[ANSWERED] Multiple PC Licensing for FAA Certification

Other problems or issues not covered by other troubleshooting topics.
SimSamurai
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:19 pm

Postby SimSamurai » Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:05 am

Hi folks, this is officially my first forum post to Prepar3D. (so exciting!) I run a small but fairly well known and hopefully respected flight simulator cockpit business in San Diego CA. I sell sim cockpit blueprints, ready to assemble kits, and other unique items that have been very well received in the flight sim community the world over. (my very first blueprint sale was to Tasmania of all places) In my first three years of business I have also turned many real world pilots into much more knowledgeable "home sim" pilots and so my goals are to start using Prepar3D so that I can continue the journey of making my offerings better and more advanced with each new year for both the hobbyist and professional. In alignment with the ideals of Prepa3D I am also a real world commercial multi-engine pilot and I am very fortunate to have my little sim business to thank for that accomplishment.



Since Prepar3D began I have been a big (no..HUGE) supporter of it but while with much shame I have not used it yet. I have however steered many customers to this door over the past year and these recommendations probably total in several thousand from my last three years of business. Little do all ye know but it was I who also pushed and urged Lionheart Creations into trying P3D back in February and now we have one of his great aircraft in rev 1.4. When "MS Flop" was being released last winter I also wrote many long winded statements in several forums urging people and other developers to try Prepar3D. I actually went on a little personal crusade for a few months...wrote many letters to people in the industry, etc. My thoughts have always been that developers should show the public the way here rather than waiting to make P3D products only after they see the public making a large shift. Lead the charge I say! In additon to including a full page write up about Prepar3D in my book for FS9/FSX I have also urged many of my customers to use it. While some may have, I also think there are plenty of peoplein the sim community who are still waiting in the wings for some reason. I also think many people still don't know about it yet due to the lack of public marketing from P3D. Regardless, through my continued efforts in cockpit building I can only say that I will always continue to urge more and more people to make the big switch to P3D as this is obviously the only way forward for professional simulation. That said, it is finally time for me to put my own money where my mouth is and join the fold! I can't believe I haven't already but I've been terribly busy the pasy year with my business and completion of my commercial flight training.



To get down to business, I am currently working on my newest cockpit design which will incorporate five large touchscreen displays for instrumentation and a 3D projection system powered by at least two high end PCs and possibly a third or fourth complete with an IOS (Instructor Operating Station). The immediate goal is to get the basic system up and running and then fly it for a few months during which time it will be tested, refined, and completed as we sort out the additional details for an end goal of FAA certification. While this "procedural trainer" style of system may not be certifiable because of its own unique "generality of functionality" I do know of one other cockpit company who has in fact received a level of certification using touchscreens and X-Plane. Therefore the possibility is very tangible. I actually have two different cockpit shells in production right now, one being a 737 sized cockpit and the other a general aviation sized cockpit. Neither of these are currently offered on my website as they are essentially still in the "R & D" phase and the shells are being comepleted this month. Because they are both just "shells" I would be using the same computer stack to test both systems. My thoughts are that the smaller one will stand a much better chance at certification and inevitably it would see more use in a real training environment such as a flight school or aviation academy.



What I am getting at is A: if possible, I would like to start out by purchasing a single academic liscence for myself right now provided I can use that with two networked computers and then I would ask if I can apply that cost toward an upgrade to the pro licence at some future point when and if the GA simulator can be certified. If it can be certified only once the process is near completion would the pro liscence obviously be warranted. Once completed I would likely provide some paid flight instruction in it for s short time before selling the simulator outright as a tested and certified turn key system. (and then rinse and repeat, etc purchasing new licensing with each new system build) I also have several customers who have either already built or purchased a shell kit from me and they too are now asking me the same questions as they have expressed interest in certification. As of right now this includes a high school, a sim department at a major university as well a military training squadron. Please know that there are several people looking to me to lead this charge with Prepar3D and one of the main reasons is probably because I've been talking it up so much for the past year!



