Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28

Thread: DIY Light Kit?

  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: alshead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,308

    DIY Light Kit?

    This might sound ridiculous, but I am interested in putting together my own light, but simply don't have the time to read every thread on here about different switches, boards, connectors, etc. Someday, I would hope to, but that day ain't today.

    So, what I'm wondering is if anyone has thought about selling a DIY kit? Basically, for you folks who build a lot or even sell your own stuff, what about selling all of the materials you use with an instruction booklet on how to put it together, step-by-step? You gather and sell the parts, I do the labor? I've used the Amoeba and think it's amazing, but if I could shave $50 off of the setup and put it together myself, I would.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    211

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mattthemuppet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,301
    I've thought about it, something like a single XM-L, with switch, optic, lflex, battery holder, cable, batteries + charger and housing, but all of that comes to ~$70 just for parts, before shipping costs. However, there's still a lot of time spent buying bits, cutting the housing, fitting the cover etc that even charging $100 would probably only net me $10 an hour, which just isn't worth it (I'd rather play with my kids for an hour).

    If I tried charging any more, I'd either be called out as a rip off artist or the premium would be enough to make potential customers do it themselves (or both). Plus I like doing this for fun or good karma, doing it for money would just make it a job.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: alshead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,308
    Klynk- That is an awesome DIY thread by OD- really great stuff. Now- if I could just get him to sell me all the parts, I could walk through it. Part of what I'm looking for is a way to avoid what Mattthemuppet talks about- ordering from ten different places, choosing between different drivers, etc, etc.

    Mattthemuppet- I completely agree- which is why I don't have time to do all of the leg work, but I can definitely find time to do the labor. For instance, Scar sells the Amoeba for about $200- Is his labor worth $50? I'd buy his kit for $150 just to learn something in the building process- many others would rather spend the $200 to NOT build it themselves. I'm just thinking that an option of some sort of kit would be really nice.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    66
    alshead, that would work, if we weren't so picky and persnickety about what we wanted out of our lights. We all want the latest and greatest before the manufactures have even finished producing the parts.

    Crud, I've know of a few vendors that still have a chunk of Seoul P4 emitters on a roll. What you are describing would have to be at a high profit margin to make up for the losses of clearance prices when the next X series lamp is released.

    And what about battery configurations:

    1s1p
    2s1p
    3s1p
    4s1p

    1s2p
    2s2p, and so on and so forth.


    Later Edit:

    You can buy a housing from Cutter, when you place your LED order. Pretty much what you are describing.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mattthemuppet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,301
    I can't speak for Scar, but components/ raw materials don't make up the majority of the price of an Amoeba light - most of the money goes on labour, customer support, warranty coverage, plus possibly some profit.

    It's really one or the other - pay someone to do all the testing, debugging, warrantying etc and buy a complete light or spend some of your own time (free) and a bit of money (Dremel = $40) researching the forums like the rest of us There are so many build reports posted here that there are very few mistakes left to be made.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: troutie-mtb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    3,052
    I did a spell of selling Kits to diy which was all well until you get the email saying this Maxflex does not work
    or a couple of leds are duff

    so what do you do to keep customer relations happy you replace the duff parts
    and take the hit for the customers cack handed assembly .
    and that wipes out the profit from a couple of kits .

    so stopped for that reason .

    but may start again with an idea I have

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    703
    I think the best idea will always revolve around selling the machined parts. They're the most difficult to produce for the normal buyer. They also happen to be the ones that a customer can't accidentally burn up.

    Something like a 20 or 35mm housing with clamp, switch and connector.

  9. #9
    more carbon=more awesome
    Reputation: The Understater's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    1,324
    Quote Originally Posted by alshead
    Klynk- For instance, Scar sells the Amoeba for about $200- Is his labor worth $50?
    Having assembled a few lights now I'd say Scar's labor is worth quite a lot more than $50.

    b.
    Posting on the basis that ignorance shared is ignorance doubled.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    703
    Quote Originally Posted by bshallard
    Having assembled a few lights now I'd say Scar's labor is worth quite a lot more than $50.

    b.
    For total build or assembly? I'd say it's worth less than $50 if you're talking about assembling the led and driver in the case. Total labor from start to finish on the light is more than that but supplies also don't cost $150. Biggest issue you have is warranty. One returned light could wipe out everything you made on a small run.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: mattthemuppet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,301
    Quote Originally Posted by kan3
    Total labor from start to finish on the light is more than that but supplies also don't cost $150.
    see above "most of the money goes on labour, customer support, warranty coverage, plus possibly some profit"

    don't forget - everyone is counting a bike light maker's time/ labour as profit, it isn't, it's labour cost. For a business like Scar's he also needs to make a profit (in excess of costs) to invest in new tech or even to justify doing it in the first place.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    703
    You can't treat his labor as cost only because it isn't. If he were to hire some else to do the job then yes. He is still generating personal income from his labor to create the product. I do agree with what you said earlier though. If the only income you make off the product is from your labor then it's a job. If you don't enjoy what you're doing and you're doing it for the money then it's a job.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    211
    Quote Originally Posted by alshead
    which is why I don't have time to do all of the leg work, but I can definitely find time to do the labor.
    Kaidomain and DX have almost everything you need for building first DIY with FREE shipping.
    Plus, you can lurk this forum - tons of info here. IMO, it's more than enough for the beginning.

