Survey - Electronics Kit Subscription Service

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by craigfoo, Aug 31, 2013.

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  1. craigfoo

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 16, 2013
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    I'm trying to get some feedback on an idea I have.

    Would anyone be interested in signing up for a monthly service where you get a "build it yourself" electronics kit on your doorstep?

    If so,
    - How much would you pay per month?
    - Would you want a kit every month or is that too frequent or not frequenct enough?
    - Would you subscribe to do it yourself or maybe for educational purposes for your kids?

    Your opinion and feedback is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. PackratKing

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2008
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    Hmmmm... " Columbia Record Club " for Electronic kits...

    Does one have to endure "club" selections for
    items not really wanted ?? :D

    Sounds interesting...Is there a catalog of kits available... sorry for the snark ... couldn't resist, or have anyone beat me to it ...:p
     
  3. craigfoo

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 16, 2013
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    Thanks for the reply! Would it be better if you could choose a type of subscription? For example, if you loved LEDs, all you would get woudl be kits that have LEDs on them. It would still be a surprise every month but more specific to you. Or would you rather know what you're getting?
     
  4. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
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    Yes, it is always nice to know what you will be getting. ;)
     
  5. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    I wouldn't want a kit that someone else picks out for me. This sounds like it would be similar to the old "Book/music/whatever of the month clubs" where you had to jump through hoops to avoid getting things you didn't want.

    No thanks.

    Now, if you had a nice selection of kits that I could choose from, I would be very interested in a business model that sent out a newletter/magazine every month and focused on a few kits from different areas and made those kits available at a discount. I think a cool marketing gimmick would be to include a free gift with each order. In most cases it would be a small tool -- perhaps a trimpot adjustment tool or a pair of tweezers -- but it might be something a bit more valuable, such as a desoldering iron or a set of jeweler's screw drivers or one of the kits, and on rare occassion it might be something with some significant value, such as a nice soldering station or a set of quality precision screwdrivers or wrenches or snips/pliers. You could even make it so that the more a person bought the greater their odds of getting one of the better gifts, but that a person making their first order still had a chance of getting the best gift available.

    As with anything like this, you would include a small surcharge in the price of everything and use that to fund the gifts. You pick the surcharge rate so that it is low enough -- a few percent at most -- that people don't mind paying a slightly higher price (and since they would have little to compare the prices to, they likely wouldn't notice a few percent markup) in exchange for the excitement and anticipation of getting something for "free" and perhaps getting a big something. Of course, you would include articles in the newsletter highlighting the big gifts that were awarded the past month.

    But no marketing gimmick is likely to overcome the fact that there simply isn't much market for kits. In most cases, anything that you could build from a kit you can buy off-the-shelf for a lower price and get more capabilities. The people that have a personal interest in such things is, sadly, too small to make for a viable market (unless it is an adjunct to other things and only adds to the bottom line at the margin). That's not to say that there aren't companies out there, like Ramsey, that don't try to keep the kit world alive, but it is a fighting struggle that they will probably lose in the end.

    Your best bet is to target the institutional educational market -- get schools to adopt your kits as part of their class. But to do that with any success you have to have your ducks in a row and make sure that you have done all the legwork to be able to give an instructor a curriculum that includes everything they will need to plug your kits into their course with very little overhead on their part. That's not an easy thing to do.
     
  6. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    @craigfoo,
    Sounds like WBahn just wrote your business strategy for you. If you cut him in as half owner and let him plan the projects and process, I'll buy the first subscription.
     
  7. bance

    Member

    Aug 11, 2012
    315
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    Any chance of a spectrum analyser as a gift?

    By the way if you want to be taken seriously, you really must learn to spell..... "Survery"?
     
  8. craigfoo

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 16, 2013
    22
    0
    @WBahn
    Thanks for the constructive feedback, really appreciate it!

    Yeah, about that "Survery." That was a fail. Tried to change it but the forum didn't seem to keep the changes. Minus 10 points for me.
     
  9. adam555

    Active Member

    Aug 17, 2013
    858
    39
    In my case, it would depend on the kits; if they are things I will be using, then yes.

    -The money also depends on the kits, but I guess around $10 is what I would pay.

    -One a month is fine; perhaps not often enough.

    -I would do it for myself, and would like if the kit also brought an explanation of how the circuits work; apart from the instructions.
     
  10. Rbeckett

    Member

    Sep 3, 2010
    205
    32
    I would like to join a subscription service that I could order kits from based on what I would like to explore or build. Ideally it would start off very basic and add complexity up to and including PLC's and Microcontrollers with embedded code. You could start out with the theory and add different add-ons to build a robot or a transmitter/receiver, Oscilloscope and test equipment like a decade box for resistors and capacitors. Something very similar to the Old Heath kit TV's. It would be fun and result in having something that is usable when your done building the kit. Just a thought

    Wheelchair Bob
     
  11. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
    700
    223



    Something I would like to see come back, is Hi-Tech Erector sets. Teach young kids about ME, EE.
    (A kit that will help them find jobs in the future).

    All I see nowadays, is Lego-like materials.

    Kids would like real items, made out of structural steel and hardwoods, with high power electric motors.

    Hmmmm, I guess I would like a kit like that today even at my old age.;):cool: Something to build during the winter months, when I don't want to heat up the shops.

    Something I/They, could use with all kinds of polymers, wood, steel, electrical; combined with great tutorials on how to utilize all these together.

    If I wasn't so damned old.........I would invent such kits...........



