Notice | Devlog
Weekly updates on the service. I share the contents of my Kanban board, as well as the rationale behind some of the decisions I make. I find great joy in writing a new entry every week, reflecting on lessons learned and seeing how far I have come. My goal each week is to release one product, however small, and make one service improvement.
Beta Service - Release Roadmap
1.0 Upcoming Products
- Pre-schism weapon bays
- Modular star fort
- Simple Decals
2.0 Upcoming Products
- Heretic Faction
- M2~M6 class ships
- Heretic Weapon modules
Long Term Goals
- Experiment with non-fragile resin and increase ruggedness
- [ACHIEVED] drop a cruiser from waist height 3x onto a hard surface
- [ACHIEVED] Literally throw it down the stairs 3x
- Reduce order turnaround time from max 7 days to max 3 days.
- Start resin casting simple products to make it more affordable, e.g. flight stands
- Purchase vacuum degasser and pressure chamber
- Purchase silent (~40db) air-compressor that can be modified to vacuum as well
- Discover how clients are using scratch building components & improve them
- Develop flight stands with integrated toggle LEDs and replaceable batteries
- Develop an interactive ‘custom nameplate builder’ that would allow clients to download pre-supported STLs / order direct –> automate the process.
- Don’t be afraid to cull non-performing SKUs or design U-turns, they just become ‘limited editions’
- Have fun making and painting your own ships
Am I missing an opportunity?
Do you feel I’m going in the wrong direction?
Leave your anonymous feedback and tips.
Beta Service - March 7
- Pre-schism weapon bays
- Minor design revision of battleship & cleaned boole on peg hole because Chitubox can’t slice messy booles.
- Re-added Terms & Conditions checkbox on checkout page
- Changed message to: “Paypal currency conversion is terrible. You can save 2~3% with even a basic credit card.”
- Stopped the design partnership program – where I would share 20% of gross profit with designers & the first right to purchase the design after the first three months. After crunching some numbers, it meant I would have to pay out £3~5k (US$4~7k) per design as a lump sum.
- Is this fair value? It depends, but what I do know was that I would have spent 5~10x the going rate for 3D designers.
- Slow uptake, I got a few interested emails and they were only interested in 50% up-front, 50% on completion deals. While these type of contracts are more favourable to me, it doesn’t foster the type of partnership I’m looking for – one of invested, iterative development.
- As ships became increasingly modular, it became even more difficult to fractionalize their component value. What % of value does a single weapon module/statue contribute to the overall value of the Battleship? This would increase administrative costs.
- Designers would have revolted against decisions that would affect the cost of goods sold. One example would be my decision to change resins to increase durability that doubled production costs. You just have to observe Shapeways and how their designers revolt every time the algorithm changes.
- I will revisit the program in the future when I return to my real job and the rate of innovation declines.
- Purchased Bambi BB15V dental compressor (£372) – it will be used for resin casting and airbrushing
Beta Service - February 28
- Carrier Titan [M1 Class]
- Marder Prow: size S/M/L
- Prow flags
- Hollowed out 0.5g (out of total 4g) of the new [Expansion Bay] module.
- Smoothed surface of [Statue – Shield] and put a frame around the shield edge
- Start using postal collection service from Royal Mail.
- Pro: Increase order turnaround speed. I don’t have to stand in line at 8:00AM in the morning for the 2-hour window that the RM collection office is open for.
- Con: I will have to absorb the (£0.75 per package) collection fee.
- Increased post-processing from 2 -> 3 steps. The newly added step involves methylated spirits in a sealed container for 2 minutes at 40°C in the ultrasonic cleaner. It gives the models a purple tint. Residue removal increased from 90% –> 100%. Further testing required to see how it affects strength of parts.
- Battleship Parts can be shipped by large envelope
- Update prow product image
Beta Service - February 21
- Smoothed surface of Eagle Prow L
- Enlarged Beacon Angel by 20%
- Re-modeled flame of ‘Burning Book’ prow so that it is easier to paint.
- Set up Elegoo Saturn printer (£425). I can now produce Titan class ships
- Massive increase in ship strength & durability.
- Pro: strength without compromising detail, raises brand value.
- Con: expensive custom resin will double production cost. Additional step required in cleaning process to remove oily residue = increase in solvent cost.
