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nomopbo

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I learned a lot off my last thread. I am not too concerned with similarities in kits.

Now...
What are hidden costs or "gotcha's" I should be concerned with?
i.e. Should I have the design copywritten (is that the proper term?) before I send my RocSim file off to Balsa Machining to have the fins cut???

I'm not looking to get rich here, I'm talking a hand full of kits. Maybe if they all sold, I would do another handful. I just thought it would be fun, but I am concerned with doing this properly. (for my own protection)

Maybe this is how some of you guys got started. I'm sure it took a long time to learn the in's and out's. Thanks for any info you are willing to share!

nomo
 

shrox

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Screwing up. A bunch of misprints, dozens of ever so slightly bent tubes, wet tubes, warped fin stock, etc....
 

sandman

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I think to recoup the cost of a copyright lawyer and all the paperwork, you'd have to sell more than a "couple" of kits.

Now if you want to shell out 10 to 14k for a used laser cutter...
 

jflis

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i wouldn't worry so much about "intelectual protection" if you're only doing a few kits. Also, with respect to "copyright", you already own the copyright, in the eyes of the law, the moment you author it.

big gottcha's or hidden costs?

Errors in documentation. Nothing worse than having 400 copies of artwork for a 5" flying saucer that gives launch prep for an 8 foot cluster bird... (school o' hard knocks fella :D )

Packaging. Packaging includes the bag that your kit goes in, the header card (if any), the box it ships in, the packing that you put IN the box with the kit to protect it, the address lable and the drive to the post office. Doesn't sound like much but can really add up fast

If you print your own documentation, don't forget the cost of INK!

jim
 

Jerry Irvine

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Originally posted by nomopbo
I learned a lot off my last thread. I am not too concerned with similarities in kits.

Now...
What are hidden costs or "gotcha's" I should be concerned with?
i.e. Should I have the design copywritten (is that the proper term?) before I send my RocSim file off to Balsa Machining to have the fins cut???

I'm not looking to get rich here, I'm talking a hand full of kits. Maybe if they all sold, I would do another handful. I just thought it would be fun, but I am concerned with doing this properly. (for my own protection)

Maybe this is how some of you guys got started. I'm sure it took a long time to learn the in's and out's. Thanks for any info you are willing to share!

nomo
Assume kit names are Trademarked.

Assume specific kit shapes are somehow protected, especially combined shapes and names.

There are "clone" kit makers, but they are selling painfully small fractions of what Estes for example sells and they do not "compete" with Estes. In fact the clones encourage original kit sales.

There is a case at USR on a rocket called the Banshee (a 4FPC nike fin rocket). Our Banshee preceeded the Estes Banshee by years. Theirs is a E2x (plastic) 3FNC clipped delta shape fin rocket. I verbally asked them not to infringe. I don't want to sue Estes and they do not want to harass me and we both like it that way.

Their Banshee is substantiallly different in size, distribution, visual style, and materials from mine.

Public Enemy had a Fat Boy and Estes came out with a fat boy which was similar in shape and the Same name. PE sued estes and won, sorta. The fat boy was not produced for about 2 years AFAICT, and then Estes went ahead again on the assumption PE has lost their stomach for lawsuits.

Nobody in rocketry has ever FINANCIALLY "won" a lawsuit. On either side.


Jerry
 

KermieD

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Originally posted by jflis
...., the address lable and the drive to the post office. Doesn't sound like much but can really add up fast...
...getting everything back from the printer and finding out they gave you "lables" instead of "labels"... :D
 

sandman

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If you print your own documentation, don't forget the cost of INK!
When I printed the LJ II kit instruction "book" I used color on almost every page...12 or 14 books cost me $45.00 worth of HP ink cartridges!:eek:

The only good thing...when you buy a pair of ink cartridges at Staples they give you a package of paper...so you can use even more ink.

But...a local printing company wanted about $12 a book to print them for me!


OK...here is what you will need, Jim, Carl, Shrox, back me up here and fill in anything I miss.

Fins laser cut, or some accurate paper patterns
Nose cones,
Transitions if needed,
Centering rings,
Tubes, oh yea...YOU have to cut them to length!
Shock cords,
Don't forget the shock cord mounts!
Engine hooks,
Engine blocks,
Engine spacers,
Decals, nobody likes kits without decals,
Cardstock patterns and misc junk,
Kit bags,
Small parts bags,
Tags and labels...gotta look professional,
Instructions...oh yea...YOU have to write them first, proof, rewrite, etc...and they'll still have a bunch of mistakes!
Now go print the instructions.
Shipping labels...nobody is gonna come to your house to get thier kit!
Shipping boxes...they give some away...but yer gonna need lots!

If it's a scale kit...add a whole lot more plus maybe some accurate documentation.

