View Full Version : XTIDE funding problem

September 16th, 2010, 04:56 PM
Hargle said this in "XT IDE Ordering interest?"



I really figured that with the 20 or so prototypes that we did, then the bulk run of 100 cards, that we'd totally tapped out the market for these things.
Boy was I wrong! Sales haven't slumped much at all. I think I've done 4 or 5 additional runs of 10 cards, and they keep disappearing. In fact I dipped into my personal stock just yesterday to fill an order.

My problem is that I honestly don't want to spend that much more time on this stuff. Yeah, it's a great card, but I want to try using one for a change instead of building + kitting them in my free time. I want to write that CD-ROM driver. I want to work on the PCjr version of it. I want to be able to go see a movie sometime.

This situation has been bugging me for some time too. Why should Hargle not be compensated for his ongoing work? There should be some kind of a provision for this. The XTIDE is GPL v2 right? Is it really designed with hardware in mind?

One thing I could think of was a woman who released her music for free on the internet. Then she had a tiered system of donations in which a bigger donation got more extras. It went from sending a signed CD all the way to for $10,000 she would come and sing at your house personally. She actually made some money doing this as to make it feasable.

But how would this work for us? Somebody would pay Hargle $10,000 to come to their house to assemble an XTIDE in front of their face??? Ok maybe that's extreme but I was thinking something like this:

tier 1 : regular board
tier 2 : Silkscreen contains signatures of the most important people in the project
tier 3 : same as tier 2 except the board is blue instead of green

...and what if Hargle quit and then some other guy will do it but at a markup? Would that person be sued? Also does assemblage of parts fall under "support" the way Red Hat does and therefore not subject to the "not for profit" part of the GPL?

September 17th, 2010, 09:14 AM
very nice, thank you for thinking of me.
I'll only take credit for this project as being the biggest cheerleader in the world for it. the hardware design and ninja-bios are what makes the thing purr, and no cheers in the world would be loud enough if those 2 hadn't been rock solid.

I'm compensated enough by my real job and all the warm fuzzies that come in from users finally being able to put reliable/removable storage on their trusty-rusty machines.
It's all a labor of love.

That said, I will gladly come to anyone's house and solder an XTIDE (autographed!) for $10,000 :)

September 17th, 2010, 09:44 AM
You can sell kits on ebay for a small profit if needed. Projects like these are interesting if they don't cost too much for the buyer and the seller doesn't spend too much time on them.

September 17th, 2010, 09:47 AM
It's quite simple for hargle -- he should just step down. Don't do anymore if you don't want to. Maybe someone else can offer to take up the task? Or we can all just perfect our soldering and if someone absolutely cannot handle it, then maybe one person one time can offer to build one for the person who whines the most.

September 17th, 2010, 11:44 AM
i tend to agree, most of us have at the least, rudimentary soldering skills, so use either the tiered approach, however a blue board WOULD look out of place in a vintage machine, i would recommend brown or black, but i HAVE seen silver circuit boards.

September 17th, 2010, 12:08 PM
Donating something if your conscience bothers you is a policy that would do Pollyanna proud. Sort of like that group years ago that put jars on the tables of their restaurant with instructions to pay what you think the meal is worth. Most of the time, the jars wound up empty, so they decided that maybe people didn't get the message. They "primed" the jars with a few dollars--and the jars were usually empty at the end of business.

The world is made up of more takers than givers. Not a moral judgment on my part, just an observation based on experience. The shareware experience should tell you that--a registration rate of !% was exceptional even in the 80s.

Set prices such that you're out nothing if demand suddenly dries up and you're stuck with a bunch of stock. Add something to allow to you fund more development if you've the mind to. Set the price so that you don't have the feeling of being taken unfair advantage of.

September 17th, 2010, 12:11 PM
Where is the funding problem?

I think Jeff said that he dipped into his pile of parts ('stock'), not that he's losing money. Yes, time is important. But this doesn't sound like a money issue.

I've fed Jeff once or twice. I'm doing my part. And Jeff, we need to do the PCjr version of the BIOS sometime. I already have a test rig for the card.

