The Zifnu Rocket Kit #1 combines model making and electronics to create a fun-to-build kit that is designed to inspire and educate.
About this project
Introducing The Zifnu Rocket Kit #1
A fun-to-build kit that combines a laser-cut display model of a streamlined idealistic 20th century rocket ship with launchpad, and a microcontroller-controlled RGB LED Development Board with 21-key Infrared remote control, to create an illuminated model that is designed to inspire and educate. The fun just comes naturally.
The part sheets for the rocket and launchpad model are laser-cut from premium unfinished multi-ply cross-woven Carbonized Bamboo sheets. Once assembled, the rocket and launchpad are amazing display models on their own. Which is why we made the Bamboo model available by itself, and included three alternate build options for the adventurous.
While the part sheets you see above, and the tail fin you see below, have been finished with a simple wipe-on poly finish, your part sheets will ship unfinished. We did not want to dictate what finish would be on the model, we feel that you should be able to have whatever finish you prefer. Bamboo takes most finishes well, including stain, paint, linseed oil, and many other options.
The RGB LED Development Board brings the kit to a new level. Most development boards on the market really do not do anything out of the box, or have a purpose in mind, which makes it a bit hard for the beginner to know where to start. This is where the Zifnu Rocket Kit #1 stands out from the crowd.
The RGB LED Development Board has a purpose and has some base functionality to build upon. Right out of the box it can be used as an accent or night light that is capable of reproducing over 3000 unique colors (firmware upgradeable to over 16M colors). But that is just the beginning.
The RGB LED Development Board has been designed to be upgraded, augmented, and other wise hacked to suit your needs, wants, or desires. It’s use is not limited to just the illumination of the rocket & launchpad kit, you could easily use the board to illuminate your own design. With this in mind, we are also offering this board as a stand-alone option. What could you do with a 107mm full-color light module? we bet many things come to mind…
Using the included 21-key Infrared remote you can select between 6 monochromatic presets, 6 multi-color presets, or manually set a color option.
Open-source model and RGB LED Development Board.
You will be able to download the design files for the model, the schematic and PCB design files for the RGB LED Development Board, and the code (firmware). These files will be available to campaign supporters at the end of the successful campaign, and publicly once the fulfillment to campaign supporters is complete.
Besides being firm believers in open-source in general, we also want you to be able to modify, upgrade, or hack the Zifnu Rocket Kit #1 in any way you see fit. This includes the laser-cut components of the kit. You want bigger tail fins, go for it. You want to add holes or slots to the launchpad for additional hardware or electronics, awesome. We want to empower you to make any changes you like, and to make something truly unique.
Starting out with just a concept and a rough prototype, over the past year we have refined and improved this kit with every generation of prototype. We wanted to ensure you had the best experience possible when assembling and using the kit. Highly-detailed lenses for the LEDs, custom remote control, and premium Bamboo parts are just some of the things we think you will love about the kit.
To make upgrading the firmware and hardware easier, we have broken out the unused I/O, USB, and ICSP connections for the microcontroller to .100 headers. Interface possibilities include standard I/O, SPI/I2C (master/slave) communications, USB connectivity, analog signal input, and PWM/DAC output.
Note 1: firmware upgrades require a Microchip PIC compatible programmer of your choice and the associated drivers and software (not included in kit).
Note 2: The default firmware features a 15-minute auto-off timer to preserve battery life.
Alternate Build Options for Stand-Alone Model Kit
Ok,… so we are not actually ready to announce any tangible stretch goals at this time. After all, we just launched the campaign. Instead, we wanted to take a moment to talk about the minimum funding amount of $50k. It really is just the absolute minimum amount that we need to bring the kit to market by manufacturing a minimum of 1000 kits. At this quantity our profit margins are pretty slim. While creating this kit and running this campaign is an awesome experience by itself, we are hoping to do so much more with this kit.
We would love to be able to manufacture 2500-5000 kits or more. As the quantity we produce increases, our cost to manufacture each unit decreases. Standard Economies-of-Scale cost advantages in action. While this obviously increases our profit margin a bit, it means so much more than just that.
The additional revenue and savings of larger manufacturing runs means that we will be able to allocate more time and resources to the enhancement and support of this kit sooner rather than later. This may include the creation and offering of daughter boards that extend functionality, additional tutorials on our site on how to program, interface with, or hack the kit, or even upgrade kits. Btw,… We would love to hear your feedback about what you would like to see.
While we are not offering/promising anything today, there are a few things on the drawing board that we have been working on, or have been considering. One is a upgrade kit that would replace the on-board AA battery holder with a PCB that has a LiPo battery and charger circuit with micro USB for charging. In fact, we have been testing one of our prototypes with 3.7V LiPo here in the lab, and results have been quite good. Another one, that is just on the drawing board at this time, is the creation of a NodeMCU Lua breakout/daughter-board to interface with the kit. Those are just a couple quick examples of things we would love to pursue.
So, while we will be very happy to reach that $50k mark and make this kit a reality by producing 1,000 kits, we would absolutely love to shatter that initial goal and produce 2,500, or even 25,000 kits. This would allow us to dedicate our time to making this kit even more awesome than it is today!
About Zifnu Electronics LLC
Zifnu is focused on the creation of kits and modules for the Hobbyist & Maker community. Our goal is to offer fun-to-build kits that inspire, educate, and are just a bit different than what you’ll find elsewhere.
How You Can Help Us
We need your support so that we can begin the production of the Zifnu Rocket #1.
Manufacturing in small quantities is not cost effective, and in some instances not even possible due to the minimum order quantity restrictions of our China-based manufacturing, kitting, and fulfillment partners.
We need your help funding a large enough order to be able to bring this kit to market at a fair price.
In doing so, you will also be helping lay the groundwork for future kits and modules, some already in the prototyping stages. We have many awesome ideas we would love to share with the world; we need your support to help make that dream a reality.
Risks and challenges
Over the past year we have taken an evolutionary path in regards to the development of this kit. Refining and improving each generation of model and electronics. Ensuring success with the eventual production manufacturing and fulfillment was a top priority. With this in mind, we have taken the following steps to minimize risk:
1) Designed the kit with manufacturability in mind.
2) Identified and engaged our manufacturing partners early in the prototyping phase of the project to ensure availability and manufacturability of the individual components of this kit.
3) Ran small-quantity production test runs of the kit components to check for component quality and consistency.
While we have taken these steps to minimize or eliminate as many challenges and risks as we could up front, a few potential obstacles are on the radar.
1) One of our manufacturing partners could run into material/component supply chain issues, or be unable to fulfill an order for other reasons. In this case, we would engage one of our alternate suppliers for the component. This could result in a slight delay in getting the component, and potentially the overall fulfillment timeline.
2) FCC compliance testing and certification process delays. The electronic board used in the kit will need to go through the FCC Compliance testing process. If there are any issues that need to be resolved, or if the testing labs are busier than normal, there might be a slight delay in the fulfillment timeline.
3) Inclement weather, holidays, earthquake, random meteorite strike, other unknown events that could delay manufacturing of individual components or delivery of the completed kit.
4) Greater than expected demand for the kits may result in longer fulfillment time frame due to over-all quantity, component availability in large quantities, and general logistics. In this instance, orders would be fulfilled on first come first serve basis. In reality, there would have to be a massive demand for this to be an issue.