Prototypes, DIY kits, and how to order
Orders for prototypes no longer accepted
Thanks for your interest in getting a board. As of Dec 7 2010, orders for Open USB FXS prototypes are no longer accepted. I have left the original text of the page for historical reasons, but with strikethrough fonts, to indicate that the contents are no longer valid. I can still consider offers for exchanging a board with other equipment, however prototype boards are no longer commercially available.
Yes, you can (have an Open USB FXS board)!
A number of Open USB FXS prototypes is readily available for purchase by interested readers. Prototypes come in two flavors: (a) ready-made, assembled-and-tested boards and (b) DIY kits. So, if you wish to have or build your own Open USB FXS dongle board for fun, education and experimentation, the answer is “yes, you can”! Can’t wait? Good, read on for the details! If, on the other hand, you are just an occasional passer-by, please read this to see why ordering a board is worth more than just the board itself.
OK, you got me. How much does it cost?
Ehm, now comes the hard part… Open USB FXS boasts being an “inexpensive FXS design”, but prototypes are not really that cheap. A ready-made board costs EUR 42.50 (plus P&P); and a DIY kit costs EUR 29,50 (plus P&P). There’s good reason for this price: read this for the details (or excuses, however you put it) on the pricing. On the other hand, if you think that you deserve a board for free, read this.
Where’s the ordering page?
There is no ordering page. You can order prototypes by sending mail to openusbfxsgmail.com. Indicate your name, address, the quantity requested and whether you are ordering (one or more) assembled prototype(s) or (one or more) DIY kit(s). Professionals and commercial entities in the EU should also include their VAT number. Within a few days, you will receive a reply mail with one or more PayPal invoices (there would be at least two alternatives for different P&P methods and costs: regular post mail and courier). You can choose which invoice to pay (don’t pay more than one of them!). Shortly after paying, you will receive a shipment notice with tracking information. Notice that invoices will come from a company called Medion7, who are handling the commercial and logistics of board ordering.
What is the P&P cost?
Anything from EUR 5,25 to ~EUR 40, depending on the shipment method. It will be included in the PayPal invoices that you will receive.
Will the board work on my equipment?
It should. But this depends also on a number of factors, such as e.g. the power supply of your PC/USB port, or the CPU horsepower of your PC or other equipment. As a rule of thumb, a ready-made, QC-passed board should work on any modern PC or laptop with a reasonably good power supply. What if it doesn’t? Read this.
Yes, why bother buying a prototype? After all, there’s plenty of other VoIP equipment out there. The answer is, well, it’s all about supporting this project. Buying a prototype board supports this project in three ways: first — and most importantly — support is about enlarging the project’s user community. A user community, however small, is the oxygen that every open-source project breathes. If readers like you experiment with the board, bugs will be discoverd, reported and fixed; new ideas will come up; features will be requested; and so on. (Unfortunately, open hardware is not exactly like open software; you cannot just download the dongle, you need to have physical access to it, so being a user means getting a dongle). Second, ordering a prototype means moral support: it’s nice for one to actually see people using what one has designed — in a way, it’s the ultimate proof of the design’s correctness. Third, but by no means least, ordering means material support: it allows me to compensate for my non-negligible investment in ordering the components for (and building) a small stock of prototypes.
I know they are; but, believe me, I could not do much better. Why is that? Because of the small quantity of prototypes (some tens) that I could afford to stock in advance. I have done no substantial cost optimization in choosing materials, and the small quantity of my prototypes stock did not justify setting up an automated production line in China or elsewhere where components may be cheaper and labor costs lower.
I am sorry; currently I cannot afford to give away prototype boards. If you think that you have an interesting proposal in exchange to getting a board, please let me know by mailing me at the above address. What is an example of an interesting proposal? E.g., you want to test Open USB FXS with XYZ equipment (PC, mini-PC, plug, mini analog PBX, etc.) and you have one spare piece of XYZ available: thus, you can afford sending over your spare XYZ in exchange for an Open USB FXS board for as long as you wish to run your tests. This is just an example; I am sure that people will come up with better ones.
There are no formal warranties. I cannot promise to replace a problematic board (even worse, a problematic DIY kit that you assembled) and I cannot issue refunds, because all this would cost too much time and money. I can however do my best to provide help in case you face a problem. The amount and the quality of information in this blog should get you an idea of the kind of support to expect. In other words, the contents of this blog should speak for themselves — and they are the best warranty that I can provide. For a start, you could read the debugging guide (if you do, don’t get scared off by the high number of potential bugs and issues, the guide is addressed mainly to DIY’ers).