Quoted from skink91:
How much do you think custom boards run? Especially if Stern is not able to fabricate the boards themselves and (I suspect) has to source them from a third-party, who has a captive audience (Stern). I don’t know any of specifics for their situation but, after markup for some profit, $1k seems about what I would expect.
Also, I am sure they DO have to pay a tech to populate (IC’s, etc) and test the boards as well.
Being SMD there is very minimal assembly, it’s robotic pick an place then bake. Cost for custom boards varies widely based on where you have it manufactured, board size, quantity ordered, component cost, etc.
Whenever I’ve had boards made I’ve always skipped the population part but I’ve had boards of similar size, thickness, drill count, etc made up for about 15 bucks a board with my extremely low quantities (i’ve only ever order minimums). I know if I were buying quantities over 1000 that would go down to below 5 bucks per board, again unpopulated, but still drilled, masked, tined, tested and silkscreened. A smaller board like the size of a node board would be about a third the price.
Most boad production houses (and there are a lot out there to choose from so nobody is captive to any one) have automated testing processes in place. Stern may opt to have some final assembly and system plug-in testing in house but that would just be done by an assembly line worker.
Again while I have not priced out having a board populated, I do know that the costs it adds are components and sourcing/setup and some additional testing. The actual placement and soldering for SMD is a very low cost since it is just place and bake, which is why it’s so popular (not to mention the smaller size which also saves).
Anyway, just as a casual oberver/hobbiest who has had boards made by a third party before I have a hard time finding even $100 in manufacturing costs including shipping in a cpu board they are selling for $1000. To me $500 would be reasonable for a nice profit (after all this is to support one of their games, its not like these would be purchased in isolation) and accomodate some in house assembly line final assembly and testing.