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DaveF
10-23-2006, 08:16 AM
Hey all!
This propeller chip looks to be a pretty good fit for a product that I would like to have developed.· Right now I am considering paying to have it developed vs learning how to do it myself.

I have only messed around with my BS2 so far, so getting up and running on a propeller will probably take a large amount of time on my part.· I have VB programming experience, so it is not from scratch, but I have a LOT of other things going on that will get in the way...

Anyhow, I have this product that I would like to develop that would rely heavily on the video output capabilities of the propeller chip.· I am assuming some things, perhaps someone can answer some questions:

1.· When looking at the specs on these chips, it appears that they are only $12.95 each...· Am i missing something?

2.· Are actual products sold with this or stamp chips in them, or are they used to prove the concept, and then stripped down to only include the necessary components for the retail product?

3.· Assuming that the project is not terribly complex, what might I be looking at in the way of cost to have this done?-· Is there an hourly rate that is usually assigned for design work?

4.· I realize that secrecy is the top priority when trying to get help with a product idea.· Any advice there?

Thanks!

Dave

MacGeek117
10-23-2006, 08:47 AM
#1: No, you're not missing anything, they are $12.95 ea.
#2: Don't quite understand the question.
#3: Depends completely on what you want to do (ie, do you want just simple text or graphics).
#4: Don't post actuall code, just examples.

RoboGeek

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wastehl
10-23-2006, 09:24 AM
Well, we certainly are putting them into products, there is little sense in trying to minimalize something that costs $12.95 or less in volume, unless you are selling a $10.00 product. You can't get an intelligent idea on costs unless you establish the size and complexity of the project hence the degree of expertise hence the cost to get it done. Use a non-disclosure agreement, no real pro would have a problem with that, don't publicly post code or detailed specs. Just some thoughts...

Bill

DaveF
10-23-2006, 11:35 PM
Thanks guys!

So, can your recommend someone or a company that could/would do this project for me using the propeller chip?

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
10-24-2006, 12:10 AM
wastehl said...
Use a non-disclosure agreement, no real pro would have a problem with that, ...

'Sorry, Bill, but I couldn't disagree more. NDAs are bandied about like so much scratch paper these days, and a person would have to be crazy to sign most of the ones I've seen. The main problem with them is that, even though most preclude from the definition of "confidential information" stuff that's already in the signer's possession, there's no mechanism to determine what that stuff is. In the event of a dispute, the onus will always be on the person who signs the agreement to prove that they already knew of the secret material. And the longer you're in business, the greater the risks that something you already know will intersect with something someone else wants to keep confidential. Frankly, I've just quit signing the stupid things. I refuse. And it hasn't cost me any desireable opportunities as a result. My experience has been that the more secretive a potential client is, the more trouble they're going to be down the road. My best customers have always been the ones who are the most open. And I've found that bonds of unspoken trust are much stronger than those created by a piece of paper.

-Phil

Graham Stabler
10-24-2006, 05:36 AM
Indeed. And speaking in generalisms might be a better protection anyway, such as:

"It needs to communicate with a PC using serial, show some basic menus on a TV in text and read 4 encoders and control 3 servos with some simple algorithms between this and that."

Graham

M. K. Borri
10-24-2006, 06:22 AM
The best suggestion I have for you is, talk to David Hatch at Saint Mary's University ( dhatch@stmarytx.edu ) as there's usually a lot of grad students who wouldn't mind doing some design work to round off their resume. He's the engineering lab manager.

wastehl
10-24-2006, 06:58 AM
Phil, I definitely agree with you on the concept of unspoken trust, after 40 years, I can say that those customers are the best kind. Unfortunately, they are also getting the hardest to find. Something about life span I suspect. In any case, I am involved with several projects, mostly government, where NDA's are mandatory, although they sometimes take the form of "security agreements." We had to expend over $100,000 to get a generally acceptable NDA and have had it signed without question by companies, suppliers and contractors large and small. We have also had "visitation agreements" signed by senators, governors and congressmen as well as news people. You have to be very careful when you open your lab to an outsider, it is a lot easier to steal these days than it is to recover. I, personally, still go by gut trust, and so far have not been dissapointed too many times. I admit to being somewhat over the hill, however...

Regards,

Bill

cgracey
10-24-2006, 08:44 AM
Here's an apt·description of NDAs (I Googled "nda sign" and this was among the first links):

http://www.billsnow.com/Articles_Snow_VC101_2003_07_08_NDAs_Selective_Sear ch.htm


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Chip Gracey
Parallax, Inc.

Post Edited (Chip Gracey (Parallax)) : 10/24/2006 5:34:54 PM GMT

DaveF
10-24-2006, 09:59 AM
Thanks Chip!
great article, however I am not looking for VCs. I have money, I just need to get an engineer that will create the product (prototype) for me without stealing my idea. I think the NDA is valuable and legitimate in this situation because I am the one with the money and the idea.- As Bill says in the article "The person with the money makes the rules"

I am starting to think I might as well learn how to use the propeller, and build it myself... I really enjoy doing this kind of thing, I just want to fast track the project because I don't have a lot of time to learn all that is needed and make mistakes, etc. I have money to pay someone with experience, I just don't want to be kicking myself down the road when someone takes my idea and beats me to market with it...

