Good luck; you're gonna need it.
I am in a similar rut. I have some projects that are awesome. One has already passed a initial test with a first prototype, with flying colors.
Another prototype (two actually) are being constructed right now. But there are problems.
I was driving a truck and making a pretty good living at it. I spent my nights in the sleeper with a pad and pen working out bugs in several designs.
I had my computer to look up information I needed, since my library is here at home. But at some point I realized that I was going over the same
ground again and again. The design phase was over; it was time to enter the prototyping phase.
I left, determined to build the things I had designed while I lived off a fairly substantial savings I had accumulated. I had already built a new shop
and stocked it with tools and some materials. After a few months it became painfully obvious that I wasn't going to be able to live just off of
savings long enough to complete the projects. So I went to find a local job, preferably part-time.
I drove a dump truck for a while. I would come home exhausted, and have to leave out the next morning. The pay was decent but the only time off was
when it rained. Some of my work I have to do outside, so that sort of made working on the projects a no-go.
I did get a good job driving a semi on a dedicated route. It allowed me to rebuild a little on my savings, and gave me a little time to work on my
stuff. But it was short-lived and the economy took that one away from me.
Now I work a grunt job, part-time, because there are no other jobs here. I make barely above minimum wage, and that only because I have the driving
background to drive the company van. It is not enough money to make ends meet, and my savings are still slowly disappearing. I also have almost no
time to work on my projects, except for a few lulls in the workload which last from 2-5 days. The first day or two is spent recovering where I was,
since these lulls are so far apart.
I doubt anyone realizes the expense of building something new, unless they have already done it. Every piece has to be created. Every force has to be
calculated. Every part must be sized. The shipping costs alone for a piece here, a piece or two there, some transistors from this place over here, a
chip from that place over there, is outrageous. In electronics, there are 81 different standard resistor values in 5% tolerance values. A project may
require 10 or more of any particular value (more in some logic circuits). That's 810 resistors one would have to keep in stock to truly be able to
work unhindered by waiting on an order which cost $10 to ship $1 worth of items. There are also 3 different standard wattage ranges for each resistor.
There are two major surface mount case sizes, if you are going to miniaturize your circuitry. And that's just for small resistors, not including
power resistors, the various types of capacitors, integrated circuits, transistors (bipolar, and MOSFET, both having two different polarities each as
well as an innumerable range of characteristics), inductors, transformers (many are over $20 each if you are talking about power projects), and all
the miscellaneous parts.
The cost to have an electronics lab is astounding. Copper-clad boards are as high as $15 for a square foot, sometimes as low as $3 for something like
an 8x10 if you can happen to find them surplus. Etchant? I just placed an order for 6 liters of etchant, at a cost of over $70. I had to get a laser
printer for circuit board design, since I no longer can find the dry transfers I used to use. That was over $100. And we are still talking about
circuit boards. The machine shop I own (Smithy Midas 1220) was over $4000! A single end mill for it is $20 if I'm lucky. That 4-jaw chuck I now need?
Try another $300. Plastics? 4 square feet of 1/4" polycarbonate set me back $60. The last steel order I got in was over $100 and it took about 5
minutes to unload it all by hand. Nylon gears run anywhere from $3 to $30... nylon
, low-power gears! A single steel worm gear set for one
project is over $150!
Yeah, I feel for the OP, in ways I can't even express.
It has come down to this for me: I will finish the project I am on, at least this prototype/test unit. I swear to God above and on my own life, I will
complete this one thing. I will apply for a patent on it once it is working. I will then make some attempt to create a media buzz about it. I will,
should this not succeed in making me financially able to continue, finally return to truck driving and give up all hope of ever completing another
I have lost my savings, I have no operating vehicle (both pickups are down needing repairs) meaning I cannot hold another job now, I am losing my
health due to the stress level I am under, and I seem to be coming close to losing the respect of my family. The cost is too high.
My area of work? ENERGY PRODUCTION
So this thread is as good a place as any to inform someone, anyone, everyone, that all the economic woes that have been brought down upon the common
people by the crashing economy, all the regulations that continually increase the cost I must pay to live, all the cigarette taxes and the income
taxes and the high energy costs associated with the Global Warming hysteria... they worked. They did exactly what they were designed to do. They kept
you in the dark and under the control of those in power. They destroyed me, so I could not create a better system.
How many more 'mes' are there? How many people are trying desperately to change the world, only to have theirs fall down around their ears? There is
no funding... there is no help... there is no benefactor to assist those of us who are trying so hard... Honda? They have no interest in the small
inventor. They have only an interest in their status quo. Those of us who have spent their lives in this stuff know this already. If they do offer to
help, it will be for a pittance in order to get the rights to your latest idea. A lot of companies include in the employment contract a
patent/copyright clause that gives your company rights to any patent or copyright you may get while under their employ.
Sorry if this post is a bit of a downer, but this needed to be said. To the OP, I wish you well, certainly much better than I have fared. I only wish
I could help you.
reply to post by daniel_g
You kind of lost me there, you never built anything but you built all that?
I understand what he is saying. I have tons of old project test units that worked just fine, but the results are a bit intellectual as opposed to
practical. The average person just looks at them working and shrugs their shoulders, as if to say, "OK, so what?"
All research is not amazing; most of it is not even obvious, save to the one doing the research.