What we see in most products is a result of the accountants saying "no" to too much. Cheap parts, assembled cheaply, pennies saved per part. What we see here is the exact opposite: the accountants didn't say "no" nearly often enough. Apple manufactures custom everything because they can, and because they sell at massive scales. Juicero wanted to be Apple quality without selling at Apple quantity.
I fully believe you get a better cup of juice squeezing with their massive press rather than by hand because it can press over a bigger surface. I also believe it doesn't matter a bit, because this is a worthless piece of equipment. Beautiful engineering, though.
15A 330V DC motor? To squish a bag of pulp?
The best things I've gotten career and skill wise from more senior engineers has been the feedback where they looked at a design and said "looks fancy, but what were you thinking?".
This machine looks like it needed some more grizzled manufacturing veterans to inject some sense into the design process.
I actually untangled a mess like that (only it was some 200+ VMs on 20 fancy HP blades + SAN to serve 5000 users daily), don't even joke about it.
If you arrived with something the size of a semi-trailer to squeeze some juice people would likely ask you if you're all ok in the upper department but if you do the same in computer land they call you 'architect' and promote you. So much of that complexity is hidden and your average business owners have no clue what is required and what is overkill.
There's also a bias in which ones we read about. Nobody puts the age of a 40 year old founder in a headline.
I think PG wrote an essay on why ycombinator started out primarily accepting new graduates, but I can't find it right now. Clearly he had a different take.
It only becomes a problem when you need to stop burning money, because you can't easily reduce the hardware cost.
Do you guys actually feel that way or is the startupspeak getting to us?
If I interpret your parent post correctly, their opinion is than it's not at all reasonable to accept such low salaries.
It's just that there are apparently more than enough fools who do it anyway, until they learn that this is both unwise and unsustainable.
I know plenty of young engineers who are easily socking away 60 - 70% of their post tax income because they basically need a futon to sleep on and a macbook and don't really have many needs. After 5 years or so, they'll have half a million in the bank free and clear which is hard to do anywhere else in the country.
Now add it a spouse who works in non-profits or is a schoolteacher or any other job that's not tech. Now your expenses have risen 2x but your collective earnings has only risen 1.3x and now you're only saving 20% of your income.
Add in a kid and your expenses go up another 50% and your income rises not a jot and all of a sudden, you're in the hole and heading into debt.
Low cost/low compensation locations completely flip this equation around since there's no huge disparity in earnings and large families are less of a relative strain.
Neither is intrinsically better or worse than the other, they simply suit different lifestyles better.
I think most people would love to live in a world where that's true but it's pretty far from where we are.
> Salary shouldn't be dependent on (desired) living conditions, but on experience and value added
That's leaving out half of the equation: value added sets the upper bound for what a company can afford to pay you but they're going to negotiate down to make a profit. The seller has the same maximum cap but they're going to negotiate up and fixed costs are a key part of that – since in reality food, housing, education, etc. costs vary widely people who live somewhere like SF are going to factor that in because the alternative is moving somewhere less unbalanced.
Most places I've been realize this, but a few, hint mainly sw shops, think 5 years exp suffices. And they suffer arching in pain. It hurts to watch.
Well, sometimes you do (when it's someone else's hardware, perhaps). But often, happiness is a middle ground.
Most hardware goes through phases, often planned far in advance: The expensive first version to get something out the door, then a series of cost reductions (bring many chips into a single custom chip, ditch unused features, get new vendors for subsystems) which improve profitability.
That juicer looks like it was designed to withstand a direct hit by a bunker buster. Nobody gave a damn about profit margins or ever making it cheaper, I think they just wanted to IPO or get bought.
I've also been guilty of this in my younger days, where I was very much "C++ all the things because performance." But that's kind of my point: it's immaturity at work, here.
* no one ever got hired for under-engineering
* a lot of people have died from under-engineering
* you never notice how much was engineered juuuuust right (tm). Because it was. Just. Right.
Since that's what the community generally respects and focuses on, people seek out areas to add complexity – who wants to work on a boring “solved” problem? – and, especially younger engineers, often feel they have to do things the same way Google or Facebook does (it's web-scale!) even if they have 0.001% of the engineers and 0.000001% of the traffic. It's easy to miss that most people with similar problems have so much less volume that they aren't forced to do the really cool (i.e. expensive) engineering and, since they're using something stable, it's not considered interesting enough to talk about it.
