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Project Help and Ideas » Starting a business!

March 28, 2012
by Pew446
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Hey guys, I got my Nerdkit a long time ago, along with the LED Array kit. So much fun! I've learned so much, and I am currently more advanced than the 9th Graders in Electronics and Programming, and I actually got into a 9th Grade Engineering course at school. (I'm in the 8th Grade!)

Well, I am always looking for new ways to use my talents, and nothing has ever held me back before, so when I thought about starting a business selling LED Arrays built from the knowledge of what I've learned here at Nerdkits, (Don't worry Nerdkits team, I'm not stealing your work :)) I started right away on a new design for an LED Array. I found a method called "Charlieplexing," and after about a week of studying, I've finally mastered it. I have created some schematics, and I am double checking them to make sure everything appears right before I order the parts to test it.

However, I am not the most creative when it comes to creating names, and I have no idea what to name my business. I've thought about naming it "Tekkid" or "Tekid," but it sounds a bit... Childish. At least in my opinion. I know I'm only in the 8th grade and it probably shouldn't bug me as much as it does. I just feel it should be more professional. Plus it seems too close to the name "Tekked," which appears to be some kind of web design company.

Anyway, any ideas for a name would be awesome, and maybe some tips on starting a new small business. I plan on using Etsy.com for advertising my products and selling them, and I am going to be ordering all my parts from sources such as Digikey. They will be hand assembled by me, and will include a case printed by Shapeways.com. It will also include a built in USB to Serial converter for real-time programming. What do you think?

Thanks!

March 29, 2012
by pcbolt
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Hi Pew446 -

Wow... 8th grade and you're starting a business? I say go for it my man. Where do they teach "Electronics and Programming" in the 9th grade? I know several people who will want to send their kids there. Around here, kids are lucky to get access to computers at all. But that's beside the point. Most of the folks who post around here are like you, brilliant at electronics but not so good at artistic advertising (right brain vs. left brain problem). So my solution would be:

if (tekkid!=works) {
try "kid_tech"
}
else {
try "led_innovations"
}

Good luck buddy, I hope you keep your attitude of "nothing holding you back".

March 29, 2012
by Pew446
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Thanks :D

Actually it's not a class, I must have misworded that. I was just saying in general. Heck, most of the kids in this school have no idea what programming even is! My Engineering teacher actually teaches me and my programming buddy separately and got in touch with a college professor to get us college level work. And get this: It's too easy for us. :P My teacher said the college students were struggling with it. If you were curious we were using Prolog.

I like that LedInnovations one :)

Thanks!

March 29, 2012
by Ralphxyz
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My first programing language was Prolog, now let's see some "Artificial Intelligence" using a Nerdkit

I'll bet that would sell.

Ralph

March 29, 2012
by billtaichi
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Man I have to say I am impressed, starting a business now will give you fantastic experiences! Go for it. I like LED Innovations as well.

Might also want to consider: Lightworks Illumine SparkLights Kindlers

Actually you may want to try this site: http://www.visualthesaurus.com You can type in a word and see all types of other words meaning the same thing or similar in meaning, kind of a neat idea generator.

March 29, 2012
by Pew446
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Hey, thanks guys! I never though of using Prolog in a Nerdkit, that sounds like a fun project after I finish the LED Array!

Thanks for that site, billtaichi. I'll take a look. :)

April 05, 2012
by Pew446
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Well after a couple days of thinking too hard and filling my whiteboard with random words I've finally come up with a name better than Tekkid:

Tekket.

Haha. :D So anyway, as an update, my engineering teacher is very interested in my project and wants to help me start a business and agreed to give me A's all quarter as long as I keep working on my business, (woo!) and my Grandpa gave me his old soldering gun to help me. It's 250 watts, and I've never seen anything heat up so fast. The day after that, my dad found another soldering gun, this time 140 watts.

I still haven't gotten the pieces for my circuit, I have to fix a couple bugs in the schematic first.

Overall though, it's going great :P

P.S: Can anyone tell me if this would work as a USB to serial adapter for the arduino? http://shop.moderndevice.com/products/bub_ii

April 06, 2012
by Rick_S
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That serial adapter will work fine for communicating to a microcontroller. It would work with a NerdKit micro as is. It will also work as is for an arduino that doesn't have a built in serial converter. If you use an microcontroller with an arduino bootloader, you will need some extra parts to make it work with it.

As for you soldering irons, those wattages are not typical of electronics soldering irons. I have a $350 Weller professional soldering station that has an 85watt iron. One very important aspect of soldering electronics is getting enough heat to flow the solder w/o soaking too much heat into your components. Better soldering irons will be temperature controlled. The wattage is only a factor if you are trying to solder larger surface areas that pull the heat away from the iron. For instance a 25-30 watt iron may have difficulty soldering a component to a ground plane on a circuit board.

