Screaming Circuits: Announcements

Three Years And Posting!

Hey - I just realized that today is the three-year anniversary of the Screaming Circuits blog. Cool.

This is post number 311, so that's just over 100 yer year. Three years really isn't that long in the grand scheme of things, but I suppose in Internet years, it's pretty okay.

My first post, was, as is the case with many blogs, mostly useless. On the other hand is

int main()
printf("hello, world");
return 0;

mostly useless? Those few lines of code have started countless developers on to writing trillions or maybe hundreds of lines of code. Okay, so I'll call it lame, but not useless. How's that? But, speaking of useless, here's some useless blog trivia. According to Wikipedia (which we all know is 110b% accurate), Justin Hall, back in 1994, was one of the first bloggers as was Jerry Pournelle. Hmmm. I'm not really sure how to come up with the exact first blogger. It may not even be possible to identify the first one.

Back in the day, I used Compuserve to host my website which had some characteristics of a blog. (I discussed the value of a website for businesses) but it wasn't really the same thing. I remember reading Jerry Pournelle in Byte Magazine way, way back. But that was in print so we can't call it a "blog" in the sense of "web-log". On the other, hand, why is the specific technology all that important? He was journaling to a broad audience. He just couldn't do so on his own time-scale and comments had to come back through postal mail. Certainly, I enjoyed his musings and his plog (print log???) was one of the reasons I read the publication. That's got to count. Anyway, I have no idea when the first blog was written.

Back in 2006 when I started this thing, I didn't really know what I would do with it, but I hope it has been of value to some of you folks. It just seemed like a good way to pass on hints and tips and help other folks make better pcbs. And here, 311 posts, about 90,000 words, half a million key presses later, it's September 14, 2009.

Enough of this. I have a tradeshow to prepare for.

Duane Benson

Beagleboard and Package on Package Assembly

So, what's the big deal about the Beagleboard and us building it? If you aren't familiar with it, check out for all the details.

In short, it's an open source hardware design development board / embedded system utilizing the Ti OMAP processor and a Micron memory chip in a POP (package on package) form factor. The POP is the significant point here. Well, that plus some 0.4mm pitch BGAs.

Beagleboard we built cropped  
We assembled this one. The image below left is AbiWord running on the board pictured here.

The Ti processor is a 0.4mm pitch BGA and the Micron chip that goes on top of it is a 0.5mm pitch BGA. The power management / audio chip on the Beagleboard is also a 0.4mm pitch BGA. That's some pretty tough stuff and not a lot of folks can build it. Not only can we build it, but we can build it in small prototype quantities - as few as one at a time. We're proud of our capabilities and dedication to both quality and on-time delivery. (So, yes, there is a bit of self-horn blowing here.)

BB we built screen shot sm If you're primarily a software person and just want a working beagleboard, the least expensive route is to go to Digi-Key or Special Computing and buy one preassembled. But, if you want a derivative design, or just any old design using a POP part, you'll need someone that can build it properly. We've been assembling small volume prototypes of difficultAmkor POP sm designs for over six years now and we love doing the tough stuff. From 0201 passives, flex boards, rigid-flex and now POP. We also do easy stuff.

The beauty of the open source design is that Ti, through the Beagleboard organization, has made the Gerber files, the schematics and the CAD files available open source. That can give you a significant head-start in getting your custom design up and running. And, then, once you're done and need someone to put all of those parts on the boards and chips, connect up with us. We can assemble it for you. This is considered a special process, so you'll need to get confirmation from us on what turn-times we can support for your specific board before placing the order.

Duane Benson
Quaffing root beer with Bill Mauldin

August Special

SunStone_logo_saturated 120  Let us make your job easier. You need PCBs anyway, so have us get them for you from our partner For any orders placed during the month of August, 2009, all you have to do is ask and we will get the boards from Sunstone for you and we'll just pass the normal Sunstone price along - there won't be any markup or service charge for providing this service.

This offer only applies to boards from Sunstone. PCBs from other board houses and parts will still have our normal turn-key service charges applied. Your order must be place via the website prior to midnight on August 31, 2009 or via phone prior to 5:00pm PST on August 31 and the boards must be purchased for an assembly order with us.

