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[Ebay] IBM Model M Bluetooth-USB-Hybrid Controller Replacement Kit

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Harinis:

--- Quote from: chanceman42069 on Mon, 23 July 2018, 08:00:37 ---This thread has been viewed 9465 (!!!) times - and so far I've only received a handful of enquiries (any kind of enquiry, not solely commercial). How is this possible? Who or what is causing the views counter to increase so rapidly while there doesn't seem to be a lot of real human interest in this thread at all? Beats me!

--- End quote ---

Perhaps it's because you're asking to be paid more for a controller for an IBM Model M than it costs to buy an IBM Model M.
And so far your attitude is not exactly endearing.
When asked on DT: "no offense but why does it cost so much?"
Your reply stated: "if you can brew something together yourself, do it, then you won't have to pay for somebody else's labor. The parts only cost about 25 (I can give you a precise listing if you like)."
So you're saying that it is actually quite cheap but you're charging a bomb because you think you deserve some kind of minimum wage labour costs for a homemade controller that costs more than the keyboard itself.
So if you're charging a massive, profit making mark-up for time and labour like a business would, I assume you're offering a 3 year warranty and full return and refund with a year of servicing and parts as a business does too?

chanceman42069:
No, there is no link because I would rather not use Ebay for a transaction. This thread has been around for a while and I cannot simply move it to the artisan section. I asked for persmission to start my own artisan thread, but I never got a reply from the powers that be.

Thanks for your critical remarks. Yes, you're right, I'm not running a business in the narrow sense of the word, which is precisely the reason why my prices are kind of highish. I'm trying my very best to offer a quality product and support though, even though this is a one-man-one-day-at-a-time kind of project. I cannot offer mass production prices because there is no mass market for this kind of product. If you're looking for an analogy, think of spare parts for vintage cars or espresso machines. The analogy fails with respect to the relation of the total value of the object to the spare part, but the cost of a custom made spare part for a vintage device will still be disproportionately higher than the cost of a spare part for a contemporary car or espresso machine. If I could sell 1000+ units I would lower the prices accordingly, but I cannot.

As far as your other opinions regarding the duties of businesses towards their customers are concerned, that's all good, but what do you suggest I do? We're not talking about a collaborative effort of a group of people that can take turns, but a single individual. I've created the firmware and the layout and everything and I've had my fun, learning experience, whatever, OK. So what happens after I've had my fun and want to move on to the next little project? Do I upload everything to Github and forget about it? What happened to similar projects that were only created and developed for the developer's personal amusement? They were abandoned and are now mostly forgotten, some of the developers seem to have mysteriously 'disappeared'. Well, where did they go? Here's my theory: they 'disappeared', because they got overwhelmed by requests and support enquiries, but they never made a single dime, or close to nothing. So as the economic theory of 'opportunity costs' would have it, they simply closed down shop so they could hitherto devote their time and effort to activities that would generate income.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is this: in order to perpetuate the development, availability and support of a given product, some sort of incentive is required that goes beyond personal amusement. I would be hard-pressed to specify exactly how long I take to make one controller board, but I think it's a safe estimation that the 50€ of 'profit', as you say, correspond to an average wage of about 10€/h. I do not take 5 hours to mount components, but there are other task involved in preparing a board as well, including preparatory work, cleaning, uploading the firmware, testing, wrapping everything up for shipping, taking the parcel to the post office. You seem to be entertaining the idea that all these peripheral tasks do not qualify for recompense, but they are necessary for the completion of the manufacturing and delivery process nonetheless.
Then there are also the long-term commitments, if you will: developing, maintaining, improving of the layout, the firmware and the host application, as well as helping people in all sorts of ways and answering all sorts of questions not related to advertizing and selling. The main reason there's only a couple of such DIY projects out there as opposed to 100s is probably, in my opinion, that the average computer engineer simply cannot be bothered. It's just not worth their while and there is not going to be any kind of recompense on the level necessary to pay for an engineer's labor.

Finally, I feel that some sort of clarification is necessary here as far as the meaning of the word 'profit' is concerned. 'Profit' is a category that pertains to capitalist enterprise. Capitalist enterprise is based on the exploitation of the laborers by the capitalist, the owner of the means of production, as far as Marx is concerned. The capitalist advances a sum of money, invests the money in means of production, which act as capital if and only if they are used to extract surplus labor. The capitalist then sells the commodities to realize the value that the force of labor, his employees, have added to the means of production, as profit. In reality, this process is more complicated and mediated, but for the sake of argument an abstract scheme of the process of valorization will do.

Even without Marx, in a more textbookish sense, the category 'profit' still requires that a sum of money is advanced for the mere purpose of incrementing that sum, turning money into more money - but it is a necessary condition that the 'profit' not represent an amount of labor expended by the monied person advancing the sum to be capitalized, at least as far as my understanding is concerned.

The form of 'profit' that serves as the paradigm for the category in everyday language is the profit made in trade, which appears at the surface of the social process as some sort of 'mark up' or 'addition' to the price of a given commodity, and that is all a working trader needs to know of it. Of course we're free to abstract from the concrete social relation and refer to all kinds of 'surplus' as 'profit'. A peasant in a rural country may decide to grow more crops than necessary to feed his family and trade the surplus produce, and may consider the surplus his 'profit'. But that's not 'profit' in the ordinay sense of the word, it's just a recompense for surplus produce that the family of the peasant will not consume themselves.