  14. #14
    Light freak
    Reputation: scar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    2,435

    Hmmm

    How do you put a price on "personal pride"?

    I touch every component in every light and have tried to keep the price to a minimum. I am not retiring doing this, more of a weekend hobby to keep me out of trouble. That is one of the biggest hassles is keeping the parts flow going in a consistent fashion while at the same time building lights and communicating with people.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    703
    Quote Originally Posted by scar
    How do you put a price on "personal pride"?

    I touch every component in every light and have tried to keep the price to a minimum.
    I don't believe anyone in this thread has said anything negative in regards to your product or your pricing. The topic could have revolved around anyone else that produces custom light kits, you just happened to get mentioned.

  16. #16
    Drinkin' the 29er KoolAid
    Reputation: kwarwick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    1,023
    Quote Originally Posted by kan3
    I think the best idea will always revolve around selling the machined parts. They're the most difficult to produce for the normal buyer. They also happen to be the ones that a customer can't accidentally burn up.

    Something like a 20 or 35mm housing with clamp, switch and connector.
    I'm totally in agreement on this. I can source all the electronic parts and have no problem at all with assembly, but the housings are the big challenged for me.

    I've bought a few housing from people on MTBR, but would love if there were more options... I'm currently looking for 35mm housings for some 3up XML lights I'll be building once I receive neutral tint XMLs from Cutter.

  17. #17
    removing nudity
    Reputation: emu26's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    4,083
    I agree, selling the housing kit is the best way to go. You can have a link to all of the other stuff for the prospective buyer to pay for his own internals, and therefore be responsible for the warranty thereof. I for one would not be buying and on selling batteries in a kit, look what happened to Geoman for example.

    Scar, I don't have an Amoeba, but $200 for one is absolutely a fair price. I genuinely don't believe people appreciate the amount of time involved in assembling a light, cramming all the gear inside the housing, check that its all still working etc etc.

    Alshead, there are plenty of places already to buy just the housing from, last time I checked even Cateye were selling empty light bodies.

    As mentioned, Cutter also sell a kit and there are alot of DIY'ers here that show pics of way more housings being milled / cut then can possibly be used for personal use. (They tend to be the ones with links in their sigs )

  18. #18
    Light freak
    Reputation: scar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    2,435

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    66
    Quote Originally Posted by kan3
    [B]You can't treat his labor as cost only because it isn't. If he were to hire some else to do the job then yes.[B/] He is still generating personal income from his labor to create the product. I do agree with what you said earlier though. If the only income you make off the product is from your labor then it's a job. If you don't enjoy what you're doing and you're doing it for the money then it's a job.
    From a business evaluation standpoint, this bold statement is incorrect. I do understand where you are coming from, though, and I see your point as it relates here.

    However, when a business or a property that takes a considerable amount of active management (hotel, motel, self-storage warehouse, etc.) is appraised, the evaluator will consider the owner's work in the day to day operation in the business and must estimate and subtract the market cost of this labor to get a true picture of the net profit of the cash flow generated by the business/property.

    I can tell you with absolute certainty, that while the owner's profit and salary are often paid in one check (if they are paid at all), in business valuation they are two, very different line items. The business' profitability after deducting the owner's salary (along with its sustainability) is really the only thing that the value of a given business is predicated upon.

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    703
    From here on until the discussion ends I'd like to assume we're just taking about someone in general and not Scar. Again this isn't directly targeted at anyone, just making discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by P220C
    From a business evaluation standpoint, this bold statement is incorrect. I do understand where you are coming from, though, and I see your point as it relates here.
    Perhaps this is the difference between our thoughts on the subject. This is not a business in my eyes even though what this person is doing fits definitions of a hobby and a business. This person has no licensed business, they don't pay sales tax, they don't pay (potential) state business taxes, they don't have a business loan, they don't generate p&l statements, they don't have any kind of payroll, they don't have any kind of property or workers comp insurance, etc, etc. I could be wrong about the sales tax if the person is an upstanding citizen.