I know exactly what needs to be done, and I know it can be done with relative ease.

Are there any reputable engineers out there that can do this for me while protecting my secret and not ripping me off?

The answer may be no.. I can accept that, and get busy learning. I just want to check before heading down that path.

thanks!
Dave

cgracey
10-24-2006, 10:40 AM
Dave,
I was going to suggest that you just design it yourself. If you took the time to do it, it would be rewarding and quite empowering. All the engineers that I know are already·preoccupied with their own ideas which, of course, they esteem as highly as you do your own. I don't think any of·you·would drop what·you're doing to pursue another's idea. You're all vested in what you've got going on and no one is interested in switching horses. You could probably find someone to do the design work, but I bet your product would benefit and you'd feel better if you were holding all the cards. I often think that whatever can be hacked together quickly can be just as well done by the Chinese, for even less. You'll need to make your product special and that usually takes more than telling someone else what to do. You could do it, I'm sure. There would be challenges along the way, but by the time you were done you'd probably think "There's no way this thing would have turned out so well if I had tried to tell someone just to change this and fix that. It would have been a shadow of what I wound up with." Plus, you'd have 100% design knowledge of your product. That saves a lot of stress.


DaveF said...
Thanks Chip!
great article, however I am not looking for VCs. I have money, I just need to get an engineer that will create the product (prototype) for me without stealing my idea. I think the NDA is valuable and legitimate in this situation because I am the one with the money and the idea.- As Bill says in the article "The person with the money makes the rules"

I am starting to think I might as well learn how to use the propeller, and build it myself... I really enjoy doing this kind of thing, I just want to fast track the project because I don't have a lot of time to learn all that is needed and make mistakes, etc. I have money to pay someone with experience, I just don't want to be kicking myself down the road when someone takes my idea and beats me to market with it...

I know exactly what needs to be done, and I know it can be done with relative ease.

Are there any reputable engineers out there that can do this for me while protecting my secret and not ripping me off?

The answer may be no.. I can accept that, and get busy learning. I just want to check before heading down that path.

thanks!
Dave

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Chip Gracey
Parallax, Inc.

Post Edited (Chip Gracey (Parallax)) : 10/24/2006 3:45:00 AM GMT

Paul Baker
10-24-2006, 11:47 AM
I was going to say that the Propeller is a platform that has been on the market for considerably less than a year, so there isn't a·massive base of qualified freelance engineers. Those who are out there likely have prior commitments or are busy developing thier own products.

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Paul Baker (mailto:pbaker@parallax.com)
Propeller Applications Engineer
[/url][url=http://www.parallax.com] (http://www.parallax.com)
Parallax, Inc. (http://www.parallax.com)

DaveF
10-24-2006, 08:26 PM
Thank you Chip and Paul.
You are both right. It is time I order the kit, and get to learning this thing!

Thanks for the advice, it is much appreciated!

Dave

Bean
10-24-2006, 09:00 PM
Phil said...

'Sorry, Bill, but I couldn't disagree more. NDAs are bandied about like so much scratch paper these days, and a person would have to be crazy to sign most of the ones I've seen. The main problem with them is that, even though most preclude from the definition of "confidential information" stuff that's already in the signer's possession, there's no mechanism to determine what that stuff is. In the event of a dispute, the onus will always be on the person who signs the agreement to prove that they already knew of the secret material. And the longer you're in business, the greater the risks that something you already know will intersect with something someone else wants to keep confidential. Frankly, I've just quit signing the stupid things. I refuse. And it hasn't cost me any desireable opportunities as a result. My experience has been that the more secretive a potential client is, the more trouble they're going to be down the road. My best customers have always been the ones who are the most open. And I've found that bonds of unspoken trust are much stronger than those created by a piece of paper.
Phil,
· I agree, NDA in theory sound like a good idea. But I've been asked to sign more than one that states that "I" will pay for "their" laywer fees if any dispute arises. They must be crazy (or think I am).

· And as if I (or other consultants) have time to "steal" your ideas. Hell, I've got tons of ideas of my own I don't have time to work on. And what's to say AFTER I sign the NDA, and you tell me your idea, I didn't have the idea already ? Or maybe another client down the road will want to do something similar ?

· People don't seem to realize "you cannot patent an idea". And that's what people try to do with NDAs. Trust me if you thought of it, there is a 99% chance someone else has thought of it too.

· As Phil has stated, the more insistant a client is that you sign an NDA. The more chance there is that they will accuse you later. Not counting secret miliatary stuff of course.

