Saturday 01 October 2016
Just over four years ago when we built our first Raspberry Pi ADC board (http://www.briandorey.com/post/Raspberry-Pi-I2C--Analog-to-Digital-Converter) to use with our solar data logger we never imagined that it would turn into a full time job designing, building and selling the Raspberry Pi expansion boards worldwide from https://www.abelectronics.co.uk/
The launch of our AB Electronics UK website in September 2012 wasn’t the first ecommerce business we had launched in addition to our regular website work but it was the first one which we sold internationally which gave us a lot of new challenges and issues which you can read more about in this blog post: http://www.briandorey.com/post/Starting-your-own-ecommerce-business
In the past year we have now stopped all new website project work with updates only being done for existing web clients and are spending nearly all of our time on the electrics side of the business.
The raspberry pi platform has grown with new models and version changes released every year which makes producing new products more challenging as we only know about the new revisions or any potential compatibility problems with our older products when the new Raspberry Pi model is on the market.
Some of the other expansion board manufacturers who are affiliated with the Raspberry Pi group seem to have pre-release versions as they have new compatible products released at the same time as the new Pi models but despite us approaching the Raspberry Pi foundation to see if we could be affiliated with them several years ago we were told that they didn’t want any other partners or a percentage of our sales profits to go towards the foundations work to be included with their preferred businesses and resellers.
We have also found several clones and very close copies of our Raspberry Pi boards now being produced both in China and now in the United Kingdom and Kickstarter projects which are almost identical copies of some of our boards. Some of these re now available to buy online but the boards are priced much higher than our original versions with some being over 40% higher priced!
We have found that the copied boards seem to lack any online support and software libraries which is an area we have worked hard to develop and support and have built the online forums and knowledge base sections on the shop and so we hope that people will buy the boards with the added online support over the other versions.
Sold the Land Rover Defender
Earlier this month we also sold our Land Rover Defender which we had purchased around six years ago to use with a 15m Clark pump up mast rig for high level photography but sadly the high level photography business didn’t take off and the mast and camera control kit had been in storage for the past five years.
We advertised the Land Rover on the Autotrader website which was very expensive and resulted in a lot of requests to swap it for another vehicle and several tyre kickers but it sold in the end via a local contact who wanted to replace their older 300TDI 90 defender.
We took the decision to sell the Land Rover Defender due to an ongoing knee problem which I have been experiencing for several years which has gotten much worse this year, and the driving position in the Defender was making it very painful to drive with the very upright driving style.
I took a two-month break from driving to see if it would help which restricted how far I could travel as I get very bad motion sickness and so I the last 4 months I haven’t been more than 30 miles from home but the break from driving didn’t help with the left knee pain problems.
We thought that the replacement car should be an automatic so I wouldn’t have the left knee issues and after a lot of research we decided on the Ford Focus hatchback model.
We ordered a new Ford Focus with a dual clutch semi-automatic gearbox at the start of August and we were told that it would be ready for us in 4 to 6 weeks but after 6 weeks it still hadn’t arrived and after checking with the local Ford dealership I was told that it wouldn’t be ready until the last week of October which was an extra two months delay !
The temporary car!
The Land Rover Defender had already been sold by the start of September (ready for the new car to arrive, but sadly delayed) and so as we needed a cheap form of transport for the time until the Focus arrives, I found a 2001 2l petrol Ford Mondeo estate on a local Facebook for sale group for only £350 which had over 6 months MOT left so it was ideal for a short term vehicle and with the huge boot space and low loading height it is perfect for taking our 12 year old Greyhound, 2 lurchers and whippet out for walks out of town. It was also a lot cheaper to buy this car than hire a car for the week our parents were on holiday in September as we needed a car to transport the dogs which we have been looking after.
The 2l petrol engine isn’t very good on fuel economy and is in a higher road fund license bracket but as it only has to last us until the end of October it will be ok for the short term.
Planned electronics projects
Over the winter we are planning to work on control circuits for Andrews N Gauge model railway of Swanage station. We are planning to make point motor control boards with a common control bus and also other control circuits for the railway layout.