New policy at Hoppe’s Brain: I’m going to start actually billing for my time. :)

Real talk y’all. Hoppe’s Brain has been in business since 2016, yet I am constantly BROKE. I barely have enough money to keep parts in stock, and my partner has been paying more than their fair share of household expenses. I feel guilty when I spend money on fun things. I haven’t had a real vacation in 8 years. 🙁 It cannot go on like this. I am stressed out, working my ass off, and yet constantly struggling financially.

So what’s the problem? Profit margins on my products are good, and I’m working about 50-60 hours per week! It’s not because I’m not working hard!

I’ve realized it’s because I’m not getting paid for my time, doing tech support for customers, and teaching people electronics in the course of doing so.

I spend hours every day, answering tech support emails and taking phone calls, helping people troubleshoot their amplifiers for free. I really love helping people fix their stuff. It’s why I’m in business. But I can’t do it for free anymore.

Electronics is hard, amplifiers are complex, and there is so much that can go wrong with them. It takes years of training and practice to get proficient at fixing amplifiers. Most of my customers are hobbyists with real jobs, so they cannot be expected to be expert electronics technicians, and that’s great! It’s a fun hobby! But when people get stuck on their repairs, or the magic smoke escapes from their amplifier, and they’ve already spent lots of money with me already, I feel obligated to help them get it up and running. I really want them to succeed! Sometimes I worry that the customer’s problem might actually be something that’s my fault, or that maybe the board is bad, or maybe I got a bad part from a supplier… etc etc etc…

But you know what? It doesn’t even matter if it’s my fault, I still need to bill for my time. My products are superb, and I work super hard to make sure they are as flawless as humanly possible. But I am human, and I do make mistakes, and that risk is part of the price of doing business with me.

New policy: My products come with 30 minutes free tech support, and that includes writing emails, phone calls, and researching your issue. Time beyond 30 minutes is billed at $75/hr. If you anticipate needing help getting your amp running, I am happy to do that, but please consider my time as part of the price.

Thanks for reading, and for all the support I get, it’s much appreciated.

Chris

Parts shortages :(

Parts shortages are stressing me out! And threatening my business. :( I’m worried that the Central Semiconductor CMXSTB400 is about to go extinct. Mouser is the only supplier, with 371 in stock and none on order.

The only other stabistor that I’m aware of, is the Nexperia BAS17, a single stabistor diode in SOT23.

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So I’ve added SOT23 footprints to the bottoms of my BFA-565 boards, so the boards can accept all three kinds; the original through-hole stabistors, the CMXSTB400 or the BAS17. It works out pretty well, and some people may find these SOT23 packages easier to solder than the SOT26.

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Top-side accepts original through-hole stabistors, or SOT26 CMXSTB400.

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Also LT1012’s and OP97’s in DIP-8 are currently nowhere to be found, and I’m running out of stock.
So I’ve added dual DIP-8/SO08 footprints.

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I’m also starting to have trouble finding film and electrolytic capacitors, transistors… Even these little JST board connectors are getting hard to find! I had to order quantity 2000 from Utmel in China.

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These JST connectors are far from obsolete; they’re used in everything!

Anyways, I’m trying to buy things in bulk so I’ll have them in the future. More work-arounds are in my future though.