As some of you may or may not know, I have been creating a suite of PLC training products. I have made simulator trainers that control Fischertechnik factory simulations, written an Advanced PLC book to accompany the simulators, and created various accessories that work with the whole system. I was advised by a potential customer that a lot of schools and plants can get new PLCs much cheaper than us normal folks, so developing a do-it-yourself kit where the customer could provide their own PLC would be a good idea, so I have done that.
Unfortunately the hardware was the easy part. I have built and documented two different sized kits using an Allen-Bradley Micrologix PLC while keeping it generic enough that any PLC should be OK. But when it came to writing the manual it took a lot of work and hundreds of pictures and drawings. I am almost done with the manual, and it is about 50 pages long! Fortunately, I have a fairly inexpensive way to print them, using the same company that prints my Advanced PLC book.
The advice I need is whether to formally publish this manual as a book with an ISBN number. It only costs me about $85 to get the number, and that would make it sellable on Amazon, etc. The thing is, it is a step by step guide for a specific set of components. The manual would be included for anyone buying the kit. But would anyone buy a manual for a kit that they didn’t buy? There is a full list of components in the manual, so theoretically someone could buy all of the components themselves and build the panel. But the enclosure is custom made to save money, and I purposely didn’t put a lot of terminal blocks or labeling in the kit, both to save the customer money and to make it easier to wire. Since I am assuming the person building the kit may not know many of the techniques and tools used in panel fabrication, there is a lot of information in the manual on those subjects, but for instance there is nothing on soldering (I used crimpable terminals), nothing on electricity (though I am putting some safety and debug related stuff in there), and no examples of standard larger enclosures and panels. If I were writing an actual panelbuilding book, all that would be there as well as more on labeling, grounding, enclosures, wire gauges, etc.
But that would be a more expensive, much longer book. The question is, would there be a market for a small book like this, kind of an “Introduction to Panel Building”? Any advice is appreciated.