Screaming Circuits: Top-Ten Lists

Top-Ten Ways to Get Through a Lousy Economy

So the word in the news is that the country's been in a recession for a year now. Hmmm. We built a 800px-Gdp_real_growth_rate_2007_CIA_Factbook whole lot more boards in 2008 then we did in 2007. If that's a recession, then maybe recession isn't such a bad thing. I know the tough times have hit in a lot of places though, but we built a lot more boards because you folks needed a lot more boards built. I think we'll keep doing that.

Okay. What do you do if you have been hit. What happens if you've lost your job or lost some of your support staff? What happens if your technician is gone or your documentation clerk is gone now? Well, first, in all seriousness, I offer my condolences. I have been laid off in the past and I know it's not fun. But I also know that I did survive. I survived and ended up with a great job in an awesome company (I'm talking about ending up in Screaming Circuits, in case that's not clear). So let's wish a great rebound for those who have been let go and focus on getting through to better times ourselves.

Here are my suggestions for the top-ten things to do to get through the lousy economy:

#10. Is it still politically correct to say "get drunk"? I probably shouldn't say that. I think that's bad form these days. So, don't do that - but if you do, make sure you can walk home or get a cab. And if you do walk home, wear a warm coat. Mythbusters proved that while alcohol may make you feel warmer, it will actually help your core body temperature drop really fast. That's not a good thing. Especially in Minnesota.

#7. If you were one to be laid off, use the time to refresh some skills. Learn a new language. Practice Octal math. Study up on new design techniques.

#6. Become a marketing guy. You've heard the line: If you can, do. If you can't, market. Well, give it a shot. It's not so bad. Scott Adams isn't right about all of us. Just remember to keep telling the truth and you'll be just fine.

#5. If you're a pure digital engineer, get some analog and mixed signal knowledge. The West all but abandoned analog back in the '80s and '90s but it's coming back with a vengeance. Get some skills here and make yourself more marketable.

$3. Eat some chocolate. Maybe some ice cream too. It's the world's most perfect food, you know. Need I say more?

#3. And like #5, if you don't do firmware - start. Almost everything's got a little MCU in it now. Learn how to program the little PIC things or Atmel jobbies. That's a good place to start. Maybe you can be really ambitious and look at the new ARM32 processors. Whatever. Just learn to do some software/firmware.

#2. (Warning! Company plug coming up) If you find yourself with the same workload but less help, send your prototypes to Screaming Circuits and have us do a turn-key build for you. We're offering a 35% discount off our standard price for parts and PCBs for turn-key orders through December 31. We'll get your boards from and parts from DigiKey and just deal with the whole thing for you.

#1. And the number one thing we can do in sucky economic times: Just do what you did the last three times it was the end of the world.

Duane Benson
Breath. Breath deep...

Top-Ten reasons to use Screaming Circuits

Hi all -

I've been a bit swamped lately and haven't been posting as regularly as I would like to. Hopefully I'll be getting more useful tidbits out there again soon. In the meantime, I'll through out a little marketing glurge just so I can feel like I'm doing something semi-productive here.

So, drum roll please. Here are the top-ten reasons to use Screaming Circuits.

Whyscsketch_3 10: Shrinking parts - Dem parts just keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller. Micro BGAs and QFNs were the rage for a while but those are starting to seem big with the increase in 0201s and chip-scale and wafer-scale packages.

I'm seeing 1 Amp power components in silicon wafer scale packages at 2mm x 3mm. That's really hard to do by hand and more components in these form-factors just keep coming.

Whyscsketch_4 01: Shrinking schedules - I can remember having three weeks to get some pc boards in and assembled. I can remember the boss asking the team to bring the schedule in a couple of weeks. Well, here you go. 24 and 48 hour turns can do just that.

We can help you turn weeks into days or hours by building the stuff up here for you. Well, actually, we won't be turning the weeks into day, but something that may have taken weeks will now take days.

Whyscsketch_5 00: Shrinking support staff - The poor folks in documentation and purchasing are either way too busy or have been downsized. Too many engineers now have to not only design the circuit, they have to lay it out, get it built and get it tested. And with all of this other work, they haven't lost any of the rest of their duties. It's just get it done, get these other things done and get it done faster. Yikes!