While I am pretty experienced in the set up and fabrication of these things, I am unfortunately wet behind the ears when it comes to many things including these next steps of licensing and certification. Fortunately I do feel capable to handle the FAA and FSDO as I have already done some pre familiarization with what needs to be provided but some of this, as you folks likely already know, is hinged on some basic provisions and cooperative willingness of LM and Prepar3D. I also say this because I first read the only other forum thread I could find on this subject (as of todays date) and unfortunately the final answers are still vague as how to proceed and what LM can or will provide in the way of certification paperwork to help ease the overall process.



This is the thread to which I am referring: http://www.prepar3d.com/forum-5/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=1052



Being that LM is touting Prepar3D to be the professional platform that FSX was not, a platform aimed for pro level training and certification, I for one am very ready to see this process through to the finish line and I would like to work with Lockheed Martin in whatever fashion necessary to make that happen. However, for me at least this does fall short of writing large checks as I am a very small grass roots business run by mainly myself and very few fellow aviators who all lend free hands. In short, I am truly hoping LM can help a little guy like me "score one for the team" as this will help me to grow my business and will certainly provide for shared promotional opportunity. In return I will help bring Prepar3D continued business through my certifications as well general ongoing product recommendations and also the many professional videos I have planned to showcase these new simulators I am in the process of building.



In closing, what I need to know right now is what do I need to do and or sign with you folks which will allow me to start testing a multiple PC platform under a single user license which will not be used in any sort of profit situation. I can afford the pro license if absolutely necessary, but again, until I really know all the whos, whats, and hows of how the FAA certification issue could iron out, it certainly doesn't seem warranted to cross that bridge until I fully know if the system could in fact be "deployed" and tendered for profit.





I look forward to working with you folks and thank you for leading the new horizon!



Kind regards,



Jeff.












FSMP
Posts: 678
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:38 am

Postby FSMP » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:58 pm



Quote:

Quote from SimSamurai on October 27, 2012, 06:05

Since Prepar3D began I have been a big (no..HUGE) supporter of it and while with much shame I have not used it yet I have however steered many customers to this door over the past year and these folks now total in several thousand from my last three years of business.




Surely your Customer (end user) pays for the Licenses -- so why is there any need to UPDATE licenses from Academic to Pro. In any case, surely the P3D software license cost is only a very SMALL proportion of the total cost of such complex, multi-screen systems ?



That being said, CONGRATULATIONS on running such a successful Flight Sim Cockpit Business.

It's reassuring to see that someone else claims to be so successful.






SimSamurai
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:19 pm

Postby SimSamurai » Sat Oct 27, 2012 11:13 pm

Geoff,



I'm not sure I understand your position. Because I have not sold any complete "turn key" simulators I do not know how the licensing of Prepar3D works. If I can build in the cost of licensure to be passed onto any customer for whom I build a system that is great news. I just want to know the terms, limits, costs, etc., so that I can do so when and if necessary. I would assume that if I was to build a complete platform for a customer I would then actually register the customer for themselves when performing the software installation. (or inform the customer to do so). Again, because I have not done this yet I obviously need to know if that is what LM / P3D will want or expect me to do as a cockpit builder. I'm not trying to become a software re-seller or anything like that unless it is a necessary part of the equation in certification. My primary question remains as far as how do I go about licensing a multiple PC system whether that is for two or four PCs attached to a single cockpit system. I do run a sim cockpit business after all and I just want to make sure I am doing everything by the book from the outset. FYI, I have yet to build any computers for anyone aside from my own e762.