- Validated using drop tests
- Renamed ‘Statues’ product to ‘Battleship Parts’
Beta Service - February 14
- Reduced height of Turret M so that it is compatible with GW lance bays
- Prints will now be processed using an ultrasonic cleaner (£75).
- Made mobile experience snappier. It accounts for 60% of all traffic.
- New cover photo for Home page and FB
- Added ‘Contact Us’ section on home page
- Set up email forwarding so that I can respond on mobile very quickly
- Add numbering to index image on Cruiser Parts. There are 19 SKUs in that product page and it is hard to find and select the ones you want.
- Added form submission on product page
Beta Service - February 07
- Banners & Flags will be removed from models
- This design issue has been polarizing for customers. An optional add-on just like the clip on weapon banners will be made available in the future.
- Effective immediately – previous model editions are now ‘out-of-print’.
- Reduced height of balancing holes because gaps between weaponry were showing.
- Added x2 ‘L Turrets’ to the package.
- The following products can now be shipped by Large Envelope and will save shipping costs:
- Light Cruiser
- Premium Weapons
- Large Fortress / Wedge / Eagle prows
Beta Service - January 31
- Scaled up the Light Carrier by 10% so its’ size is more in line with Cruisers
- Added more greeble details to the [Saint] Prow
- Added more details to the [Eagle] prow
- Added more details to the [Wedge] Prow
- Removed [Failed Prints] product category after someone called me disgusting. Efficiency was also up and I was not getting enough print failures to justify maintaining it.
- Reversed my decision on tracked deliveries only after witnessing people purchase £5 goods and pay £13 for shipping. Untracked Large Envelope shipping seems viable and can fit a lot of small scratchbuilder SKUs and costs only £4 to ship. My earlier decision on tracked deliveries was a knee-jerk reaction to Royal Mail experiencing difficulties from a COVID surge that has since subsided.
- Separated [Weapon Modules] into two products. Moved complex weapons that are tricky to print or require assembly to [Premium Weapon Modules]. I did this to provide price transparency. A lot of sellers use bait-and-switch methods to lure customers in with low pricing, but it only ends up sowing distrust.
- Removed “I have read the Terms & Conditions” checkbox on checkout because recent rulings show it is pointless additional step for customers. For it to have any legal power, a new window must pop-up showing the actual terms and conditions, through which the user must scroll through to accept. No-one has time for that, especially when the stakes are this low.
- Added the [Notice] section
Beta Service - January 24
- [Failed Prints] product added – primarily for scratchbuilders and as a potential loss-leader
- Cruiser Parts
- 12 new SKUs for scratchbuilders
- Weapon modules:
- Torpedo – forward
- Torpedo – broadside
- Clip on Banner x6
- Balance/stability improvements for all models
- [Cruiser Parts] Resized fire control towers to be thinner
- [Cruiser Parts] Engine x4 is now smaller and ‘snap-on’ modular
- [Weapon Modules] Added drainage channels
- Torpedo tubes removed from all prows (except escort)
- Free worldwide delivery now available
- Changed all shipping options to tracked after losing many packages.
- Redesigned ‘About Us’ page
- Added labels on grouped product images
- Designed & tested waterslide decal prototypes
- Added dimensions to images on [Cruiser Parts] components
- Not happy with final images but they will do for now
Beta Service - January 17
Product image on December 05
Product image on December 27
Product image on January 17
The above representative product [Imperial Battleship] has undergone several design revisions and render styles over the last month. The key emphasis has been on surviving the shipping process and design modularity.
- All product pictures updated with new renders
- Thumbnails reduced to 10kb PNGs
- Homogenized product photos in blue-grey resin colouring with profile shots.
- Further optimized mobile website load times
- Added banner option to weapon modules
- Ships are now fully modular & customizable.
- Statues will be replaceable, more options coming soon
- Raised up the midsection of Light Cruiser
- Added dimples to centre of weapon bays for easier module magnetization
Beta Service - January 10
Beta Service - December 27
- Render with blue background for Accessory SKUs, and black background for Ship SKUs for easier differentiation
- API Integration with Royal Mail – Click & Drop
- Continuous efforts to reduce print failure rate below 20%, identify and strengthen structural weak points.
Alpha Service - December 05
- Imperial Ships added
- Escort, Light Cruiser, Armed Freighter, Light Carrier, Cruiser, Battleship
- Website launch & performance improvements