I've bought plenty of low end products from China that I'm sure were intentionally designed as cheaply as possible with no regards to quality.
One of my favorite instructors from college.
Just a stream of consciousness set of notes from my reading of the article though:
* The design of the interior machined parts looks like a classic case of why machinists make fun of / mildly dislike engineers. "As long as I can make it in a 3D model we can make it out of metal, right?" They're beautiful, but if a part is going to be hidden from your end user, maybe think about how much manufacturing time those artistic rounded fillets are going to take up and design something that can be run on a 3 axis machine instead of a five axis machine.
* That injection molding. Wow. I'm kind of in two minds about that, because I can at least get behind the idea of spending time and money on the part of a machine your customers will be touching and seeing every day but good lord is it expensive, especially for low volume boutique products.
* The gear system. I'm surprised to see a set of spur gears in there vs a planetary gear set. Planetary gears are quiet and space efficient while also being able to transmit large loads. I'm surprised there actually wasn't a gearbox manufacturer from the cordless drill industry (another high input speed -> high output torque device) that they could tap to get a already designed and mass produced gear-train for much less money.
I haven't done injection molding, but I know that making the molds is the expensive part. Once you've made the molds, making parts is cheap. If there was an overoptimistic market projection, the mold cost per part would seem low.
There's a fairly common arrangement for presses where a motor drives a worm gear which drives a ring gear with a threaded or ball screw hole. Here's a consumer-appliance grade version from China, used in an oil press, pasta extruder, or juicer. $2 in quantity 500. The first thing to do in mechanical design is to find out what you can buy.
If they were going for Apple-level tolerances, they're walking into a minefield.
That thing is so over-engineered it is almost as if it was a joke.
Maybe different people use that term differently but I wouldn't call that 'over-engineered'. I'd just call it 'poorly engineered'. Mismatched components doing a poor job despite being far more expensive than necessary. If they'd put a well designed hydraulic press in there, I'd call it over-engineered. :)
Hey if any VC is listening I'm willing to sell this idea. Only asking $10M.
Two teslas is 40000 newtons. If we assume the press moves 5cm in 2.5 minutes:
40000 * (0.05/150) = 13 watts.
Maybe we can out-do them and build a hydraulic version: "Now with 50 tons of pressure". I have a hydro pack lying around here somewhere with a really neat 3" puck piston. I'm sure that would do the job just fine and maybe even a little bit quicker.
There's somehow too much happening for this 2013 device to handle.
FWIW, easily 85-90% of what I try and open on my old Kindle (the super-basic version from a few years ago) makes the browser - and sometimes the whole UI - completely seize up. I'm guessing (based on how everything gets super sluggish) they didn't enable swapping - which does make total sense, but then the device only has 256MB(?) of RAM......
Now I'm curious what the iPad's virtual memory settings are like. And whether swap on Flash (of the caliber that goes in an iPad) is a good idea!
Or maybe, just maybe, a screw-driven piston, like many actual juicers have...
But let's be completely honest - the machine was always meant to be an expensive countertop device. It looks expensive, it weighs a lot, people will think you spent a lot of money on it even if they don't know how much it'll cost... This is exactly why the engineering staff was told "go nuts" on the hardware design - the more expensive and custom, the better. It does the job of looking like a high-end appliance exactly and precisely, and really nothing more.
This company always intended to make its money back selling overpriced juice packs like Keurig, banking on people with more money than common sense buying and using the hell out of these devices for the $14 juice packs. Selling the machines near cost or even as a loss leader was perfectly acceptable, as long as customers had to come back to them for more juice month over month. It just turns out consumers were smart enough to see through the not-so-clever ruse of buying a $400 counterweight to squeeze a package of pre-squeezed juice out of a bag and into a cup...
Having heard this from a number of coffee fans, I suspect you're not the market Keurig really targets. Rather I suspect we non-coffee-drinkers might be the primary buyers. We want something that will sit innocuously in the kitchen, looking good and doing nothing, on the off chance that we'll be expected to provide coffee for someone. We don't know how to buy coffee, we don't know how to prepare it, and we don't know how to clean up after preparing it. Also, we don't care to know any of those things. So, here's a something we made for you that came out of a fancy package. Now we're going to throw away this little plastic cup.
If all you have is instant, you're better off not offering anything. That stuff is generally terrible.
The polite thing to do would be to accept the coffee or not, without placing conditions on the host, or implying that their hospitality is possibly beneath your standards.
