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What's the frequency Kenneth?

  

Please check out the FORUMS for wiring diagrams,

tutorials and help !!

 

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An honest Q&A by Zeb with Zeb (yes, I do spend a lot of time talking to myself)

 

zeb:      It's been 5 years now and how do you feel that the decision to turn this into a business has worked out for you?

 

Zeb:    There are different and more profitable paths that I could have taken.  5 years ago I was heavily involved in the hobby and community. It was a different time then as the whole concept of adding in real-world events to the virtual experience was new and it seemed the limits were endless.  As a group we developed new ideas and the horizon seemed to be far off in the distance.  The same can be said for the changes that occur now, but they are more software based.  I do believe that there is a break-over point with what is possible versus what is affordable and commercially viable in the hardware market.  

 

zeb:     But has it been profitable for you?

 

Zeb:     Define the word profitable.  Has it made me rich?  No.  The business has sustained itself and given me a net profit annually of around the $20,000 CAD.  If I had to rely on it for a living I would say that it has been a losing venture.  My landlord, insurance company, suppliers and utility companies would argue otherwise but the honest answer from me is a resounding no.  I started doing this as a way to give back to a commmunity that I derived pleasure from, unfortunately it has grown into a monster that eats my cash reserves and involves so much of a time investment that I no longer get to partake in the hobby aaspect of it..... it's why I have taken up needlepoint.

 

zeb:     So why continue?

 

Zeb:     I ask myself that daily.  I've given up all of my free time, my evenings, weekends and holidays to try to make this work. I feel that I owe it to my core base of customers to continue on and I admit, there's a part of me that hopes  that the biz will turn a corner at some point and turn a bigger profit.  There's also a part of me that chases unicorns so you can take that for what it's worth.  I'll continue to do this as long as it pays for itself.  If / when it gets to a  point that it is no longer viable, I'll pull the pin on it.  I think that everyone in a similar business gets to feel that way eventually.  It's exhausting, it's frustrating and it's what you do.  It always starts out as fun .....

 

zeb:    Is there any way that you can see of getting to that point where it is profitable?

 

Zeb:    Probably not.  I can do a massive price increase in the hopes that maybe it will make more money, but it will never get to the point that I can take on employees and offload the work. The trade off with price increases is that sales drop  so the best that you can hope for is more free time from it.   The whole of my business relies on a market share in a niche (or as I call it, a niche inside of a niche) where people are dumping $5000 - $10000 into. I'm always amazed at what people are willing to spend on hardware to make a simulation into a closer copy of the real thing.  Surprisingly, mass produced hardware has more value than that which is assembled by hand, but that's the world we live in.  

 

zeb:    That sounds a bit defeatist doesn't it?

 

Zeb:    Not really.  The reality of it is that it is the way that it is.  In 5 years I've spent more on helping others come out of the experience with what they envisioned than I've made in profit from it.  I know that there are a number of  people out there that think my prices are high but my answer to them is "who else is out there doing this ?".  The lack of others clearly indicates to me that no one else is foolish enough to spend this kind of money to ensure  that other people are getting the best that they can deliver.  You can get the parts from China and go in another direction, but they aren't spending 20hrs a week at a keyboard answering questions and making suggestions..... they're just taking the money and running with it.  Because of it they are making a profit... Who knows, maybe that's where I went wrong.

 There will be people that take offense to this but at this point, really, they are the ones that take the fun out of it for me.  Maybe this will help others understand why it may take a day or two to reply to emails.  I'm one guy, trying my hardest to make sure that my customers are getting the best that they paid for.

     

zeb:     Let's talk warranty

 

Zeb:     Sure, let's talk warranty. I warranty my products against defective parts and manufacturing and stand behind it 100%.  Nobody ever reads it but I have all of the info here ...

http://www.zebsboards.com/index.php/terms-of-service

Basically it usually boils down to DOA equipment received and manufacturing screw-ups (like me missing soldering points and or cold soldered joints at the time that I assemble them, all of which is completely possible as I'm defintely fallible.)  Everything is assembled by me personally, there are no minions or elves that come out at night to do the work for me so the issues that arise from the manufacturing end (good or bad) are totally on me and I never try to pass that off. 

Once a customer has the product, installs the product and has it operating for any period of time it's pretty much beyond my control. Other than the EZInstall kits, I didn't wire it and have no idea what is connected on the output stage so it's tough to offer warranty on damage caused by forces external to the boards.  The boards are a "dumb" product, meaning that they only put out what they are told to by outside software and circuitry.  There's nothing on them that initiates the process, they just do what they're told.  Boards with blown outputs, burnt traces, etc are pretty good examples of the product working properly but the issue being at the input to them ..... really they are doing their darndest to do what they are being told to but ultimately fail in a screaming mess of flaming electrons from overheating.  There's really nothing to warranty at that point because they were operating properly until they were overloaded. I don't have anything to do with DOF, the DOFConfig Tool or any of the emulation software in general so I don't warrant damage from software related issues.

If you bought a car, took it home and sat in the driveway with the gas pedal floored until the engine blew you wouldn't expect warranty for the damage, it did what it was told to do.   I do repair quite a bit of damage for customers for free, it usually only costs them the shipping charges and spend quite a bit of time counselling them on how they could possibly avoid a repeat of the issue, but ultimately I have no control over what people are connecting to the outputs, how they are driving the inputs, and how they have wired up or handled / protected the boards.  I do my best to ensure that people are happy with their purchases, but I can't be expected to pay out of my pocket for someone else's learning curve. 

 

 

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Robertms did a fantastic job wiring up his kit and toys using the pacled64 output kit....

 

View the embedded image gallery online at:
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Pics of the cabinet project for TIFF2016

 

View the embedded image gallery online at:
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Zeb has his own YouTube Channel !!

Watch for upcoming tutorial vids.

zb youtube

"I just wanted to write a quick review of your product.

It is fantastic. The instructions were very easy to follow and the quality is top notch. The tagline you use "It Just Works" couldn't be more true.

After wrestling around with a plunger kit using "IR sensing" I finally gave up on the tech and decided to use yours because it looked much more precise. And it is.

My only issue was that I had to remap all my keys as I went from my old plunger kit which was treated as a 16 button controller, and the majority of your controller does keyboard emulation.

It was no big deal, and after turning off sticky keys and all the other windows stuff that gets invoked when you hold down a shift key, I was good to go.

There are pros and cons about a controller only system. On the plus side, you don't have to worry about the kit interfering with the OS, like sticky keys. On the minus, however, the keyboard method provides the highest degree compatibility.

Of course all of that is forgotten once you experience the flawless operation of the plunger. It makes it all worth while." - opus33321

 

"The Zebsboards Button/Nudge Controller hands down gives faster flipper response." - KAPSIG1

 

 "On behalf of TIFF and TIFF Kids' digiPlaySpace, Zeb's Boards has simply been a joy to collaborate with and quickly became a valuable partner to our interactive exhibitionZeb's not only provided exceptional, world-class custom arcade cabinets on a demanding schedule, but they also guided us through every step of the design process, providing mentorship to our teams at the Festival as well as working directly with our international videogame artists to get every tiny detail of the interface and electronics aligned perfectly with the game experiences. Our artists and visitors were delighted with the results and we look forward to continuing to commission Zeb's Boards for custom arcade cabinets in years to come". – Nick Pagee, Curator, TIFF Kids digiPlaySpace

 

 
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Saturday, 17 February 2018 16:15

Zeb's tickled pink to announce that his products are soon to be available locally for sale in Europe and Australia!!

Check out the links below for more info and availability.

pintek

 

pinballshop.nl

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