Take a cape to production without taking a mortgage on the farm

Crowd funding is all the rage and with good reason. Starting up a new business venture means taking risk. If you can clearly articulate the value of what your business will create, others will be willing to share in that risk. Sometimes you share the risk with a bank in the form of a loan or a venture capitalist in the form of equity in your business. With tools like Kickstarter, you can spread the risk out far and wide by promising some of the first fruits of your venture. What if, however, you don’t want to market your idea to hundreds of thousands of consumers and stress about keeping them happy. What if, instead, you simply are a member of a community that wants to share something cool, wants to get your hands on that something cool without wasting weeks to build PCBs and hand assemble them yourselves, wants to not spend a fortune buying parts in low volume and can’t bother making another one of those d*** Kickstarter videos?
CircuitHub group buy campaigns are here to rescue the day. Upload your prototype-validated design to CircuitHub, match the BOM to the parts in their inventory or the most affordable functional equivalents, check out the pricing at various volumes and engage with them on how many people need to join the group buy to get it to a reasonable cost. You’ll need to tweak how much money you intend to collect for your effort in validating and supporting the design as well. Then, share the campaign page with your community and enable them to affordably get some of these cape designs in their hands!
Below is the post I recently made on the BeagleBoard.org blog announcing the first of what hopes to be many campaigns bringing cape designs out of the Github bit-bin and into your hands:

CircuitHub launches group buys with build of GamingCape

by Jason Kridner
In last year’s TI intern contest, Max Thrun amazed us with his incredible video of the making of the GamingCape that turned a BeagleBone Black into a handheld-gaming console running on AAA batteries. If you are like me, you immediately wanted one of your own. I ran out and bought a few PCBs from OSHPark, sourced parts from Digi-Key and started assembling some boards. A few months later, as you can see, I still don’t have it 100% assembled.

Well, I’m here to ask for your help in fixing this problem! I uploaded Max’s open hardware design to CircuitHub and they launched a new tool enabling us to go in together on a board build. This means we can use our combined purchasing power to lower the cost of buying the components and justifying the time it takes to setup machines to do the assembly. While Max’s assembly skills are mesmerizing, they aren’t going to put many boards in people’s hands.
Thanks to CircuitHub’s new group buy campaign tool, instead of spending about $1,000 on just a single board assembly, we are each able to buy one for under $100! If more people buy them, the price might even go down further, so encourage your friends to buy one too. So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the group buy campaign and turn your BeagleBone into a handheld gaming device too!
Note that this is a group purchase and not an off-the-shelf product. Max has done much of the hard work in designing and testing this board, but it isn’t necessarily perfect. I’ll be working with CircuitHub over the next few weeks to fix issues that Max has pointed out. Join the Disqus conversation on the page to help us hammer out the details, visit Max’s page to review the design materials and join the fun.
Now how about watching that video just one more time…
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj1T84orbeY]