After a couple of those, everybody knows your taste :D
Now for espresso or the like, well that is a different story. We used to have an espresso machine but it was quite a pain (and took up space). For that the machines are great. We have the Nespresso machine with the milk attachment. Makes a pretty good cup. They provide mailing bags for you to send back the used cups? carts? (hum) for recycling.
Expresso machines are complex and bulky, and they generally aren't worth it unless you can spend $600+ (and that plus goes WAY up). Nespresso isn't bad at all (we have one here at work), but even better is a Lavazza machine, which takes cartridges like the Nespresso, but the resulting espresso is an order of magnitude better, in my opinion.
I'm a tea drinker myself, but have one around to serve decent espresso to people that want it.
I'd rather have a cup of Nespresso coffee than a fresh brewed cup of stale ground coffee.
Many larger food stores and most specialty coffee shops sell coffee beans by weight and will grind them for you. So you can easily by just a small amount at a time if you want.
Keurigs do a perfectly fine job by comparison.
I guess you've never had coffee out of a rarely serviced machine in the break room of a millwrighting shop.
Keurig coffee is the smoothest brew ever compared to some of the terrible coffee I've gladly drank over the years.
Keurig is great at one thing: making the worst coffee this
world has to offer
Scroll down half way to see the gif animation of the mechanism: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1793272089/juisir-juici...
It would be interesting to see if their engineering choices resulted in a much less expensive machine to manufacturer.
Indiegogo page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/juisir-zero-cleaning-maxi...
gif direct link: https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/015/010/304/9b81fed3f5e8827...
My suspicion, if I put my engineering hat on and give them the benefit of the doubt, is it's an optimization for later.
Right now, the purchased packs you can buy are effectively already juice. Later, you may want to make them less juicy so you can spend less time manufacturing the packs, but people will scream if you make them buy a new machine. So, your first machine out the chute needs to be way overengineered.
Nevertheless, this machine design screams junior engineers.
It's just product differentiation. And remember, their target market are the kind of people who want to feel special by one-upping the other #rawvegan #fitspiration #healthnuts on social media.
saddest part is that we are getting cheap fly-by-night puffy pieces. HN used to only alow the expensive ones on wired to pass. This community is dying :(
I know nothing about Juicero, but it seems like there must be somebody who thought they were the second coming of Steve Jobs overriding both the engineers and accountants. That person's reality distortion field must have just popped rather loudly.
A $15 pasta roller can probably come pretty close.
(OTOH, it would be annoying if it exploded)
I'll definitely be on the lookout for other write ups from Ben Einstein. To anyone wanting more content like this, I also recommend the "Bored of Lame Tool Reviews?" (BOLTR) series of videos from YouTuber AvE:
What I've learned watching his channel: Don't skimp on your USB chargers, get Anker or IKEA ones (seriously, the IKEA charger was amazingly well-designed).
I think it's because he had a lot of success with his early rants, which were generally pretty on-point. As time went on they get more and more salty and inaccurate as he ran out of good ideas.
TheSignalPath is a great EE channel as well.
I have seen a lot of EEVblog videos, but only a small fraction of his output, prolific guy. I definitely agree, too much grousing at times. Though he did seem to be appropriately outraged in the first one I watched (#822, about a terrible medical tablet PC):
Thanks for that.
We would often sit down as a family and watch The Red Green Show during my middle school years. With its TV run now long over, I'm glad that there's another Canadian continuing in the grand tradition of workshop shenanigans.
If thats your flavour of comedy, I have to recommend Letterkenny. If you haven't heard of it, it's a show on CraveTV based on the part of the country I hail from.
(I know I'm digressing from the main thread... but a small sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KLSbCtinXs)
These products are not made to be functional, any functionality they have is secondary to their prime purpose: to be used as props in a ritual. What ritual they serve varies, from the mundane 'I can afford to spend a lot of money on non-essential goods' affluence signalling (most branded luxury goods fit in this category) to something resembling the Japanese tea ceremony in the sense that they turn a common event into a highly ritualised happening (I'd fit gramophone records in here). Some are just ways for unscrupulous actors to extract the maximum amount of money from an easily duped audience ($21.000 for a 3m short speaker cable , anyone? Don't forget to buy that $11.000 mains cable  while you're at it, you would not want your $144,481.80 turntable  to be without it).
