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QCPete

Member Since: January 28, 2009

Country: United States

Profile

Bio

I started at SparkFun in September of 2007 as an assembly technician. My experience in electronics had consisted of only running sound equipment for my band and fixing the occasional broken guitar cord. After only a few days on the production floor, my skills with a soldering iron improved dramatically, and I was building beautiful little widgets. It wasn’t too long before I started wondering how all these circuit boards actually worked. Whenever I had the chance, I would walk across the hallway to the engineers and ask for 5 minutes of their time. I learned words like micro controller, source code, op amp and many more. I was hooked.

My first project was an analog headphone amp. It was something I could use as a performing musician. This has since kept me busy on week nights (and most weekends) as I’ve grown my own business around audio products for musicians.

While perfecting my headphone amp design, I got into other DIY projects too. Before long, I was in my front lawn with my laptop and a few servos. I was hacking my sprinkler system. With some active pressure control, I was able to make my sprinkler shoot a perfect square. My neighbors thought I was a crazy :)

Little did I know that taking this position at SparkFun would open my eyes to a new favorite creative outlet, DIY Electronics. I get super stoked about a lot of things, but from the moment I felt that initial spark of interest, I knew this was something very special. I was learning tools that would allow me to truly harness my inner inventor.

In the last few years I have focused my energy at SparkFun to designing more efficient testing equipment and providing feedback to the engineers on how we can better design for manufacturing and testing. I can hardly call it a job, because I love it so much :)

Role

QC Manager

Programming Languages

Arduino, Tera Term Scripts and Batch Files.

Associations

Rock On Audio

Universities

Incline High School (Lake Tahoe), Squaw Valley Academy, Cate High School, Golden West (Huntington Beach), Cal State Long Beach, CU Boulder, Sparkfun University

Expertise

Rocking

Interests

A nice fillet and clean layouts. DSP, particularly the Sigma Studio stuff from AD. Thermal updrafts and circling in them. Remote control Airplanes - Electric in the parking lot and Slope when the winds up.

Websites

http://www.rockonaudio.com, http://www.phillewisart.com (that’s my bro!)

Join us as we give some insight into the progress made in SparkFun’s testbed design over the past eleven years, and an in-depth look at our most recent production testing tool, the Flying Jalapeno.

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Let's take a closer look at the quasi-random sequence generator for the Simon Says Trampolines project, and how a buggy first attempt was improved!

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A re-creation of our Simon Says Soldering Kit using trampolines, spot lights and a ton of new sounds!

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Join us for an epic journey into design for manufacturing, voltage spike suppression, stress testing, hex file analysis and more!

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While designing our new Simon Tilts Through Hole Soldering Kit, we ultimately found that the best solution for the tilt sensor involved creating a custom plastic part. Here is the story of this project - including a couple interviews with the people that helped us along the way.

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Dunk Tank Hack

In addition to the ongoing robot competition at AVC 2013, we included some carnival-type entertainment for the attendees. We rented a dunk tank, triggered it with a swiveling mallet, and challenged people to play "Trampoline Simon Says".

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AVR-Based Serial Enabled LCDs Hookup Guide

August 2, 2018

The AVR-based Serial Enabled LCDs are a simple and cost effective solution for including a Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) into your project. These screens are based on the HD44780 controller, and include an AVR ATMega328p with an Arduino compatible bootloader. They accept control commands via Serial, I2C and SPI. In this tutorial, we will show examples of a simple setup and go through each communication option.

Pi AVR Programmer HAT Hookup Guide

July 26, 2018

In this tutorial, we will use a Raspberry Pi 3 and the Pi AVR Programmer HAT to program an ATMega328P target. We are going to first program the Arduino bootloader over SPI, and then upload an Arduino sketch over a USB serial COM port.

Raspberry Pi Stand-Alone Programmer

March 8, 2018

This tutorial will show you how to use a headless Raspberry Pi to flash hex files onto AVR microcontrollers as a stand-alone programmer. It also tells the story about production programming challenges, how SparkFun came to this solution, and all the lessons learned along the way.

