As a small, volunteer-run organization, one of Open Ephys' primary challenges is putting the hardware we’ve designed into the hands of everyone that wants to use it. A few intrepid souls have successfully built our tools from scratch, but most of our users prefer to have something that’s plug and play. To streamline the hardware manufacturing and distribution process, we’ve partnered with CircuitHub, a manufacturing startup, and the Champalimaud Institute in Lisbon. Over the past few months, they've assembled and shipped our acquisition boards, I/O boards, and electrode interface boards to dozens of labs around the world. Almost all of the components were sold before the manufacturing process was finished, so we're currently holding off on accepting orders for most items through our online store. The electrode interface boards, especially, were more popular than expected. We apologize to everyone who requested boards we haven’t delivered yet.
Moving forward, plans are already underway for CircuitHub and Champalimaud to produce additional hardware. As usual, the bottleneck is Omnetics connectors. The 12-pin connectors for the acquisition boards should arrive at the end of May, while the 36-pin connectors for the electrode interface boards are expected in 10 weeks. Announcements about product availability will be sent via our newsletter as soon as we have more precise shipping dates.
In the future, we'll try to keep some backup stock of all the items featured on our store, and to have product availability reflect our ability to ship right away. While pre-orders have been useful for gauging interest levels and financing production runs, our current goal is reducing lead times. We’d like to have the experience of ordering from Open Ephys be as simple as making purchases from any commercial retailer, and we realize that hasn’t always been the case. Now that we have a better sense of demand, we'll work with both CircuitHub and the Champalimaud Institute to keep the supply more consistent.
Panel Discussion on “Making in Science”
On May 12, Josh Siegle and Jon Newman took part in a panel discussion at MakerCon in San Francisco. Josh is the co-founder of Open Ephys, and Jon is the engineer behind the Cyclops LED driver and the NeuroRighter data acquisition system, as well as a key contributor to Open Ephys. MakerCon is a semi-annual meeting of entrepreneurs, engineers, and designers with an interest in growing communities around novel hardware platforms. Open Ephys has benefitted tremendously from the rise of tools for prototyping and manufacturing on a small scale, while the community of makers is always excited to learn how open-source hardware can facilitate scientific discoveries. Our session, titled "Making In Science," was organized by Steve Potter of Georgia Tech, an ardent advocate of the benefits of open-source tools in neuroscience. Other panelists included Conor Russomanno of Open BCI, Ariel Garten of InteraXon, Greg Gage of Backyard Brains, and Jamie Tyler of Thync. Both the panelists and the audience were highly enthusiastic about our progress and goals. There is huge potential for applying our tools for human EEG research, with only minor modifications.
Our first tax return
This month, Open Ephys filed its first tax return as a nonprofit corporation. Although we don’t have to pay income tax, we’re required to disclose our finances to the IRS, and to make our tax forms available upon request. In 2014, we coordinated the distribution of acquisition boards ourselves, earning $137,406 worth of revenue in the process. We spent $97,318 on manufacturing at Advanced Circuits, American Precision Prototyping, and Ponoko. The remaining funds covered the stipend of Aarón Cuevas López, our official support person. Having Aarón’s help has been essential for the growth of Open Ephys over the past year. Not only has he handled bug fixes and general support requests, but he’s also made key upgrades to the software, such as adding HDF5 recording capabilities and 64-channel headstage support. We’re happy to report that we just extended his contract for at least another year.