I thought it would be nice to do an assessment and give you some insights into how we came up with the pledge levels. The pledge levels have been based on a minimum order quantity (MOQ) of 250 units. Ordering PCBs and components is odd: there are fixed setup and teardown costs which don't change no matter how many PCBs you get made, and the components that are soldered to the PCBs can come in reels of 2,500 or trays of 100. Ordering a partial reel is so time-consuming and inconvenient it's just not worth it. All this basically means the smaller batch sizes are much more expensive per unit than larger batch sizes: ten times the cost is not uncommon. The problem is nobody would buy a $50 computer if it cost $500. That's where crowdfunding comes into its own.
A simple crowdfunding campaign would have a single device with a single PCB, so the accounting is pretty easy: get some quotes, work out the costs, set the minimum campaign funding goal, and go. Here, however, we have four completely separate devices available and you can mix and match what suits your needs. We have people talking on the forums for example about getting two separate Computer Cards, setting one up for work and the other for play, and being able to switch over when they want, which is fantastic, because it's exactly what was envisaged when the EOMA68 standard was first devised. They're really looking forward to the hand-held Games Console being developed by Manuel and his team, for example.
In setting the pledge levels, we basically had to do some educated guesses, and, based on the numbers so far after one week, it looks like we'll be okay. Taking the current ratios of pledges and assuming they are a guide to the totals when the campaign ends, we would have just over 500 Computer Cards, 140 Laptop Housings and 275 Micro-Desktop Housings. Though 140 Laptop Housings is a lot less than 250, the good news is that the PCMCIA socket (one of the critical components where we've negotiated a price based on a MOQ of 250 units) is shared between both the laptop and desktop housings. That leaves the battery ($8), 4.3in LCD+CTP ($8), and the main LVDS cable to the 15in screen ($12), which again we've negotiated MOQs of 250. That's about it: everything else we can get in smaller quantities. So.... adding those up, it's around $28 per laptop. A shortfall of around 100 units (140 instead of 250) would mean finding $2,800, and given that the Computer Cards could be cheaper than we expected because a run of 500 has significantly lower NREs (Non-Recurring Expenses), that $2,800 shouldn't be a problem.
I find it really fascinating that nobody has ever attempted anything like this before - not just the embedded modular computing aspect, not just the libre aspect with RYF Certification, but that literally no other crowdfunding campaign has ever attempted a modular multi-device launch before, either, and I'm very grateful to the team at Crowd Supply for taking this on and giving me the opportunity to be of service to you, our backers, in an ethical way. I have to say, it's kinda cool and slightly nerve-racking at the same time.
As always, please help us out by backing the campaign, telling others about it, and sending us feedback.