idea that solve a huge limit of iOS, so can be attractive for millions of iPhone users. He made a pitch on Kickstarter and he sent the request for approval. Denied. They didn't give a specific reason, just the pitch it was not looking good. I admit that the video it was terrible, much worse than mine (and this is not easy already), but the idea, the target and the product was good. They don't really care about this, the video was not cool so unacceptable.
Said this, let's make clear a point:
I am not running any crowdfunding campaign anywhere.
The project that I wanted to promote, and I'm proud to do it because is the result of great passion for a good cause from Harold, is not my project, is not related to me and it involve smARtMAKER only as supporting partner.
It's not the only one. There is a project here on Indiegogo that received almost $200k funding and then came to us when it was time of manufacturing. Build electronics is what we do as a job and I don't see what can be wrong on this.
smARtMAKER is a partner of Indiegogo and for this reason appears in relation to the project.
What is not clear is the role of a partner, in that "environment". A partner is partially the solution to the problems that Keith and Nial reported and that I agree are big sources of risks. If you want to launch a campaign on that platform, there are no filters. As long as you have a PyaPal account you can do anything you want. But not if you do it trough a partner.
In case you launch a campaign supported by a partner, like smARtMAKER, the partner has the right do disapprove your campaign, so you can't go online. The partners also keep control on the life of the campaign and payments can be managed by the partners. Just to give an example, YouTube is a partner and the five campaign officially sponsored by YouTube got almost $1.5Mln.
Why smARtMAKER is a partner of that platform? The reason is very simple: we have been invited to become partner. One of the three founders and owner of the company, that I know in person, invited me to join them and to help with my experience people that have ideas and are willing to run crowdfunding campaign but can fail.
I know you are thinking that the way this Kickstarter is moving ahead makes me the last person on earth to be a model for crowdfunding, but is exactly here where most people get wrong. You can learn a lot from success, but you will never learn the things related to failure, if you don't fail.
Many people thing they are good at running, just because they never fallen but who says that is ability and not luck? You fall once and then you will understand what you should avoid.
A lot of people can take a seat and put together a list of all what they imagine a crowdfunding campaign's owner should do. We have already a list of what must avoid, based on experience, and this is a kind of value.
smARtMAKER as partner of that platform is a long term project, with the goal of support dozens of projects during the time. When Harold asked me if he could be the one to propose a test campaign I was really happy. He's doing great and he's getting what he deserves.
So just to be clear as much as possible, I am not running anther project. The project I'm proud to support, first of all is a website dedicated to material for education and the fact that is at this time running a campaign of crowdfunding is only partially matter.
I don't know why you guys need to see everything black.
This said, I believe this forum should be dedicated to discuss the Open System and not the pro and cons of another crowdfunding platform, but if you want to keep the discussion I will be very happy to host in on http://forums.smartmaker.com
Yeah, "Flexible Funding" is my primary beef with their model. But I also despise how they limit comments to 500 characters, and allow project owners to delete comments. When comments are deleted, it doesn't even leave a "there was a post here but it was deleted" entry. IGG truly is scammer-friendly. It is unfortunate that Kickstarter is only available to US and UK based project creators (due to Amazon's rules, and all KS funding goes through Amazon Payments).
But yes, the Flexible Funding crap is indefensible for technology projects. For creative projects - sure, it's fine... but not technology or related project areas.
Indiegogo is a breading ground for scammers due to its "Flexible Funding" that means if a project has a goal of $20k and they only raise $8k the project still gets the $8k which, by the way, gets taken from your credit/debit card in advance and not at the end of the project.
Its certainly one of the more controversial crowd funding sites.
Having said that I have supported 2 very good campaigns on there, one that only hit 60% and still managed to get everything done and shipped on time (just on a smaller scale) and managed to get the creator enough profit to get her business off the ground which is now doing really well. I think if she had chosen Kickstarter as the place to launch then she would of hit her target and likely far exceeded it but ALOT of people dont like parting with their cash before a project even gets a day into a campaign!
I was surprised to see that any payments made to Harold's project over there actually come out of your bank going to : D. Albino, Smartmaker INC.
Its a good project, but its hardly unique and I feel its poor taste launching another project and it being "just one of many large projects we (they) are going to be launching in the next months" according to Dimitri's comments over there.
At least get this one to the point of almost being ready before spending critical time that is needed to finish the Smartmaker system launching another project that is just a cheap Arduino clone or any other of these "Large Projects". (And it is another project by Smartmaker, it just has Harold's name on it).
I want to see project #1 finished before dropping more money on project #2, 3 or 7..!
Starting another project while so much is needed here is just nuts and very odd timing IMO.
I despise IndieGoGo (for several reasons), and probably won't be backing it financially but I wish Harold well with his project.
Looking at the Indiegogo info and the comments, SmartMaker is a sponsor of Harold's project which it looks like a tax benefit and less paperwork after a quick bit of research. BTW, its only a single board and not related to this project other than by association. Interesting reading though on the Indiegogo operational methods compared to Kickstarter.
You just put us off for a year and your launching another campaign on a different site?
No, i don't understand.
Please get the products in our hands. I am a teacher and was planning to use my summer months to prepare lesson plans based on my learning of the product. I never would have imagined that an estimated February release date would drag on this long. I have only 6 weeks left and am very disappointed that my pledge of $199 has not been fulfilled yet. I sincerely hope this product does not turn out to be vaporware.