So, there you have it. 10b2 good reasons to use Screaming Circuits

Duane Benson
I need a nap now

Top-Ten Reasons to Ship Us Your PCBs in December

Yes, Christmas is near, as is New Years. Some companies shut down for the holiday week. Some don't. Some rush to spend remaining budget dollars before the end of the year, while some don't. Regardless, there are quite a number of reasons to send your prototype off to Screaming Circuits for assembly before the end of the year.

#10. You can come back on January 2nd to a clean desk.

#F. Or you can come back on January 2nd to a freshly assembled PCB, ready to be probed by that big expensive scope you convinced your boss to let you buy.

#E. Get those obnoxious marketing geeks off your back: You can show them the assembled boards and say: "See, your stupid prototype will be ready for the CES show in January. Now quit bugging me so I can do my job."

#D. As suggested in the opening to this post, you can squeak out some more budget dollars before the close of your fiscal year.

#C. Skiing! Send us your kit, sneak out early and hit the slopes for a long weekend. Skis or boards?

#B. Surprise the family. Start with #C, but instead of running off to the slopes with your ski bum buddies, build a snowman with the kids. Heck, build a whole snow family. Maybe do a "Calvin & Hobbes"

#A. Okay, if you live in Oregon, you probably won't be able to do the snowman thing, but you can leave early and do some singing in the rain! Singing in the cold, dreary, miserable, incessant rain that won't stop. It just keeps raining and raining and it never, ever stops...

#9. By getting the boards assembled now, you will know how many extra FPGAs you will have left over and you can take those spares and hang them on your tree as decorations.

#8. See #A, above. Get the proto assembly off your desk so you can silently wallow in your SADs without getting further behind schedule. Then get facilities to buy you some of those outdoor spectrum florecent lights that are supposed to help.

#7. That other project team that always seems to be on schedule... Get a jump on them with a 24hour turn here. You can tell them about us later.

#6. It's fun and entertaining.

#5. Stick it to your competition by beating them to launch.

#4. Help with your Christmas shopping - get the assembled boards back and wrap them up as presents to put under your tree. Okay that one's pretty lame, I admit, but it's hard to think up 10b16 things for a top-ten list and not have a few lame ones. #6 was pretty lame too.

#3. Sleep. Send us the project to assemble and stop stressing. You need some good sleep. Holidays are stressful enough without an unassembled proto hanging over your head too.

#2. Don't forget turn-key. have us order the parts and boards for you and save yourself even more time.

#1. And the number one reason to send us your board for assembly before the end of the year: It will make us work longer hours and cut into our holiday time. That's a little bit of payback for all of those annoying marketing message we keep sending your way.

Duane Benson
And a very happy holiday to you too!

Top-ten Reasons for Via in Pad

Okay, so it's really just a top-seven. I hope you don't feel cheated. If you do, then go here and read more about via-in pad.

Now, here are the top-seven reasons for putting vias in pads:

#7.  Grounding the center flag pad on a QFN. All those little electrons might need a quick and easy way home - (or is it the holes that need a quick and easy way to go to work??)

#6.  Cooling the QFN center flag pad. If light can be both a wave or a particle, why not heat? All the little Kelvonic particles will run down the via and hide on the other side of the PCB. Kelvons are better than Photons because Kelvons have feet.

#5.  Greater BGA routing flexibility. Put the via in the BGA pad (make sure your board house fills it and plates over it) and you can run traces between the pads. Then your signals can have races on the traces.

#4.  Keep all that messy solder off the top side of your board. It's easier to inspect a pcb assembly, especially underneath a BGA, if all the solder gets sucked down through a via to the other side of the board. As long as the circuit doesn't actually need to work...

#3.  Promote tombstoning with small passive parts. Put a via in one pad on a small passive and take bets on whether the part will pop up like a tombstone in the other pad. Wyatt Earp can be PN# 478-1051-1-ND and Ike Clanton can be PN# 478-1055-1-ND. No unauthorized component substitutions, please.

#2.  Presents for friends and family of PCB fab company executives. Doing it right by filling and plating over costs money. As we say in the marketing bizz, that service is a "high-margin accessory". Of course, doing it wrong, costs even more money.

... and ...

The number one reason to put vias in pads is:

#1.  Get revenge on your manufacturing folks for all of those annoying documentation requirements they keep throwing at you.

Duane Benson
Via la Screaming Circuits!