Now...this is AFTER you've built and flown a prototype and it's stable, consistantly...man, would THAT be embarassing!

A beta test by someone other than you to see how it builds and what (notice I didn't say IF) you forgot something important.

That stuff adds up really fast...and worst of all...it's your initial investment BEFORE you begin selling kits.

Now the last most important item that can make or break you ...TIME!...

If you have a regular job too...well, you are gonna have to give up TV and the family for a while.

So...now you have everything together, right? OK...now set aside a week or two of your life and pack all those parts into bags...don't forget anything!!!

OK now Jim, Carl, Shrox...am I exaggerating anything?

Or did I forget a bunch?

Easy HUH!
 

sandman

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OOPS! I did forget one important item!

A really big space to store and do all of this...a spare bedroom won't work that well!

A pole barn works but a gymnasiam works better!

When doing up kits Murphy comes into play.

"No matter how large the area, the amount of material will expand to fill the available space."
 

BobH48

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All that stuff makes me want to let YOU make the kits and I'll just buy one when all the hard work is done. :p

Real generous of me, huh? :rolleyes: :D
 

shrox

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Originally posted by sandman
...and fill in anything I miss.

A spouse that supports what you are doing, if she doesn't believe in you, it is going to be tough.
 

SecretSquirrel

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Medical bills. You'll need stitches from biting your lip every time somebody says "hey, your latest kit looks just like the old Estes..."

;)
 

Bill

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Originally posted by sandman
When I printed the LJ II kit instruction "book" I used color on almost every page...12 or 14 books cost me $45.00 worth of HP ink cartridges!:eek:

When selecting a printer, do not buy one which uses a single cartridge containing the black, cyan, magenta and yellow colors. You will be throwing away unused ink every time. The best has a separate cartridge for each color, but those tend to be more expensive. At least get one which has a separate black cartridge so that you have an opportunity to save money with B/W pages.

I have never refilled any catridges, but so many people do it that is worth trying.

For most kits, the instructions can be in black and white. Decals, if you print your own, will be in color for many kits. The display card (face card?, I do not remember the exact term at the moment) does not have to be in color, but it will be more eyecatching if it is.

One final point. For assembly instructions, I prefer line drawings to pictures. For kit makers, line drawings use much less ink to print as well. The problem is that making a line drawing takes some talent and work. It was so easy to do an isometric projection drawing using a t-square, triangles and an ellipse template. I have never seen any computer program which made the task that easy. Perhaps I should write one...


Bill
 

jflis

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Originally posted by shrox
A spouse that supports what you are doing, if she doesn't believe in you, it is going to be tough.
DITTO! I have no idea where I'd be were it not for Kathy's support and help. But I can tell you this, I wouldn't have a rocket company... :eek:
 

sandman

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One final point. For assembly instructions, I prefer line drawings to pictures.
I use both. I do my own drawings in CAD and copy them into Word.

I think...just my opinion...that color pics AND drawing make a kit feel...richer...is that the word I'm looking for...? Well, much nicer anyway.

As for the printer choice...I didn't buy it for printing plans...it's an HP 1210 all-in-on. It was only $99.

Oh...and my wife sews the parachutes for me.
 

rocket trike

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The biggest point ot look at is Time you will not beleive the time you put in. If you work aq 8 hour a day job you will come home and out in another 8 hours and a day off what is that. I do not know have not had one for a while but I feel it is all worth it.

Tom
 

sandman

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If you work aq 8 hour a day job you will come home and out in another 8 hours and a day off what is that.
Actually for me, making nose cones is much more relaxing than sitting in front of the TV set.

I love my job but...making nose cones is even more fun for me.

The only bad part is the week long dry spells between orders then on Friday (payday I guess) like last weekend...I had 22 nose cones to make.

The worst part about that!...Cleaning up all the wood chips and balsa dust after a weekend like I just had...man...what a mess! Two garbage bags full of balsa chips and dust from my vacuum.

It was funny...by the end of the weekend I had to clean...I couldn't find any of my tools! Everything was buried under balsa!:D
 

rocket trike

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I agree that it is not like a job in way I enjoy doing this and it is relaxing. I look forward to coming home and get into my shop. There is days that I come up with the best plans at work to. I am almost always thinking about my business. I feel that some time people think that making kits will not take much time once you get them ready to. I know I did and it is not that way but that makes it fun when you sell your first run of kits and have to do another run.

Tom
 

SecretSquirrel

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There is some good news cost wise. If you ship via priority mail, the post office will supply you with shipping boxes for free. You can even order them online and the mailman will deliver them.

Terri
 

nomopbo

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Ok, you guys have almost talked me out of it! hee-hee

I think it would be fun to try though, and you all seem to get some enjoyment and satisfaction from it. I bet a sense of accomplishment as well having built something someone else wants to BUY and build too.

