USB-powered supply seeks funding via Kickstarter
Margery Conner - May 25, 2012
Taking the USB-as-power-source one step further from the previous post, an idea for a USB-based variable power supply recently appeared on the crowd-sourced start-up funding site, Kickstarter. I mention it here because the product idea is interesting, and it serves as a good intro to Kickstarter.
From the Kickstarter description of the VariPower project:
“Many times while traveling, I [the product designer] have had the need to debug my firmware on a circuit board. Unfortunately, I was not carrying a power supply. So in turn, I had to wait until I reached my lab before I could power my circuit board to test the new firmware. This new innovative project, the USB Based Variable Power Supply, will solve this issue effectively, affordably, and reliably. …VariPower-USB-500A is open source hardware. All hardware design files and firmware source code are released under the GPL v2 license.”
It’s about the size of a credit card, and its features will include:
- USB powered variable power supply
- Adjust voltage through potentiometer
- A small portable plastic case
- Power indicator: one green LED
- Input voltage: 5V (Up to 12V if the external USB AC/DC adapter is used.)
- Output voltage range: 1.2V to 4.8V
- Output current is up to 500mA (Up to 2A if the external USB AC/DC adapter is used)
- Short circuit protection
If you’re not familiar with how Kickstarter works: Young or very small companies put their project description on Kickstarter with requests for funding. Using this VariPower project as an example, the lowest pledge level of $10 gets you a Thank You email; a $20 pledge gets you a T-shirt, while a $30 pledge means you get an actual VariPower power supply, so we can assume that $30 is somewhere at the low end of the range of what the power supply will sell for. For this project, there are also pledge levels that go up to over $100. So far there are 111 backers who have pledged $4,315 towards the goal of $14,000. If the goal isn’t met by the target date, no funds are collected and the project doesn’t go forward.
People can post questions and suggestions on the project page. In the case of the VariPower project, the questions and suggestions were very good, and the project designers plan on incorporating many of them. So, not only is the funding of the project crowd-sourced, but so is the project’s scope if the project owner chooses to accept the suggestions.
Kickstarter makes its money by taking a 5% fee of the funds collected. Money pledged by donors is collected through Amazon Payments, which takes an additional 3-5%.