Screaming Circuits: Company and Partners

Financial Fear and Uncertanty

I'm really old. I remember Black Monday back in 1987 when we all thought the business world was coming to an end. I was working for a company called Metheus at the time, making high resolution graphics systems. I remember when Microsoft lost half it's stock value in 2000 precipitating the dot-com crash. I was just a kid during the energy crisis back in the early seventies, but we all thought that was the end of the American economy. I remember that double-digit inflation back in the 70's and the double digit interest rates in the 80's.

It comes and it goes, you know. I've kind of lost track of the number of business "doom cycles" I've been through and the number of times "experts" have predicted the end of U.S. prosperity. Personally, I'm seeing this as a time to start putting more money into my 401K.

I do know though that when credit gets tough to get, a lot of companies tighten their belts. A lot of small companies retrench and bigger companies cut back. Unfortunately, for us mere working mortals, our work load never seems to lighten up. In fact, it frequently gets worse.

We here at Screaming Circuits are lucky in that we've been growing and expanding. This month we're adding a new surface mount line. We are very strong and we'll be here through this financial tumble to help if you need it. We hear rumors of pcb fab houses struggling and other ems shops struggling. I hate to hear that about any company or any industry, but I would like to reassure you that we're set to keep running at full speed. We're continuing to expand our capacity and improve our quality and service. We are here for you.

Duane Benson
When the going gets tough, the tough eat ice cream

Shutdown on October 3rd

Hi all;

Our factory floor will be shutdown this Friday, October 3rd to get ready to add in a new set of assembly machines. We will be back to work over the weekend so the disruption should be minimal. Please be aware that this Friday will not be a shipping day and we will not have 24 hour turns available on Thursday the 2nd.

We hope this won't be too much of an inconvenience and hope you understand that this will lead to a bigger, better and more capable Screaming Circuits. We're adding in a complete new SMT assembly line. We've been adding in improvements all over Screaming Circuits lately. First, the new selective solder machine for thru-hole parts, new website features (quotes and orders available as PDFs for your convenience on your My Accounts page) and soon the new surface mount assembly line.

Duane Benson

New Machines

Selective_solder_machine_int_400 We've just added an exciting new piece of equipment. All of the attention these days goes to surface mount and tiny, tiny parts. We do a whole lot of those but we all still deal with a lot of through-hole parts too.

We see a lot of through hole connectors. That's probably the most common things we get with pointy leads. We still see through-hole DIP ICs, passives, LEDs and things of that sort too.

Most of those through-hole parts were previously hand-soldered here. Sometimes we'll send them through the wave. Now, we have a third option. We've recently added a new selective solder machine. This allows for more accurate and faster soldering of a good mix of components on boards that don't lend themselves to being wave soldered. It will helpe us improve our quality and keep up with turn-times.

Duane Benson
You know the nearer your depletion, the more you're selective soldering away

Five Years and Counting

Time flies when you are having fun and we almost missed our five year anniversary. Our website went live fine years ago this week! It's been a wild ride since then - fast growth, new technologies, a new building, more machines, more people, more customers...

We couldn't have done it without all of you customers and we really appreciate your loyalty and candor. You've been with us when things have been going well and you've been clear with us when things haven't gone so well. We also had a lot of help from our board fab partner

The way we were:

Duane Benson
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot

Spock Help Me Find A Product Manager

Well, it wasn't actually Spock. It was Leonard Nimoy and the TV show "In Search of..." sought out things much more interesting then new employees. Well, unless you happen to be a good product manager and are looking for a new job at a fast growing company.

If you are such person (we're looking for a few other folks too), jump over to our jobs page and see what's up.

Maybe if I can get some more help here, I'll be able to get back to more regular blog posting. That would be a good thing. Even better, if any of you have any cool and or interesting and useful tidbits, try and write up a guest blog post. If you want to give that a try, email it to I'll take a look and see it if fits.

Duane Benson

Thank you!

We do our best to fill this blog with helpful information and minimize the glurgy stuff, but sometimes, we do talk about ourselves. We've been a little lean on posts lately anyway so I suppose a little self-serving filler is okay.

We recently received two Service Excellence awards from Circuits Assembly magazine. We say "Thank you" to all of you because the award winners were selected based on a survey with some of you and we really appreciate your kind words.

