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Many of us have enjoyed building electronic projects that come not from our own inspiration or ingenuity but from a ready-made kit. From the point of having a nicely executed project to that of wondering whether it too could be sold as a kit is not a huge step. The first thing to understand at this point is that there is a need for realistic expectations about your likely success. If you haven’t been disillusioned too much by the previous paragraph, how about the project you would like to turn into a kit? Taking an example from the real world, imagine yourself to have produced an educational LED board for the Raspberry Pi. You will also have to pay close attention to the prices your competitors’ kits are selling for.
This detailed knowledge of your marketplace will help you decide whether your proposed kit fits a niche in both product sector and price that you can exploit. So if by now you’re still on board, your kit has a market niche open in front of it and you have concluded you can make and sell it for a reasonable price, well done!
We’ve looked in this article at the background of launching an electronic kit business, considering market research and what makes a good kit product. Each face of a Dungeon Morph die features an interlinking section of dungeons, caves, wilderness or medieval city: simply push a set of five together and remove and re-roll as needed to create a never-ending map for your adventures.
There's something about this sort of thing that throws a hook into my brain and reels me in. Support Techdirt before Aug 2 and you can get one of their classic "the content of this shirt has been removed" DMCA tees and hoodies!
Within you find locomotion, safety systems, and an entertainment system that may be using technology from several decades ago (but that’s a rant for a different article).


It makes sense, after all in buying a kit you should receive a tried-and-tested design that you can assemble without some of the heartache associated with getting a self-designed project right.
This is the first of a series of articles that will examine the kit manufacturing process from project to customer, and will with luck deliver some insight to those of you who have always wondered whether you could make it as a kit vendor.
People will want to build your kit and it will bring in some money, but until you have built up a customer base and a range of kits with a lot of hard work, it won’t bring in much money. Have you done your market research, and do you know what will make it a kit people will want to build? If you take  a look at that particular market, it will show you multiple similar offerings from different companies. We will cover kit pricing in detail in a future article in this series, but it should suffice to say that you should calculate very carefully every aspect of your own costs and expect your final figure to be significantly different from the mere retail cost of the components.
Jalopy or Sweet Hotness, your ride has an underlying data network that is a ton of fun to hack, and something of a security dinosaur. Combining two ubiquitous technologies provides a reliable proximity activation of handy functions upon one’s arrival home. And though in recent years the barriers to entry into the professional PCB market for small projects have lowered significantly, there is still an attraction to a kit that comes with a decent PCB and case. You learn about the circuits you build, and you gain a feel for how a well-designed project should go together.
Enough to finance your future projects which you will then turn into fresh kits, enough to pay for tools and test equipment, but probably not enough in the medium term to enable you to give up your day job. The answers from the first question will tell you whether it’s worth proceeding with the idea, and those from the second will ensure that your customers tell their friends and come back for more. If your kit is substantially similar to that offered by an established competitor, ask yourself whether it really offers anything that differentiates it enough to tempt customers to go with an unknown new supplier like you over the name they are familiar with. These boards have the advantage of being very cheap to develop, but you would have to ask yourself whether it is worth entering such a crowded arena. Knowing the cost of producing a kit yourself should give you some idea of your competitors’ economics, and also an insight into their likely success or failure. Heathkit in their earlier incarnation, Ramsey, or maybe Howes if the person you are asking is British.


We’ll take a simple circuit design and look at the economics of transforming it into a kit before examining in detail how best to present it and how to give it good instructions. Both were discussed by Craig Smith and Erik Evenchick during their talk on Car Hacking tools at Hope XI.
Eventually this feeds into your own projects, and in time you are producing builds that equal or surpass those you can buy as kits.
That’s an achievable goal in the long term with sufficient effort, but not one you should expect to happen soon.
Sometimes you will discover other kits that are evidently overpriced, while with others there may be an obvious reason why another kit is cheaper than you can hope to make it. If you ask them why this is the case, they will often talk about the quality of the instructions and the ease of building, though what lies behind those descriptions is that the kits worked for them, and that the components they came with fit together and were of high quality. Finally we will cover kit sales, how to put a kit on the market, and how to best serve your customers. Chinese kit suppliers for example have access to components at a price small European or American operations can’t touch. This package of ready buildability, good instructions and quality components is vital for your kit to achieve, for it will be what gives you an edge over its competitors.
Eric Evenchick is a Hackaday contributor who has been traveling the world presenting talks and workshops on his open source car hacking hardware called CANtact.
Some of the Chinese kit manufacturers for example might seem unbeatable on price, but when what tumbles out of the bag is a mix of dubious components, a poor quality PCB, and laughably poor English instructions, you might begin to see how paying attention here can make your kit a winner. It can even be something that allows you to position your kits as a premium product if you get it right, even if it could be said that some suppliers stretch this premium a little far.
Craig Smith is founder of OpenGarages and author of the Car Hacker’s Handbook which we highly recommend.
The pair made a great joint presentation; both were charismatic, using wit to navigate through the hardware, software, techniques, and goals you want to have in mind to jump into car hacking.



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