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A dozen cheap junk-box parts... Assembled, they go for $500.00

H

Herbert West

Jan 1, 1970
0
This is mainly a rant, but it's completely true.

Square Wave Generator (Adjustable pitch approx. 50-400Hz)
Skill level to construct: Beginner
Parts list:

C1, C2 3.3uf / 25v tantalum capacitor
C3 6.8uF / 25v electrolytic cap
Q1, Q2 MPS6534 PNP gen.purpose amplifier transistor
R1 680 Ohm 5% 1/8 watt carbon film
R2 220 Ohm 5% 1/8 watt carbon film
R3 18 K 5% 1/8 watt carbon film
R4 1.5 K 5% 1/8 watt carbon film
R5 5 K mini-potentiometer
R6 10 K mini-potentiometer
J1 1/8" mini phone jack
J2, J3 9v battery connector
T1 Mini audio matching transformer: HiZ C.T. - LoZ
2.5" x 4" green epoxy/fiberglass PC board

2.5" x 4" stamped aluminum case. Looks like an "Altoids"
candy mint tin box, just a little bit bigger.

Would you believe that If I built this and sold it, it would be worth
$400.00 - $500.00 ?!!? No kidding! I discovered this recently when
my Cooper-Rand "Artificial Larynx" died. I had to price a new one and
my insurance comany was balking at preauthorizing purchase of the unit
(I lost my larnyx to cancer several years ago and I'm forced to use
one of these devices to generate the basic vibrations for my speech).

It's a butt-ugly cheap looking piece of 60's design marketted by
Luminaud, Inc. It's got far fewer parts than a cheap 5-buck 60's
transistor radios, housed in a tin-can case I'd be embarrassed to let
a 10 year-old put his first electronic project in. And yes, I believe
that Altoids sells their "curiously strong mints" in a higher quality
case for $1.95 <grin> Sell it as a "Speech Prosthesis" however, and
these dozen common, cheap parts in a tin-can are worth a vastly
greater sum than their weight in precious metals.

I was quoted between $400.00 - $550.00 for a new unit. One dealer
offered to sell me a used one for $325.00. Two offered to repair my
faulty unit at fixed rates of $100.00 and $149.95 respectively.

Rather than maxing out my credit card, filling out the forms and
hoping that my HMO would reimburse me, I fixed mine for in 10 minutes
for less than a dime.

All I did was replace both transistors with a couple 2N3906 I had
lying around. Not quite the same spec, but since I paired them up,
they worked. I suppose I could even order all the parts to build a
new one one from Mouser or Jameco for less than $5.00 *retail*

Maybe I should use a slightly different design to get around patent
infringement and sell them myself for less than half what these crooks
are soaking the medical insurance companies and HMO's for. I'd still
be making a bundle. Naw... Wouldn't work. I don't have the money
up-front to bribe the FDA or whatever US federal agency that has to
"approve" them for medical use. Oh well..
</rant>
 
S

Spehro Pefhany

Jan 1, 1970
0
On Sun, 26 Oct 2003 12:41:13 GMT, the renowned Herbert West

<snip>

All of this kind of stuff is priced very, very high. Take a look at
the cost of stuff for the visually impaired sometime. It must be a
combination of the limited market and the government and insurance
company subsidies.

Best regards,
Spehro Pefhany
 
F

Frank Bemelman

Jan 1, 1970
0
Spehro Pefhany said:
On Sun, 26 Oct 2003 12:41:13 GMT, the renowned Herbert West

<snip>

All of this kind of stuff is priced very, very high. Take a look at
the cost of stuff for the visually impaired sometime. It must be a
combination of the limited market and the government and insurance
company subsidies.

No only when subsidies are given, my brother sells beepers which
I made for him:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=14014&item=2196589599

And believe it or not, it isn't even profitable, it just covers the
costs and a beer perhaps.
 
A

Anthony Fremont

Jan 1, 1970
0
Frank Bemelman said:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=14014&item=2196589599

And believe it or not, it isn't even profitable, it just covers the
costs and a beer perhaps.

Ouch Frank, that really seems expensive. I know it's low volume (10
units), but could you give us some kind of breakdown of the costs. I
would understand if you charged him $1000.00 to do the design and write
code for the chip (assuming it's some kind of micro) and it's costing
~$65.00/unit for the case, board, parts, and assembly. Or is there some
hidden "medical device" cost involved?

michael
 
W

Watson A.Name - Watt Sun

Jan 1, 1970
0
On Sun, 26 Oct 2003 12:41:13 GMT, the renowned Herbert West

<snip>

All of this kind of stuff is priced very, very high. Take a look at
the cost of stuff for the visually impaired sometime. It must be a
combination of the limited market and the government and insurance
company subsidies.

Probably nowhere near as bad as the stuff NASA buys.