Binary Blaster Assembly Guide

March 13, 2014

Learn how to assemble and play the Binary Blaster Game from SparkFun Electronics.

Constant Innovation in Quality Control

December 11, 2013

In this article, we share our recent advancements in quality control. Along with making our tests more thorough, we have also made them more efficient and robust.

Simon Tilts Assembly Guide

December 3, 2013

This tutorial will guide you through assembling your Simon Tilts PTH Kit.

Simon Says Assembly Guide

January 20, 2011

No matter what flavor of the Simon Says Through-hole Soldering Kit you've purchased, this tutorial is here to guide you through the entire build process.

Simon Says Experiments

October 21, 2010

So you've built up a Simon Says kit? What next? This tutorial will get you up and running with Arduino software, guide you through a few example sketches, and send you on your way to create your own. Careful, this stuff is highly addictive. :)
  • Thanks BricoGeek, and nice catch about the via clearance issue. But sorry, that was not the error I am looking for. Now I’m wondering how many other errors people are gonna catch - I hope a ton! Well not really, but I’m always glad to hear feedback and any improvement ideas.

    You are definitely right though, that via is a little too close to that screw terminal. We try to avoid routing traces or having any vias under screw heads on storefront designs. I guess I was a little lenient on the rules here, being an in-house tool. But with a some more effort (and some help from Eagle 9), I bet we could easily make more room and scoot that away on the next revision.

  • Hey There, I seem to remember a bug in the initial release of firmware having to do with the backlight. Have you tried updating to the latest firmware. There is a guide on how to do this in the troubleshooting section of this hookup guide:

    https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/avr-based-serial-enabled-lcds-hookup-guide/troubleshooting

    Hope this helps!

  • Dang. That’s crazy! I’m usually pretty amazed hearing corrosion stories about circuit boards. I wonder if space is any easier?

    I once attended a manufacturing conference put on by Aqueous Tech (the manufacturer of our batch washer), and they got me scared of shipping out product with even just plain old dust :) 99% of our products go through the washer. It’s those darn “no-clean assemblies” that keep me up at night! But some of our products just can’t get wet (most of our weather products that have humidity sensors, and the new GPS-RTK). On these assemblies, we have to use a no-clean solder paste, which most of us around here think looks pretty darn ugly.

    Also, this reminds me of an interesting project that involved some difficult corrosion problems to solve. We were lucky enough to have Damon McMillan come talk to SparkFun about his sea charger.

  • Thanks for your advice on this 773. I’m glad to hear, in your opinion, we should be safe at 0.15% Sb.

    I’m sure you’ve already read about this, but for those who haven’t I found the wiki page on Sb applications quite fascinating. Fun to learn what else this element is used on, and it looks like we’re gonna run out in just 13 years!

  • Hey 651, Glad you enjoyed the video! Definitely not spam to mention other PCB fabrication options. It’s truly amazing how many great deals are out there these days. SparkX is constantly on the search for cheap deals for our quick turn prototyping options. I think I hear about a new fab house from them every month. I don’t believe we have tried PCBgogo yet, but I’ll pass on the word. Our usual prototype PCBs come from OSHpark or PCBway.

    If you are able to use the design files from our GitHub repo page to order your own PCBs (and find the parts necessary), by all means, please do! That’s the true open source way! It especially makes sense if you were planning on making a large amount of kits. We hope that our kit can be a convenient and affordable option for most, but if you’re willing to do the research and bulk ordering, then go for it! We’d love to see your finished assembly. Please post a picture. Thanks for your comment and good luck!

  • Hey Sembazuru, Good points for sure!

    1. If you don’t plan on cleaning with water (or can’t), then maybe a “no-clean” solder would be a better option. We clean everything here at sparkfun, either in the big production batch washer or (if there’s rework), then with a brush and croc-pot. Having compressed air also helps get all of the water (and flux) off the board completely. I suppose we are also lucky that Colorado is such a dry climate.