In case I wasn't clear enough in my original post I just want to know what I need to do in order to have a personal license as a sole user for a multiple PC sim. Only after some time mid next year may it then be sold and or transferred to a customer. Again, this will depend on whether or not I can get the entire "system" (i.e. cockpit shell, PC's, software, yokes, rudders, radios, etc) FAA certified. With building a multiple PC simulator I will obviously need to install Prepar3D on all PC's to run the single simulator as a whole. If two PC's will not be able to manage my multi-monitor configurations then I will need to add a third PC to the system but hopefully not a fourth! SO,... do I need to buy an academic or pro license for each PC? Obviously at the professional level this would be extremely costly to do. The issue right now is not so much passing that cost onto a customer at some point, and that is fine, but rather if I have to face that myself..today..just in order to build and test my own sim platform then its probably not going to happen right now (as you will read later I've already invested too much in all this). As I stated in my original post, I would hope a single academic licence would suffice for all the PCs within a "single platform". Again, I will not be reselling this simulator UNLESS I can get it FAA certified. Obviously this will take many months of time and effort to iron out. If the end result is that it cannot be certified...well then it's just staying in my "home office" and will remain there for my personal academic training purposes.



So,...the big two questions...again...:



1 -- At the "pro level" is a separate licence required for EACH PC to be within a SINGLE sim system?



2 -- Likewise at the "academic level" is a separate licence required for each PC within a SINGLE sim system?



I need to know all this before I start putting things (i.e. the cockpit) together because I have my own budget department to consult (my wife! LOL) and if I start giving out bids for full turn key systems then I need to know the various total expected costs beforehand. If I was faced with coughing up $400 to $600 right now for a 3 PC system that might not even be FAA certifiable..well then I think I'll just stick with FS2004 and continue my search for a better job.



Lastly, my small success has mainly been due to my cockpit plans, my UGTAFS book, and miscellaneous sim training items. Collectively I have sold many of them. However, in addition to that, I've only sold ~25 shell kits in the last 2.5 years. (I launched SimSamurai in July 2009) I have a few on back order but in order to be able to hire some people and grow I really have to look at taking all this to a more professional level. The home market is extremely limited. To date I have not sold any turn key systems with all the trimmings as this obviously takes much more time, effort, labor and increased skill sets. More than that though, I have mostly not done so because aside from X-Plane (which I've never used) I didn't feel there was any sim software worthy of the effort of seeking FAA certification. FSX was / is certainly no candidate. Only now that Prepar3D exists does this finally seem to be a potential reality for me. While a complete turn key certified sim is not even something I offer yet I have had several serious requests. (..and hence why I am now here with all these questions..) I would at least like to put out a few before I hang up my hat in this business which is on the horizon for me as I'd rather be a real pilot than a sim builder. I've only stayed with it because I like wood and love to design things! I'm kind of a wild card carpenter / pilot who also likes computers, welders, and soldering irons. Regardless, the overall income from SimSamurai has actually been part time at best for double, often triple time work in blueprint design, website design, book and manual writing, marketing, endless emails,etc. Add to that full time construction of the kits themselves and also flight training this past year. Its also why finishing all my ratings has taken me the last 18 months. There have been many M-A-N-Y days I have been a keystroke away from pulling down the website entirely but have not done so because I know it would disappoint many people. All my efforts to date have far, far surpassed any dreams of financial glory (and I never actually had any) but fortunately with hard effort it has squeaked out just enough to help me finish my real word flight training which I completed this summer.



Unfortunately at the home market level "pro simulation" is a terribly small niche, one I've tried to fill in its entirety. I hope that it has helped many folks in a turbulent time where the sim world has had some major changes. I'd like to think I have lended a hand in keeping it moving forward. Fortunately in already being an advanced "simulist" from the outset I was very aware of that fact that at this level there are few who dare but I also knew I had some great things to share with the world and so I have. If success can therefore be measured not in financial terms but as personal reward in helping many people, then yes, I am very successful and I hope to continue on with it for as long as I can. (this basically means until I hit the new 1500 hr FAA mins for an airline so I guess I'll be stick and ruddering around for a few more years.);)

FSMP
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Postby FSMP » Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:14 am



Quote:

Quote from SimSamurai on October 27, 2012, 23:13

So,...the big two questions...again...:



1 -- At the "pro level" is a separate licence required for EACH PC to be within a SINGLE sim system?