Cold pressed juice itself is probably partly ceremonial, partly affluence signalling. Where overpriced, waste-generating Rube Goldberg juice delivery devices with vendor lock-in fit in I'll leave for you to decide.
It's made in Italy, from actual leather, with fabric lining, a zip pocket and keyring lanyard.
That's a lot of features that are all way nicer than what FRAKTA brings, of course. It's obviously still a luxury product, but leather isn't cheap like polypropylene.
I wonder if I can make something like this work as a sideline? I mean it's snake oil, it just has to look fancy and have a story around it, and hell, that can't be too hard.
I agree with you about fresh squeezed OJ, but I don't believe for a second that it matters if the orange is squeezed in a press or twisted in a rotary. (different kind of juicer, but you get the point).
Over here some supermarkets have juicers pre-filled with oranges in their produce sections, you just put an empty bottle into it, push a button and you can watch live as it squeezes the oranges into your bottle.
I certainly wouldn't describe juice from concentrate as "fresh-squeezed", because it's been squeezed, boiled to reduce its water content, frozen, packed, shipped, defrosted, rehydrated and packed again before I get to drink it.
Is it as good for you as some would have you believe, no. Do some over market it as a cure all. Sure. That doesn't mean, it is bad for you*
* to an extent
amount and fruit depending.
I'm pretty sure that HN has consumed more of my lifespan than any diet could compensate for.
Many modern cultivated fruits don't contain nearly as much sugar as they could because they're picked early, before their prime.
In the Northwest, Rubus armeniacus is an invasive species which has never been heavily bred, and is one of the sweetest fruits you can find - especially in late summer.
Grapes are one of the only fruits which have enough sugar to make wine with unless you use chaptalization. (Though some berries like Blackberries get close.)
Would you say that modern fruits lack these micronutrients as well? Anecdotally, I cannot report any excessive shortages in my nutrition.
But in this system you already have the fruit and vegetables whole - because you put them into the juicer. Why spend the extra time, expense and fuss on juicing them, when you could just eat them in less time, less fuss, and without buying anything?
You've said it's better to eat them, and it's quicker, less fuss and cheaper, so why not?
If you believe the numerous health claims that vegetables in their raw state are good for you, this is a much easier way to consume them. If you don't believe it, then yeah, you could spend the time to cook it up - you're not in the target demo...
Criticisms such at TFA linked to above, speak of sweetened smoothies, mostly fruit drinks (who would buy a cold press to squeeze oranges? what a strawman). While the arguments are valid, they typically miss the main use-cases of core cold-press-juicer demo.
I once got a chance to look closely at the mechanism of SF's JCDecaux overpriced automatic street toilets in SF. Those cost about $150K each. The mechanism is all Telemecanique industrial control components. If you built a washing machine that way, which you could, it would cost $5000-$10000.
Compare the Portland Loo.
So if it costs you $5-10k to build a washing machine with such components, that's not really a bad deal, because how much does it cost to engineer a modern washing machine? A lot more than that.
For these street toilets, the question is: how many toilets are there? If it isn't a large enough amount, the engineering cost to develop something with a lower per-unit cost won't be worth it.
Either it was intentional, or somebody didn't realize that you could do things much cheaper by pinching between rollers and applying a more limited force over a longer time. I would think the result is pretty much the same.
Also, I don't believe "330V 15A" for a second. Maybe 2A...
Just do the math. You get about 13a tops on a 115v plug before any household circuit will trip. That is over twice that. Same with those '5hp' power tools.
Though the most telling is that the only isolated supply is the 5V Meanwell, the whole bottom half is at line potential as evidenced by the lack of transformers and the optoisolators right below the Meanwell supply (for controlling the H-bridge below).
One thing that still seems to be missing is active PFC - it was implied by the article, but I don't see enough components for it. Maybe it's just a rectifier into 170V/330V, and the in the case of 330V they drive the motor at half the duty cycle.
One other question was "why not a series-wound motor?" It was pointed out to me that one potential reason is that a series-wound motor introduces 60/120hz hum and vibrations, and maybe they found the noise objectionable.
I would quibble about the custom power supply though, they are not as difficult as they were in the past. Much of the 'magic' of building good SMPS supplies has been encapsulated into very clever chips and certification bodies have seen enough of them now that the checklists are pretty straight forward.
I don't get the outrage though.
That's not a juicer. That's an inefficient, over-engineered sieve.