@Torbjorn, according to your logic, this proyect can takes 2, 3, 4 years to deliver, just because kickstarter's TOS allows it.
(8 months and counting)
I have been using Fritzing for over a year and have created many parts for the library. If you can provide me the details of the parts to add, I'm sure I can make very short work of them. If it will help move things forward I'm happy to donate my time to the project. I will be traveling again soon and will have 60 plus hours on aircraft alone to keep busy.
Let me know,
@Dimitri: I've also commented under update. But I'd also like to say it here. Thanks for update. It's certainly a step in a good direction. Now I can only wish you good luck and maybe I'll even repeat Peters move to get my hands on basic set earlier then in 3 months!.
I've been critical of this project of late, but this latest update is a step in the right direction in resetting realistic expectations, setting boundaries on deliverables, and reiterating the challenges that have cropped up.
Just another quick message to say that Dimitri seems to be moving this project along and given patience I believe he'll get his technical problems sorted out and everyone will get the kit they've been waiting for.
Why do I think this?
After reading through all these comments, weighing up the possibilities, I guessed that no one would go through all this hassle unless they were really trying to deliver on their promises (kit, not delivery times :) ), if he'd wanted to "rip you off", as some of you think, he'd have shut up by now.
So, to test my faith in what Dimitri was saying I decided to stake a little bit more money. Taking Dimitri's words at face value I went to the website, avoiding out of stock items, and ordered another "Starter Kit" and a UK power supply.
Ordered at 01:30 Friday morning, it was out the door in Italy at 12:04, and on my desk in Aberdeen (Scotland) at 11:28 Monday morning. It would have been quicker but for the weekend. Oh, and it does all seem to work. :)
So, have a little faith folks, Dimitri may be having problems supplying within a timescale that keeps you all happy, but, unlike an awful lot of Kickstarter projects, I believe he will deliver. I know I'm certianly looking forward to lots of cool toys to play with when all the boards finally are ready.
Thanks for all the hard work, we're all expecting great things from you and your team and appreciate what you're all doing. Don't let the comments here get you down too much, patient backers, willing to wait, are the least likely people to post. (Approximate statistics: Backers: 982, Backers commenting since 01-Jan-13: 55 or about 6%)
just to share:
Finally some reports are appearing in the web (even not from backers)
I agree with Marcin.
I have been silent for 8 months, but now it is time to say "enough". I understand that the project is delayed and there are explanations, but now the time has come to present a plan: what is being done and when, to deliver those critical items that holdup the orders for almost everyone?
Don't spend time on long stories to individuals, just present a plan with achievable milestones to deliver the goods, consisting of a few lines to everyone and report the progress to everone every week, as you promised.
Should be simple.
Don't reply to my comment, just publish the plan to everyone. Communicate the information where everyone is waiting for! No stories anymore.
@torbjon It's not like I'm fighting reality. I've been a backer to several projects already, and I understand how it works. I love kickstarter. I just don't think bad behaviour should be excused. Because it might just kill the whole kickstarter movement. More and more people will stop funding really original projects, just becouse the'll no longer belive founders and kickstarter as a whole.
Regarding transparency, keep in mind I didn't say anything bad about it. I just want a freaking update on what's going on. When can I expect my kit, that I've paid for.
regarding "What's holding up the production" I actually spent several hours reading through comments and updates (mainly so you or Dimitri can no longer claim I'm uninformed). and my recomendation still stands:
Write an update. Be clear. Say 2 things. Be concise 1-2 lines for statement.
- What's holding up a production. So other 900 backers find this information easilly.
- What's the current ETA.
After that attach this information to every update, or post it as an update if there's no other news. It'll solve your information problem. I promise.
I give up, you people read 1 or 2 lines that support your position in a FAQ/TOS/text and think you know how it all works, while curiously enough avoid reading anything that's contrary to your preconcieved ideas.
Marcin, in just a 2 minute readthrough I saw that at least 10 of the 30 latest updates have been partly or completely about the problems and the ways to correct them. I'd say that's pretty damn transparent and I, unlike some, have been patient and understanding as suggested in your link.
You also asked "What's holding up the production"
If you bothered reading the updates you would have know that's the smARtHOST USB/ADK and the smARtHOST ETHERNET that's been a big part of the holdup. I don't know if there are other factors.
@Torbjorn: All I can say to you is please please read FAQ: http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/kickstarter+basics#faq_41859
The fact that a lot of project FAIL accountability part on kickstarter, does NOT mean it can be excused, or worse defended. He failed to deliver on time, and it's not a small delay, it's _half year_, that's alright, I knwo the Hofstadter's law. But that does not change the fact that he's late 6 months, and he cannot communicate clearly how much longer will it take.
Dimitri should at least do the steps outlined in FAQ (post update _about progress_), and that's really all I'm asking for right now.
@Dimitri. I understand that this is frustrating for you. Now imagine how it's frustrating for us.
Now I know you've been shot at from every corner. So let's make it clear, I've been in your situation, I'm trying to help you!
Maybe I've made a mistake of telling you what to do instead of explaining why.
So, Your biggest problem is comunication. Your backers do not get information, and actually you already know the answer why "63 updates published. On 578 (including this) messages on this public board, 144 are from the creator".
Now I've checked, for 63 updates - 29 of them were actually written during campaign. another 9 were written shortly after and were either partnership announcments or clearing up Arduino(tm) fiasco. So for last 8 month that leaves us with 27 updates. Not that much.
