Thursday, February 2, 2012

Status of Build Server Fund Drive

Updated February 4th, 2012:
Please read the Status Update.


Hello Epic Community,

January 29th, 2012 the Epic CM Team began to accept donations for the first time as many in the community have long asked "How can we donate?" and we desired to purchase expensive hardware for an ultra-fast centralized build server in order to hasten the pace of CM development.  I personally did not expect how quickly and enthusiastically the community would respond.  As of the third day, February 1st, 2012, we have raised a total of $1,872 in contributions from 105 individual donors.  Thanks for your support!

Not everything has gone well.  Some problems here were my fault.
  • High Paypal Fees: I originally suggested that the Epic community could easily raise needed funds if everyone donated only $5.   I stated this because I wanted more people to feel a shared sense of ownership as a member of the Epic CM community.  I hoped that the Heroes list would be a positive to show the size and enthusiasm of our community.  At the time I did not realize the impact that Paypal fees would have.  For every $5 donation, they charged us 45 cents.  That is an upsettingly high 9%.  It gets less bad for higher dollar amounts, with currently an aggregate 4.83% fee thanks to the larger contributions.
  • Excess Funds to EFF:  I today realized that this part of the original plan was not fully thought through.  The original plan was for donations in excess of hardware needs to go to the EFF.  It seemed reasonable at the time, but then I realized this would be quite inefficient with the high cost of us receiving money.   It makes no sense to accept donations for the EFF only to pay high fees before it reaches the EFF.
  • Time Consuming: Accepting many little donations, properly recording them in a spreadsheet and updating the website is a LOT of time consuming, tedious work.  No real solution for this.
Use of Funds? [Spreadsheet]
We are still pricing out parts so we are not yet 100% certain what the final costs will be.  Additionally I felt it was reasonable to budget obvious add-ons as the overall goal of this is to benefit Epic CM development: RAM upgrades for mkasick and noobnl.  They are extremely productive CM developers yet were suffering with very little RAM.  ICS builds cause lots of swap thrashing if you have little RAM, causing extra slow local builds.  I purchased RAM upgrades for them today as they were very cheap, $55 and $65 respectively.  Lots of bang for the buck.  As promised earlier, the above spreadsheet link details all expenses the team has paid or plans on paying from the funds received.

Currently we are very close to the fundraising target to enable hardware upgrades for the massive build server.

Not Done Yet
  • For now, we continue to accept donations for another day to ensure that we have enough for immediate server upgrades.

  • We strongly recommend donating with Dwolla where transactions below $10 are free. Larger transfers cost only 25 cents which is significantly cheaper than Paypal.  My Dwolla adddress is  The drawback of Dwolla is it can take a few business days to setup for the first time as you must transfer funds from your checking account via ACH.  Dwolla does not tell me your e-mail address so I am unable to contact you, so please write your e-mail address and what state you are living in the Memo field so I can add you to the Heroes list.
    • If you really don't want to join Dwolla, you may still donate with Paypal.
    • If you have a Bank of America online account e-mail me, there is a way to transfer for free.
What Next?
The Epic CM team is currently discussing what to do after we have met the immediate hardware fundraising goal.  More about this will be posted to the blog tomorrow after we have made a decision.  Currently proposed options include:
  • Donate money to the University lab so the build server can be maintained in the future.  They currently have no budget to repair the already 2 year old server if anything should go wrong.  I personally want the next fundraising goal to be $1,000 for this purpose.
  • Suggest that future donations go straight to the EFF.  (Although we have no way of tracking that and adding people to the Heroes list.)  Then if people really insist on donating to Epic CM they may do so, probably toward the purchase of future hardware or dev phones.
  • Store Epic CM donations in microfinance loans like Kiva until the distant future when we purchase dev phones for the next flagship Sprint slider and CM10 development.
Does the community have any ideas?


  1. buy the epic car dock so you can test the audio out ;)

  2. Don't worry about reporting back, keeping track, or acknowledging donors (yes, I'm donor). That's too much time and energy for a volunteer effort, and distracts from developing. Take donations, do what needs to be done. Anyone asking or expecting more isn't donating for the right reasons or is unreasonable in their expectations.

  3. Is there anyway to have an Android App that some sort of CM9 Epic premium that people can buy to donate? Is that cheaper than PayPal?

    Also, Google Checkout might be available to use. It's $0.30 + 2.9% (or cheaper).

  4. Better keep some cash on hand in case a dev needs to replace a bricked/smashed/dropped in toilet epic!