The crucial point to understand here is this: 'profit' is not a form of 'recompense' for anyone's labor, it isn't a mere 'mark-up' either, as you say, but it goes beyond the purpose of my reponse to give you a more detailed explanation. It is not correct to refer to any kind of 'surplus' as 'profit', but it is wrong and outright foolish to refer to the recompense of somebody's labor as 'profit' merely because it increments his income.

morgul12:

--- Quote from: Harinis on Sat, 21 September 2019, 05:48:24 ---Perhaps it's because you're asking to be paid more for a controller for an IBM Model M than it costs to buy an IBM Model M.

--- End quote ---

I dare you to find a Model M that was manufactured with bluetooth capability.

I have one of these controllers, and it was worth every penny.  Awesome couch keyboard -- my Model M SSK with Jorn's BT-USB controller.  Previously I had used an external PS/2-to-USB adapter which was okay but ran out of battery power very quickly, in addition to requiring a cable to be connected to the keyboard (making the whole thing bulkier).  Now I have an SSK that will last MUCH longer before needing a recharge, and it has no cables.

SDS604:

--- Quote from: Harinis on Sat, 21 September 2019, 05:48:24 ---And so far your attitude is not exactly endearing.
--- End quote ---

I may be new to this forum but your attitude is the **** one.

I challenge you to come up with something comparable for the Model M that is compatible with basically every variant and is as incredibly well supported.
Once you realize the time and effort this takes perhaps you would not be so quick with the criticism.
Nobody else is putting in the time and work to develop custom control boards for 35 - 40 year old keyboards.
OP could double his price and I would still be on-board, thankful that this was even an option.
I've been in touch with OP and this project is what spurred me back into mechanical keyboards specifically and retro computing in general.

I've put my money where my mouth is, can you say the same?

rdibley:

--- Quote from: Harinis on Sat, 21 September 2019, 05:48:24 ---
--- Quote from: chanceman42069 on Mon, 23 July 2018, 08:00:37 ---This thread has been viewed 9465 (!!!) times - and so far I've only received a handful of enquiries (any kind of enquiry, not solely commercial). How is this possible? Who or what is causing the views counter to increase so rapidly while there doesn't seem to be a lot of real human interest in this thread at all? Beats me!

--- End quote ---

Perhaps it's because you're asking to be paid more for a controller for an IBM Model M than it costs to buy an IBM Model M.
And so far your attitude is not exactly endearing.
When asked on DT: "no offense but why does it cost so much?"
Your reply stated: "if you can brew something together yourself, do it, then you won't have to pay for somebody else's labor. The parts only cost about 25 (I can give you a precise listing if you like)."
So you're saying that it is actually quite cheap but you're charging a bomb because you think you deserve some kind of minimum wage labour costs for a homemade controller that costs more than the keyboard itself.
So if you're charging a massive, profit making mark-up for time and labour like a business would, I assume you're offering a 3 year warranty and full return and refund with a year of servicing and parts as a business does too?

--- End quote ---

Sorry, but you're wrong. 

It costs 25 euro in parts?  Great.  Go out and buy the parts and put one together yourself.  It sounds like you've already figured out the parts list, and from the pictures you see on the web, you can probably piece together a bit of the circuit directly from what he's done to save you a little time.  To be sure, you'll want to go find the circuit for your particular keyboard so that you understand the connections to the keyboard.  Design your circuit, then send it out to have the board fabricated.  I recommend OSH Park if you're in the United States, but I'm sure there are others internationally.  With them, it'll cost you $5 per square inch for the board, and you could probably replicate what he's done with a 7.5 sq-in board, or $37.50 (33.59 euro).  Shipping is free.  Then build your board and spend a few days troubleshooting it.  If you're like most of us, you won't get it right the first time and you'll have to either patch the board or have a second one fabricated for another $37.50 (33.59 euro).  Then spend a week or so programming and debugging the microcontroller using what you learned about the connectors on your keyboard.  If you don't already know how to use the Bluetooth module, then spend another week working out that detail.  Either keep your module as-is, or spend several more weeks programming the interface software for the PC so that you can configure macros and key mappings.  I don't know how much it would actually cost you to do this yourself, or how much time it would take, but I doubt it would be worth the price he's asking for this adapter.
Unless you've done a project like this before, you don't realize the amount of effort (and cost) that goes into the design, along with working out the bugs to get the point where this product is.  If you're doing a project like this just for yourself, you can cut some corners.  Maybe your circuit board isn't professionally made, or you have patch wires on it to fix mistakes, or you have to connect a programmer to your board every time you want to reconfigure something.  This might save you a lot of time, but the basic work you have to do is still very substantial. 

As for the cost, consider this:

The point of the video is that you need to take into consideration all of your costs when pricing the product, even the cardboard boxes and shipping labels.  You also have to consider that you have to buy enough boards and parts up front to get bulk prices, so take that 25 euro and multiply it by 50 or 100 and that gets very expensive.  You'll only recover that money when you sell all of the adapters.  Circuit board fabrication can be expensive, and often they require a flat fee along with the per-board charge. 

I'm sorry that you think he's charging too much.  But when you take into consideration what it actually costs to put one of these together, you would realize that this is a reasonable price for a niche product that won't be around forever.  Save up and buy one while you still can, or spend the time and money to build one yourself.

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