Do you earn from doing DIY?

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Anthon

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I was wondering if any people around here sell their DIY regularly, and what your experiences are.

I'm lucky enough to have a big place that I'm allowed to use as a workshop in a remote location. I collected plenty of tools over the years I've been doing DIY.

I started selling guitar cabinets a year ago online, and on average I manage to sell couple of them each month for a fair price. Currently I only do 50s tweed fender style cabs. I also sell DIY amplifier component kits with my cabs.
Tried selling finished point-to-point amps, sold a number of these, but it's just too much work.
And most people interested are cheap-asses, anв refuse to give a fair price.
People who buy cabs are more generous (DIY folks) - because probably they realize how much works goes into making things with your hands.

I think selling your work is great because:
- at this point I returned everything I invested in DIY over the years.
- the quality of my DIY projects has increased dramatically.
- I can practice doing DIY and earn in the process, buy better tools.
- helping others building their projects feels good.  :)

So that's why I would like to expand in DIY.

On my to-do-list (will keep me busy for the next 2-4 years probably):
- make other types of cabs, flight-cases, modular synth cabs etc to attract more clients.
- building a big CNC to make woodwork less time consuming. Probably another small one for aluminum and another for laser engraving and cutting.
- learn how to make metal chassis, engraved panels, silk screens etc
- developing DIY kits (guitar amps, synthesizers modules, pedals, pro studio gear).
- eventually even winding my own power/output transformers.
- opening a DIY web shop (based in Europe).
 

ruffrecords

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I sell my DIY but for me it is more a hobby that pays for itself than a business. I am retired so I am not looking for an income from it. I only charge the cost of the parts plus 50% which barely covers my costs and certainly does not pay for my time. I enjoy the design work most, and building my designs for others helps me tweak the designs to make them easier to build.

Cheers


Ian
 

Anthon

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ruffrecords said:
I sell my DIY but for me it is more a hobby that pays for itself than a business. I am retired so I am not looking for an income from it. I only charge the cost of the parts plus 50% which barely covers my costs and certainly does not pay for my time. I enjoy the design work most, and building my designs for others helps me teak the designs to make them easier to build.

Cheers


Ian

It is very hard to find a buyer who would pay more than +50% on parts costs on a finished ''DIY'' project. Most people want to get best of the best, by paying second hand prices of consumer grade equipment.

With the amplifiers I sold, my work was pretty much for free. The only reason I earned money, is because I made my own cabinets for them. For me selling an amp is just a way of selling a cab.

With selling cabs, it's more like +300% (cost of materials per cab is about 50 euro, I sell it for at least 200). The materials are not expensive, so I can make small batches, without investing much money.
Also there is no headache in warranty etc.
Making a good cab is a lot of work, but if I would build a big CNC for woodwork, it would be much easier. The most challenging part is not building, but finding clients.

Yes, selling projects is a great way to try out different design option. I've learned a lot by selling my work - it brought my DIY to the next level, that's for sure.
That's one of the reasons I want keep doing it, at least as a part-time activity. There is so much stuff I want to build, but doing it with my 'pocket money' is just impossible.



 

JohnRoberts

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If you think about it most manufacturers started out with little more than a DIY operation.

These days it is easier to develop products, the hard part as always is creating something people are willing to pay enough for you to make a comfortable profit.

JR
 

ruffrecords

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Anthon said:
It is very hard to find a buyer who would pay more than +50% on parts costs on a finished ''DIY'' project. Most people want to get best of the best, by paying second hand prices of consumer grade equipment.

What you need is a USP (unique selling point) that sets your product apart from the competition. I sell lots of PCBs for example but the profit on them is minimal - I spend more in petrol going to the post office than I charge for postage/packing/Paypal. If I sell 200 boards I might make £200. It's the custom builds where the real money is. Four tube mic pres in a rack with power supply will set you back around £2400 but people buy them because my design gives them the level of control over gain that you normally only get in semiconductor designs, not to mention the quality and low noise and customised controls. It is still nearly £1600 worth of parts. There is probably about 100 hours of work in building one for which I get £800; not exactly premium rates  but then I am not in it for the money.