Now imagine that there are backers like me, I backed several projects, I don't visit kickstarter very often. I give people a lot of slack. I actually expect project to be late. Now keep in mind I didn't ask for update until it was HALF YEAR after estimated delivery date.
I just want to know what's the _New Estimated Delivery Date_ I don't ask for guarantees, I just want to know if I should wait, or simply fuckit and come back half year later.
The way to do it is not to force people to read all these comments, forum posts, etc.
Solution is simple: write an update. With at least 2 clear informations (they can be line each!)
- What's holding up the production.
- What's the current ETA.
Be profesional, don't take a piss with statements like this: "December 31st 2020. It's guarantee that by that day every reward will be fulfilled.". It makes you look like amateur not seasoned enterprenour you're suposed to be. If you have problems managing comunity. Hire a comunity manager, I can recomend someone if you want.
And once more, I'm not calling you names, I don't care about your underwear. I just want to know WHEN YOU _THINK_ (!!!) you'll be able to deliver us product we've paid in front for.
You have ever thought, that there is a difference between quantity of messages and quality?
How many of your answers and backer-questions could be avoided with periodical status reports?
I would ask the other way round:
How many projects are out there, producing so many questions about progress, before the majority of the backers received their pledges??
this project has 63 updates published. On 578 (including this) messages on this public board, 144 are from the creator (me) that's a 25%, or one every four, mostly with multiple answers in a post.
You guys know more about this project and this company than the people that work here, as they have no time to spend reading these hundreds pages of information.
You asking for more Transparency?
Well all my underwear are of black color. This was the only information not yet shared with this community.
You keep asking a guarantee day of delivery, do you think I will not be the first willing to share this when I will have?
December 31st 2020. It's guarantee that by that day every reward will be fulfilled.
Is this the information you want? Here it is.
One of you wrote: "no communication" and another one add "I'm asking the same"... 63 updates!!!!
You can browse the whole history of Kickstarter to find that the projects with so many updates are so few that you can count with just one hand, and use the other one to do anything you like to usually do with it.
Again the Kickstarter rules... there is no time limit to this and I would like to recall the fact that there are backers writing comments like:
"Received my smARtDUINO TINKERER KIT yesterday here in Spain. I'm surprised by the amazingly good build quality of the boards."
Quality is what we are working on here, and we will keep using all the time that we need in order to get this kind of feedback for any of the kits and boards.
How about we all agree on a new "rule": who want to write something on the transparency, communication and updates of this project, must be able to recap all the 63 previous updates, plus all the 144 messages from the creator available on the public board, all stuff that he haven't read or he will not even think about there is lack in information.
When you are talking about what Kickstarter is, let me give you some quotes from the Creator-questions, linked from the black footer of this page:
=What is my responsibility for answering questions from backers and non-backers?=
These inquiries should be answered promptly and, in cases where other backers are asking the same information, publicly with a project update and through your Project FAQ .... Transparency is vital on Kickstarter.
=If I am unable to complete my project as promised, what should I do?=
If you realize that you will be unable to follow through on your project before funding has ended, you are expected to cancel it. If your project is successfully funded, you are required to fulfill all rewards or refund any backer whose reward you do not or cannot fulfill. A failure to do so could result in damage to your reputation or even legal action by your backers.
@Marcin: I am asking for this kind of transparency for weeks!
No there is NOT any fixed delivery times. If you actually take the time to read *any* pledge level on Kickstarter you would see that it says "Estimated delivery". Estimated delivery is not fixed delivery, which seems to be what Jon expected for some strange reason.
Sigh. Kickstarter really should demand that people who want to sign up take *and pass* an indepth test regarding the rules to get a "Kickstarter backer license" before they let them in. It would cut away so much of the misunderstandings, ignorance and unnecessary whining.
@Torbjorn there's a reason why there are delivery times, if someone is exceeding them by 200%, gives no new estimates, gives no updates, does not respond to messages/emails, it's simply not ok. and you shouldn't defend that. Kickstarter or not, it's just bad behaviour.
There are even other projects on kickstarter that were late, but comunicated clearly, and one of them offered backers discount on future purchases, other added extra switches/LEDs to order.
The way this is handled - no refunds - no recompensation - no communication 0 is the worst way you can do it.
To be constructive - @Dimitri can you please post update to project (and continue doing so every 2 weeks until everything is delivered) that contains:
- Current estimatd delivery time.
- Status of different boards.
- Steps you're taking to remedy situation.
Also make sure to respond to emails and messages, if you cannot do it yourself ask someone, or write about it in update.
Operative or Ninja (or something like that) and said that they could uncover the truth about Dimitri in 60 seconds and that everyone else didn't know what you know... PROVE IT!!!!!
With Dimitri's permission, Ill share what I can. I'm a little tired of being beaten up for trying to help. When I pointed out we'd be right where we are now, I was ridiculed. How many have continued to buy more stuff since then? I think he's trying to come through. I offered to help, not be called a killer and a coward and a terrorist. I have a need to protect and watch over people. Its not easy to be in my position. I have to deal with it everyday. What Im supposed to know, what I do know, what I can say, what I can't. I've been given a lot of shit on this site. I don't like doing what I do. But not many can. So those who can have an obligation to. Doesn't mean we like it. I hate it. Always have.
@Jon, as several people have already tried to explain to you, Kickstarter is not an online shop.
You being unrealistic enough to accept a project deadline in which you assume that a Kickstarter project will deliver exactly on time is simply.... mindblowing.
