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$10/meter, ~$1.00 per joint, 100% off-the-shelf fasteners. By eliminating specialty screws, you get the best bang for the buck!
Created by

Terence Tam

534 backers pledged $100,825 to help bring this project to life.

Gantt Charts, project schedules and risk buys

Hello backers!

Halfway into the funding campaign, and we definitely have entered the "slow" period.  Mind you, even during this "slow" period, we are still steadily marching upwards at a tune of about $1,000 per day, sometimes more:

One thing I am thankful for, is that we've entered this slow period north of the $30,000 funding target.  This frees me up to concentrate on other tasks required to turn this into a successful business, instead of pulling my hair out trying to figure out new outlets to publicize this project in.  (Any good publicity is still appreciated; if anyone reading this can figure out how to get Engadget or MakeZine to blog about this, I'd be grateful ;-) )

Here's a Gantt chart drawn up when the original project was launched.  Bars represent individual tasks - and certain tasks were assumed to follow - or be dependent on - each other.  For example, Amazon.com can't process all the credit card payments until funding closes, the funds can't move to my bank account until Amazon.com finishes the processing of credit cards, etc:

The key dates here are: April 29th - when funding closes.  From there, it takes Amazon.com 2 weeks to run all the credit cards, then another week before Amazon/Kickstarter transfers the money into my account, after taking their own respective slice.  And, when we launched the project, that's assumed to be the date that the rubber hits the road and we kick off tooling, etc.  Note the tooling lead times are also about as flexible as a rock; you might be able to toss money at a vendor to get them to go faster, but in general, gaining more than a week is unrealistic.  Assuming that nothing goes wrong with the tooling and manufacturing, we would have been on schedule to deliver OpenBeam to you by the end of July.

Now, with funding sitting north of $30,000, I've made the decision to risk-buy all the tooling to bring the delivery dates in.  (It's a "risk buy" at this point, because the money still have not hit my bank account, so there's always a risk that I can be left holding the bag.  So please don't start cancelling pledges - I'd hate to explain to my girlfriend why I have to start selling body fluids to replenish her engagement ring funds...)

Kickstarter does a really good job mangling higher resolution images, so I'll post a PDF of the new Gantt chart here as well, for the project management folks that are interested: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2174516/OpenBeam%20-%20Schedule%2C%20with%20risk%20buy.pdf

In short, we are currently looking at being able to bring in some of the fulfilment dates to end of June instead of end of July, have something to show for for all the summer MakerFaires, and being able to launch this product fully at MakerFaire Detroit.

So what do the charts really mean?  What's been going on?

A good chunk of the past week involved filing out countless amount of paperwork to bring this organization to life - applying for business permits, reseller permits, etc.  Currently I have a family lawyer friend looking at incorporation paperwork, and hopefully once that's done I can push through my filings with Washington states' secretary of state, register the business entity, and open my business checking account.  This is important because I would much prefer that the $45,000 + change that is coming my way go into a business account, documented as business income, instead of being told by the IRS that this corresponds to a bonus on top of my engineering salary, which would certainly put me into a very unfavorable tax bracket.

Another large effort that was pushed through this last week was the launching of the aluminum extrusion die tooling as well as mathematical models to determine how much OpenBeam profiles I need to order for the first run.  The extrusion die is one of the longest lead time items on the Gantt chart (after the injection molding tooling, ringing in at 7.5 weeks total).  At the current time, it looks like we'll be able to demonstrate the first sample extrusions at MakerFaire San Mateo, and have production representative extrusions at MakerFaire Seattle.  This is great news, since the product sells itself pretty easily if/when people can get their hands on it.

I am also in the process of finalizing the launch of the injection molding tooling as well.  We'd hope to have the clock start ticking next week on the injection molding. 

Not every part of the running a small business is as exciting and glamorous as doing cool engineering design and putting together prototypes, but that's how life is as a small business owner - you get to wear many different hats, and some of them are less fun than others.  Next week, we'll be back with an engineering update showing you some cool bonus features we've been able to add to OpenBeam, as well as finalize all the pricing for the rest of OpenBeam's accessories.  Stay tuned!

-=- Terence

Comments

    1. Creator Terence Tam on April 26, 2012

      @Brian - I'll see you at Maker Faire San Mateo!

      @Charles - I wish more people would do proper project planning. It's my least favourite engineering activity, but it keeps things on track.

      @Martin: I can't really add the plywood - it screws with my shipping methods. I will, however, be importing linear ball bearings and probably even stepper motors for sale on OpenBeamUSA.com. For now though, I need to focus on fulfilling the rewards and taking care of long lead time items.

    2. Creator Martin on April 16, 2012

      Hey Terence,
      Glad to be a supporter (I added the extra $32 for additional shipping to Canada - hope thats how we are supposed to do it?!)

      Are you considering adding accessories that will help with motion - ie rack and pinion type things or thompson shafts (I think they are called that...)? Although you will focus on the beam materials, I think many people would like to "onestop shop" and getting a few complimentary devices/parts available from your webstore would be very very convenient! For example selling small sheets of acrylic (3mm) that fits in your track, or even the "birch plywood" 12x24 inch or so, would be tremendous for us who don't have readily available sources for the stuff!

      Just a thought and congrats on getting over the "hump" !
      Looking forward to some cool hacking with your hardware - first stop - RASPBERRY PI CASE that can hold the computer on the inside, and the mechanical interfaces on the outside! (motors/servos/solenoids etc).

      Martin /Toronto.

    3. Creator Charles Alvis on April 15, 2012

      Hi Terence, I love the transparency. I've backed over 140 projects and you are the first post a Ganatt Chart which is simply amazing.. It gives people an understand on your workflow concerning the project which is useful for people that are considering running their own project. If you can't make it to the Redmond Crowd Funding Meetup in May I will certainly see you at the Seattle Maker Faire.

    4. Creator Brian McLaughlin on April 15, 2012

      @Terence: Saw Maker Faire San Mateo on your schedule. Look for me at the GeekDad booth!

    5. Creator Terence Tam on April 14, 2012

      @Charlie: Thanks!

      @Tommy: They were SLA prototypes. I'll try to dig up some photos from my engineering archives to show the process. Basically a high-end version of 3D Printing. The parts are actually plastic - I painted them silver with Tamiya modelling paint to get them to look like aluminum. They cost $60.00 for each of those tiny pieces, which is why any bigger projects only exist as CAD renderings at this point.

      I would consider cutting the beams in 30mm increments (2x 15mm increments to factor in different butt joint configurations)

    6. Creator Charlie on April 14, 2012

      I would back more projects if they were as honest, organized, and professional as this one appears to be. Thank you Terence!

    7. Creator Tommy Thorn on April 14, 2012

      Thanks for the update. I'm curious, how did you manufacture the sample used in the photos on the main page? Also, I want to make a reusable kit out of my beams and intend to have them cut into small powers of some ratio r. I'm currently leaning toward 0.618 (golden ratio), 0.5, or 0.333. Any thoughts on this?