2 -- Likewise at the "academic level" is a separate licence required for each PC within a SINGLE sim system?






.

.



My understanding is this --- (may be wrong -- if so, I am sure I will be corrected).



(1) Academic license would seem to be inappropriate, both for you as a developer, and for any commercial end user.



(2) For your development, you have two options.



(a) Buy developer's license ( Each license allows you to run on TWO computers) - about $10 every month

or

(b) Buy Commercial licenses (Each license allows you to run on ONE computer) -- one time cost, ( $200 ?)



Yes, you need to license each computer in your system. It's licensing per Computer, not per 'Multi-Computer' SYSTEM.






For example, 2 developer licenses (about $20 / month) will allow you to develop on a 4 PC system, for a cost of $240 a year. (you also get any updates for free during the time you are paying for those licenses)



If you buy commercial licenses for your development, then for a 4 computer system, you are talking about $800.

(1) Not sure what happens when 2.0 is released, I get the impression you will need to buy new Commercial licenses to get 2.0 ??????? )

(2) Not clear if 1.x will still be supported, or even available to purchase the license for, after 2.0 is released ??? Potential problem, if your system is Certified for 1.x, and later, you can only get 2.x ( need re-certification ? )



Whatever the cost of the P3D software License(s), I think those costs will be insignificant, compared with the cost in time and money, in getting your custom system CERTIFIED.



The $64,000 question is: "What does it take, in terms of time and cost, to get FAA certification of a Custom Simulator system", and what happens if after Certification, you want to, or need to, make any changes, or update the software ?


SimSamurai
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:19 pm

Postby SimSamurai » Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:31 am

So is that just your understanding of how the various licensing works or do you know this to be the final and only solutions? Can I just buy a one PC academic license now, and then another academic licence in a few months for a second PC and then cross the other bridges as far as a Developers license or multiple Commercial licences when and if the time comes that I need to do so (i.e; once I know if I can get FAA certified)?



Secondly, as I understand it, and from what I see on the main website, a Developers licence specifically implies that you are an add-on "software developer" and to me this means aircraft, scenery, and associated add-ons, etc. While I have a small sim business I'm not actually a "developer" per se nor am I commercial user at this time. All of my items are for the home training market. Therefore I feel the philosophy of "academic study" would best apply right now. While I do make money off the things I currently sell these are items such as blueprints, books, manuals, etc.,,not add-on software. Regardless, if the powers that be would deem me a "developer" or "commercial entity" then so be it but in my opinion I would not actually be able to profit off of any sort of "partnership" with Prepar3D until I sold (or at least contract for sale) a full turn key "system" with P3D as the core simulator software within a complete sim cockpit system. While I currently build empty sim cockpit shells and offer a few other items as part of my micro niche business, none of them are software, nor are any currently intended for use with Prepar3D. I actually still use and recommend FS2004..the golden gem that it is!



Third, for what I want to do with multiple PC's my usage of such a system (with either one or two PC's) will actually remain for personal academic use until I can figure out how to get the complete "system" certified. Depending on the next year it may not even happen as my primary goals actually lay inside of a real cockpit and not the sim. As much as I love my business,I am very, very ready to fly. I've laid out quite a huge sum to get where I am now! I'm ready to start seeing the return on investment. Lastly, as stated before, with what I am doing with touchscreens and minimal hardware I know my sim is going to be a big challenge to certify. My type of cockpit building philosophy falls more in line with what is commonly called a "procedural trainer". Its really great in my opinion, but because it is so aircraft flexible and therefore "general", I feel the FAA may not know how to categorize it. I guess we'll see in the coming year.