Service Excelence Awards

We won in the "Manufacturing Quality" and "Technology" categories. That makes us feel pretty good because we know both of those topics are very important to all of you. We do sometimes have problems, but we try our best to always keep what you folks need at the top of our minds. If we do have problems, we try our best to make it right for you and learn from it.

The awards are cool, but what we really care about is how we are doing for you guys every day. Please feel free, any time or place, to call or email us (or comment here) and let us know if you have any questions or concerns at all.

Duane Benson
Thank you from all of us here at Screaming Circuits.

Eagle CAD and Sunstone

Imgsunstonelogo Our pcb fab partners up the road just released a set of design rule files (.DRU) files for use with the Eagle schematic and PCB layout editor. The design rules set allows Eagle users to consider Sunstone's manufacturing rules early on in the layout phase and that's a good thing.

Simply download, install and activate the design rule file and then Eagle will automatically let you know if your board layout will work or if specific areas need to be changed.

You can get the design rule file at the Eagle CAD website or directly off the Sunstone website at: You can also download Sunstone's CAD software, PCB123, from the same page. Scroll down to find the design rules.

Duane Benson


We like to give tours here at Screaming Circuits. Unfortunately, we can't give too many tours because then we'd be spending all our time showing the place instead of building boards. Also, most of you don't live here so you can't get by to drop in.

Still, even if we can't have you all over for a tour and a soda, we want you to get to know us a bit better. For the last eight weeks in a row, we've delivered 100% of your assembly jobs on time. We've had 100% on-time delivery in 12 of the last 13 weeks. That kind of performance is due in large part to the customer service folks whom you speak with on the phone and via email.

Here's a brief introduction to a couple of them.

Now you know a couple of the people who are working for you in here. And you know why some of those packing peanuts might be a little squished. Don't worry. They were sealed in protective plastic at the time.

Duane Benson
We're still afraid of bears.

Good PCB CAD Software

Here's a scenario we run across reasonably frequently. It happens to a lot of different types of folks. First, there's the small company engineer. He or she has to design a board and get it out the door with pretty much no budget. Then, you might have a seasoned EE at a large company suddenly tasked with more than just the phase locked loop design. Now the project also requires designing the rest of the board, the layout and the prototyping. Oh, and by the way, there isn't a budget for buying another seat on the big CAD system.

Enter PCB123. You might know them as Sunstone Circuits. If not that, then you might have used them as PCBexpress. All the same company. Probably half or more of our customers buy their pc boards from Sunstone. They always give us (and more importantly, our customers) great service. They're just up the road from us so we can get things back and forth quickly too.

Back to the subject at hand - PCB123 is a free to download and easy to use but powerful schematic Linktopcb123 capture and PCB layout package. It also automates the process of board quoting and ordering. Yes, it does require that you purchase the finished boards from them, but we'd recommend you do that anyway. If you get your boards from PCB123 and your assembly from us, all you have to do is tell them in the special instructions to send the boards to us.

They are a different company than we are so you do have to quote the assembly with us separately, but it's really easy to do. Give the PCB123 folks your screaming circuits order number and tell us the boards are coming from them. Ship us your parts kit (or have us order them for you as a turn-key) and you don't have to worry about the boards. When they are all fabbed up, PCB123 will send the boards and necessary files directly to us and we'll ship you the completed assemblies. Cool.

Duane Benson
Software is fun

On Time Delivery at Screaming Circuits

While most of the posts in this blog are more related to pcb design, assembly and the environment engineers live in, I wanted to mention something about the culture we have here at Screaming Circuits.  We just finished August, traditionally a month of vacations (at least in Europe), when things tend to be a little slower at work.

We had an above average month, our volume of orders was slightly better than expected.  It was not a record month for us, but was within 10% of our best and we were busy.  Last month was particularly nice for us because we had 99.5% on time delivery.  Just to put that differently, that is 1 order late in 200 orders.  We are very proud of our on time delivery, and show the importance of that to our customers with our delivery policy, where we refund 50% of your order if we are 1 day late, and 100% if we are 2 days late with shipment.

Great job to the team here at Screaming Circuits and we hope that you customers will continue to reward us for performing with more work!

Thank you,