Our goal is to make stuff we enjoy, and offer it to like-minded hackers at a price we’d pay. We’re always looking for ways to improve the quality of our projects, but we still want to release prototypes for people who accept the risks of open source, enthusiast-designed hardware. We’ve settled on two major changes to keep things open, loose, and cheap.
All but a few top secret projects will now be developed openly in the forum. Not many people are doing this in the emerging open source hardware industry, but we’re going to give it a try. Stop by, have a look, and give us a critique before prototypes are sent to the board house. We’ll announce new projects on the blog as they’re added.
In addition to seeing early project development, you’ll now be able to participate by buying engineering samples under the new Dangerous Prototypes ‘green label’. It’s like an Apple program that makes engineering prototypes of new iPhones available to the public. More below.
Dangerous Prototypes Green (green PCBs) – When we develop a new project in the forum, Seeed can now make up to 10 assembled boards for interested developers. This will get hardware into the hands of eager developers faster, and formalizes the process we used with the Open Logic Sniffer. It should help speed development of projects like the Bus Pirate with USB peripheral currently under discussion. There will be no testing, no firmware, no support. There’s no guarantee the design will work or have any meaningful development, the boards might not power up at all. Some soldering probably required!
Dangerous Prototypes Yellow (yellow PCBs) – The first preorder of new designs will now fall under the yellow label, production will be limited to an initial test batch of 100 or less. Preorder participants will receive a discount, but also a prominent warning that early adopters often get burned. The limited initial production will help us find manufacturing glitches before shipping a popular project like the OLS.
Dangerous Prototypes Red (red PCBs) – Successful designs that are popular enough to warrant continued production will be released under the red label at full price. These designs have had the initial bugs worked out, and have been verified not just in a prototype, but by early adopters.
We think the new three-tier system gives us more flexibility than before, while minimizing the extent of problems scaling a prototype to production. We can now release very rough prototypes, something we couldn’t do before. Initial preorders will be limited, minimizing the damage from unexpected issues, at a discount to enthusiastic early adopters who aren’t afraid to solder. If you want a more mature design, you can stick with DP-red, which has already been through the initial growing pains.
If you have any other suggestions or thoughts, please share. Let us know how we can improve preorders and your experience with our prototypes.