Screaming Circuits: Events and activities

10 Years of Speedy Prototypes

10th anniversary badgeSN74LS90 years and we're having a party - a party for engineers. Good food & drink, factory tours, door prizes, presentations... You just need to RSVP to: or call us at 503-266-9100

July 18, 2013, 3:00pm to 7:00pm.
1140 NW 3rd Avenue, Canby, Oregon 97013

See all the details here.

10 Years of Screaming at Circuits

ladies and gentlemen and engineers of all ages...

Screaming Circuits, A Milwaukee Electronics company, is celebrating ten years of specializing in speedy prototype assembly.In honor of your great support, we're having a party! Come and see where it all happens. Take a tour. Enjoy a come-when-you-can buffet, beer, wine and SMT parts. We promise that the food and drink will all be lead-free.

See more details here:

July 18, 2013, 3:00pm to 7:00pm. 1140 NW 3rd Avenue, Canby, Oregon 97013

Just RSVP to: or call us at 503-266-9100.
  • Food to eat. It will be delicious, but we can't promise it will be nutritious.
  • Wine and beer from Canby's own St Josef's Winery
  • Fabulous door prizes
  • A Google Nexus 7 32GB Wi-Fi tablet for one lucky winner**
  • A $2,500 assembly coupon for another lucky winner**
  • A nice little gift pack from Screaming Circuits for everybody
  • Tables with people to answer any questions about any part of what we do for you
  • Informative presentations***
  • A few examples of fun projects we build for people
  • The "Game room" where you can challenge a Screaming Circuits champion to pool or ping pong

Duane Benson
Come on in and see what's happening
Pay the price*, get your tickets* for the show

* The price is free. just send an email to "" and you don't really need tickets.
** We consider you all to be winners, but only one of you will with the tablet.
*** This is supposed to be fun and informative. Sales pitches have been banned from the event.

Intergalactic Geek Pride Day Quiz

There was a time when "Geek" was far from a badge of honor. Jr. High School (AKA middle school) was developed specifically for the purpose of making geeks miserable. We were told that lockers were  designed for holding books, lunches jackets, but in reality, the secret anti-geek coalition had lockers installed so geeks could be stuffed inside of them, or could have the doors slammed in their faces.

But, then something happened. While the world wasn't looking, a geek became the richest man in the world. Pro-nerd and pro-geek movies became popular. It became cool to claim to be a geek or a nerd. The problem is that there's a big difference between claiming the title "geek" and being given the title "geek."

Well, May 25th is Geek Pride Day. In honor of Intergalactic Geek Pride Day, I've put together a little quiz on the subject.


  1. Is it better to be considered a nerd, a geek or both?
  2. What's the difference between a nerd and a geek?
  3. Does the outside world know the difference between "nerd" and "geek" and thus does it matter which one you're called?
  4. If you've never actually been called a geek, but claim to be a geek anyway, are you really a geek?
  5. If a geek talks in the woods, but there's no one there to hear, did the geek actually speak?
  6. If you can explain what you do for a living (or hobby) to a random stranger and have more than about one in fifty understand, can you still claim to be a geek?
  7. If you don't have enough cables laying around the houses to connect just about any two pieces of computer / electronic equipment together, can you really claim to be a geek?
  8. If you can't assemble a spare PC from parts you have around the house in about an hour, can you still claim to be a geek?
  9. If you can't count in more than one base, can you still claim to be a geek?
  10. If you don't love songs by Tom Lehrer, can you still call yourself a geek? (If you don't know who he is, quick: Youtube)

 Bonus question:

  1.  Tesla or Edison?


If you're a true geek, you already know the answers so I don't need to list them.

Duane Benson
The best revenge is not violence or deviousness
The best revenge is to be happier
...and to build robots for world domination


The Value of Open Source

There were a number of interesting sessions and debates last week at the DesignWest show. One of the more passion filled, was on the value of Open Source hardware. Some people think it will save the world,if only everyone will do everything open source. Some people think it's a stupid waste of time without a real business model.

Personally, I see more value in it than either of those extremes. What I see is that open source hardware (and software) has lowered the barriers to entry for people who want to create, design, build and sell. Yes, big companies innovate, but a vast amount of innovation and employment comes from small companies that start out without anything more than ideas.

A decade ago, before open source hardware became well know, it was pretty difficult and expensive to start a hardware company. In fact, I recall quite a few predictions and discussions about the death of hardware as an industry in the country. Open source hardware has lowered the barriers to entry and raised the level of awareness of hardware to the point that now, in my opinion, the environment is as ripe for start-up companies and innovation as was the late 1970's and 1980's.