    I just don't see how you could define it as a business. If a person creates parts in their personal spare time on the weekends for a little bit of income and fun then that's a hobby. Therefore all costs someone could assign to labor of their own...is still income.

    I have experience with both sides of the subject, unfortunately. I'm about to try and sell a light setup that I would like to produce in my spare time in small runs...for fun. I also sit across from bankers once a year going over our p&l statements while I ask for large business loans. There is a distinct difference between these two scenarios and they aren't comparable.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    163
    I'm just a little lost on the idea that a light would be cheaper in kit form. I think that it would take nearly as long to prepare/package the individual components as it would for a professional to do final assembly on a light. Add the cost/time of writing instructions, probably providing some support, the cost of sourcing small quantities of consumables to go in the kit(which would have to be over volume to ensure there was enough!) instead of buying in bulk, plus the increased risk of warranty issues. I think that there is without a doubt a substantial increase in cost if a true "kit" was to be produced.
    BUT - I dont sell anything I make/do bike related, its just for me and my friends. I do however run my own business and thats how I would look at the issue as a business. Many on this forum do this as a hobby and are happy to sell housings/etc to offset the cost of their own lights, a few well placed emails and you might find you can at least get a housing and a shopping list. Good luck!

    NB- None of this is in response to post above by kan3, that was posted while I was typing/procrastinating about work!

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    703
    Well lets take my scenario as an example and work off that.

    I have a 6 xpg setup and a h6flex driver. If I did a DIY kit then the person would need to:

    - Thermal epoxy 6 LED to the housing and let sit
    - Do 2 parallel runs of wires soldered to the LED routed to the driver board
    - Run wire into the unit and install the cable gland
    - Solder the input and switch wires to the flex driver
    - Solder the outputs to the LED
    - Test the unit
    - Install the reflectors and let sit
    - Install the gasket, acrylic and aluminum face plate on the front
    - Finish the end of the power/switch wire to whatever connection style they're after

    How much should I discount for something like that assuming the person doing it will do excellent work? Then how much should I charge if you assume...say 1/10 people will mess it up and need help? Personally, I would say no on a DIY kit even though I'm thinking of offering one.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation: alshead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    1,308
    1) This is awesome. I've lurked a little on these boards, but never posted, because it's, as I alluded to above, just not something I have time for. This is a lively conversation and touches on lots of topics.

    2) Scar rocks. I only brought up the Amoeba's because I'm familiar with them. I live not far from Scar and have demoed his lights and they are amazing. I'm also familiar with his pricing, and I'm not with other setups out there- I just know that lights, in general, are pretty darned expensive. I'm not saying they're not worth it, I'm just saying they're expensive.

    3) The labor (labour?) topic: I run a bike repair shop in my garage. I do it as a hobby. I have a real job that pays for the house and the heat in the garage. I was a wrench for 15+ years on and off and I just plain love working on bikes. It calms me and I'm intrigued by the puzzles. Plus, I'm helping out fellow cyclists. (And, I mean- they're bicycles- the coolest flippin' machines ever made!) I don't do it for the profit. I do have money coming in, but it also comes at a cost- time with my family, time on other house projects, time, time, time- and it's nothing to what I make at my "real" job. Similarly, Scar (or someone like Scar) loves doing this- it's a hobby, and I'm sure there have been times when it has felt more like a job, but he keeps doing it because it's fun, he has great pride in what he does (and should), and he helps out some fellow bikers in the process. That's what's important in this case. Ultimately, though, his labor is "worth" whatever price tag he has put on it and others [consumers] have deemed reasonable by buying it. If he gets a bunch of parts at wholesale or discounted prices because he orders higher volume, then his margin has increased and he now is seeing "profit" (or, maybe his labor is "worth" more, or other time spent contacting customers is demanding more time, etc, etc?).

    4. Regardless of this, I'm digging that this has brought up so much discussion. I am not proposing an either/ or (either sell complete lights or sell kits), and I'm not proposing someone make a big business out of it. All I'm throwing out there is that I'm guessing that there might be other lurkers out there like me, some who have the wherewithal to put it all together, (Kan3, I got excited reading your list of what I would have to do), but are looking for just a slightly easier (lazier?) option. Again, you might have to do SOME work, or maybe even a lot, to make the end-user portion not open to SO many mistakes- so, if the parts cost $100 and you can sell a light for $200, then what's it worth to do only part of the work?

    5) Maybe I'm totally wrong. Maybe I'm alone in this. Cool.

    In the end, I'll probably end up buying an Amoeba .

  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Ofroad'bent's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    957
    For what it's worth, Night Lightning sells a complete kit with a very thorough DVD of instructions for their lights.

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation: troutie-mtb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    3,052
    offroadbent
    posted those bitsnthe other day. so might be with you soon

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •