A look into SparkFun Production - and some new products!


http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/Production-1-M.jpg
Along with the new space, the Production department is moving down stairs. Before the move, we decided to take some quick photos for historical record. We figured you might want a peek.
12 people work very hard every day building SparkFun widgets. Their speed and quality continues to amaze me.
We finally broke down and bought a reflow oven two years ago, shown on the left. Up until then, we were using our hot-plate technique. You can see our raw part stock on the right.
http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/news/Production-2-M.jpg
There's the pick and place machine (I'd rather call it 'chef') shown in the middle, test stations on left, stenciling area on right. The small purple dots on the ceiling are actually the left over stars from the middle of the LilyPad panels:
pick n place machine by leahbuechley.
Chef making LilyPad Accelerometers. The boards are thinner than normal (0.8mm) and the center left-over bits are rather sharp at the points making them ideal throwing stars. Suddenly, we started seeing LilyPad throwing stars all over the office.

Enough of that fun, here's the new goodies:

mini-Bully is a simple, small, and powerful board developed by the folks at Mississippi State University. It's based on the PIC24 series and uses a serial bootloader so that no external programmer is needed, only a serial connection that mates with our FTDI Basic Breakout. Kinda like an Arduino Pro Mini with a bit more fire power (40MIPS!).

This has been a dream of mine since college. I always wanted to know what really happens to a package when it gets shipped by FedEx, UPS, or USPS. How well is it taken care of? Does it really fly all the way to Memphis, Tennesse just to get re-routed to Washington state? Does my poor package get cold? Wet? How high does it go? How low does the air pressure drop? Does it get dropped? Kicked down the hall? How hard does it get shaken? All these questions can be answered with the Package Tracker. It's a board that has an array of sensors and the ability to log them all. Use the Package Tracker to audit the next time you ship a large, expensive piece of equipment - or when you want to verify that your shipment of DNA samples did not get too warm.

We think we have the last remaining XBee module listed. This unit is the high-power version (Pro), of the new line (series 2.5) with a wire antenna (!). These modules from Digi make wireless communication easy with a serial AT command set and the ability to setup simple mesh networks.

We found a good supplier of low-cost BAC (blood alcohol content) gas sensors. Please experiment responsibly.

We're putting together a couple LilyPad kits for Maker Faire Austin. The LilyPad E-Sewing Kit is a great way to get started with wearable and textile electronics. Just a couple buttons, LEDs, and some thread and you'll have your shirt or pants wired for light. Blinky is good.

Pete's going crazy with the 3-D prototyping. Checkout what you can do with the new penta, hex, and triangle shaped perf boards. We've got enough different proto boards that we decided to create a 'Board' new category under Prototyping.

Inside the new Board category, you will find some new SMD prototyping boards as well. These 0.5mm and 0.65mm TQFP boards all you to breakout many of the popular processor and controllers.

New fingerprint scanner now available! This is a lower-cost version where you slide your finger across the sensing element. Works great, comes with easy to use software, and has a simple serial interface for uniquely identifying users.

New membrane keypad. This was originally designed as a custom keypad for a VOIP phone development kit. Now we get to use it for our own liking. Sealed, with an adhesive backing makes this keypad able to withstand the outside world.

What's a Pogo Pin? It's a very small pin that has a spring loaded head. Commonly used in test fixtures, the board under test can be quickly compressed against a 'bed of nails' test jig, run through a battery of tests, then removed without the need for soldering. We use them in our own test jigs but we figured you would have some good uses for them as well.

We now stock a CR2045 battery holder that is tall enough to contain our Lithium Ion rechargeable coin cells. Cheap, and easy to solder!

This is a pre-amp board that allows you to connect various low level audio devices like guitar pickups, electret mics, and piezo discs - and connect them to larger amplifiers and audio equipment. A simple design, but a much needed glue to piece audio equipment systems together.

And to make this perhaps the longest News post ever, we have image updates!

The LIS302DL breakout is finally updated with the correct breakout pins. This is a wonderfully simple low-cost 8-bit triple axis accelerometer that you will start to see in many consumer electronics.

Slight update on the Logomatic v2. We broke out some additional pins, improved the routing, and rotated the battery connector to be side-entry to easier connecting. If you need a flexible data logger, this is the product to checkout!

The LilyPad USB Link is now is sexy red, with the addition of TX and RX LEDs.

Comments 11 comments

  • Ok, so what is stuck in the ceiling? Extra circuit boards? In my office, it is pencils.

    • “The small purple dots on the ceiling are actually the left over stars from the middle of the LilyPad panels”

  • Cool - What make of pick n place is Chef?

  • GB: Hi,
    Who makes the benches?? I’m desperately in need of a new one and the ones at the front look great!

    I’m not sure, I searched all over the undersides and backs of those benches for any trace of a brandname, but couldn’t find one. They are ESD (Electro-static discharge) furniture, which is a good thing to have in a Production environment, but since there is no trace of any branding, I guess that they are just generic ESD benches.
    If you use your favorite search engine to search for “ESD Furniture”, you’ll see a lot of similar stuff, but I didn’t see anything identical.
    Trevor

    • GB, sorry for the delay but I found the bench manufacturer from a small tag under one of the benches. They are called Above Board Manufacturing and the tag says that their web page is at www.aboveboardmfg.com. That URL currently redirects to something called Formaspace, I’m not sure if they were bought or changed their name.
      Hope that that is helpful.
      Trevor

  • Hi,
    Who makes the benches?? I’m desperately in need of a new one and the ones at the front look great!

  • What are all of those things attached to the ceilings? Have you guys been chucking your coasters up there so that you don’t have to store them or get rid of them?

    • SupraBitKid: Ok, so what is stuck in the ceiling? Extra circuit boards? In my office, it is pencils.
      GeoffKerr: What are all of those things attached to the ceilings? Have you guys been chucking your coasters up there so that you don’t have to store them or get rid of them?
      Apparently, I didn’t see the prior comment…

  • It looks very cool ! Good job :-)


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