I *really really* wanted to launch the group-buy before the year 2017. I had my hand-assembled prototype PCBs working. Sure there are some revisions to be made, but the PCB design itself is in a good condition.
However I won’t run group buy just yet. The problem at the moment is this:
There is no case for it. And this is a major deterrent to buyers.
The most intriguing part of Miuni 32 is the form factor. It won’t replace your GH60 or Whitefox. With only 32 keys, the purpose of Miuni 32 is to become an on-the-go writer’s mechanical keyboard. So it has to fulfill that goal. And without a good quality case to complement the PCB, the point is moot.
I came to this realization after asking for guidance on the MK community on Reddit, as well as talking to Henry at ZealPC.net. Henry graciously offered his insights and advice on my project. And the bottom line of our conversation was that the PCB alone is not enough to be a product on its own. It has to become a whole.
And that ultimately means I need to have an MOQ that is acceptable not only by me, but also by my partners (case makers, assemblers, shipping/handling and etc). And my partners won’t and shouldn’t commit until the I do my due diligence – which includes the quality of the finished PCB. In other words, goodbye to manually soldering.
The PCB and components are cheap. However, professional assembly service is another matter. Initially I thought I could hand-solder the SMD components myself. This proved to be not only time consuming, but also extremely error-prone. I don’t like inconsistent solder quality of my bare hands. Professional assembly service will cost more, but it is a necessary ingredient to offer a quality product.
It has been a learning experience these last two weeks. I asked and received quotes for components as well as professional assembly services. All very new to me. I am too used to my garage-band / brute-force approach where I source my components from Digikey and do the rest manually myself. However learning is never the end. It is always a means to an end. Hence I must stay focused and figure out how to complete Miuni 32 as a product.
I have been working with a few case makers for my board. I have not received them just yet. It is my wish that I can put together a kit with these amazing people in the community in the very near future. Until I am confident, and satisfied, I must not rush.
And in the mean time, I plan to do a *beta run* of just the manual-assembled PCBs in January 2017. I will probably produce *10 pieces*. If you are a maker, who is not looking for a complete build, and are eager to test out the PCB, firmware or build plate, cases, accessories and etc, please let me know :). I will try to get you a board. Additionally, if I promised you a board already, and never heard from me yet, let me know too!
So that said, if anyone in the community can offer up advice or critique my thought process above, feel free to hit me up.
And last but not least, I thank everyone at /r/MK who have contributed to this one way another. I truly appreciate all of you!