Welcome to Downing’s Basement! Glad you made over and I hope that you enjoy your viewing experience as well as enjoy sharing in the ups and downs that is my console modding life. Since you’re here, you must have seen some form of my work across the web and I am greatly appreciative that you are looking into it a bit more!
Chances are though, if you’re here on this page, you’ve got some interest in getting your own portable/custom creation and probably want to know what the specifics are to get this done. With that said, (as with my initial “Case Making” page) in the interest keeping things consistent across the board, I’ve created this page and subsequent pages to guide you through the process, what you can expect to pay (and why) and a time frame on when the project could be expected to be completed.
Below are the general policy guidelines that explains how the whole process works, where the prices come from and what to do should any issues arise. However, these are only general guidelines because the nature of a “custom” product means that each project is going to be different from one to the next. So please see the most important topics regarding a custom project.
PRICING – The first thing I need my customers to understand is that building a portable system is a custom “one-off” kind of project and above all, is a novelty item and you will be the only one in the world to have one like it. It is not simply like the purchase of a mass-manufactured item you can get for $80 on eBay. It is a very time consuming effort and parts are expensive as there are no “bulk” quantity orders being made to leverage the costs of the materials. My time is also extremely limited as this is primarily a hobby still and my main job consumes 60 hours a week as it is. So if I’m going to dedicate the time, I have to make it worth it. As fair warning, most full blown portable projects will run anywhere between $1000 to $1500 average per project. I understand that may sound like a lot (which it is no small amount of money) but let’s break it down a bit so you can see how I justify the number.
- Time – This is where the majority of the costs come from that most people are not aware the extent it takes. But of course, this is totally dependent upon the kind of project. To put it into perspective, a simple N64p that I can turn around pretty quickly because of experience, can still take over 40 hours to complete. Now if it’s a new system, new casing and new procedure, you can easily double that time as the CAD work (casing, layout and test assembly) takes a long time to work out. Most projects on average take me 50 hours to complete start to finish. So in theory (using the highest end example) $1500/50 = $30/hr. Looks like an awesome rate, but we haven’t taken the costs of parts into account yet.
- Parts – Parts are the second biggest expense and again is subjective to the kind of project that’s in place. In keeping with the N64 examples, here is a sample parts list from the last N64p that I completed.
– 5″ 4:3 Screen & Driver Board – $90 (cheaper options in 16:9 are available for $35)
– Speakers & Audio Amp – $40
– Batteries, Protection Circuit & Charger – $68
– N64 & Controller – $75.00 to $150 depending on region (this assumes using RDC’s Custom Controller Board at $75/ea)
– Casing & Materials – $50 to $150 depending on finish quality.
– Paints, Fillers & Finishes – $25
– Misc Parts, Switches, Solder, Wire, Hardware – $45
– Custom PCBs – $32
Total Estimated Parts Average- $370 to $600
As one can see, the profit margin can potentially be eaten up very quickly with more expensive material. This is why I charge a $15 hourly rate and a base number of hours for these commissions. So for example, a base rate of 50hrs x $15 = $750 labor for the job. Add the $370 or $600 in parts you’re looking at $1020 to $1350 for the project, plus freight, taxes and fees if any. Again, it looks like a lot, but 50 hours of time (5 ten hour days if you will) is a lot when you consider it’s only free time. And to be all honest, $15/hr for this kind of work isn’t unreasonable as if I were to charge real Job Shop rates for custom work. We’d be in the $45-$50hr rate with that, but I’d never sell another portable again. hehe.
- New Updated Region Policy – For all projects that are not NTSC, I will require the buyer to source and ship the specified system of their region to me. This of course will show up as a zero cost on the bill to you since you have provided the hardware however shipping cannot be credited. I do this because in the example of the N64, getting a PAL system in the States usually requires importing which can drastically inflate the cost of the system. Sourcing on your own and shipping direct can cut a lot off those costs and makes the process a great deal easier for everyone.
