Post-Con Breakdown

Greetings, everyone!

So, after spending the weekend at BronyCon and having a blast and running out of things to sell, I’ve had the chance to run the numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. I have some good news, better news, and plenty of thoughts along the way.

The most common question I received from other vendors and even a few people was “Did you break even?” – A question whose answer is not as easy as I would like. The short answer is “No.” But that’s with some of the most basic math. I’m not going to go into specifics, but that’s counting the costs for the Pendants, which weren’t available for sale at BronyCon. It’s not exactly fair to count something you didn’t sell, but it’s also not particularly easy to split out the costs. A lot of the components for the V2 were shared by the Pendant, and splitting the price isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. Still, the best quick math that I’ve done says we just about broke even when you don’t take into account the Pendants. But you know what? I’m not too concerned with breaking even. I honestly didn’t expect to break even, as the production for the weekend was ambitious.

That said, it really helped a lot. As I mentioned above, I ran out of things to sell. That doesn’t mean I sold everything I brought. A number of the Version 2 badges suffered from something I missed – I expected the battery packs to be a bit tighter to the board than they were. This led to quite a few breaking a solder joint, which made them unstable as moving the battery pack would and did cause the power to cut, turning the device off. This is a simple fix, as it just involves re-soldering the pins and securing the loose end of the battery pack with hot glue or similar. I have a whole bag of V2s that broke in this manner that I need to repair, but thankfully I made quite a large amount and was able to sell somewhere around 80 of the badges. I haven’t gone through and done a full inventory of what I have left, so exact numbers will have to wait.

There were a few super-minor issues with the programming that will be addressed, and I’ll go through those here. First, when an SD card is inserted, but the card load fails, the badge will continually attempt to reload the SD card. This only came up with some V2 badges that had issuess accessing the SD card slot, but it would also crop up if a bad SD card was inserted into the device. The second “issue” is that, even with an SD Card loaded, the V2 will restart into badge mode. This will be changed into slideshow mode.

As far as money is concerned, it was essentially a wash. As far as everything else goes? Well, the response I received from people was fantastic. People loved the idea, and I ran out of sellable items. Going by sales numbers, if I hadn’t run into the issues I had, it’s entirely possible we’d have broke even, even after adding the additional cost of the pendant – Products that weren’t even available to sell.

And, for a final bit of good news, Matchfire has been accepted to vend at Nightmare Nights Dallas! I’ll have V2 digibadges there, I’ll have Pendants there, and maybe a new design or two. As I have the core products that I need (V2s and Pendants), I’ll be able to fund some experiments into a V2 “Super” – A larger DigiBadge that has more capabilities. I’m looking into various options for these badges, but at the moment I have my eye on a screen that’s both larger and a touchscreen.

That’s it for now! It was absolutely wonderful to be able to meet with everyone and the response I received was absolutely fantastic. Thank you all for a wonderful weekend, and I’ll keep you posted on updates and information about future products and appearances.

A most shocking update

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen! I’ve got a great big nice update for you today.

Over the last week or so, the parts orders that I’ve placed have trickled in and I’ve accumulated quite the pile of boxes. Today, I finally got the “Big One” – The final circuit boards! So, I immediately set about assembling the first “Production” DigiBadge V2 (I’d have assembled a pendant, but there’s one package due in later this week I still need). Used the solder stencil, put it in the reflow oven, hand-soldered the screen and battery on. Drop some batteries in, flip the switch…

Nothing. Batteries get warm. Out comes the multimeter! Check the resistance between ground and supply. There’s a short. Spot two of them on either side of the microcontroller. A dab with the solder wick fixes these real quick. Put the batteries back in, hit the switch.

Nothing. Except wait, the microcontroller’s getting hot! That’s typically indicative of backwards voltage. Check things, double check things, everything looks right. On a hunch, I look at the battery pack, and go grab my previous V2 prototype. Surprise! The battery packs are not identical – The ones I had been using had switched pins compared to the ones from the bulk source.

So I sigh in exasperation, take the batteries out, put them in backwards, and switch the thing back on. I didn’t expect much, as reverse polarity is typically the easiest way to fry a chip, but the badge fired right up and sprung to life, working absolutely splendidly. This issue will be addressed in the upcoming V2.1 DigiBadge, but if you get a DigiBadge at BronyCon or until I run out of stock on the V2, you’ll have to remember to put your batteries in backwards. Additionally, as this is a part issue with the battery holder – Something shared between the DigiBadge and the Pendant – this will mean that pendant batteries must also be placed backwards. As with the DigiBadge V2.1, this will be addressed in a Pendant V1.1.

But there is good news! The issue with the SD card resetting the chip seems to not be present with this specific badge. I’m not going to promise it’ll work with your V2, as I’m not 100% sure WHY it’s working properly, but it’s allowing me to debug and address the issues with the code. I’ll be keeping my eye on all of the standard-production V2s and seeing if it may have been an issue arising from me hand-soldering parts that weren’t designed to be hand-soldered. If it does rear up again, I’ve got an idea for how to address it in the V2.1.

If you haven’t yet, you can pre-order the V2 and the Pendant over in our shop!