It is also in no way a cause for a refund. A refund is only possible to get if the project creator is completely unable to deliver, or does it out of kindness.
Another unboxing of kits from smARtMAKER.
Mattias is not a backer though, so he asked me to post the link here.
Dimitri, any ETA or refund available?
There have been 8 months since the project started.
Unfortunately, at this time, your kit is useless for my project, It's 80% done, so I prefer a refund.
Received my smARtDUINO TINKERER KIT yesterday here in Spain. I'm surprised by the amazingly good build quality of the boards. Can't wait to have time to work with them. Good job.
Hello. Can you give us any ETA on when the boards will be delivered, maybe publish an update, or do what some other proejcts did, split orders and/or offere replacements? I don't really care about USB/ADK for example, and I can wait for ethernet (or exchange it for wifi).
Guys, we have just started to have decent conversations and smooth tones here, finally after months.
Please don't make it become flames again, or I will have to give up definitely.
Thanks for the respect on ideas, contents and form of anyone's posts (including mine).
Nial, he already did that. The Starter and Tinkerer kits are the only ones that DONT include one of the two boards that are holding things up (USB/ADK board and ETHERNET board).
Also, for the love of all that is holy... you can write a post in under a half of a page... I have faith in you, I know you can do it if you try!
@Dimitri - I Just want to make clear, I meant absolutely no disrespect by my message. It was literally points that had been raised by a friend of mine and myself yesterday about new ventures and best practices as well as just informing you of some of the comments coming out of the mouths of some producers and retailers of similar products.
Your explanation is a good answer and covers that in a way that backers here should be happy about since you had a potential sale yesterday (plus many more I imagine from people going to your site, clicking on Tinkerer or Starter kit and then not being able to add any extra units, not even the most simple nes like the LED module) you have made the bold and ballsy desicion to focus all Smartmaker gear at your Kickstarter pledges meaning that in the long run they will get their gear quicker.
I also totally understand about your introduction of extra boards during the campaign. I think one thing everyone here can agree on including you (as you stated) is that is was a bad idea and it has come round and bitten you on the arse!
I was a $149 backer and dropped my pledge when I saw how many boards had been added and from experience knew this was going to be a long wait, so I dropped down to the min level so I could follow the news and buy a kit once all the KS orders were clear.
If you look at a fully established, well funded company with an entire building full of equipment and engineers all on site like (and this is just an example) Adafruit, for them they often announce an idea in the forums or on the blog and then it wont appear for months due to multiple prototypes, testing then production and QA... Thats for 1 board or a selection of variations of 1 board by a company with a $xx Million a year turn over and 1000+ daily sales!
You announced 11 (i think) EXTRA boards on top of the existing 40 (or whatever the number was), its NOT surprising that it is taking so long to get these done and if the majority of backers chose to add these boards then I understand why most shipments are behind.
HOWEVER.. I think this has come to a point where something needs to be done, I personally think the best option right now is to ship the standard kits WITHOUT any of the extra 11 boards (unless you have any ready) and on the higher level rewards where standard items are still outstanding you should just ship them as much of the kits as possible.
That would be good for all as it would mean:
1/ Everyone here gets their ORIGINAL order so that they at least have somthing from this project while work continues.
2/ It clears all those boxes and shelves of basic kit boards out of the way and since all the most basic boards are ready and waiting to go out then if they are sent then you can then open up sales again for the basic addon boards like the LED's. Switches etc..
3/ It gets the wolves off your back as they will see that you infact DO have their ORIGINAL orders and show that you are not lying.
However that is just my opinion.
Maybe you should put it to vote again on who wants what is available shipped to them and how many want to wait then go with the majority (All or None), I think that would be a good course as obviously alot has changed since the last vote and alot of time has passed.
Finally, I cant remember the name and I cant be bthered to scroll through the 100's of comments to find them, but someone was saying they were a Spy, Private Security Operative or Ninja (or something like that) and said that they could uncover the truth about Dimitri in 60 seconds and that everyone else didn't know what you know... PROVE IT!!!!! The amount of times I have heard 14 year old kids making that kind of claim is rediculous! Get a grip!
Anyway, im still happy as I got excellent service, way above and beyond that of which I could of been given and can honestly say that Dimitri (in my experience) is focused on customer satisfaction and just trying to make everyone happy. With my dealings with him on another product he was nothing but helpfull, honest and did everything possible to get a promised product out on time. (As he said, it was a revision of an existing board so parts and such were allready available, but still it was a lot of work for him and he kept us posted on the relevent forums and in emails so we knew what was happening and the final product arrived a day ahead of time despite starting off looking like it was going to be delayed)
This is a HUGE prject, one of the most complicated that I have seen just based purley on the fact it is a brand new concept for connecting everything and that there are 46 (or whatever) boards that all ahve to be tested with each other, thats 1000's of different circuits and combinations that have to be tested.. That is a huge job!!!
Keep on Trucking Dimitri and don't let the bastards bring you down!!!
I'm just speaking for myself here. I'm not part of the 100% that voted one way, or the 1%, 2%, or 5% quoted on other posts. I'm 1 of 982.
I'm disappointed that I neither have the products that I pledged for nor an expectation on when they will be delivered. Since we can't get a date (either targeted or actual) from the project owner, there is no expectation based upon past promises that we'll get these items.
I just had a nice professional conversation with him via Kickstarter message, where he referred to a lot of the same concepts that he's related here. Nothing secret or different. The idea that Kickstarter is about accepting delays is part of the process.
