welcome to the lab

speed over polish

SparkX products are not nearly as shiny or polished as the regular SparkFun product; we can get to market faster. Are you ok with a board that hasn't been fully user tested? Can you read a manual? SparkX is for you.

unabashed failure

SparkX doesn't care if something isn't quite finished. Shoot, we're only pretty sure an idea will work. We'll let you know exactly what's known and what's tested, the rest is up to you. Are you ok with a green wire and no beginner's guide? SparkX is for you.

go go go!

SparkX chases the shiny. If there's a product or project that appeals to us we'll do it regardless of market considerations. Want to play with something that may never make it to market? SparkX is for you.

 Read on

SparkX Products

TFMini - Micro LiDAR Module

SPX-14577
$39.95
VR IMU (Qwiic) - BNO080 High Precision

SPX-14618
$49.95

SPX-14471
The Prototype HARP

SPX-14379
$59.95
6

Avoiding The Burning of Dollars

Panelizer and CAMmer: More production tools with EAGLE to avoid silly mistakes.

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We (ok me) recently forgot to order a bottom stencil for one of our panels. We also accidentally ordered boards in the wrong thickness and wrong color. And once upon a time, many years ago, we even forgotten to transmit the internal layers of a four layer board. Many dollars burned.

Can we create tools to avoid these mistakes? Yes. Yes we can.

Additionally, we need to create lots of panels in SparkX (see our previous post on panelizing boards) but our production team makes much larger, more complex panels that are optimized for our SMT line (automatic stenciling machines, pick and place, automated optical inspection, etc). One of the challenges of creating these larger panels is to allow for gaps when there are overhanging parts off the sides of a PCB.

The SparkFun-Panelizer takes a single board like this one:

Single copy of a design

And generates a panel that looks like this:

Production panel

Complete with borders, fiducials, gaps, and production text. All parametrically!

GUI settings

Who needs this? Generally speaking, anyone who has a pick and place machine or is populating their own boards. If you’re having a contract manufacturer populate your boards then they will probably generate a panel from your design to match their process.

The features of the SparkFun-Panelizer:

  • Detect overhanging parts: Warn user and recommend a gap needed to avoid collisions. We scan all parts for tDocu and tSilk outside the board dimension.
  • Auto add Route Out text or V-score lines: If the gap is large enough that the panel needs a route-out instead of a v-score then say so.
  • Detects internal layers: Warn user if there are internal layers detected.
  • Detect if board has bottom components: Add bottom fiducials to panel borders, generate bottom stencil, generate internal layer gerbers.
  • Detect board soldermask color: Scan the board aestethics (logos) to determine if this is a purple (LilyPad), red (SparkFun), or black (SparkX) PCB.
  • Detect board thickness: We add a manufacturing note to all 0.8mm boards. Find this and we know we need to order thin boards.

GUI Warnings

It slices, it dices! Just set it and forget it!

CAM GUI

We also automated the CAM generation process - we call it the SparkFun-CAMmer. If we can detect a four layer board then we can generate CAMs that automatically include the internal gerbers (no more mishaps). We can automatically warn the user to order a bottom stencil. We can even zip everything up so it’s ready for transmission.

Please kick the tires! Let us know what you think. And if you have a better way of doing something please create a pull request.

I just finished writing the first of several EAGLE web utilities, let me introduce you to Buzzard Label Maker!

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We make a lot of panels. Let's automate it!

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A Better Translation

Watch out, we’ve been translating technical English… How to install and edit the SparkFun English file for the Charm High software.

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Getting the Windows software installed

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From design to population in less than a minute!

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Leader Cheaters

How to add a leader to a cut tape using audio splicing tape.

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Unboxing the $2800 desktop pick and place machine.

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Copyright and Monkeys

What does an image of a flexible display and a monkey have to do with each other?

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We put an escape room on a board.

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It's the next greatest thing to desktop spectroscopy.

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Want to talk to multiple I2C sensors but have only one address? No problem.

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Air quality has never been easier or more advanced.

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New Connector System

We're pleased to announce our new Qwiic system.

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What's in the box?! Opening a safe with a little intelligence and a little brute force.

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Copying Vail Resorts' UHF RFIDs based lift tickets.

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Thanks, Othermill!

Great customer service fixed our registration issue.

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We use 0603 SMD packages but the electronics world uses much smaller sized components.

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I think you've got enough news feeds as it is

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Product 0

Getting the first product live

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See the difference solder paste stencils make in homebrew PCB assembly, and we test out milled PCBs in the reflow oven.

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Troubleshooting our second homebrewed breakout for the MLX90393.

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Is your logo causing your silkscreen file to be huge?

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Step 1: Go

Setting up the SparkX lab.

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