Wednesday, January 18, 2012

TwinklePic: Orion

A good friend of ours was celebrating her son's 1-year birthday over the weekend. I decided that what the young'in needed was his very own twinkling nightlight. As it happened, I have a box of spare parts left over from Brynna's nightlight, so the day before the party I spent some quality time with a soldering iron and assembled another one.

This go-round I opted for the constellation Orion. I even gave it a slight twist by using a red LED for Betelgeuse, the left shoulder, which is a large red supergiant star.

I even took the time to cut out recesses in the backing for the circuit board (which itself got mounted to the black acrylic with the LEDs) and for the battery pack. The device can also be run off USB power, like Brynna's is right now. But having battery power meant that I could show it off (just a little) at the party by flicking the switch and standing it like the picture frame it is.

One or two people at the party asked where she could get one. I have considered making them for sale, but the stark reality is that I probably couldn't sell them at a reasonable price ($25?) and make any money doing it. The trusty back-of-the-envelope tells me I'd need to scale up to at least 100 units for the economies of scale to approach breakeven on the parts cost (circuit board, LEDs, microcontroller, connectors, discretes, and soldering), but that doesn't even figure into the cost of my time to assemble each one, which at the moment is still considerable. If I were making a whole lot, I could really streamline things to reduce the labor. Even so, I don't think there's a large market for a $50 nightlight, even for one as cool as this.

Besides, there's something to be said for giving away a one-of-a-kind gift.

1 comment:

Mark Alvarez said...

One-of-a-kind gifts are great, but there are plenty of people out there (they're called well-off grandparents) who would pay $100 for this. It's very cool.