Another part is about accountability, and I was the only person in that conversation that brought up that the project owner is accountable for their actions or non-actions of their business. The action (or non-action depending upon how you look at it) that I'm most concerned with is withholding the expected date of delivery. Kickstarter is not Amazon.com so delays are to be expected, but Kickstarter does enable folks pledging with the ability to provide feedback both via direct message as well as in a public forum and so that's what I've done today. My hope is that Dimitri starts treating this project that he's undertaken as a business and starts to become accountable to those folks who have provided him with the funds to undertake this and if he cannot deliver, he should return those funds. After 4 months saying that he doesn't have estimates for when we should expect delivery is not professional and wouldn't be tolerated in any business that I've been involved.
My hope is that he takes advantage of the feedback I'm providing here so that he can designate a time when an estimate will be given to us. Alternatively, I'll be to respond to direct messages to me as needed, and monthly to reassert my position that accountability is needed within this forum and should anyone ask me outside of this forum, there as well.
@Six(to) if you don't go to vote on elections, you can't complain if you don't like the candidate that get the votes. If nobody wrote anything different, that 11 people represent the 100% of the voters. This is democracy baby!
And anyway I don't get why you keep coming out with this bull***t of Almond+, one of your dreams became lies I suppose, as 90% of what you wrote here, but try to put in your mind (if can find any space) once forever that I had never been a backer of Almond+, never, never, never.
I know other people that are getting annoying coming out with dreams that they believe are things happeining in the real life and they maybe wake up the whole family in the middle of the night for this reason. One is my 2yo daughter, another is my 91yo grandnother...
@Kenny, you name options that I've considered but now with backers that have already received the rewards and all the teams pretty much busy, it will be a huge pain to handle those options. I could add more delays and it can be a source of a lot of mistake, because every reward is different and everyone has different needs and opinions.
The overwhelming majority that voted to hold until complete order could be fulfilled consisted of 11 people... or 1.12% of backers.
I am pretty confident the majority of backers would like their order in their hands... today.
Please send us our stuff. Stop gaming the system. Just DELIVER.
As far as your contention that I am a fake backer, had my dispute resulted in you refunding my order, I would no longer be listed as a backer... Just like you are no longer listed as a backer for the Almond+.
Another option would be to give us a store credit for the value of those two boards. This way, if you never get them in stock, we can at least use the Credit for other items in your store.
I'm with hfb on this one. Ship our products now and then the USB/ADK and the ETHERNET boards when you have them in stock. I don't mind paying for the shipping but, ideally, the shipping should be on you.
When you asked us if we wanted the shipments to be split, none of us knew it would be MONTHS and dare I say a YEAR that we would have to wait.
Dimitri, just ship everything except the 2 boards.
we didn't go long time before with the option of splitting the shipments because when I've proposed in an update the majority of you wrote that it was not necessary and they actually prefer to get all together.
first of all thanks for the clear report about your doubts. You are touching some point that is not easy to understand if you don't get the “hands dirty” not just in China but anywhere else.
You are surprised because we have been able to get a product like Hannah from design to your door in about 10-12 days but we are taking so long time to come out with the Open System. Plus you appoint the fact that is possible to get in 7 days boards ready to go starting from scratch. And finally you let me known that I've lost a possible good sale because I don't offer the product that I have in stock.
Let's start from the... middle. Saturday's morning I was in the office and I've made the design of a board. It was not a design from scratch, I've made changes to an Open Source product that a friend has requested to me. Yesteday's morning (Monday) I gave the gerber files to the girl that deal with the fabhouse, tomorrow's morning (Wednesday) I will get the 20 PCBs (5 panels of 4 each) and as I have all the components (not many, about 30-35) in house and I've already got the stencil (that I order before 5PM and I receive the next morning) by Wednesday early afternoon I will have the products ready.
So it's not 7 days but just 3 days. What is not easy to understand is that is incredibly fast when you do prototyping, when you deal with small runs. It sounds strange but if I need 50 or 100 PCBs I can get in 2 days. If I need for the same PCB let's say a thousand pieces, then it will take at least one week. Me like anybody else.
Why this? There are few reasons:
1) samples and small runs are produced by fabhouses on daily basis as they use the space on panels left over by larger projects, in most of the case; about 10-15% of the workload for an average fabhouse is on samples and prototypes, because most of the projects in the world requires from one to several prototypes before go on production, so most of the manufacturers of PCB have a daily scheduled run only for samples and very small runs, that are actually source of good profit, as they charge up to 10 times the price of a common product.
2) samples are tested by machines that hold the PCB in the middle and have two probes, one each side, controlled by a kind of CNC, with the software that can calculate the electric test to perform starting from the gerber files; a PCB like let's say a smARtBUS ADAPTER FOR RASPBERRY PI can take up to 5 minutes to be tested; this is acceptable for small runs of prototypes but not for production; for the electric test of the PCBs it's required to make tools that can take days to be ready;
3) factories are not there waiting for you with crossed arms, so you get in queue and wait your time (anyway the test bed it will not be ready in less than few days) that for a fabhouse with an average business (we are talking about 2-300 square meters of daily output at least) this means 4-5 days of queue.
The average time required to have a standard run of PCBs in this period of the year is 7 to 9 days (for products tested at 100%). This for a common dual layers. We had to wait 25 days for the smARtCOREs that are based on four layers PCBs.
Then you have to deal with the manufacturing.