Q&A for this special:

Q: What if I normally use another board house?
A: Give Sunstone a try. They do great work and have great service.

Q: What if I just want to submit a kitted order but still want this special?
A: Just tell us that you want us to get your boards from Sunstone too. Put it in the special instructions on the web order or tell us if you're placing a phone order.

Q: What if I still want to use a different PCB supplier?
A: That's still okay with us. You just won't get the special.

Q: What if I already bought my boards from Sunstone?
A: I'm sorry that we can't give you any discounts on that order. You'll still get great service from both companies. Just stay tuned for our next special or maybe you'll need more during August.

Q: What if I'm looking for some kind of board for my house and not for electronics?
A: Home Depot carries a wide variety of boards of the non-printed-circuit variety. You might try there.

Q: I just placed an order today and I know you guys haven't started work on it. Can I get this special on that order?
A: As long as we haven't started work on it and you can accept that we'll probably have to add in some time to get the boards, then yes. Just give us a call and make sure we haven't started, tell us you want the special and accept the extra time. Cool!

Duane Benson

Holiday Schedule

Fireworks We'll be shut down for the Independence Day holiday this Friday, the 3rd, Saturday, the 4th and Sunday, the 5th. These days won't be counted toward turn-times.

Enjoy the holiday!

June Special

Hi all;

It's time for our June special. Save up to $200.00 off your turn-key parts order. Send us a turn-key or partial turn-key order and we'll pay for the first $200.00 of your parts and or pcbs, up to a maximum of $200.00.

Try our turn-key service out and see how convenient it is for us to take care of that service too! And, yes, you can use this special on more than one order. You can use it on all of your turn-key and partial turn-key orders, as long as the order is placed before the end of this June.

How to get the special: If you place a turn-key order online, simply write "June Special" in the special instructions box. When we quote parts and boards, we'll apply the discount. If you call the order in, tell the sales rep that you want the June special.

Offer Expires the last day of June, 2009. Order must be placed with us by 11:59 pm, June 30, 2009. Good for up to $200 off of parts (includes parts and pcbs we order) on turn-key and partial turn-key orders.

Hey - We Won Again

I know. I know. There's been a lot of self-serviing glurge here lately, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

We're here at ESC, but we made a quick stop in Las Vegas to stop by and pick up our 2009 Service Excellence Award for Manufacturing Quality - thats two years running! It's cool because it means we're making customers happy. They select the winners based on a customer survey they do. Our parent company, MEC Companies won too!

Hi Ed.

Short-Run Production

Short-run banner top 

Announcing our NEW Screaming Circuits Short-Run Production!

  1. Quick and easy production electronic assembly
  2. From one to thousands
  3. No NRE. No contracts. No commitments
  4. Easy file and kit requirements

Is Screaming Circuits Short-run production for you?

Check it out here

Back to Normal

Bgachip The snow is gone and it's 45 degrees and raining this morning. In other words, back to Oregon normal. We'll get the weather caused backlog out as soon as we can and just be rolling as usual.

And so it goes

Our office is open today (Tuesday, the 23rd), but we're still experienceing weather cause delays. Some of the shippers say they are getting in and out but we won't know for sure until they get here.

According to the weather folks, this is a 40-year record snow fall for Portland and the third most ever recorded for Portland. Brrr.

Closed By the Snow

Okay, this is getting pretty old, but we are closed by the snow today. In know you folks back in Chicago or Boston or wherever can deal with a lot more than we can out here in Oregon, but at least it's not just an inch any more. We have six to ten inches of snow, then a half inch or more layer of freezing rain-ice and now another four inches and growing of snow on top of that.

Late December snow storm SC sign 500 

We'd all much rather be in working those SMT machines, but it's just not safe to be out on the roads here right now. We're sorry for the inconvenience and of course, company policy dictates that I remind you that company policy says that a weather closure like this overrides our normal delivery guarantee.

I'd go build a snow man but it's too cold and I can't find my snow gloves.

Duane Benson