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Pricing and High Level BOM

A project log for DLT one - A Damn Linux Tablet!

Modular Open Source Hardware Tablet that is easy to hack and can run a standard Desktop Linux Distribution (or Android)

Prof. FartsparkleProf. Fartsparkle 09/30/2019 at 23:270 Comments

I haven't really shared any pricing details yet. For good reason of course, a lot of that really depends on quantity but I wanted to give you a ballpark of what is to be expected.

So lets break it down, starting with the heart of the tablet, the SoM.

This is the most flexible part of the pricing because you can get wide variety of SoMs. The one I'm currently focusing on for the first motherboard is the Nvidia Jetson Nano which has a somewhat odd pricing. If you buy yourself the devkit you get the SoM for 99$ or about 90€. If you buy the production module you are looking at 130-150$/120-138€. The cheapest price being qty. 1k.

So if we were to start out with kits instead of assembled Tablets it would be a lot better value to have customers buy themself a devkit and steal the module from there. Given that Nvidia updates the dev kits, the production modules are actually not pin compatible, the current dev kit is using an older beta pin out, I have a third party devkit in the post atm to work with the new production module for rev.3 of the motherboard.

Looking at other SoMs we can also get low budget i.MX8 SoMs with dual core CPUs and 2GB RAM for around 80$/73€ in QTY 10. They get considerably cheaper when buying in larger volume of 1k or 10k.

The motherboard is actually really cheap, because most of the more expensive parts are outsourced to their own module we can get the BOM for that down to maybe 24$/20€ produced when we are talking 100 pcs.

The modules will vary between 2-8€ produced. For a basic set of 2-4 modules we can calculate about 15€/17$.

20Wh Battery setup will come in at 10-15€, dual cell is probably cheaper.

Shipping with batteries is a can of worms though and I'm not experienced with it but from what I learned this can increase the shipping charges substantially so that is something that can potentially add to the total price. My favourite choice would be LiFePo4 though, maybe those are easier to ship because they don't spontaneously combust when they have a bad day, they cost a little bit more and have a lower energy density but I think the benefits outweigh that. Especially in a very sensitive context like a lab this could be a big benefit be it just for potential insurance reasons.

Battery charger and power board will probably come in around 8-12/9-13$€ if we go with a more luxury fast charging USB PD multi cell option.

The LCD is 55$/50€ plus 20$/18€ touchscreen with tempered glass.

Then finally the mechanical parts that make up the casing. Here is where it gets hard because those are depending the most on quantity.

If you were to make 10k you could get the case parts made for a total of 30€ or less. Looking at a more realistic 100 units for a first batch of kits we can calculate about 30€ for the threaded Aluminium mounting plate. The smaller plastic pieces would most likely be done in urethane casting. A mould costs about 250$ and can produce around 20-30 pcs. One mould can hold all of the small pieces.
We need about 15 spacers and 3-4 face plates for the initial feature set. So we can calculate with 4-5 urethane moulds for a set of 100. The cost per part without the mould cost will be around 40 cents so about 7.6$/7€ plus around 10$/9€ per set from the mould costs gets us to 17.6$/16€ for the small parts per tablet.
It might be more cost effective to switch to an aluminium mould already, I had quotes ranging from 1k$-2k$. They last for a few hundred parts.

The two larger pieces, the display frame and the backplate will likely be milled at this quantity. Milling those is quick and surprisingly cheap. One can calculate about 15€ each so another 35$/30€ for those pieces. Which gives us a total cost of around 80-100$/70-90€ for the mechanical parts at qty 100.

Add another 10$ for all the small parts like screws and shipping material.

With that we end up with a total BOM cost of about 380$/345€ for a variant that includes a production Jetson Nano Module. Subtract 40$ if you buy your own.

The old rule of thumb is to double your BOM cost to get your final pricing, although I think we can maybe settle for a lower price for a kit, if we exclude certain warranties a kit price around 500$ might be manageable but don't hold me to that, this is a really rough calculation based on previous experience and a rough overview of the current part costs. If this should become a business that wants to be profitable, the price will likely have to be quite a bit higher but like always this heavily depends on demand...

Speaking of business, if it goes down that road, there is of course the matter of competition. Which is something I'm actually not worried about, if others pick this up and make their own tablets based on the standard it would be incredible for business as this drives the needed eco system and actually makes it a thing. So competition in any case would be great. I only really worry about bad copy cats that don't care about the idea, though the risk for that is very low for now. As for the tablet market in general I don't think it would be any competition, this targets something completely different than the current tablet market.

Note: When I talk about a kit I mean that you assemble the mechanical parts yourself, the PCBs will be fully assembled in any case. Which makes sense for a modular tablet any ways. Not sure how high the demand for a fully assembled tablet would be. Maybe for a monolithic version in the future that is more targeted at software developers.

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