If those irons you have described are pencil type irons with that type of wattage, they may be for purposes other than electronics such as industrial wiring or even stained glass lead work. Just trying to give you a heads up, wouldn't want you to start burning up components trying to solder them together.

Good luck with your venture,

Rick

April 06, 2012
by Pew446
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Yeah, heh. I thought the tip might have been a bit too big to solder on a circuit board. I have a pencil iron so I'll probably end up using that instead. I'm more used to it. :P

By the way, I bought tekket.net and I'm currently hosting it on my own computer. I have an old rack mount data server in my room but I can't get an operating system on it for the life of me :P I'll get it some day. Probably going to have to upgrade our isp service to business class if I host it at my house, although I might end up just paying monthly for an off-site host. Any opinions on what host I should use?

I'm working on getting a Facebook and Twitter page up, and I've created a logo for the business. Tekket Logo

Trying to keep it simple :) What do you think?

April 06, 2012
by JKITSON
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The logo looks very good...

If your old rackmount server is a DELL I might be able to help you get it going. I am using 2 DELL 2600's here. Very fast and good.. Let me know..

Good luck & have lots of fun..

Jim

April 06, 2012
by Pew446
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Actually it's an IBM Netfinity 4500R. The only problem I'm having with it is that I can't get it to see any CDs. In fact the CD Drive doesn't show up in the BIOS at all. The CD spins up, but after about a minute it spins down and nothing happens. The floppy drive works just fine, though. Is it possible to install an operating system such as CentOS from a floppy disk (or a whole bunch of them...)?

April 07, 2012
by Pew446
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Well now it sees CDs, but not my hard drive. I guess that would be because I have 2 defunct drives. Looks like I'll need to buy a couple scsi drives to rebuild the defunct ones :/

April 08, 2012
by Pew446
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So I have a question, is the Nerdkits bootloader freeware? Or more specifically, can I ship my arrays with the bootloader built in? Or do I have to pay Nerdkits a fraction of the cost? Don't want to get into any legal issues with my favorite company :P

April 11, 2012
by Pew446
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Working on a design for the site. You can see my progress here.

:)

April 17, 2012
by dgikuljot
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Pew446, I am very impressed with your progress. I am a senior in High School and have always wanted to start a business. I have had many ideas but I am so busy with Ap classes at school and work on the weekends that I don't have any spare time at the moment. I learned electronics by taking anything I could apart when I was a little kid. I am building up my knowledge and tools at a pretty good rate. You are very lucky as I didn't realyl have any money to buy proper tools/ materials until my Junior Year and Still don't have an oscilliscope.

SO it is great that you try to start your buiness now while you have some free time. But when you do make some money, it is always best to use it wisely and invest in better tools/ equipment, Altough it might be tempting to blow it off. IF you need any sort of help let us, me know. Can't wait to see your final website and products!!!!!

Kuljot Dhami

April 18, 2012
by Pew446
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Thanks dgikuljot! I've never really been tempted to blow off my money like a lot of other people. I don't see the point. :P

By the way, I bought a new webserver for my website. I installed CentOS on it and moved all the files to the new server, so now the website is hosted on that. Now I can turn off my computer at night. The blue lights are too bright to sleep. x_x

April 18, 2012
by dgikuljot
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So when are you planning on starting to selling this Array product. Honestly even if you are not tempted to blow the money, it is easy to blow it in electronics in general. For example when I am ordering electronic components from Hong Kong or Taiwan or something I always order more than I need since its cheaper. But alot of times those parts will never get used and it is easy to waste alot of money like that especially for us younger people. The other way is eating fast food alot:).

April 18, 2012
by Ralphxyz
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Nobody every answered this:

So I have a question, is the Nerdkits bootloader freeware? Or more specifically, can I ship my arrays with the bootloader built in?

There is a file in the bootloader folder with a license document!

            GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
               Version 2, June 1991

 Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
    51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301  USA
 Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
 of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

Of course one of your next purchases will be a programer and with that you can put the .hex file onto the mcu without a bootloader.

If you are not intending for your arrays to be modified by the end user you do not need a bootloader.

Ralph

April 18, 2012
by Pew446
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Ralphxyz, What about if I am allowing people to update what the sign says via usb? That wouldn't require a bootloader, would it? I wouldn't be reprogramming the sign, just taking input for text.

My server takes 1320 watts. That's 95 dollars a month. I'm going to need to make a profit soon so I can pay my parents rent, haha.

April 18, 2012
by Pew446
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I just switched to Host Gator for hosting. I'm very pleased with them. :P Now my parents (or me for that matter) won't have to pay 95 bucks a month to run my website, and the hosting is more reliable. For 9 dollars a month, that's a pretty good deal.