I'm. It sure it's outrage (for most) so much as a massive internet-wide SMH after Bloomberg reported that the $700 machine (now dropped in price) does nothing your bare hands can't do: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-04-19/silicon-v...
Also, as overwrought and unnecessary as the Juicero product is, I can't agree with the "it's useless because you can do it by hand" argument. I could probably hand wash my clothes as well as the washing machine does in the same amount of time, but it's hardly useless. While the Juicero is pressing your juice you can be making your lunch or something.
Who knows why the CEO's response skipped straight past "having the machine do it saves you time" to "it can automatically lock you out if your pack expired."
If you remove all of that crap, you get an overengineered juice-press that never says no, and always presses the packet you put into it.
Nothing is more infuriating than machines that randomly say no and refuse to do the thing they're supposed to do. The consumer value of all of that crap is negative.
"But the machine can alert you if the juice pack expired or was recalled"
Look, if you can't read the best-before date already printed on the pack, and if you can't smell the juice and tell if it's funky or not, you are a useless human being. I'm sorry, but you are.
The recall thing is so ridiculous though. The CEOs letter mentioned a hypothetical "spinach recall" that you would want to know about. Never in my life have I had to worry about my vegetables getting recalled. Why on Earth would I be looking to buy a product that can tell me about something that in my experience never happens?
Last ones were for packaged spinach.
Why would anyone want that in their lives?
I don't care about a more efficient bag squeezing method, that there's a bag at all is a bizarre and useless distinction.
No. It takes you about five minutes to load and unload the washing machine, try to do the washing yourself in the same amount of time.
> While the Juicero is pressing your juice you can be making your lunch or something.
In 120 seconds?
I agree that it's the $400 + juice packs + nanny scans. Making smoothies isn't a big deal. And if you're willing to trade off a few $$ for a little prep effort savings there are tons of options--including ingredient subscription services.
700bucks for abag squeezer? Something went terribly wrong.
It feels like they aimed to produce some advanced robotics and built the wrong product. Could turn this into a limb for amputees, makes more sense and actually good use of the resources.
700 bucks for an Internet of Things bag-squeezer with analytics data generated from your consumption and easy re-use of containers.
I've seen at least three or four other start-ups that could be called "Juicero for X". The interesting question is: for what sorts of products do the economics really work out? I don't want to imply everything on this template will fail, even if Juicero... can't be expected to make a healthy profit.
Yep. Can get them as a subscription, each one has a QR code so that the juicer knows it is juicing an OEM pack, and is farmer GMO blah blah blah.
Which has zero value for most people.
Jokingly I can even see 'the mafia' using it to crush someone's hand in the device. Though that makes me wonder if the machine does provide enough force to do that, and what kind of damage it could do... Anyone can know or figure it out?
It's far too early to tell.
Yes it is expensive but remember there are plenty of wealthy people (hint: early adopters) in this world willing to pay for convenience. If you can show me a cheaper bag squeezer that looks equally good in my kitchen and is as convenient then that would be something. But right now there isn't one.
It reminds me very much of Nutribullets or Thermomixes which were both overpriced in the beginning until competitors came in to the market.
These subscription models, or even machines that require only a certain type of consumable, are effectively leases. Sure you may buy a piece of hardware, but it is only useful for as long as you buy and use the required consumable.
I am comfortable in renting a place to live - especially since I have moved about every 2-3 years in recent memory - and I am comfortable paying a subscription fee for some software and services. But I am not that comfortable when I have to subscribe to food or clothing for example.
Excuse the vitriol, but it absolutely makes my blood boil, the fucking Keurigs, these idiot juicers, Blue Apron, and that one company that even delivers a box of clothes each month? WTF?! I buy clothes every two years, and even I could do better.
Also, even if they offered to collect the packaging, and recycle/reuse it, it's a needless complication to an issue that shouldn't exist to begin with.
Why isn't a low-tech, low-carbon footprint life celebrated more? A french press/moka pot coffee, a mixer to make your juice (because, you know, you take the time to peel the motherfucking fruit beforehand), and cooking your own god damned food on a frying pan.
Reading your comment was deliciously cathartic, and now I know that moka pots are a thing. If I get a coffee habit again I'll have to look into trying one.
Remember CueCat? (Actually I was a young kid back then, but I'd really like to have one. I like cats.)
If you are serious about juicing you can find cheaper products that don't require packets. This is a convenience item for people with a lot of money. There is no way this company will be worth $120MM unless they design a low cost model.