The time required to setup a pick&place is between one and four hours, according to the quantity of components, the positions, size and pitch. After the setup a pick&place like we use can make the production of 300 panels of smARtCOREs (that include 4 copies of smARtCORE L, 4 of smARtCORE U and 2 of smARtCORE M for a total of over 150,000 components) in less than 3 hours.
Pick&place and reflow are just the beginning of a production. You go trough visual QA, then the boards are de-panelized, sanded and washed, before get to the functional test, then final QC and packing.
So you and many others are surprised because we are taking so long time to finish this Kickstarter.
I have a question for you: did you notice how many different boards, products or projects the market leaders introduce on monthly basis? Not many. Of course if you are on the market since few years, you got a good selection of products, but no one bring up 55 modules all at the same time.
I'm not proud of myself, I hate myself for the idea of put together 40 components at the beginning and then add another dozen during the time this campaign was running. Only someone crazy could have so stupid idea. Not because is a bad idea itself but because it's very hard for all of you, on the other side, to imagine what's the meaning of apply the process I've described to 55 products, at the same time and with most of those that must work properly together.
Open System is made of 60 different components (there is some new board that you don't know because I haven't announced but we have already in stock) all made from scratch and all optimized from the original plan. Engineering, testing, tinkering with the prototypes, then go on production, I don't know how many of the people that in the months claimed themselves as genius of the project's management can really imagine the kind of effort there is behind the stuff you are waiting for.
I'm getting feedback from who have received the smallest kits and all are saying the same things: couldn't imagine how cool this stuff was going to be, before get in the hands.
As I've wrote, we have most of the components ready and stocked in the warehouses. What is stopping us to ship the majority of the rewards are two boards that unfortunately are everywhere, plus other few small things that cover a small quantity of additional rewards.
The two boards that gave us the most troubles are the USB/ADK and the ETHERNET. The problem is not related directly to the boards but to the way they communicate with the others, over the smARtBUS Open I/O.
When you get a smARtHOST ETHERNET, you plug a smARtCORE L and nothing else, everything runs very smooth, like any Arduino with an ethernet shield. What we have understood during these months is that the most advanced projects made with Arduino and shields, are based on assembles of a microcontroller and one or two shields, in some extremely rare case a third shield is involved.
The way I've created the smARtBUS Open I/O and what I've promised to you guys is that you will be able to put together even ten or twenty different shields, and maybe different microcontrollers and so on, without wires and without troubles. You can't think I will wait you try to do it and then report problems, if something wrong happens. We did tests, a lot, and we found the problems.
So it happens that several boards of different kind that share the smARtBUS Open I/O can make troubles to each other, if not properly engineered. I've explained this thing, that's related to pullups and current drain on the forums and I invite you to take a look:
So as I've wrote, you have noticed, and your friend didn't like so he spent his money somewhere else, we got a lot of stuff in stock but we are not making it available for buyers.
I do agree with you that's wrong, thinking about the business, but make money is not the reason I wake up in the morning or I dedicate my day to. I'm pretty sure that if I let people that didn't pull out the money from the wallet over six months ago to get hands on things that you have paid already for long time and haven't get, then you really have the right to be not just angry but really furious to me.
It's just something wrong. And I will not do it. I prefer to loose potential clients, potential sales, even the face with a lot of people that are not patient enough to wait for the right thing. I believe is a due respect to who, like you, decided to invest on the former smARtDUINO, now Open System, to first serve the backers and then the rest of the world.
Time will come. Soon we will have this nightmare reaching the end and we will have 60 products all well engineered and working, plus ideas to make another 60. As I've wrote many times, this Kickstarter is not a “bite and run”, we are making something that will leave for very long time and the money you put here are a real investment, as you will be able to use your stuff in the future.
Please take few minutes to read on the forum this discussion created by Paul, the creator of Teensy:
It will give you an idea of how far we are trying to look for.
Message too long, I need to break it. Second part follow...
@Nial... following...About your P.S., your experience with the Hannah just shows that we know how to do our job, even if many people don't think that, but this was a case much different from Open System. First of all we got the final design on May the 28th but this was a second run of an existing product. So all the production materials where ready. For example we got the setup of the pick&place from the previous run, we got the software for testing from the past and it took just a couple of hours to me to adapt it to the new board. To save 3-4 days we haven't done the electric test on the PCBs and the result is an high quantity of not good boards left on a shelf, and everyone including myself had a week (including Saturdays and Sundays) ended with a hundred hours worked, each. Can't do this on regular basis, because the quality of the final product will be very low.
So I shouldn't be the one to say it but we are good at our job. The reason most of the backers are unhappy with me at this time is just because I've made the mistake to don't take the proper time to offer a product with the right quality.
This KS was planned to reach one sixth of the final funding, with about 40 components. The original idea it was something like: I've got the prototypes working, a couple of hundreds people will get the stuff and from the feedback we can improve the future revisions. But I've got almost a thousands of backers, over 20% increase in the numbers of products (all to develop from scratch) and the stupid mistake to don't write somewhere: “hey guys, at this point I will need few more months because I need to create new boards and I want to make the products better, as will go in really a lot of hands”.
Do you think if I move the estimated delivery from February to July I was going to loose a lot of backers? I personally think that less than 5% of the backers where going to withdraw the pledge.
I can't count how many times I've wrote this: it was my fault to don't make clear that all the changes happened during the campaign were going to require a lot of engineering and additional work.