    2. Sorry about that. The setting was already on F, so I was just reading it off the display. 710 F = 376 C. I should have mention both. And my parents are Welsh too :)

    3. Another good point. The bottom of the chocolate kiss model does indicate a poor connection at the bottom. Small regular chocolate kisses have a much better solder joint that taper down nicely to the outer edge of the annular ring. For what it’s worth, in the hookup guide, M-SHORT references a nice graphic with some good/bad solder joints. I hope this helps all the first-timers.

    Thanks for your input!

  • Hey 773, I definitely agree. The Weller WE1010 we used in the studio, the high-precision flush cutters and the matte are on the nicer side and cost a bit more than what’s necessary for a total newbie. We have a beginners tool kit that is a good option, or if you want to go super minimalist, just this iron and solder would get ya there.

    Also, good advice about the rosin core. We always just order up some more internally here at SparkFun, so I had forgotten about what other options are out there. I just looked at our solder and the ingredients read as follows:

    96% Sn (tin) 3% Ag (silver) 0.5% Cu (copper) 0.15% Sb (antimony) Eek! How dangerous is this? I’m wondering if we should look into our supplier and see if they can omit that.

    With this in mind, thanks for the reminder about washing hands. Definitely a good idea. As always, we appreciate you comments. Thanks!

  • Hey Brambleton, Nice post and thanks for sharing! Wow that soldering in space movie was so awesome to watch. I did not expect the top of the solder wire to start melting first. (I thought it would collapse at the point where the soldering iron tip was touching). And the spinning flux was also a surprise. So cool!

    FWW, at my soldering station at home, I still use (and love) my old weller iron. When I first took the hook here at SparkFun, I decided to spend a little more and have something that would last, so I bought a nice blue weller. It’s lasted me over 11 years, so it was way worth it!

    Thanks to Mike Schock for sharing those projects. What a fun Halloween project. Does it randomly pop, or does the rotating of the front thingy play into the timing?

  • Hey asciirory, Thanks for your comment. randomSeed() is definitely a good idea. Another tip I’ve learned is (if your project has some sort of user input - like a button press to begin a game) is to send randomSeed the value from millis().

    I did this each time a new game round was started here.

    randomSeed(millis()); // Seed the random generator with random amount of millis()
    

    Thanks again and happy randomizing!

  • Hey 278, Good point. I think you are correct that distilling it down to the problem function is a better approach for debugging. Also, the randomization does not depend on the user input in any way, so you are right, actual game-play should not be needed to debug this problem.

    At the time when I was first attempting to fix this, I only had a couple hours to troubleshoot, so I opted to heavily tweak my code and try the “on_deck_array” approach. I’ll admit, this was not the most thorough way to fix the problem (and I never got to the root cause). At the time, I was more concerned with getting a working solution in place asap.

    Also, I actually wanted to emulate the problem without changing anything on my installation. I was slightly worried that if I started tweaking code right off the bat, then I’d miss seeing the original problem, or create new ones. So I opted to try and experience the failures just like they were happening for the participants. But I suppose after I had caused a few, then trying out some new code on a different Arduino would have been better and potentially a lot faster. Should have brought another Pro mini with me to the museum. I’m gonna keep working on building up my “in-field” debugging kit.

    FWW, when writing this post last week, (a few months after the original debugging session), I did attempt to pull out the add_to_moves() function and cause failures, but I wasn’t able to emulate the same failure. I’m guessing that my “distilled down” version of the code was somehow slightly different (and fixed?), but I didn’t track it in github, so I’m not sure.

    Also, thanks to member 993 (see comments below), I now see there was a fatal flaw in my original rules between by “count” rules and my “non-repeat” rules.

    Thanks again 278 for checking out my code and I appreciate your feedback!