Cheers

Ian
 

keefaz

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For profit, maybe amateur audio market is worth considering, or semi-pro
Not necessarly with fancy audio power cables, but building hype around a product is an essential part and real pros don't buy these sort of things
 

clintrubber

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Just wondering about this, and I haven't read up on it yet,
but what's the story w.r.t. selling gear and having it comply to certain required 'standards' ?
(Legal/safety stuff I mean, so not the obvious ones that it's a good/cool product you can be proud of)

Admittedly, a guitar-cab is an easy 'schematic', but still, it's an 'electronic device'. Pedal-FX... And certainly for mains-powered amps.

Does this only come into play for higher numbers ?  (Europe)

Bye 
 

Anthon

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clintrubber said:
Just wondering about this, and I haven't read up on it yet,
but what's the story w.r.t. selling gear and having it comply to certain required 'standards' ?
(Legal/safety stuff I mean, so not the obvious ones that it's a good/cool product you can be proud of)

Admittedly, a guitar-cab is an easy 'schematic', but still, it's an 'electronic device'. Pedal-FX... And certainly for mains-powered amps.

Does this only come into play for higher numbers ?  (Europe)

Bye

As long as you sell it directly to the customer, I guess it doesn't matter. Technically it still must be certified, but nobody cares when dealing face to face.
It only becomes an issue if you want to distribute it on a large scale, through legitimate distributors.

There is also this thing called RoHS compliance - and not a single DIY project will pass it, because most likely it was soldered using traditional lead solder.
 

Anthon

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ruffrecords said:
What you need is a USP (unique selling point) that sets your product apart from the competition. I sell lots of PCBs for example but the profit on them is minimal - I spend more in petrol going to the post office than I charge for postage/packing/Paypal. If I sell 200 boards I might make £200. It's the custom builds where the real money is. Four tube mic pres in a rack with power supply will set you back around £2400 but people buy them because my design gives them the level of control over gain that you normally only get in semiconductor designs, not to mention the quality and low noise and customised controls. It is still nearly £1600 worth of parts. There is probably about 100 hours of work in building one for which I get £800; not exactly premium rates  but then I am not in it for the money.

Cheers

Ian

I was thinking about USPs, but when it comes to profit, it seems like the only USP is the price.

There is a market for custom jobs, but like you said, it is hard to justify the price. Too much time goes into research for each individual project to make it worth your time.
I did some custom variations of tweed-era tube amplifiers - but even minor adjustments required a lot of extra research and work. Of course you can experiment and learn a lot, but from business standpoint it is not that great. I would still do it, but only for educational purposes.

I think it is better find products that people are interested it, perfecting the workflow, building a small stock and then move to something else.

For instance, I sold a lot of 5e3 cabinets. Some kits and finished amps too. From my experience, I know that if I make 20x 5e3 cabs, they will sell eventually. Once I have a number of them it stock, I can forget about them for a while and start thinking about something else.

I think the key is to find things that sell regularly (even if it's not too often) with a decent profit margin, optimize the building workflow, build a stock so you don't have to worry about it,  then keep diversifying until you have a comfortable income.
 

[silent:arts]

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Anthon said:
As long as you sell it directly to the customer, I guess it doesn't matter. Technically it still must be certified, but nobody cares when dealing face to face.
It only becomes an issue if you want to distribute it on a large scale, through legitimate distributors.
Wrong. Why should there be a difference?

Anthon said:
There is also this thing called RoHS compliance - and not a single DIY project will pass it, because most likely it was soldered using traditional lead solder.
If your customer uses lead solder to solder your PCBs it is not your business. If you use it it is.
 

Anthon

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[silent:arts] said:
Wrong. Why should there be a difference?

Technically there is no difference, but it practice a 'garage enterprise' probably will not comply with all required regulations. Most customers will not bother checking it, nor would they care. I doubt the government will check every garage for safety, Rohs, etc compliance.
It is also impossible to get all the certificates for a 1 time custom job, or very small 'test' batches.
If you would like to distribute your goods with big suppliers, I presume they will ask certificates, and will refuse your merchandise if you don't have it.
The bigger the business is, the more need legit it needs to be.

At least that's how I understand it.

[silent:arts] said:
If your customer uses lead solder to solder your PCBs it is not your business. If you use it it is.

I mean if you make a project yourself using DIY practices (lead solder for example), and then you sell it to someone else on ebay.
 

[silent:arts]

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Anthon said:
The bigger the business is, the more need legit it needs to be.

At least that's how I understand it.
This is a dangerous (and wrong) understanding.