- Shipping & Taxes – These will be in addition to agreed upon price for the unit and will depend on buyers location. The state of New Hampshire has no sales tax so that’s a nice benefit to doing business in this state, however any and all out of Country projects will be subject to import tax and duties. Now in the US, I ship all parcels insured for the full value the buyer paid for the project so if something happens in transit, a claim can be made and if need be, the buyer refunded in full. However, doing so with an out of US parcel inflates the tax value on the project which I learned the hard way. It cost nearly $700 to ship after shipping, taxes and fees to the UK. Needless to say, this was not ideal.
- New Updated Export Policy – For all shipments out of country, the buyer will bare full responsibly for any fright, taxes or tariffs. However, the use of freight forwarders have been useful in the past to negate the insane and restrictive regulations of common carriers like UPS or FedEx. Utilizing a service that has a hub in the US allows me to ship domestic and once the package has arrived to the forwarder, they take it from there. However, this is more like a membership that the receiver has to have and this is not a free service. But, it is still cheaper and more secure than common carrier and their restrictions on haz-mat material (like batteries) are far less. I would prefer all exports to go through this service and I can point potential clients in the right direction to find a forwarder that is local to the New England area.
DEPOSIT & PAYMENT – Generally the way I work these kinds of deals is to start with a 35% Deposit that is refundable up-to the point of purchase for the components for the project. This deposit is used to cover parts, start up costs, secure your position in line and is a good faith gesture that you are actually interested in the project. (I’ve been burnt before in the past buying parts and then the buyer backed out). After the parts have been purchased and the labor has begun, than that 35% is non-refundable regardless if the project is cancelled by the buyer.
After that, it depends on what we agree with for the final payment(s). I prefer not to take anything above the initial deposit until the project is complete, but for some clients it’s easier to make a few smaller payments than a full lump sum depending on the size of the project. But whichever way the buyer chooses, I will accommodate.
If for some reason I (the seller) am unable to complete to the project as agreed or I have to cancel, the buyer will receive a full refund for their deposit and any other funds that were received toward the project.
WARRANTY & REPAIR – It’s a point of personal pride for me to make sure that anything I build is to the quality expected for a custom product and not a POS that will fall apart after a few uses. These projects are expensive so I much rather do them right the first time and make sure nothing is going to be break or malfunction for a long time to come. However, there are instances where issues do arise where a wire will pop loose or something like that which is why I have a Repair and Warranty Policy that I offer on all my work.
30 Day Craftsmanship Warranty– First off, this is only valid for failures that would happen under “Normal Playing Conditions” and does not cover accidental damage or misuse of the system. Return shipping will also be the buyers responsibility, but shipping back to the buyer will be covered by the seller. Covered failures include unit DOA, Component Failure or Structural Integrity Failure.
Basically, if it’s something that failed due to some form of manufacture defect (both me or a manufactured component) and wasn’t caused by a spill or a rage fit (accident or misuse), the unit can be returned for repair, labor free. Each instance will be different though and after diagnosis a repair plan can be discussed. Most of the time the fix will be quick and easy, but in the rare event of a component failure, the buyer will be asked to cover half (1/2) the cost of the new component and freight. This is the fairest method to both parties and with neither party being at fault for the failure, splitting the difference is the best way to go.
After the 30 days, the warranty will expire and then will be on a “per situation” basis where repair costs for parts, shipping and labor will be quoted.
Accidental, Misuse or Out of Warranty Repair – This will be discussed on a “per situation” basis in which buyer will be responsible for all components, parts, labor and return shipping. Seller will cover freight back to buyer after repaired.
Out of Country Repairs – This is a bit of a different beast all together though for projects shipped outside the continental US. Normally because of the high initial cost of shipping, returning is often a challenge and cost prohibitive. So before the project is even taken on, like with the shipping, specific arrangements will have to be made and agreed upon in writing should any problems happen.
Final Ownership and Reselling – After the unit has been completed and shipped to the buyer, there will be no refunds or returns of the product. Because this is a made-to-order unit, the time put into it cannot be replaced. The buyer will be free to do whatever they wish with the finished unit, including re-selling of the product to another party.
If you understand and accept these terms, please continue to the Order Form