January 16, 2009
about a year ago
Any idea if you guys will carry the USB line?
I’m most interested in the XS1-U16A-128 for a Linux car audio amplifier thing I am building. I bought the eval kit from Digi-Key, but I want to release the board design and software here open source so anyone can build it.
You guys already carry the SiLabs AM/FM tuner chip ;-)
News - SparkFun Gets a Subpoena
about 3 years ago
My concept is wrapped in the basics of batch control - a “grown-up” part of mass producing products. In the chip business we laser etch each chip die, so that we know what wafer and what X/Y location of the wafer it was from - and the date of manufacture, foundry, etc. A 2D Data-Matrix barcode can be etched as small as 100um2 (about 4mills2). It’s kind of like the VIN on a car, the batch code on a package of meat etc.
What if someone loaded the pick-and place machine with a tape-reel that contained diodes the manufacturer put in backwards one day (it actually happens). If that got missed in quality control, and a customer found it - they could proactively find any product which used that reel and pull the product off their shelf and get in touch with customers with rework or exchange info.
It has the side effect of helping law enforcement, but only if a good manufacturing and inventory-control procedure is correctly attached to the sales/distribution process.
Laser etching a PCB with a serial number is actually the fastest and easiest way to do it in a production line. You don’t have to etch the final serial number on a board until it gets to the pick-and-place stage (installing components on the board), and it can be the final step before the PCB panel is ejected from the pick-and-place machine on the way to soldering. That serial number can reference a database that has the sesrial number for each part (if applicable), or at least each part’s tape-reel, tube, or tray batch number.
It’s a good process to track all of these things when manufacturing a product that has more than two parts, just for reliability, inventory management, and liability control. I’m not saying that Sparkfun employees are taking parts off the production line for their own use - but with a system that requires input-to-output to be balanced, they could at least prove that.
Makes you wonder - if Nate says “We have zero tolerance for those who use them for evil,” that’s kind of a warning to those who use Sparkfun parts at all for crime. There is a property-law convention called “Reasonable Foreseeability”.
Now that Sparkfun has been served with an information request and informed by law enforcement and the courts that their devices are being used by people committing a crime - Sparkfun would be best guided by their council to take a mitigating action for the specific part used in the crime, since it’s likely it’ll happen more than once more until someone publicly gets caught and bad-guys stop shopping at Sparkfun. These types of actions could be as simple as laser etching a serial number on the board and logging it with each sale. This would reduce further the total amount of data they would have to release (to one purchase). And for you criminals out there who are reading this after building that card skimmer - just think about this:
A serial number can be covered with a white silk-screen (which they already use) so you wouldn’t see it unless you scratched all of the silk-screen off - but then, they could also hide it under a large SMT component, or print it visibly under the solder mask. It wouldn’t even have to be “numbers and letters” - it could be a 2D barcode, spread out over both sides of the PCB, on the back-side of every resistor, the PCB edge… and it could be laser etch or UV dye, or….
Evil-Doers beware, Sparkfun has your scent and is probably plotting your doom…
about 6 years ago
It would be nice if Sparkfun had a variant of this board that instead of SMA, had the Sarantel SL1300 embedded GPS antenna… It would use just about the same pad footprint as the SMA connector (maybe a little tweak).
I’ve been trying to get my hands on that antenna for weeks with no joy…
The module with an SMA antenna is great, simple to interface, very sensitive.
No public wish lists :(
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