There have been numerous expose's on TV about the abuses of the
medical industry. Right now there's a series on ABC about the U.S.
health care system. They said that the number of bean counters far
outnumber the Doctors, nurses, etc. I pass by St. Joseph Hospital
when I go to work. They've got several high rise buildings full of
support services. This 'organization' used to be run by a bunch of
nuns. Now it's a huge money machine.

Best regards,
Spehro Pefhany

--
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###Got a Question about ELECTRONICS? Check HERE First:###
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goes directly to the trash unless you add NOSPAM in the
Subject: line with other stuff. alondra101 <at> hotmail.com
Don't be ripped off by the big book dealers. Go to the URL
that will give you a choice and save you money(up to half).
http://www.everybookstore.com You'll be glad you did!
Just when you thought you had all this figured out, the gov't
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R

Richard Crowley

Jan 1, 1970
0
Anthony Fremont said:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=14014&item=2196589599

Ouch Frank, that really seems expensive. I know it's low volume (10
units), but could you give us some kind of breakdown of the costs. I
would understand if you charged him $1000.00 to do the design and write
code for the chip (assuming it's some kind of micro) and it's costing
~$65.00/unit for the case, board, parts, and assembly. Or is there some
hidden "medical device" cost involved?

Likely the commercial vendors of "medical equipment" are paying
BTW: What is a "Tamed Card" and who is "Tommy Wonder"?
Does this "beeper" do something more than just beep?
 
R

Richard Crowley

Jan 1, 1970
0
Isn't there some sort of transducer involved here?
Is the transducer a commercial product or custom made for
artifical-layrnx use? That may be a significant part of the cost.
 
J

John Todd

Jan 1, 1970
0
I was quoted between $400.00 - $550.00 for a new unit. One dealer
offered to sell me a used one for $325.00. Two offered to repair my
faulty unit at fixed rates of $100.00 and $149.95 respectively.

What kind of transducer do these things use? Is it included?
 
F

Frank Bemelman

Jan 1, 1970
0
Anthony Fremont said:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=14014&item=2196589599

Ouch Frank, that really seems expensive. I know it's low volume (10
units), but could you give us some kind of breakdown of the costs. I
would understand if you charged him $1000.00 to do the design and write
code for the chip (assuming it's some kind of micro) and it's costing
~$65.00/unit for the case, board, parts, and assembly. Or is there some
hidden "medical device" cost involved?

How long does it take to discuss what is wanted, to find a suitable
plastic case, a button, a battery clip, components, design an circuit
with auto-power off, to write a piece of software that does bi-bi-bi-beep
four times, to do a pcb layout that fits exactly, to have them produced,
to order the parts, and to assemble them, and to make a 2nd revision of
software to tune the speed of the series of beep ?
 
D

dB

Jan 1, 1970
0
Yes Herbert, it's an absolute disgrace.

Same thing with hearing aids.

I made one for my Mother for the cost of a few beers.
 
D

DarkMatter

Jan 1, 1970
0
What kind of transducer do these things use? Is it included?

That would likely be a piezoelectric wafer type transducer.
 
C

Charles Schuler

Jan 1, 1970
0
That's weird. Liability has an enormous impact on some items, but I don't
see how that would apply to an artificial larynx. Perhaps it's a small
market which invites little competition.

Other products, however, never reach the market because of liability
concerns. A close friend told me of a SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
warning system that had potential but was still-born due to the liability
issue. As he put it, if the system saved 99 infants but then failed to save
1, the company would likely be sued out of existance.

Another issue is FDA (or similar) approval. Another friend developed a
unique algorithm for predicting the onset of a heart attack for cardiac
patients but never did get to the market place. It can be a long and
arduous process which will bankrupt indviduals and small companies.

Many electronic designers and smaller companies shy away from certain
markets because of litigation and/or government approvals. Of course,
that's both a good thing and a bad thing. Just my thoughts.
 
G

Garrett Mace

Jan 1, 1970
0
Charles Schuler said:
That's weird. Liability has an enormous impact on some items, but I don't
see how that would apply to an artificial larynx. Perhaps it's a small
market which invites little competition.

Other products, however, never reach the market because of liability
concerns. A close friend told me of a SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
warning system that had potential but was still-born due to the liability
issue. As he put it, if the system saved 99 infants but then failed to save
1, the company would likely be sued out of existance.

Another issue is FDA (or similar) approval. Another friend developed a
unique algorithm for predicting the onset of a heart attack for cardiac
patients but never did get to the market place. It can be a long and
arduous process which will bankrupt indviduals and small companies.

Many electronic designers and smaller companies shy away from certain
markets because of litigation and/or government approvals. Of course,
that's both a good thing and a bad thing. Just my thoughts.