Open source hardware has given us that, and that will be far more positively economically impactfull than whether or not an specific business can find a way to make money with open source hardware. These new businesses may or may not sell open source hardware. Again, that's far less important than the fact that open source hardware has really enabled so many more people to create.

DesignWest; San Jose April 23 - 25

DesignWest map 2013Will you be there? We will.

If you're in San Jose April 23, 24 or 25, stop by the McEnery Convention center, in San Jose, California. We're in booth 838 and would love to see you and say hi.

We'll be demoing our on line, real-time turn-key prototype quote and order system.

The show is open:

Tuesday 11:00am to 7:00pm
Wednesday 11:30am to 5:30pm
Thursday 11:30 to 4:00.

If you'd like, you can also look up the sessions I'll be speaking at:

Designing a Tele-Presence Robot - What Was I Thinking?
Processors and Programmable Devices
Session Code:   ESC-212
Location:   Salon 4
Date:   Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Time:   9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

FPGAs: I know nothing ... yet.
Lessons and Lessons Learned
Session Code:   STS-304
Location:  210 GH
Date:   Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Time:   2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

I also play a very small part in:

Gadget Freaks
Session Code: ET-06
Location: Expo Theater
Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Time: 5:00 PM – 5:45 PM


10 Computer Languages in 45 Minutes
Tech Fundamentals
Session Code:   FUN-300
Location:  210 EF
Date:   Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Time:   8:30 AM - 9:15 AM

It will be a busy show and with all of the class sessions and exhibitor booths, there will be plenty to do. I think it's hot in San Jose now, so I'm going to leave my coat at home.

Duane Benson
Someone told me it's a long, long way, but I'm not walking so I don't care.




Reliable Assembly

For those of you at my PCB West session on the 27th, thanks for attending. Here's the final presentation as delivered:

Download PCBwest2012 DuaneBenson ReliableManf

Duane Benson


I wandered over to the Ti booth here at the Embedded Systems conference to check out the Beaglebone and the MSP430 Launchpad. We haven't built any Beaglebones yet, but a few years back we took the Open source Beagleboard files and built up a couple to show our Package on package (POP) workmanship. The Beaglebone doesn't use POP, but it is open source. As are the "Capes." They call their expansion cards capes. I get a vision of Underdog when I hear that name.

What caught my eye was their selection of Capes available now.
All of those are open source. They provide functionality such as displays, battery power, CAN, prototyping and more.

The other product I looked at was the MSP430 Launchpad. I've been getting to know the launchpad myself and wanted to see what's new with it. 0328121213The unit shown here has a DSP and a little display driven by the MSP430. It's a MP3 player with the purpose of introducing the DSP and MSP430 / DSP combination.

Ti is doing an amazing job of making evaluation of their chips easy and inexpensive. I've seen a few other companies providing more complete and less expensive than traditional dev boards as well. NXP with their LPC series to name one. It's a good idea and a good trend as far as I'm concerned.

Duane Benson
Robots good. Neurotic thermonuclear devices bad.


ESC / Design West 2012

0327121200aIt's day one here at the show. It's still mostly called ESC but they've included a number of other shows under the name Design West.

I haven't had a lot of time to run around yet, but I have run into two robots. The first one, over at the Intel booth, is based on an ATOM embedded motherboard and a Microsoft Kinect. I stopped to take a picture and it rolled over to visit. It tried to follow me when I left, but it's owner caught it before it got too far away. It's driven by an 0327121234open source software suite and targeted at university programs. I didn't have time to get the details, but if you're here at the show, drop over and check it out. Just walk fast or it might try to tag along behind you

The second robot was at Ti. It didn't follow me, but it did balance on two wheels for me.

Duane Benson
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

Showing Off at ESC 2012

Yes, we show off sometimes. We show off and get self congratulatory and self promotional. 'Cause that's what tradeshows are all about. Well, they're about that, but they're also about meeting and listening to people and other good things. In any case, we are proud of what we do (otherwise I wouldn't be doing it) so we go to tradeshows and show off.

In March, we're going to the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, California. We'll be in booth number 1437 (map here). Show hours are as follows:

Tuesday, March 27 - 11:30am - 7:00pm
Wednesday, March 28 - 11:30am – 5:30pm
Thursday, March 29 - 10:30am – 3:00pm

Bb-partWe always bring some samples of our work for people to hold on to. We've brought the two Beagleboards that we assembled and a few other pieces of our handiwork. It's cool to pick them up and hold them, but with parts so tiny, it's not easy to really see what you need to see from an assembler - the solder joints. So this year, we're bringing some big monitors and a USB microscope. I've got my eye on this one from Adafruit. As of this writing, it's out of stock, and I'm anxiously waiting for notice that it's back in stock.

Duane Benson
Let's get small

Happy binary Veteran’s Day - 11/11/11