September 17th, 2010, 12:45 PM
I'd love to see an entirely surface mount version. Stick the parts on, reflow it on a hot plate, ever since I got that tequnique down I've been assembling things with 80+ pin QFPs in minutes. Having a CF card socket right on the board would be cool too, especially if it was accessible through a slot in the card bracket.

September 17th, 2010, 01:10 PM
You sound like a pretty capable guy, James.

Why not do one yourself and contribute the design to the forum?

September 17th, 2010, 03:45 PM
You sound like a pretty capable guy, James.

Why not do one yourself and contribute the design to the forum?

Yeah, such a version might benefit old laptops that have internal ISA expansions and obviously limited room for an internal HDD

September 17th, 2010, 07:11 PM
Where is the funding problem?

I admit that sometimes I have trouble naming a thread properly. I just wanted people to talk about this. I am in the pre-planning stages of a VCF project and I'm looking for weaknesses/strengths in the XTIDE project. I'm starting to think after reading this thread that it has no weaknesses that can't be undone by the community. We just ain't stupid enough. :wow:

It's not so much a funding issue as somebody gets stuck with the boring repetitive assembly work. I know that this situation was unexpected. Who knows how many people wanted to buy these things fully assembled? Also for my tier suggestion there would have to be 3 versions of the XTIDE made for it to work. With a new hardware version that could lead to a lot of waste :(

Hey James how much does that SMT process cost?

September 18th, 2010, 09:38 AM
Hi! I've watched this thread with some trepidation although I appreciate your concern. Hargle has been the prime mover on XT-IDE. All I did was the hardware prototyping, hardware design, and arranged the PCB manufacturing under his lead. However, in my opinion, XT-IDE is much like the N8VEM home brew computing project. It is a hobby. Its made by hobbyists for other hobbyists. The do it yourself aspect of building the your own board from parts using a bare PCB should be considered a benefit not a liability.

Please don't try to make this into a business. IMO, if XT-IDE or any of the home brew computing projects start to take on business like overtones they'll quickly perish. I simply cannot be involved in any sort of business and can only participate as an enthusiastic hobbyist. As far as I am concerned the boards are group purchases that we *all* participate in. Since there is no business there are no customers nor management -- only builders working together.

Basically I consider XT-IDE and N8VEM projects like a group of friends getting together to watch Monday night football. Everyone kicks in their $5 for pizza and beer. They eats a slice or two, drink a beer, watch the game, and go home. That's how I see this working and am hoping -- maybe naively -- it stays that way.

Thanks and have a nice day!

Andrew Lynch

September 18th, 2010, 11:55 AM
Hi Andrew,

Not a business, but it should be self-sustaining. I don't think one could make a paying business out of marketing new components for collectors' computers. The purists will always want original equipment. (I don't think that many vintage collectors realize how uncommon any hard disk was on a personal computer before 1985, for example).

Life can be depended upon to change. Consider the number of projects that are simply abandoned when circumstances make it too difficult for one person to continue. Anything that can be done to share the work and make it less of a burden to those who are actually doing the work would make for a measure of continued success, it seems to me.

September 20th, 2010, 01:56 PM
Hey James how much does that SMT process cost?

I spent about $50 building my hot plate. I used a cheap PID temperature controller I found on ebay and some 60W ceramic soldering iron heaters inserted into holes bored in a piece of 3/8" aluminum. Assembly was helped greatly by having access to a machine shop but with a little creativity I think someone could put together something that would do the job using basic hand tools. I've even seen people do it using electric skillets so it's not too critical.

The hardest part is figuring out how much solder paste to apply. I use a toothpick to dab it on each pad for small parts and then paint a line across the pads of large ICs. I find that if the paste is a bit old it helps to mix it up with some liquid flux. Place the parts with tweezers with the board sitting on the (cold) hotplate. Fire it up and set it to around 215C and watch the temperature rise. When it reaches the setpoint the paste should already be melting and turning shiny, hold it there for about 20 seconds then shut off the heater. When the plate cools below about 170C and the solder solidifies you can remove the board and set it aside to gently cool.

Lots of videos out there, just search for hotplate reflow soldering.