That said, I would much rather prefer a one time fee of $200 which allows me to use up to 4 PCs in a commercial / certified / profit-able environment or even $50 per PC in a for non-profit environment until at which time my completed system is certified and ready for a commercial market. To shell out $200 per PC for a licence is just not something I could do right now unless the complete system was already certified (or close to being so) and or if I knew this cost was soon going to be reimbursed by the end user / customer. Again, which comes first..the chicken or the egg? I have no plans to add a second PC for 2 or 3 months until after this new cockpit shell is completed. I need to fabricate things like new dual yokes, pedals, etc so I don't feel I need to pay a commercial fee right now, nor any monthly developer fee, and certainly not both at the same time either.



So, providing your assessment is true, the one remaining big question I would have is: Can I run on an academic license (or two) for awhile until I get things sorted out with certification? If I purchase two academic licences a few months apart can I then network the two PCs with these two academic licenses together for a single comprehensive system as a single simulator? I would then pay for the Developers license or multiple Commercial licenses when and if the time comes that it is warranted to do so. Apparently that's what I'm looking to do for right now as I need to first build the sim, then fully test the sim with all hardware, add more computers if necessary, and then lastly proceed with the certification process. Therefore during this entire time the sim will only be for my personal / educational use.



While I do hope to see my new sim certified at some level this next year there are certainly no guarantees of that happening and I'm not terribly confident about it either. I'll put it this way; I really love the philosophy of what I am doing and I stand behind the vision of it 100%. If I had to succumb to adding in a ton of tactile knobs and switches to certify the sim as a single type trainer while at the same time detracting from my vision of a certified "mega-touchscreen" simulator then I just won't take it any further. I probably could try to find a balance but I probably won't. I don't have the time, energy and resources right now to go down that road but more importantly I'm trying to hold true to the ideals of pushing the leading edge of the future just as I have been for several years now. If the FAA can't see that (and embrace it) then I will have to wait until they do. I'd like to imagine it would happen eventually. The fact that the latest Garmin radios are touchscreen gives me hope. Its obviously the way of the future!



So..final, final question: Does anyone know who the "buck stops here" person is within Prepar3D because that is really who I assume I need to talk to about all this. I need to speak with the almighty OZ behind the curtain. I'm really ready to download this and get going!



Thanks for the help Geoff.



Jeff. (PS - good thing you spell your name differently,..this thread could get confusing.)






WBard
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Postby WBard » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:57 pm

Hi Jeff,



I just got the chance to read your posts, so please let me know if I did not answer everything you need.



You cannot run a single license on more than one computer. The license does not permit that. You can either buy more than one license, one per machine, or buy a developers license which allows installation on two machines. We also do not do any 'upgrading' or anything similar to that. Each license is separate.



I hope I answered all your questions, thanks again for your interest in Prepar3D, have a great day,

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jimcooper1
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Postby jimcooper1 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:15 pm

Jeff,



As Geoff (FSMP) pointed out in his second post you've got 2 options, but from my understanding of what you've posted developers licenses are the way to go. You can start with a single monthly subscription which will immediately enable you to experiment with Multi-Channel and Shared Cockpit scenarios. As your system matures you can add furthter developers licences in the months that you require them (adding 2 more PCs each time). If LM issue Version updates your developers licence will stay in sync with the latest iteration. Once you have a system that's ready to deploy (and sell) You can freeze your developement and cancel your Dev licences. When selling your hardware (and/or blueprints) you can issue guidance on how to setup with P3D and leave the customers to obtain their own licences (Pro or Academic).



Jim

FSMP
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Postby FSMP » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:17 pm

Jeff



Out of interest, have you started the Certification process, and mapped out what is required, to get Certification. both in terms of time and cost.?



As far as the almighty "OZ" is concerned, that should be obvious if you look at the P3D website.



http://www.prepar3d.com/news/2011/09/3809/



You may however have to follow the Yellow Brick Road, get past the Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, and avoid the Wicked Witch before you stand any chance of an audience with the Grand Wizard !!




