Initially when I was directed to this forum I was unaware that there were plans for sale as well as the freely shared details of home made tools. Obviously, the proceeds of plans sales compensate the forum owner/s for their efforts. As I have never been a buyer or seller of plans I have some questions which probably seem naive.
Firstly what do the buyers expect and how do most use the plans? Does the average buyer follow plans directly or does he use them purely as a guide? From my own experience making stuff and from what others have posted here, I see that many tools are built largely from what the constructors have available on their own shelves or scrap box. Therefore, although such tools work perfectly they may not be the best design for others if one was starting from a clean sheet of paper rather than a scrap box. After all everyone's scrap box is different. So does the average buyer of plans go out with a BOM and buy material as per the plans or does he usually adapt the plans to suit his own material availability, whether from his own scrap box or local sources? If he adapts the plans to suit what he has or can get easily does he really did detailed nicely drawn plans or is he just as well off with a general description and photos of a prior implementation of an idea.
My main reason for being on this forum is for the chance to pick up an idea which makes me say "Wow that's neat - why didn't I think of that?". The basic idea is all I need, once I have that I can run with it and make a close copy or a significantly different tool better suited to my needs and/or material supply. Detailed plans drawings would probably be more of a hindrance than a help. Seeing many of the posts by others I get the impression that I am not alone with that view. So who buys the plans?
Obviously plans sell so there are people who do and so there is clearly a need for them but I question whether detailed drawings are always the best or only way to deliver the information. For example if the plans are for something that will be CNC machined then without doubt CAD drawings are essential or maybe even G-code, whereas a welded tubular structure for a work bench might be better described in words and photos because each builder might want to change the work height or surface area and shape to suit available space. A software project is another case where drawings are simply not appropriate. Following that line of reasoning would suggest that there should be room in the plans for sale system which allows for both the detailed drawings as well as other methods of presenting a project. Those charged with the admin of the system could easily adjudicate on whether any given offering was up to the high standards required irrespective of how the information was given.
If someone posts a project in the general forum, is it considered legitimate to also offer a perhaps more detailed presentation in the plans for sale forum? It was never my original intention to profit from my posts here, but I would certainly have no problem with a small supplement to my tool buying budget.
toyvolvo - That's a valid point. So far, everything that everyone has submitted looks to be original and correctly attributed, or is information that can't be copyrighted (either public domain or de minimis quoting). I know that larger online marketplaces like eBay have had this problem, and, as we grow, it's definitely something to keep an eye on.
DanLins - we have no strict format, although we may develop one in the future. Yes, please send your Toe Jack drafts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
tonyfoale - I think that the average user purchases the plans broadly as "more details". He sees a nice tool build online, but does not have the ability to reproduce it from a few pics and a paragraph or two of explanation. I think that some buyers may strictly follow the plans, with a BOM, a step-by-step guide, and links to purchase parts from online sources. However, others may have the ability to use the plans as a rough aid. But yes, our most prolific members, with decades of experience in engineering/physics/manufacturing, have minimal use for plans; all they need is ideas.
Agreed that "plans" is a vague term, and means different things for different tools. Some of our plans are combinations of formal technical drawings, photographs, links to online purchase sources, text descriptions, reviews of specific suppliers, videos, etc. Yes, if someone posts a project, then it's fine to also post detailed plans for sale for that project. There's some concern among our members who don't want to "profit" from their ideas. However, I'd love to completely eliminate all external banner ads on this site, and replace them with Plans for Sale ads. I think that people in forums are happy to share some ideas and details, but if we want them to sit down and use hours of their professional time/experience/education to draft formal plans, then we should pay them, and that exchange is a good sign of a healthy forum economy.
If you've expressed interest in drafting plans in this thread, expect a contact. We have a good selection of professional draftspeople available, but I'd also like to have existing HMT members do the drafting.
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