I'm not afraid of the future, because I know that everyone will get what he paid for and I'm pretty sire that the majority of you will be happy, satisfied and will think that it was worthy to wait. This is not a door that will close the day you will get your package. That day will be the first of a long lasting friendship and relationship. The important thing is to be able to look back and think “well, I've made all those mistakes, better to write down everything on a checklist so next time this will not happen again, because I've got friends to make happy (smARt) MAKERS”.
Thanks for your support,
@Dimitri, well I'd rather have pessimistic estimate than no estimate at all.
If it helps at all, which logistically would be difficult, I wouldn't mind paying the actual shipping costs for the stuff that's holding my order up to be shipped when it's ready so I can get the other stuff now. I know it's going to be shipped from the Florida office so it wouldn't be more than $5. It would just be nice to be able to have everything else and that would also open up your website so you can sell the extras you have made instead of having to hold them until everyone else's rewards have been fulfilled.
I have found myself on multiple occasions recently wanting to do some project but haven't been able to because I'm still waiting. I'll keep on waiting but it's a bit sad to see that I could be making stuff if I had 90% of what's ready in my hands.
A buddy of mine has been interested in getting started with electronics and Arduino based systems in particular.
This morning he went to order a "TINKERER" Kit from your website..
He is new to Arduino so a plug and play setup like this sounded like an ideal solution and from first appearances it looked like it was no possible to order mst stuff from your website (I didn't come and read this first) and so I advised him on the best modules and extras to buy with the kit to get him started...
Result : EVERY extra/sensor/board for the Smartmaker kits are marked as out of stock.
So I just came here and looked at the messages to see what was going on and between all the mud throwing and bitching (from backers AND just as much from yourself with personal attacks on individuals who should of just been ignored) You are now saying that you DO have stock of those boards but have chosen NOT to sell any till all backer kits are fulfilled... Not great business.
Anyway so he has just spent his $120 that he was going to spend on your gear and purchased a full and comprehensive Arduino starter kit inc an R3 Uno from Adafruit!
I have no idea why you have locked down 95% of the addons with the smartbus connectors whilst still selling the 2 most basic starter kits.
Surely that is seriously counter productive as it means if you buy a "TINKERER" or "STARTER" kit from you all you are actually getting is a funny shaped Arduino with a connector system that you cant buy anything for to plug into them and so you have to use the supplied (stupidly small) solderless breadboard AND then go and by some jumper leads and loose components.
It really currently is just an Arduino split into several parts and a breadboard to build circuits on with components bought loose from else where.
I thought the idea of smartmaker was as shown here : https://s3.amazonaws.com/ksr/assets/000/231/553/307695eba77b290778cd981232d7e1e3_large.jpg…
In actual fact currently its easier and quicker to build a circuit on a breadboard then it is using smartmaker for the simple reason that none of the component parts (LED's, Sensors, 3rd Party Connectors, Buttons, etc...) are even available.
I dont see what the hold up is now on this project, I really dont understand.
I have seen the work you do and how fast it is possible for you to do it in from my recent experience with buying the Electric Imp Hannah board from you. With that it was amazing in 7 days you went from having nothing but a schematic to printing the board, populating it and then it arriving at my door, seriously 7 days!! Thats damn impressive!
Can you not transfer that speed of printing and populating boards that you demonstrated so well with the electric imp boards to the outstanding ones for smartmaker that in most cases are much much more simple?
I have seen how fast you can pull a set of populated PCB's out of thin air (well blank board and components anyway), I really dont understand how so many parts are outstanding or why no one can buy them in the meanwhile. You lost one $120+ sale today, thats just one person. Electronics prototyping as a hobby (and then building a full project) is booming currently, sales have never been better and demand is insane for unique systems with something a little different like smartmaker has. If you were actually banging these out currently then it would of likely caught plenty of Tech and Gadget website/magazine/webzine editors eyes and be featured thus boosting sales even further.
I hate to say it but currently your project appears dead in the water and stagnant, a couple of months ago I was at a certain event for Makers here in the UK and I was around several times when Smartmaker was bought up as a topic of conversation and the feedback is not great!
I dont know if you know this but you have a few important UK & Euro distributors and owners of some of the largest and most popular Electronics stores here who are pledged in on some of your highest spec kits/rewards, I have heard the feedback from some of them (and this was 2 months ago) and they all could not understand how you could be in this situation given the access you have in China and 3 offices around the world! There are also people who have run successful kickstarter projects (maybe they were late but not by too long) who are now refering to projects that are promising far too much too quickly as "Doing a Smartmaker"
Smartmaker is very quickly (if not already) becoming known as another vapourware project and a bit of a joke in the whole maker/hacker community.
PLEASE pull it together!!!
Has anyone actully received a smartmaker kit here yet and published photos as I couldn't find any.
PS. My Hannah is still working great and its so nice to finally have one! It makes me question even more why Smartmaker is not out there with all backers yet when you can obviously have boards printed with very little notice and are situated in the building where all the production takes place??? At the end of the day this is still just an Arduino clone but with a funky bus system to enable plug and play (sorta).
----> I mean no dis-respect am just repeating what I have heard and the actions of a friend of mine. <----
the difference you have noticed on the website is due to the choice I've made to close the pre-orders.
Most of the components are ready to be marked "ON STOCK" because they are actually on stock in our warehouses, but I will not release those products before complete the fulfillment.
I feel unfair to let others be able to get those components in their hand before who offered a pledge quite a time ago. So even if we actually have overstock of every part, because we manufactured more pieces than the minimum required to fulfill the rewards, we will keep those in hold until our backers will be playing with their rewards.