SimSamurai
Posts: 12
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Postby SimSamurai » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:31 am

Geoff, I took a look at the news link you posted from Rev 1.2 but unfortunately the Release Notes link at the bottom of that page gave a 404 Not Found Error. That OZ, he's so elusive!



Anyway gentlemen, thank you for all of the information so far. I have some final BIG questions in this post and I will apologize now for being so long winded! First, to answer your question Geoff, no, I have not started the cert. process yet in any manner. I was going to start looking into it Dec 1. I'm completely buried in sawdust right now trying to get two orders out in the next three weeks. Between that and dealing with weekly book and print orders I barely have time to eat. I often have dinner out in my shop and I'm not joking!



Given all this info and after weighing the options I think the smartest thing for now and for the next 4 to 6 months is just start out with a single Academic licence for my current aging PC. I'd like to just get my feet wet first and see what Prepar3D is all about and learn the basics of what is different. As I said before, I've been a die hard FS9 guy and while I did a vast amount of research on FSX and published that data, the truth be told I barely used it, mainly because it just couldn't do what I wanted it to. After it kept crashing and having a major meltdown eash year I just gave up. (and so here I am!!!) So I think just starting out with one academic license on my personal rig will allow me to test the P3D waters and see if its that much better. If I really love it then I can obviously upgrade to additional licenses or more specifically the developers licensing in a few months. Regardless, I think it would be wise of me to just have one personal license that I maintain apart from the cockpit certification project.



I'm actually building four cockpit shells right now, (two of each model) Two are currently sold and two I am keeping. One is going to replace my own current XS-1 shell (its just a larger version of what I have right now) and the other shell is a Cessna style and is the one I want to thouroughly outfit and seek certification with. Once these first two shells get out the door in the next 30 days I then have to paint and assemble the second two which will easily take me into December and then after this I will be working on dual yokes and pedals for a few months. (that is until I take care of some other business too.)



After these first two are shipped out I will be finishing up CFI school come mid January which means I will be flying alot starting in December until sometime mid to late February. I've been out of the real seat for ~ 2 months now so after I get the second set of shells painted I plan on taking six weeks to regroup and refocus on my real world flying. So, in being really realistic with my time here (which I'm always..ALWAYS..underbudgeting!) I don't even think I would be building another PC until March or April. So, again, for now I think what makes the most sense is to just keep my own e762 system "as is" for my personal home machine and then build out two smaller newer second gen i7 PCs to network and use for the CS-2 Pegasus project. This way I can maintain a single "non business" license for personal use and then add on a developers license for the 2 PCs when I build them out and that will not happen untill the shell itself is complete and at least outfitted with the dual yokes and dual pedals.



My current e762 machine is now over two years old anyway and I certainly wouldn't want to sell someone my used hardware. It makes much more sense to build two new machines for the CS-2 cockpit, certify it with those, fly it for a month to work out the bugs and shoot some promo videos with and then immediately put it up for sale sometime next summer. If at some point I want to add a second machine to my own personal set-up I assume I could then just add another academic license or maybe at that point I would add another dev license set for me if I had the inkling to try and certify the big sim. My thoughts are that if I can get the first one certified I would obviously be considering the possibility of the bigger one at that point.



So, let me ask you guys some very specific final questions here;



SCENARIO A -- Lets say I build two PCs next spring for the CS-2 cockpit under a single developer's license and then I sell the sim to a school or flight club that intends to use it for paid sim training for new pilots and for people to maintain IFR currency. Do I then transfer the dev. license to them somehow or must I cancel mine with LM and then they, the custoner, buys a completely new dev licence or does this situation now require that they purchase two PROFESSIONAL licenses that they would pay for themselves (or could I just build this into the cost of the sale and facilitate the install for them under their new licensing prior to delivery?)