I think I would be a WUSS if I didn't try this at least once. If nothing else, I can say I had done it, and will walk away with even *MORE* respect for you guys that do this.

My job... I work 12.5 hour shifts (rotating day and night work), I commute nearly three hours round trip, I have a part time business already, a family (very cool wife), and a small farm. Why not make a rocket for sale... Maybe it will help pay for chicken feed
:D
(Would anyone like to buy some fertilized duck eggs for hatching? I just threw out about 20):rolleyes:

Thank you for the info all!
 

shrox

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Originally posted by nomopbo
I think I would be a WUSS if I didn't try this at least once. If nothing else, I can say I had done it, and will walk away with even *MORE* respect for you guys that do this.
I think you would be smart to think about it some more...
 

Bill

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Originally posted by nomopbo

(Would anyone like to buy some fertilized duck eggs for hatching? I just threw out about 20)
In this group, some may want to loft them...


Bill
 

flying_silverad

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Originally posted by shrox
I think you would be smart to think about it some more...
There are two types of people in this world. People that do, and people that wish they did. Take one design that you feel the most confident with and just go for it. The absolute worst thing that could happen is you'll end up a whole lot smarter.

Some of my projects have bombed but I have learned valuble lessons from every one of them.
You're in for an eduacation and can't get anywhere else. Hang on and enjoy the ride!:D
 

nomopbo

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Originally posted by flying_silverad
The absolute worst thing that could happen is you'll end up a whole lot smarter.
... with a whole bunch of kits!:D
 

flying_silverad

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Originally posted by nomopbo
... with a whole bunch of kits!:D
Do a test batch. Maybe ten to twenty kits. Do some Ebay and ROL auctions and that will give some market indications. Then go from there.
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
Jim Horning
 

rocket877

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Originally posted by nomopbo
... with a whole bunch of kits!:D
My business model, like my kits, is by no means typical. I don't make kits in advance. I wait until an order comes in and then I print up the instructions & cardstock and cut the foamboard to size. The body tubes are the only thing I do in advance and I get most of mine already laser cut from BMS in quantities of 1000. Most of my kits are designed to have the same length tubes.

I have 5 major designs with in up to 6 motor diameters and 10 colors. There are more than 250 possible variations. If I have just one of each kit in stock it would fill a 2 car garage. There are some kits I have never sold but I can make any of them within half an hour, anytime an order comes in. The biggest problem for me is getting enough kits put together for pictures to have a representative sample for my website.

I use Paypal and Priority Mail almost exclusively. I allow some mail in orders with money order or personal check for payment but most orders come in from Paypal. Unlike getting a credit card merchant account, you only pay a processing fee when you sell something. Once you set up the account it is easy to move money around. Priority Mail is a "no brainer". They give you the boxes. They do the shipping label through "Click and Ship" at www.upsp.com or the "Ship" button on Paypal. You can even get your postman to pick up the package if you're home when he come by. The only time I don't use Priority Mail is with overseas orders and then I use Air Mail for an extra $5.
 

rocket877

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You should not overlook the overseas market. I sell more kits in the U.K. that in Texas, where I am based. :( Get some customs forms from the Post Office and some plain brown wrapping paper to put over the Priority Mail box and overseas shipments are a snap.

Package you everything is heat sealed plastic. That way it stays dry even if the box gets dropped in a puddle. www.uline.com has everthing you need to package and ship kits and they are very quick and efficient.
 

flying_silverad

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Originally posted by rocket877
:( Get some customs forms from the Post Office and some plain brown wrapping paper to put over the Priority Mail box and overseas shipments are a snap.

Package you everything is heat sealed plastic. That way it stays dry even if the box gets dropped in a puddle. www.uline.com has everthing you need to package and ship kits and they are very quick and efficient.
I wouldn't endorse using Priority Mail Boxes covered with kraft paper. If you're caught, they can fine you...or worse. While you're at Uline.com getting other shipping supplies just bite the bullet and get some boxes to keep on hand.
 

sandman

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I don't like the triangle priority boxes...they seem too weak to me...more damage with them then the Uline boxes.

Uline boxes are $0.30 to $0.45 each...cheap insurance.
 

flying_silverad

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Originally posted by sandman
I don't like the triangle priority boxes...they seem too weak to me...more damage with them then the Uline boxes.

Uline boxes are $0.30 to $0.45 each...cheap insurance.
Have you tried the shorter triangle priority boxes? I don't think you can get them unless you use the 800 number for USPS. They're still free, but they have more room than the long ones and I think they are stronger. They might be 25" long. Seems short but thet are great for shipping one or two smaller kits.
 
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