Kickstarter - Community Questions

The SparqEE CELLv1.0 device.
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Kickstarter - Community Questions

Postby donjohnii » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:40 pm

Here's a list of questions I got and the answers from the pre-launch review. I'm omitting the "awesome project comments" so if I leave yours out, thanks for your positive reinforcement, it helps!

Cool project, specielly if it even helps out with world-simcards. It is exactly what we are looking for.
-Take Aanstoot

@Take Aanstoot: Thanks, and yes, that is one of the most important things we're bringing out of this project - setting up a cost-effective way to provide world-simcards with no hidden fees or anything. We're going to be very upfront on pricing if people decide they're not using their own SIM but ours.

Cool that you can interface both the Arduino and Raspberry Pi.
-Mats Karlsson

Forgive me if this is a silly question - I'm a newb. Have you considered doing a combination SparqEE as an Arduino, rather than as an add-on with a shield? Something like Spark Core with Wi-Fi. I realize it's somewhat less flexible, but it seems a bit simpler and could save space. Either way, love the idea!
-Scott Conroy

@Mats Karlsson & @Scott Conroy: Thanks for seeing the intention there - we have seen successes on Kickstarter with integrating an arduino or processor, BUT as an engineer I find MUCH more value in having something I can use for ANY project - on the Arduino, the PI, or future dev boards.

It was a balance of making a device for tinkerers vs. harder-core engineers, and so we tried to strike a balance.

I also want to promote the core environments and the people that started it all - Arduino then Raspberry PI versus trying to siphon away their consumers

Looks sweet. Might want to add more about what it costs to access a cell network. More than just "the SIM ... costs $2/month... not bad right?" would give backers a better idea of the "hidden" costs.
-Eric Hall

@Eric Hall: Given that this is a combination project for tinkerers and harder core engineers, the SIM card is an issue I didn't spend a lot of time focusing on.

For tinkerers there's not too much issue using their own SIM but for those that need SIMs, we're serious when we say $2/month - there aren't going to be "hidden costs"

I haven't had time to include it just yet, but we're setting up a very straighforward system that we'll hopefully be able to release for the campain that gives people to use SIM cards for M2M apps for exactly that, as little as $2/month with no hidden fees.

we are looking for combo 3g/wifi/bluetooth/GPS for beaglebone black. any plans?
-franc dolenc

@franc dolenc: I'm always thinking modularity so to be clear the SparqEE CELLv1.0 could easily be connected to the Beaglebone black with 4 wires and get you your 3G and a jumper of ours for GPS. You could also use the Spark Core (different company) for WiFi and maybe the BLEduino for BT. ...Now that's the hacker solution in me.

I have no problem making a shield for the beaglebone black that can easily connect up the CELLv1.0. Drop me a line if you want to discuss it further -

@franc dolenc: We're reconsidering the Beablebone Black, we really like their product and it seems to compliment Arduino and Raspberry Pi - I think offering a jumper for the CELLv1.0 can be a stretch goal of ours. About your combo question, email us

Definitely need more info, and a stronger commitment on the $2/month SIM. Does that mean unlimited data (albeit presumably 2g GPRS, so low bandwidth)?

This is a make or break consideration for me personally on working on a project with this type of board. I know nothing about what is out there, or other options, but if you told me for $25 a year I could have a senor pinging me from wherever I would jump at that. But if I am not confident that it would be that, I would have to spend a lot of time researching what my actual costs would be, and would be less likely to jump in and tinker.
-David Parker

@David Parker: Good point on the SIM card. You're correct, as soon as you dive into wanting to do something more commercial, SIM becomes a huge concern. I have not yet setup the system to take SIM orders which I wanted to have before releasing the pricing specs BUT I'll make it a priority to have those details and the commitment for the launch.

Regarding pricing: it's the other way around. Providers care about data not bandwidth. $2/month supports my tracking project and will get you 1MB/month. To give you an approximate, $3=3MB, $7=10MB, but it gets cheaper as it goes up. Like I said, I'll put together a page where people can see and order SIMs and feel confident about the complete solution.

Lots to do! :)

@David Parker: Two Points:
1) It's important to know an approximate data usage if you want to commercialize something so you can sign up for that data usage and minimize your monthly fees.
2) We're setting up "pooled plans" which means that if one of our SIMs goes over but others go under, there are no extra charges. So if you have a variable application, there wont be extra charges.

Who will you be shipping with for international backers? (affects whether people can use a PO Box or similar)

@voltagex: we typically use fedex, but if you need somethink unique just let us know.

Uhm, OVERPRICED! ... 3G_Dongles.

Question: why Kickstarter, none of them are Makers or even believe in opensource since they curate?

@Jim: I appreciate pointing out the fact that other pieces exist that rival our pricing. There's a lot of considerations that have to be taken into account versus just looking at prices.

Unfortunately those USB dongles aren't for makers nor M2M applications, they don't offer the whole picture as we do (client, server, to client), they only work with Android, provide zero support.

I'm not sure what you mean about the second comment, "none of them are Makers" or believe in "opensource" ... this is a completely open source project sharing all information including client and server side coding.

Will for sure back up this project, I really like to see these kind of M2M devices penetrate the consumer market! Can't wait to get rid of my current Telit M2M development environment.

@Marnix: That's the intent, trying to drive people to M2M device and let them know that it's affordable

I can see a swarm CELL/PI data gatherers with GPS and sensors of one preference making an AWESOME environmental/social GIS!! I'm in...
-Clark Hartsock

@Clark Hartsock: I like where you're headed! It's amazing the possibilites that kickstarter projects have lead us over the past year alone!

I think you guys are shoe-in for funding, I have backed quite a few arduino projects, and the world sim card is excellent for sensor networks. I can see an easy data-plan as being competitive with Iridium at fraction of the cost.
-Kirk Mower

@Kirk Mower: Thanks Kirk... fingers crossed :) . I really like the idea of satellite linkage, but the power and cost is just way too high. You're correct, we believe an inexpensive cellular board and a manageable SIM are essential to the progress of M2M... more to come on the SIM stuff soon!

Will you enable for Micro/Nano and regular sim cards?
-Brian Nyeko

@Brian Nyeko: Micro/Nano can fit in this device for $1.61: check this out:

To give you a backstory: This SparqEE device is going to go through certification and every HW change means a recert and another ~$30k

I'm also very interested in a Beagle bone black cape/shield!

Are you planning to also support voice calls and maybe even 3G video calls (so not over IP, but directly to the mobile network)?
-Robert Verspuy

@Robert Verspuy: Some BeagleBone Black fans out there - it's a pretty sweet board actually especially with a TI chipset that's attainable. I am actually working on a BeagleBone Black shield which will include the CELLv1.0 for a different project... more to come

Voice is a big issue actually and there's a few reasons we didn't: Price jumps with voice, PTCRB tests are crazy with voice and any change in housing requires a new test - which negates the testing we're doing. It may be possible and we're still looking to see if we can keep the current price points while including this feature, but for now, nope

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