SCENARIO B -- Similarly, let's say I build two PCs next spring for the CS-2 cockpit under a single developer's license and then I sell the sim to a High School or some other "non profit" organization that intends to use it for free educational training for new pilots and for people to maintain IFR currency. Do I then transfer the dev. license to them or must I cancel mine and then they buy a dev licence or does this now require two ACADEMIC licenses that they would pay for (or could I just build this into the cost of the sale and facilitate the install for them under their new licensing prior to delivery?)



Final Question --- Obviously alot of what I am concerned about is if there are no "upgrades" or "license transfers" in place then how does the end user (i.e. my customers) gain licensing in their own name without having to reinstall the software themselves or have me do so post purchase? Specifically I would like to set these up, give them the keys, tags, and title, (and a great DIY / fly-I-Y user manual) and then say.. "hey, you're now on your own and the sale is final!" In other words, I'm not sure I would want to ever maintain numerous developers licenses for my customers, then bill them $10 each month so that I can then recoup costs and essentially pay that back to Lockheed for them. In short, once a complete cockpit is sold, I'm not so sure I'd want to offer a maintenance or warranty plan and be a middle man so to speak between the end customer and Lockheed too or perhaps is that what Lockheed would want so that a cockpit builder like myself maintains some ongoing liability to the end user in terms of software? (Thus if problems arise with the sim they are calling me for help and not Lockheed). I assume I would get all these types of calls anyway since I built the cockpit but I hope you can see why I'm asking this.



To be more specific, I don't want to build up a cockpit system, sell it to a customer, and then tell them they have to immediately reinstall everything and re-tweak, re-tune, etc just for the main purpose of re-registration under their own name. That would be a hard sell upfront and it would place a lot more work on me because I'm sure I'd obviously be the one re-installing everything right before delivery. I obviously can't guess who my customers will be BEFORE a system is completed so either I have to transfer licensing to them OR they somehow have to get their own license and I'm hoping that would not require any software re-installation. As things are right now, you do have to reinstall Prepar3D everytime a new revision comes out..correct? (obviously you probably would not HAVE to but who wouldn't WANT to) Knowing this makes me want to wait for the last version before I'd even sell a complete system. My point here is that license-wise on a business level such as my own, it would be so much easier if I could call the great OZ and say "Hi, I'd now like to end my dev. license for this cockpit system and transfer or enact a new registration ID for my end-user/ "customer X". As we all know, customers just want the keys. They don't want to be hassled with all the details and particulars. They just want to get in, turn the key, and drive. We all want this.



I can see how offering a "maintenance / warranty plan" is not a bad idea as I could charge a small monthly fee over the cost of the monthly dev. fee for added things such as general PC upgrades and repairs, 24-hour tech support, etc, but again I'm certainly not big enough of a business to do that yet and in all honesty I really wouldn't want to do it regardless. I'm just not interested in selling sims with an extended warranty or maintenance package (at least not passed one year). Its too much of a hassle with too much liability. (read; PC hardware and software fails all the time for reasons well beyond my control.)



As a recent example, and great Halloween horror story, my 3rd video card suddenly dropped flat dead last month and I had no idea what the problem was. I first tried updating the video drivers, mother board drivers etc, checked power cables, and then lastly swapped slots. The card turned out to be perfectly fine but the last two PCI-e slots on the motherboard were as dead as well....DEAD! I'd never seen this so I just thought that the motherboard had given up the ghost as they sometimes do. Two weeks later I started window shopping on NewEgg for a new motherboard and somehow saw Nvidia had yet again released yet another driver set! I tried it and bam..all was normal again!!! My sim was completely offline for a solid month because of simple drivers! My immediate thoughts were that if a cockpit customer had the same problem I could suddendly be faced with trying to diagnose an issue totally beyond my control in a computer that I am thousands of miles away from....YIKES! ..So, no maintenance...no warranty...fly at your own risk I say! Just read the manual and it will all work out! LOL!)