And that's a shame. Personally, if I were to design something that had the
potential to save lives, I would consider it my responsibility to make it
available. If it saved one life and failed to save another (both lives would
have been lost anyway), I would feel that was adequate compensation for any
lawsuit levied against me by gold-digging relatives.

But then, engineers are usually trying to help the world in some way. Not
like insurance and investment beancounters, who consider the life of someone
they don't know to be insignificant compared to a 3% bonus on their next
paycheck.

Who says they aren't liable? If a person died, and the relatives discovered
that a company was developing a device that could have prevented the death,
yet for financial reasons was forced to halt development...whose fault it is
now?
 
R

Robert Baer

Jan 1, 1970
0
Charles said:
That's weird. Liability has an enormous impact on some items, but I don't
see how that would apply to an artificial larynx. Perhaps it's a small
market which invites little competition.

Other products, however, never reach the market because of liability
concerns. A close friend told me of a SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
warning system that had potential but was still-born due to the liability
issue. As he put it, if the system saved 99 infants but then failed to save
1, the company would likely be sued out of existance.

Another issue is FDA (or similar) approval. Another friend developed a
unique algorithm for predicting the onset of a heart attack for cardiac
patients but never did get to the market place. It can be a long and
arduous process which will bankrupt indviduals and small companies.

Many electronic designers and smaller companies shy away from certain
markets because of litigation and/or government approvals. Of course,
that's both a good thing and a bad thing. Just my thoughts.

An answer to the liability problem is thus:
Company XYZ makes device under contract for company A1 which sells it
under its own brand name.
Company A1 is basically a sales arm and most of the profits go to
company XYZ as part of the pricing structure.
Big ass BA1 sues A1 due to failure of on in a million for gigabucks,
and A1 files bankruptcy and willingly folds.
Same people in A1 create A2 and run the same model until BA2 comes
along, etc & etc.
XYZ can front the money for A1, A2,,,,An forever due to holding most
of the profits, and BA1, BA2,,,BAn go cut fish on a few paltry thousand
that An is worth.
In short, set up a corporate structure that teaches these b*stards to
eat their own sh*.
Approval for minor crap as mentioned?
Forget it..advertise in selected national magazines and on the net -
direct sales....
 
T

Tom Del Rosso

Jan 1, 1970
0
In Watson A.Name - Watt Sun typed:
There have been numerous expose's on TV about the abuses of the
medical industry. Right now there's a series on ABC about the U.S.
health care system.

My friend's uncle had a heart attack Saturday, and triple bypass surgery
Sunday. He should be fine. In the same family there was another old
guy who had the same condition and treatment, but waited months for the
surgery. He was in England, and he died.

They said that the number of bean counters far
outnumber the Doctors, nurses, etc. I pass by St. Joseph Hospital
when I go to work. They've got several high rise buildings full of
support services. This 'organization' used to be run by a bunch of
nuns. Now it's a huge money machine.

Their largest inefficiency by far is avoiding lawsuits, but that problem
originates in a different industry.
 
T

Tim Auton

Jan 1, 1970
0
Tom Del Rosso said:
In Watson A.Name - Watt Sun typed:

My friend's uncle had a heart attack Saturday, and triple bypass surgery
Sunday. He should be fine. In the same family there was another old
guy who had the same condition and treatment, but waited months for the
surgery. He was in England, and he died.

Thank you for your survey of a statistically significant sample of
cardiac patients in the UK and US. I expect to see it published in The
Lancet in the near future. You didn't mention that you are a cardiac
surgeon and that you had access to their notes, but I think we can
take that as read.


Tim
 
R

Richard Crowley

Jan 1, 1970
0
Thank you for your survey of a statistically significant sample of
cardiac patients in the UK and US. I expect to see it published in The
Lancet in the near future. You didn't mention that you are a cardiac
surgeon and that you had access to their notes, but I think we can
take that as read.

Perhaps you should also survey the mecidal providers just
south of the Canadian border to see how much of their practice
consists of patients unwilling to be THAT "patient".
 
R

R. Steve Walz

Jan 1, 1970
0
Richard said:
...

Perhaps you should also survey the mecidal providers just
south of the Canadian border to see how much of their practice
consists of patients unwilling to be THAT "patient".
-------------
"THAT" patient is the one who got immediate surgery and was actually
only conscious for the last few days of his life, because he died
despite the "success" of the surgery! The efficacy of bypass surgery
is highly questionable.

-Steve
 
J

John Woodgate

Jan 1, 1970
0
I read in sci.electronics.design that R. Steve Walz <[email protected]>
"THAT" patient is the one who got immediate surgery and was actually
only conscious for the last few days of his life, because he died
despite the "success" of the surgery! The efficacy of bypass surgery is
highly questionable.

Sir Ranulf Fiennes is asking some tough questions about it at present.
Seven marathons in seven days, four months after a double bypass.
 
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