April 19, 2012
by Ralphxyz
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I wouldn't be reprogramming the sign, just taking input for text.

For that your "program" would stay the same so you would not need a bootloader.

You probable should look into using a EEPROM to hold your messages.

That is if you want to save your/your user's messages.

Of course you can use USB and type your message on a pc and have the message appear on a mcu diven array without storing the message.

There would be room in flash memory to store some default messages plus you can use the onboard (small) EEPROM if there is not enough flash memory available.

Ralph

April 19, 2012
by Pew446
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Wow that's awesome! Thanks Ralph!

Check out the new website design some time. I need to finish the Store and all the other pages but it's a start! Let me know if you find any compatibility issues.

April 20, 2012
by Ralphxyz
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What in the world were you doing for $95.00 a month?

Even telco DSL wouldn't cost that much and cable is usually $25.00 to $35.00 to host your own server.

Ralph

April 20, 2012
by Pew446
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Well the power supplies take a total of 1320 watts, and we are charged 1ยข per killowatt hour, so if you do the math it adds up to $95.04/month :P

April 20, 2012
by Pew446
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Or maybe it was $93.60... hmm. Either way I don't have an income right now and can't pay for it.

April 27, 2012
by Pew446
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Well I put an LED in the wrong spot when programming my MCU, and now the USB adapter isn't detected and the MCU gets very very hot. Time to order a new MCU and USB cable :P

April 28, 2012
by sask55
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Pew446

I think it is a better idea host your web page away as you are doing now.

Your server will not likely be drawing 1320 watts all the time. I suspect that you a quoting the wattage rating listed on the power supply. In fact it is not likely anything near that high.

It appears that you are miscalculating costs of power by a factor of 10.

Even if you are drawing 1320 watts constantly 24 /7 the cost of the power would be about $9.50 per month. 1320 watts =1.320 kw, so 1.32kw times 24 hours /day times 1.0 cents /kw = 31.68 cents /day. At $0.317 per day a 31 day month would cost $9.82.

Just though you might like to know you have never used anywhere near $90 per mouth in power costs.

April 28, 2012
by Pew446
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Ah dumb silly mistakes. Thanks :P

I still would rather have a host I can rely on though.

April 29, 2012
by Pew446
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I have a question I've been quite confused about for a while now, if the MCU outputs 5v, and the LED takes 2.2v max, how can the LED Array kit flash all those LEDs without a single one burning out?

I've been working on a small version of the led array I'm designing, here are a few pictures: Charlieplexing! Confusing at first, then it's a breeze! (Just like everything else in life)

(Look at the fried MCU! :D) While I was testing the LEDs on a variable voltage psu, I kinda turned it up too high on 3 LEDs and burnt them out. Now I know to be more careful when turning the knob next time :) Off to RadioShack!.. In the morning.

April 29, 2012
by Ralphxyz
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Pew446, you are hijacking your own thread.

This threads subject is "Starting a Business" you keep introducing different topics/questions.

Now this is your thread but because people have read or didn't read your earlier post.

You are reducing the audiance that might see your newest question.

People might not want to help you with starting a business so they never read the thread in the first place but they might jump right into help you with the led array.

Every "new" question should start a new thread.

Threads might wander around their subject matter but when you go from starting a business to the led array you kinda break the logic.

So your best chance for getting answers to your led array question is to start a new thread.

And then the first reply will be, have you searched the forum for other led array threads to see if maybe your question has been answered?

Ralph

April 29, 2012
by Pew446
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Sorry, I just figured people might not like me spamming the forums with a couple new topics every day because I ask so many questions, so I was trying to keep it in one topic so everyone else's topics could be seen. Thanks for the heads up though :P

April 29, 2012
by Ralphxyz
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That's not spamming!!

New topics everyday, you should see some of the multiple questions a day I have asked!

Of course that is how I got as smart as I am, which admittedly is not that smart but I try.

Glad to have your questions and help.

Ralph

April 29, 2012
by Pew446
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Cool :D I've been to so many forums before that get mad if you post new topics all the time so that's just what I'm used to. :P

April 29, 2012
by Ralphxyz
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I've been to so many forums before that get mad if you post new topics all the time so that's just what I'm used to. :P

I have been on forums and bulletin boards for 30+ years.

People getting "mad" about numerous daily post are usually wrong.

The basis for getting mad about numerous post is trying to "help" a poster to get/stay focused.

The poster who gets mad usually is not a forum administrator and probable hasn't really been on the particular forum for a long time.

You could get admonitions and questions here on Nerdkits about what are your priorities and help to get focused if you post lots of different questions in a day.

But again hopefully these would be to help you get focused not to chew you out for making so many post.

Ralph

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