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March 14th, 2014:

Reflowster Kickstarter

In the month since my last update, we’ve been working hard, but it hasn’t been on the hardware. Instead, we’ve been gathering all of the media together in order to launch our Kickstarter campaign for our reflow controller that has been dubbed the Reflowster.

Anyone who has spent any time on Kickstarter or backed any projects probably knows that the video is probably the most important part. Naturally, we’ve spent a good amount of time filming, refining, and editing our video.

Before getting started on the filming, we spend some time writing an outline for our video which relied heavily on a detailed discussion of what the market for Reflowster is. Ultimately we decided to target three somewhat distinct groups.

The first group, and perhaps the most obvious, are people who are already familiar with reflow soldering and perhaps even solder their own boards using this technique. For this group, we knew we needed to present an angle that would convince them to switch from their existing solution to Reflowster.

The next group are hobbyists that are familiar with designing a custom PCB and are used to hand-soldering components to these boards. In this case, we decided to try to show this group the reflow soldering process and emphasize how easy and beneficial reflow soldering is compared to hand-soldering through-hole parts.

The last group are the Arduino developers. These guys have never soldered their own PCB before, but are familiar with the Arduino boards and are comfortable with the programming aspect. These users might have existing breadboard projects or have maybe soldered directly to the Arduino before. For this group, we aimed to show that ultimately PCB design is not as difficult as it might seem and that in order to get the most out of your personal projects, it may be time to graduate from a pre-made Arduino board into a custom designed PCB.

Once we had a complete outline, we wrote the script. The script follows the outline exactly, but fleshes out each section into a readable voice over and a list of media that will get displayed for each scene.

The media in particular was an important part of this process as it served as a checklist for us on our “film day” where we got together with as much Reflowster paraphernalia as possible and took photos and video to effectively showcase our product.

The next step was to refine the script and film/record it. We decided to do this in a few waves because at this point we didn’t even have a draft of the video to judge for content, length, and fluidity. We filmed ourselves on a couch with a Galaxy S4 rubber banded to a tripod. Certainly not the most professional of video setups, and we later refilmed the video and voice-overed the audio. That said, this first take was an invaluable tool for gauging the flow of the video.

Assembling the video was a bit of an exercise in frustration as it was my first time in years using iMovie. Definitely do not recommend the program unless you have no other options, which is unfortunately likely to be the case. However, once the movie was mostly assembled, it immediately became which parts worked well, which parts needed refining, and where additional footage could be inserted.

A few more days of recording, re-recording, voice-overing, and some finishing touches and the video was in a place that we felt was good enough to release.

At the same time as the video work was being done, we also started working on the text and image content of the Kickstarter page itself. We basically figured that the text should reiterate what was said in the video but should go into more detail for those backers who are interested in the details. One of the biggest things I noticed here is that the pictures and charts are extremely useful in breaking up the text and providing an easier to digest experience.

We revised the content internally a few times, and have now entered a “preview” mode where we’re sending our Kickstarter out to a few people to solicit feedback. We plan on working on this feedback over the next week and then submitting the Kickstarter for approval at which point we expect to wait approximately another week for the hardware project approval.

reflowsterkickstarter

Once we’re approved, we plan on launching in early April.

Through all of this we’ve also been refining our launch plans which now incorporate Twitter posts, a website, and out reach to friends, family, and key people involved with hobby electronics.

You can check out our website at http://www.reflowster.com or follow us on Twitter at @Reflowster