January 2012

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The shipping “estimator” at Mouser.com is a little vague, so I thought I’d post the results of a recent order. In general, you’re not going to know the shipping cost or the weight of your order until after it’s shipped.

My recent order totaled $189.12 and had 33 line items, including all kids of components (resistors, capacitors, ICs, connectors, crystals, buttons, crimp terminals, etc), in quantities ranging from 2 to 250, primarily for assembling four Sanguinololu circuit boards (with some exceptions, plus some other stuff).

Selecting residential delivery via USPS to North Carolina, USA, the Mouser shipping estimator listed $6.95 for 1 pound and $9.60 for 2 pounds. I guess that the order wouldn’t weigh any more than 2 pounds. The actual invoiced shipping cost turned out to be $7.74.

Although the order was prepared the previous night, I didn’t remember to actually place it until just after 4:00 EST on January 25, 2012 — so I had just missed the same-day shipping cut-off time. The order shipped on January 26, and the credit charge (for the exact invoice amount) was posted on January 27.

The delivery tracking updates were as follows:

  • Out for Delivery, January 28, 2012, 9:55 am, CHAPEL HILL, NC 27514
  • Sorting Complete, January 28, 2012, 9:45 am, CHAPEL HILL, NC 27514
  • Arrival at Post Office, January 28, 2012, 5:08 am, CHAPEL HILL, NC 27514
  • Electronic Shipping Info Received, January 27, 2012
  • Depart USPS Sort Facility, January 27, 2012, FORT WORTH, TX 76161
  • Processed at USPS Origin Sort Facility, January 26, 2012, 8:18 pm, FORT WORTH, TX 76161
  • Accepted at USPS Origin Sort Facility, January 26, 2012, 7:03 pm, MANSFIELD, TX 76063
One final note: Recently I’ve noticed that there are a number of different ways people pronounce Mouser. Recently I’ve heard Mouse-er (rhymes with house-er), Moze-ure (rhymes with rose-ure), and Mau-zer (rhymes with cows-er). So how do you pronounce Mouser? It’s pronounced Mau-zer (rhymes with cows-er), but I still like to think of it as Mouse-er.
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As an active member of the #reprap community on IRC, I’ve started to realize that there are many others that share the common interest of getting 3D printing technology into schools, and so we’ve started a Google group to facilitate the sharing of ideas for this purpose. (Visit the Repraps for Education Google group.)

Our goal in particular is to start up a new project-based club at a local elementary school with the idea that it would research, source, build, tune, and then operate a 3D printer to use for school projects. We believe the earlier kids know what prototyping is and have prototyping tools at their disposal, the better—they are natural makers.

So we’ve started our own Prusa build at home with a $300 price target to see how things go. (You can see some details here: My $300 Prusa Mendel Build) We like the $300 price target because we think it’s reasonable to expect that each member in a club of six could raise $50 for a build. We have been working on building a club curriculum that would guide students and interested adult volunteers through the process of researching, sourcing, and building a machine. Obviously, once we’re up and running ourselves, we’ll have a better idea of how feasible it is, how the curriculum might be structured, and what concerns need to be addressed. So far I think the biggest concerns are safety and complexity.

If the project looks feasible, I’ll try to address some of the obvious safety concerns by designing an enclosure — hopefully one that the kids themselves can make.

If you have any thoughts or concerns on this idea, or if you have other ideas, please chime in!

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I’ve set out to build a Prusa Mendel for $300. So far I think I’m doing pretty well. The top part is what I’ve already picked up, and the bottom part is what I have yet to purchase — that’s where I still have some flexibility in cost. The first column is the percentage of total cost for that part. Shipping charges for a group of items from the same supplier are listed with the first item in that group. [Note: This chart has been updated many times as I build, and as because I'm already up and running with my reprap 3D printer, there's no longer anything left to purchase.]

Where I discovered mistakes, I’ve corrected them. For example, I actually ordered nylock #6 nuts instead of regular ones. In cases like these, I’ve just corrected the prices and pretended like I never incurred the cost of the wrong product.

There’s one important point I’d like to make out here: I was patient, I waited for good deals (and occasionally got exceptional ones), and I arranged some group buys for bulk discounts. Often if you agree to purchase larger quantities of a product, you can secure a discounted rate, and so that’s what I did where I could. You might not find all of the same deals I did, but you may get pretty close if you are patient and work with your suppliers.

I’ve added a table below that breaks out the electronics order, including what I had on hand, what I bought from ebay, and what I didn’t actually need. (Welcome Hack A Day readers!)

Finally, be sure to scroll to the right in the spreadsheet views for important notes or shortcuts on most line items.

Electronics

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