Possible Project

I was recently approached by wife’s company (property developer) to develop an application that controls a clothing conveyor system in a high scale penthouse. The design firm of the penthouse was working with the conveyor company who was originally going to do it. However their software engineer quit. Since my wife’s boss knows I do development and I’m in school to obtain a second bachelors degree in CS (already have a MIS) they asked if it was something I could help with.

I’m in the process in obtaining the requirements for the project as the only work completed on it was a flow chart outlining the basic process.

I have learned that the communication to the conveyor will be through a RS232 Cable connected to a Microsoft Surface. I’ve never actually used the RS232 protocol but based on some quick reading its something I feel I can handle.

The application will need to be able to take a picture of a piece of clothing and then communicate with conveyor to place it in a particular spot. The user can choose the clothing from the app and the conveyor will turn until the item arrives.

I have asked about possible UX features such as user profiles and the ability to search and sort the clothing.

With that said I am unsure at the hours and rate I should set in my project proposal. As it stands I will be responsible for the UI/UX design as well as the development of the software.

Thanks in advance for any input!

What is the deadline for the said project?
Do you intend to learn the RS232 protocol? then, if yes -
How long will it take to learn?

Those questions may help you make informed decision, if you have a really short time frame for executing the project. Then, I will suggest you employ the service of others so as to meet up with project deadline.

But since, you believe you can handle the RS232 then you have nothing to worry about.

Concerning, the hours and rate: It really depends on the standard of the organization as this could help compare between you and their previous software developer.
Your wife could help you a little bit by researching the market demand and to you personally, go for the rate and hours that is not a burden to you and again be comfortable by the organization - no too low and not too high.

You almost certainly don’t need to speak the raw RS232 protocol unless it’s doing something insane. A library like pyserial should be able to handle it with no problems. It’s also possible that there’s already software in place to control the conveyer at a high level (like “turn to position X” rather than “run at speed X for Y seconds”) and all you need to do is talk to that software. In other words, you have a research step to complete first, so see if you can get in touch with the former software engineer so you have a better idea of the scope of your project.

Thank you all for your input. Yes there is already software in place on the conveyor. The app just needs to send a 4 characters representing the slot 0001 to 0135 ending with a carriage return and it will return a status code. That aspect of the app should be fairly straightforward.

My main concern is how to bid for the project. Im not sure what rate I should charge. I’m figuring it will take me 4 weeks 160 hours to complete the app. This includes designing the UI testing and implementation. Based on what they have given me they have not included any UX features as well such as user profiles or ability to sort and search. So I was going to break that down in my proposal as optional.

So my question is. Is 4 weeks a reasonable amount of time to complete the project and if so what should I charge per hour.


Being terrible at both time and rate estimation, I couldn’t tell you about those parts. What I can tell you is to get as much detail as you can from the customer without leading them into overly expanding the scope – remind them that time is never free. After that, break the work up into tasks, using a ticketing system like Jira or github issues (I highly prefer the former, but the latter may be enough for you).