And on that final note thanks again for all the help guys! These last few scenarios should certainly help get us to the end of the yellow brick road.



Jeff.

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jimcooper1
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Postby jimcooper1 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:00 am

As we're doing a Wizard of Oz analogy here, I think you'll find that the Grand Wizard doesn't have the answers, just like in the film. The important part is the journey where you discover yourself and your own limitations. You then don't need the Wizard because by making the journey you know what you can do (and what you can't) The Wizard of Oz analogy is also very apt because this product is very big and it really requires teamwork to develop, deliver and maintain a successful product, just like in the film the 4 characters supported and complemented each other with different attributes. You will probably need to decided what you as an individual are going to concentrate on and who is going to do your hardware, software, system integration, installation, maitenance and support. As an individual it is possible to do all of those things, but how many systems can you simultaneously cope with?

If your forte is the hardware, sell the hardware by proving it works successfully with P3D as you plan to do and then create Videos and on-line brochures. Potential customers can then take on the software liability. If you want to offer turn-key solutions in any volume I think you'll need to develop a team, not necessarily of employees but of associates.



Good Luck



jim

FSMP
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Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:38 am

Postby FSMP » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:38 am

To take the Wizard of Oz analogy even further, remember, it was all really just a dream.

At some time you have to "click your heals", and say "There is no place like Home", wake up. and face reality.

SimSamurai
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Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2012 9:19 pm

Postby SimSamurai » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:14 am

Unfortunately the reality, Geoff, is for what I currently charge there is no extra cash flow for labor, i.e. I am the labor. If I paid anyone else to do what I do then I wouldn't have a job right now. It would however at least allow me to focus on other parts of the business I've wanted to put more effort into, as well other things I've been neglecting such as my wife and 8 month old son. Ive been trying to find people to take over shell building for me or at least take up some of the slack and that actually does occur currently in the way of getting as many parts pre-cut via CnC but even then there is still several weeks of work to get a shell out the door. I'm definitely not complaining as the orders have been consistent for the past two years which is great but I know I have certainly arrived at the precipice of finding better ways to maintain what I have going now and or finding a way to grow and move forward from here.



I don't know what you guys do for a living, or if you are real world pilots, or engineers, or businessmen, or perhaps all or neither, but I feel that trying to find the right people be it associates or employees will be a huge challenge mainly because this is such a specialized thing that involves alot of different skills. I've molled it over many times and to really take this where I'd like to go would take at least 8-10 full time people who are as equally skilled as I am (and likely moreso) as well some siginificant investment to get the ball rolling. The other big issue, and perhaps the elephant in the room, is in stepping up to the next tier of offerings in the $20k to $50k range. Here you are suddendly competeing with much bigger dogs in what I see to be a widely flooded market. Redbird, as an example, are already doing what appears to be an outstanding job. I rather enjoy just being a small "boutique sim business" if you will who caters to an elite sector of the home market, of whom many have actually turned out to be real world pilots who want a very realistic training sim and not just FS arm-chair hobbiests. Both types are great, but because I am a small business filling a small niche I would certainly like to grow and command a more commercial audience. I've already sold to schools and universities so I know I am on the right track. From here forward I jsut need to be smart about how to expand on that and I do have plenty of ideas. Its just a matter of time, cost, and finding a successful strategy for implementation.



The reality is that to keep growing I certainly need to "aim high" as they say in the Air Force and in many ways that often involves taking big risks and throwing caution to the wind (which is something most calculating pilots do not like to do!) Regardless, the bigger reality and goal for me right now is my passion for being a real pilot (as I've invested 80k into that venture) and so despite my sim business choices, good or bad this next year, that costly reality will always remain my first priority. The passion of flight is usually what dictates my headings.



Hopefully...in the mean time... someone will get to work putting down some definitive answers to those final scenarios I put forth. ;)


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