At this time only the Starter Kit and Tinkerer kit, that have been already sent to the backers, are available for purchasing on http://smartmaker.com and the components part of these kits, like the smARtCOREs U and L for example are available as well but you can see that the smARtCORE M is not available from the shop, even if we have 500pcs in house, because we will send to the backers first.
@Carl, the reason I haven't published the new estimates is very simple: I don't have yet a date 100% sure, or better the one I have is sure but I'm doing my best to make it to be closer.
On June 20th Dimitri wrote, concerning when the new components would be available, " (an exact estimate of the date will be available in the first days of the next week) ", and since more than a week has passed I guess that the "exact estimate" could be given now. Can we have the "exact estimate" now please?
Im washing my hands of the whole thing. I doubt seriously I personally will ever see anything. if at some point a group of people decide that its been too long, and want to organize and attempt to recoup pledges, I believe I have found a vehicle to do so. I will keep an eye on this "publicly" available (to me) forum and if I see anyone interested I will post a link.
For the time being, maybe some of you will receive your product, I don't know, but give it some time, maybe ill get something in my mailbox, if I do, ill be sure to let you know.
For me, now, im going to get involved with some new campaigns and try to remember why I started coming here to begin with.
And to Dimitri- I know.
I looked to the forums and as I posted before, I am really eager to share my first impressions about the components over there, once I have received them!
It makes 100% sense, to post all questions related to usage, programming, projects etc. there.
However, as long as we are waiting (and still have no idea, how long we have to wait), we need this forum, where we can share our opinions.
What we all wish to hear, is detailed information, where the problems are, and when we might expect deliveries.
When checking smartmaker.com, if some more components are available besides the first two Kits, the only change i notice is, that all other Kits have now the remark:
"THIS PRODUCT IS NO LONGER IN STOCK "
What does that mean? Till some days ago, there was at least the possibility for preorder and the status was:
"PRE ORDER! Will ship when available"
did you take a look of the forums?
There are for sure not many discussins going ahead till now, but at least we have people talking about something interesting.
We talk about how to program the smARtCORE Z, about 3.3 vs 5V signals and so on. Is useful to both get knowledge and share the one you already got.
Now browse the last 10 pages of this Comments' board... do you find something interesting?
Nothing else than (always the same) two people that put their frustrations of the day on others. One thousand backers and only two that take all the space with bull***ts and lies, one of them even not a backer, as he withdrawed the pledge filling a chargeback.
Searching within the dozens of posts use to just attack me for free, or clearly to "I just wwant to be wrong to this guy", can you see how many times me and some backer have tried to make this place be interesting?
Every topic we bring up it will just be burried by again the same useless content.
This made the Comments' area become worthless and nobody was following. The evidence of this is the total lack of comments and even readers (I can see it from the stasts). The forums are getting life. People that never wasted their time here, are getting involved there.
And the "automatic" reply that's not automatic as I copy&paste it every time, doesn't say "you can't use the comment area". It just says that we are foffering forums because is a better and more useful environment where to talk about different topics in an organized form.
And it says that I don't follow or support the (useless in the recent past) discussions here. There is no law in the world that impose me to write something here.
Everyone (of the two that did in the past two months) can keep writing here forever. The interesting topics and participating people are somewhere else.
I can't and won't close this Comments' board that's all yours, backers. You use it the way you want, as long as you want, and who wants can keep trying to destroy a community that is stronger than what they proabably though. Pity them.
@PR Taylor, plese note that the primary and official source of news are the Updates, and there are few, very few, projects on Kickstarter (including who delayed for 10-11 months) that have posted so much updates like I did.
This Comment's board is a space for you guys and, again, take a look of the past two months and enjoy the multiple options of topics you can find and the level of the discussions.
When a backer withdraw the pledge, Kickstarter is not informed and they don't really care. Is a problem between Amazon that take our money back and us. As the Comment's area is forbidden to write for the "not backers" it should be as well for the TRAITORS but they can keep annoying others and try to destory something good, perhaps.
Whatever... if you want to get into some interesting discussion about technology, even related to the delays of this project, you are welcome:
(started from the creator of Teensy)
(about the smARtHOST ETHERNET that's slowing us down)
(about how to program the smARtCORE Z)
all nice topics that could be nice to discuss here, but we were unable to do it.
@TRAITOR how dare you are to post (first of all) about the Comments' area that we have left behind because the degrade in the quality of comments, when you are the main cause of this degrade?
Agreed. Trying to shift discussions related to the lack of fulfillment to a seperate forumn where the performer is also the controller is indeed suspect.
It is s.o.p. for this forumn to be used until delivery has been completed.
The use of private forumns makes complete sense post delivery, not so much predelivery... as discussion would be based on speculation of potential use or issues until a tangible item is in hand.
Agree with you in principle Pictor but other KS have been moving to their own forums post funding. Some do respond on the comments section but it is not as frequent as during the campaign. The Armikrog & Elite comments sections is just about useless to ask questions to the project owners due to the committed backers posting every second! Fortunately in the case of Elite, there is a forum for the backers that is supported well enough.
However, we should still get updates here on the project as we're backers and this is our primary news source. I'm not sure how KS works if you remove your pledge or get a refund, you may still be classed as a backer here (not having a go at anyone, just my experiences so far using KS) so either way, its difficult. Saying that, as long as there are regular status updates here I'm content for now.