    But, there would probably be thousands of lawsuits the first week, because little "Johnnys", would cut off their fat, pudgy, uncoordinated fingers, because of stupidity; and lack of basic common sense.....:eek::mad::D

    It was a good idea, though. For a while.:(
     
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  12. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    But keep in mind that what he is talking about is not a subscription service where you order kits that are of interest to you (though I would imagine you could do that, too), but rather one in which you are sent, on a regular basis, the kit-of-the-month automatically unless you take specific steps to decline that particular kit by some deadline.

    Now, something that might make a workable middle ground would be to have programmed kit selections that form a logical progression in some area, say robotics or amateur radio or microctrollers, or test and measurement. You subcribe/enroll in a program and you receive the next kit on a regular basis. The kits and related material are designed to progressively build your knowledge, skills, and set of electronic widgets in that area. That would be something that, hopefully, might get interest and also be something that could be useful for a school curriculum.
     
  13. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    I would not be interested in such a service. If someone else paid my subscription for Christmas or birthday, the kits would likely go into a pile, that I would rifle through periodically looking for parts for my own projects that I am actually interested in.

    I'm not bashing your idea, just giving the feedback you need in order to make the decision. I suspect you will get more positive feedback than negative feedback and this does not necessarily mean that more people are interested than those who are disinterested. I just means that most people who are disinterested, are not interested enough to say so, or are afraid of hurting your feelings.

    I would hate to see you make a bad decision, so I will say that I don't think it's a great idea and I suspect most other people who don't chime in feel the same way.
     
  14. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    Kit suppliers are generally of the opinion that kit sales are dropping badly each year.

    People (kids, hobbyists and students) just buy readymade "modules" from ebay or sparkfun etc and plug them into their breadboard.

    I suggest you google for "decline in electronic kit sales" or "death of electronic kits" etc to get some more info on how the student and hobby market is changing. :)
     
  15. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    I certainly agree that this is the case and lament that it is so. I wish that someone could come up with a clever way to reverse the trend, but I don't see it happening.

    The central problem is that the people that want to see kits stick around, like me and many of the folks were, are the tiny minority that see kits as fun in and off themselves. Sure, if we get something useful out of it at the end of the day, that is a huge bonus; but just the fun and education involved with doing the kit is reward enough.

    But people in this category were never the driving force behind kit offerings and kit sales. Most people that bought kits did so because they were willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears in order to end up with something at the end of the day that either wasn't available off-the-shelf or that was way too expensive if it was available, or didn't perform well enough at an acceptable price. So building a kit was the price of a ticket to ride. Along the way, many people that just wanted a gadget that would let them talk to someone on the three states away got turned on to electronics and became enthusiastic hobbyists, technicians, and engineers.

    Today, there are very few instances in which that motivation is still viable.

    What is needed is to find a suitable motivating factor other than the kit-based project for which the kit is the ticket to ride. A few programs are doing something along these lines by doing middle- and high-school level robotics challenges that are kit-based (but not as closed-ended as a "kit" typically is -- the kit is more a collection of parts that form either a complete set of allowed components or provides a core set of allowed components) and kids participate not only because the challenge is an interesting team-based competition with other schools, but in some cases because there are some scholarships and other significant prizes to be had.
     
  16. PackratKing

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2008
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    Ain't that just the unfortunate truth...:( though it doesn't absolutely have to be that way...
     
  17. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    There are some erector-like sets available from Stanley. I bought 5 of their kits for $5/ea from big lots. They're kinda cheesy though, not awesome like the old sets.
     
  18. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    Mine is more about my (past) experiences than an opinion.

    As a kid/young boy I could have been interested to buy some of the Heathkits' but possibilities here were minimal if at all and money WAS scarse.

    But besides being dazzled by some of them, I never had the idea of buying them in a series.

    Once I started to understand a little of electronics I built very few circuits from magazines and then started to design them myself.

    Somebody made the parallel to books that somebody else choosed for me. No way; I select mine as with cars, wines and girls...so to speak. Have to admit that my catalog is a little limited in those items as well... and mothers in law seem to be consistently included every time... :p

    To me, assembling a kit doesn't creates any feeling of accomplishment.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  19. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    I'm surprised at that! I have always enjoyed building a kit and felt some pride when it was finished and working. A very similar feeling to having done it all the "hard way" ie making a PCB and designing it myself, so in both cases felt the same feeling of accomplishment.

    Re the change in the market, I put that down to the technological race. In the 70's when we built something electronic the components were very simple, transistors, resistors, caps and sure some IC's too.

    These days the "components" are things like SMPS DC-DC converter modules, microcontroller PCB modules (arduinos etc), RF modules, memory card modules etc.

    So the technology race has made the "components" much better and more capable, but really the game is the same; buy components, design/assemble into something cool.

    The greatest "kit" i think for me these days is a microcontroller. You just give it a list of instructions, and it does totally magical things and becomes a completed gadget.

    So in "kit building for the future" I would have to include programming IC's and modules.

    The days of a kit being a simple one-sided PCB and some resistors and caps to be soldered in are almost over.
     
  20. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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    If this is a shameless plug, a mod can delete the link. I have what I think is a simple, but rather clever kit, and it is priced fairly. My sales are abysmal, but fortunately, I am not in it for the money.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/151108118871?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

    Granted, I haven't done anything to promote the kit, but still I thought there would have been more people who saw the benefits and wanted one. If I were teaching a course on micro-computer programming (assuming I had the requisite knowledge, which I don't), I would want every student to have one, along with a solderless breadboard, a PICkit, and a small collection of other components. Quite a nice syllabus could be built around this hardware.

    My opinion is that a kit of the month club would not be successful. As you have seen here, some are not interested in kits at all, and those who are have their own preference for the type and level of complexity.
     
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