· This is similar to helping people who are fixated with "patents" and don't want to tell anyone anything about their "invention". Nothing could hurt them more. It's much better to get your·idea out in the open. Then you have lots of people you can bring to court with you who will testifiy that you had the idea first. If you keep your idea secret how can you prove you had it ? Sure you should document who you told it to, and have them sign a book that just states the basic idea, and that they understand it.

Bean.


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Post Edited (Bean (Hitt Consulting)) : 10/24/2006 6:23:16 PM GMT

Graham Stabler
10-24-2006, 11:24 PM
Bean, who had the idea first doesn't count for anything until its patented. If its not patented and you make it public it is no longer patentable. The patent worriers should think seriously about if what they have is REALLY worth anything and if it is get the thing patented, then they can show it to who they like. Or forget the patent and take the market by storm.

The most likely reason for an enginner not stealing your idea is that he doesn't consider it to be the marvel that you do (speaking generally).

Graham

wastehl
10-25-2006, 12:10 AM
Graham, you hit the nail squarely on the noggin'

Bill

Ken Gracey
10-25-2006, 12:39 AM
Graham,

I'm afraid it's exactly the opposite in regards to your first point. If you establish prior art through documentation, advertising, and printing you have effectively negated the opportunity for future patent seekers to patent "your idea". Having the idea first may not be important on its own if it is stored away in your head, but making the idea known to the public and being able to prove your research (perhaps through Statutory Invention Registrations, should you desire) establishes the·concept of prior art. This openness is opposite thinking for many of us who like to hold our ideas close to the·vest in fear of being copied.

I agree with your second point that publicizing your ideas could make them unpatentable. One really needs to understand whether or not the couple of years required to obtain the patent is worth holding up release of key design issues associated with the product which could help sell the concept.

Maybe we should open a new forum "Patents and Intellectual Property" since these threads are a frequent occurence on our Propeller and SX forums.

In regards to Bill's question, if there's a Propeller engineer who's ready to work then you'd find them on this forum.

Ken Gracey
Parallax, Inc.

cgracey
10-25-2006, 12:51 AM
Ken, I think you two are on the same page. Graham's wording was a little ambiguous, but I think he was saying the same things you are.

Ken Gracey (Parallax) said...

Graham,

I'm afraid it's exactly the opposite in regards to your first point.



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Chip Gracey
Parallax, Inc.

Graham Stabler
10-25-2006, 03:35 AM
Indeed we are. Perhaps I should have said: "doesn't count for anything until its patented or someone else looks to patent it" BUT Bean was talking about "people who are fixated with "patents"" I can only assume these are the types that want to patent rather than just block other patents. As Yoda would say, "do or do not there is no try" i.e. patent it quick or tell the world (even if you tell them quietly).

Graham

Kevin Wood
10-25-2006, 04:12 AM
I don't think the real issue here is necessarily patentability, but rather marketability. If 20 people have the same idea, and build the same exact product, the first to market gets to take advantage of that fact by establishing brand equity.

I wouldn't mind seeing another forum added along the lines of "The Business of Electronics" where people could discuss the business issues relevant to an electronics related business. Then people could ask questions about things like marketing, logistics, legalalities, etc.

viskr
10-25-2006, 10:24 AM
2cents from a engineering consultant (15 years making my living at it)

A lot of good comments here, but I thought I should speak up from the consultant side.

I sign NDAs all the time, its up to the consultant to list possible conflicts before signing. Usually this is not a big deal, because you usually know whether they are building something in an area where there might be a conflict. Often they will be hiring you because of your expertise in a certain field. If you're really an expert you would know what is state of the art, and would know what knowledge is probably new and patentable. Yes there have been cases where I was working on ideas in the same general area, and I am careful to disclose them in the exhibits of the NDA.

As for stealing an idea, unless you've invented practical anti-gravity, the consultant is the last person you need to worry about. Consulting engineers make their living by reputation and if it gets known that you're leaking information from clients, your chances of getting another contract are diminished.

As Hitt mentioned, he's got lots of ideas, and so do I, so far I've only chased a couple my own ideas, it takes a lot of work to get something to market. Even some of the best ideas are so far ahead of their time, that the inventor never sees much. For instance I saw the first mouse in the early 70s. and did this poor guy make anything from it (the answer is NO)

These days patents are not as valuable as they use to be. For one thing the technology is getting fairly mature, so someone probably thought about it already. If your idea is really good its more of a time to market issue. Can you get the product to market quickly and then produce them well enough and in enough volume. Then for a truly successful idea, the copycats will come in later, they let you prove there is a market. Remember that improving on a pre-existing idea is also patentable, and Japan does a much better job of this in manuf than we do in the US. PS I hold 5 patents as principal.

One final thing, the propeller is good for a lot of things, but there is always more than one way to do a design. If I had a client who told me I want to build this, and I want to do it this way, I'd probably not be too interested in the project, as the implementation is really why you're hiring someone.

In any case. good luck

PPS, there was an excelent article on this in slashdot just within the last week