Anthon said:
I mean if you make a project yourself using DIY practices (lead solder for example), and then you sell it to someone else on ebay.
There is a huge difference between a private sale, or if you are selling for business.
(but not between your own small business web-shop and Amazon)
 

Anthon

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[silent:arts] said:
This is a dangerous (and wrong) understanding.
There is a huge difference between a private sale, or if you are selling for business.
(but not between your own small business web-shop and Amazon)

Exactly my point, there is huge difference between private and business sale - but where are you going to draw the line?
If you are selling 500 items a months, clearly you are running a business. But if your output is 5 items each year, are you running a business or are you selling private?

Being not certified is not necessarily unsafe, or vice versa.
For instance, 2 prong power cord in tube amplifiers would pass safety regulations back in the day, while it is not exactly safe.
 

[silent:arts]

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Anthon said:
Exactly my point, there is huge difference between private and business sale - but where are you going to draw the line?
If you are selling 500 items a months, clearly you are running a business. But if your output is 5 items each year, are you running a business or are you selling private?
If you buy (or build) something with the intention to sell it you are running a business with all it consequences.

Anthon said:
Being not certified is not necessarily unsafe, or vice versa.
For instance, 2 prong power cord in tube amplifiers would pass safety regulations back in the day, while it is not exactly safe.
Rules from back in the day don't matter for new products.
And knowing the rules but not being certified doesn't make it legal.
 

Anthon

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[silent:arts] said:
If you buy (or build) something with the intention to sell it you are running a business with all it consequences.
Rules from back in the day don't matter for new products.
And knowing the rules but not being certified doesn't make it legal.

I'm not saying it makes it legal - but especially if you are starting out, it is near to impossible to comply with all legal requirements. It also doesn't make your products unsafe per se, or the other way around.

The intent is a loose term. If my neighbor asks me to mow his lawn once in a while for a small fee, does it mean I'm running a business? After all, I go to his house with intent to sell my service. Do I have to have to comply to all kinds of gardening regulations (if there is such a thing), register an enterprise, declare my incomes, pay taxes on revenue etc?
Technically you do - but nobody would do it in real world.

Anyway, that's one of the reasons I wouldn't bother selling finished electronic devices. Too much hassle for very little gain, unless you can bring it to big scale of course.
I make cabs, and I would like to expand on that - other cabinets/woodwork, metal work, DIY kits, etc.
 

metalb00b00

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Anthon said:
Being not certified is not necessarily unsafe, or vice versa.
For instance, 2 prong power cord in tube amplifiers would pass safety regulations back in the day, while it is not exactly safe.

Wrong again. 2 prong power cord complied with safety regulation. But people without the the proper knowledge usually connect the neutral wire with the ground/earth wire together, and this is what makes it not safe.
 

keefaz

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Can you sell electric product with external PSU or perhaps API 500 format modules without being forced to comply with safety certifications?
 

JohnRoberts

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keefaz said:
Can you sell electric product with external PSU or perhaps API 500 format modules without being forced to comply with safety certifications?
There are safety rules for everything but they are much relaxed for lower voltages because the risks are lower.

Using an external wall wart, or even an OEM power supply that is already UL/csa/CE approved should eliminate the high voltage  hazard, but I am reluctant to ever say don't worry... you can start a house fire with a battery.

JR
 

ruffrecords

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warpie said:
Interesting topic.

And very complex and country specific( although for many years there have been great efforts to harmonise standards and requirements in the major western countries).

The rules for pro audio products made in quantity are generally well defined. In Europe, CE marking is mandatory as is certification to specific standards for safety and EMC. However, certification is simply a matter of the maker creating the certificate that says he believes the product  will meet the standards and can, if asked, demonstrate this. Often, for pure analogue products,  this is not hard to do and expensive test gear it not required. The only unusual test gear that will be needed is one that can test earth leakage and ground continuity of the mains circuit. As soon as you put digital stuff of any sort in things get a lot more complex.

The rules governing custom made devices are a lot less clear. There are many companies that build significantly big electronic one off projects and it would be uneconomic to require them to conduct the full battery of tests on each and every major component and on the installation itself  which may interface to similarly complex systems provided by others so there are special rules for these situations. These rules apply to a specific installation and include the restriction that only trained/qualified personnel operate the equipment. Recording studios can come under this heading. So if AMS/Neve supplies a custom mixer to a new studio, where the electrics are done by someone else, the audio cabling by another and the computers by yet another, if there is an EMC problem it is going to be none trivial to determine who is causing it.

Cheers

Ian
 

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