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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 for part two of our in-depth look at testbed design at SparkFun. Here, we focus on the hardware design choices for our in-house testing tool, the Flying Jalapeno.

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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 to include in your project. These screens are based on the HD44780 controller, and include 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. :)
  • Hey hydronics, Sorry, no. This will only play one MP3 at a time.

    If you want to layer tracks, you can use the Tsunami Super WAV Trigger. I recently used it on a project that needed layered sound and, although a bit pricier, it works flawlessly!

  • Looping in my head all morning: “What’s good for a snack and fits on your back?”

    Thanks a lot Chris!

  • Nice work troubleshooting that TiVO! Funny how it so often comes down to a bad cable, dead batteries, or something wrong with the power supply.

    We kill many micro-B USB cables in production. The culprits are the test procedures that require plugging in a cable to test the product. I remember when I was a tech, as a cable would get older, there was a special touch where you could apply just the right pressure at an angle and get it to work for a couple more weeks. But inevitably, they end up in the E-waste.

    We are releasing more and more products with USB-C connectors, which I am pretty stoked on. I’m hopeful that these will last much longer. The connector on the cable end seems more robust, but only time on the production floor will tell.

  • Hey 773, Thanks for chiming in here. It’s not very often that I think about temperature range when designing the micro controller section of a board. Usually, I’m only thinking about temperature when working with power layouts, resistors/LEDs, and especially a linear vreg.

    I once had a product “work” for many years, and then started seeing returns and realized that my power input linear vreg was heating up too much, and if in the right conditions (hot day in a black enclosure), it wouldn’t survive very long. Thanks for the tip, and I will make sure to keep temperature as an important variable to consider in all aspects of design.

    Glad to hear that we are most likely gonna be fine with the 3.3V logic and 16MHz crystals. These Flying Jalapeno testbed designs will very rarely (if ever) leave our production floor, so at least we have that going for us :)

  • Hey dksmall, Good point about the jumper. It is definitely pretty hard to see what’s really going on with a design without a schematic. Sorry I assumed that the “VCC” would imply the logic level for the micro. This is what I have learned and is probably pretty bad practice. It looks like there is much more to learn about VCC from the discussion on this post about the difference between VCC, VDD, VEE and VSS.

    I’ll admit, I should have thought through my challenge a bit more before posting it in the end of my part 1. It was sort of a last second thing I thought of while writing the end of my post, and wasn’t originally planning on doing a “contest”. Looking back on this, I should have posted the schematic as well (maybe even the eagle files). But for what it’s worth, I was really amazed by what everyone was able to understand and point out other flaws from only looking at the picture, and I truly appreciate all of the conversation!

    Also, thanks for the tip about AVRFreaks. I remember visiting there many years ago, but it seems to have fallen off my radar lately. I will definitely be checking that out some more.

  • Hey 773, I was hoping you’d chime in here. Thanks! Hope your appointments go well, and we look forward to reading your feedback! I’ll be watching my inbox :)

  • Dang, you guys are good! Thanks for chiming in stcarlso and Garfieldboy. I can’t believe I failed to look at the pre-test circuits!!! They are so obviously related closely to V1 and V2 :)

    I will try removing each of the “CTRL resistors” (R13/R30), and see if the problem persists. Maybe a future design will have separate control line IO for each pre-test. We certainly have plenty of IO to spare on the mega2560.

    Thanks again. It sure is amazing how a fresh set of eyes on a problem can clearly see what I’ve been missing for so long.

    I will update with results as soon as I have a chance to test this out.(should be early next week)

  • Hey stcarlso, Thanks for taking a closer look at my design! Could you explain more about what a direct cross conduction path is? (or at least help me find some links). All of my searching on google is leading to stuff about the human heart :)

    [edit] Ahhh…. whoops. I was reading waaaay to much into your words. Yeah, I see that they are connected via resistors. I think the “cross” was throwing me off. You are definitely right, though. Thanks for finding this and commenting!!

  • Hey dksmall, Oops, sorry I didn’t reveal the design flaw yet. Here is it:

    The one I was thinking of has to do with the fact that the logic level selection jumpers allows you to select 3.3V and this is out of spec for the 16MHz crystal. An ATMega328p says that for operating above 10MHz, you need at least a logic level of 4.5V.

    On page one of the ATMega Datasheet, under “Speed Grades” it states:

    – ATmega328P: 0 - 4 MHz @ 1.8 - 5.5V, 0 - 10 MHz @ 2.7 - 5.5V, 0 - 20 MHz @ 4.5 - 5.5V

    I know this isn’t actually that horrible of design practice to be at 3.3V (and is found on some of our other products (for example: the Blackboard), but I was hoping that ya’ll would be able to see that from the high res image - just looking at the silk).

    We usually aren’t “maxing out” the micro in any way on test jigs, so we haven’t seen any problems operating at 3.3V with the 16MHz crystal.

    Have you (or anyone else reading) ever had issues when you are operating slightly out of spec? My guess is that trying to operate UART or SPI at higher buads would start showing some failures. Are there any other areas of the micro that would potentially start malfunctioning?

    I was really stoked to see all of the other feedback though. There is some really good stuff in there! And we all really appreciate you sharing those pictures of your test jigs. It is so fun to see the progression from way back in the 80s!!

  • Hey 966, Thanks for catching that. You are definitely correct. 20 millimeters would be just a tad bit excessive :). Fixed. And thanks!

    PS what terminology do you prefer when talking about trace width? I think the norm around here at SparkFun is to say “20 mils” or sometimes “20 thou”.