John Teel of Predictable Designs returns to the podcast to discuss designing for Injection Molded Enclosures for MFG.
Visit our Slack Channel and join the conversation in between episodes and please review us, wherever you listen (PodcastAddict, iTunes), it helps this show stay visible and helps new listeners find us.
us on iTunes!
Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.
In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.
In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.
Parker also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.
Stephen Kraig began his electronics career by building musical oriented circuits in 2003. Stephen is an avid guitar player and, in his down time, manufactures audio electronics including guitar amplifiers, pedals, and pro audio gear. Stephen graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!
Welcome to the macro fab engineering podcast. I'm your guest, John teal.
And we are your hosts Parker Tillman
and Steven Craig. This is episode 106. John Thiel is the founder of predictable designs, a company which helps startups makers and small companies develop new electronic products. Previously, John was an award winning designer, design engineer for Texas Instruments where he designed numerous successful microchips, which are found inside millions of popular tech products.
So John, predictable designs. So what do you do there?
Well, I mainly focus, like you just said, on helping startups and entrepreneurs, and, you know, the the name predictable is about trying to make the entire product development process as predictable as possible. You can't make it perfectly predictable. But my goal is to make it more predictable.
predictable, so predicting all the pitfalls with with creating a new design, right?
Yeah, the pitfalls, all the cost, you know, it's like, you know, have people contact me thank you can, you know, develop a new product for a few $100. So trying to give them realistic expectations on what to expect, and until you know what to expect, you really can't choose the best path forward. So that's sort of where I come in,
do you go in as far as doing like design for manufacturability, and stuff like that?
Not really, I have some in the past, mainly, I kind of focus on sort of the initial stages. So I sort of help them, you know, I understand everything that they have to do to get a product developed and on the market. And then, and in the past, you know, I had done the full electronics design. But since you know, the past couple years, I've focused more on doing some of the upfront work, and then referring them to other design shops to do the schematic and layout and such.
Oh, so basically, like, you know, people come with you with an idea. And you lay the groundwork out for the design parts, that kind of stuff.
It exactly sort of my signature service is a report I call the predictable hardware report. And it basically, you know, I estimate the cost to develop the product, the cost to scale it to manufacturing, you know, how much injection molds and all that are going to cost. And then I also actually do what I call a pre design where I select all the critical components for the product, and then price those out and get estimates. So I give them an estimate of manufacturing costs for the product so they can determine you know, how much profit they can make from the product?
Yeah, and the feasibility and you must have a ton of contacts. Just like, like crazy amount of contacts?
Yeah, I do get quite a few emails, I spend a good chunk of my day replying to emails,
well, I guess I was meaning, like, if you have a product that needs something for electronics, and something for plastics, and some kind of metal housing, or blah, blah, blah, all these like, to be able to, you know, have all of that in your wheelhouse. That's, that's actually really cool. It's incredibly valuable, actually, for customers to have that kind of like, all in one stop shop, at least one person who has that knowledge of where to go.
Absolutely. Yeah. And there are, you know, there's two kind of ways I go, you know, I've got, you know, connection contacts with just freelancers, you know, that, you know, they can maybe just do the schematic design in the PCB, and then someone else does with 3d modeling. But then I also, you know, have a couple firms that I work with, sort of do everything under one under one roof. So, it depends, you know, if you, if you want to hire, you know, one firm to do everything and manage the project, you know, it takes a load off the entrepreneur, but it also obviously, is going to increase the cost. So, if you're trying to save money, then typically, it's better to go with individual, you know, freelancers, or, you know, various companies and then entrepreneur do the project management.
Oh, gotcha. Cool. So I guess we'll just jump right into it, then. Like, what? Because this is, this is something that people can just download. So they're not like email on you. So what are the common questions that you get asked all the time in emails? If you're willing to give that up for free?
Yeah, I mean, yeah. The reports not free. But the questions on how I actually bought, you know, a lot of these questions I try. It's a question I get asked more than one. So I tried to typically write a blog post on it. You know, their, their variety of questions, you know, obviously, everyone wants to know how much it's going to cost. So that that's kind of probably, you know, one of the biggest questions that I get, and that was sort of what
you're talking about their design, right? Yeah, the design
well, how much it's going to cost to develop it. that's usually about as far as most people will go, they don't realize, you know, if you have a prototype of one, there's still a lot more work to make it. So this is can be something manufactured in the 1000s, or millions, you know, they
supply chain and stuff like that, yes,
supply chain, electrical certifications, you know, injection molds, you know, it's, you know, you don't do 3d printing, obviously, for production. So those types of things are kind of things that a lot of people tend to, you know, not fully understand how much work and cost there is involved,
will also even just the path of prototype to pilot to production, there's very different things that have to happen in order for each one of those to be successful.
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, it's not going to happen overnight, you know, you, you know, I have people contacting me all the time that, you know, I've got a prototype, you know, and I'm ready for manufacturing. And I'm like, Well, it's, you know, not quite that simple, you don't just pass it on to a manufacturer, and you just start making money, it's like, there's usually a lot of work that goes into, you know, goes into that, whether that be enough 3d modeling, you know, you can, you can produce about any type of shape with a, you know, 3d printer, but not true with injection molding. And typically, there's lot of modifications to your enclosure, you know, you have to get draft angles and all this stuff, so that you can actually pull the parts out of the mold. So that that takes a lot of time to get right.
And not just that it's sure you can design anything in 3d space. But like actually assembling the final device, even if you make it injection moldable. Like, what if you can't put that connector together inside that enclosure?
Yeah, and those are all issues that you you've got to be prepared to, you know, you're going to run into things like that, once you actually start production. You know, it's like, every time you ramp something up, typically new problems show up that you're gonna have to work for. Yeah, it takes a lot of it takes a lot of persistence. To go through this entire, you know, the entire process. It's not for the light hearted.
Yeah. So I guess we'll go back to that question then is like, you know, how much will it cost? I know, it depends on the product and device and stuff. But let's say we're doing an Arduino IoT thing. Okay, so it does one thing has one sensor on it. And we're gonna, we did a Kickstarter, and it was like 10,000 units.
He said, You sound like probably a bunch of emails. So I've got this thing. With like, one or two chips, how much
farther? It's like, my Kickstarter was successful. And I already charged this amount of money, how do I make profit?
And I have to deliver in two weeks?
Yeah. Yeah, that sounds exactly like an email I probably received recently. You know, other than the product itself, I would say that the biggest variable is the the person entrepreneur, you know, it's like, first of all, two things. How much money do you have? And how much experience do you have? If you have both of those things are going to go a lot quicker. If you don't have either of them. It's, it's going to take a long time. And you're going to have to, you know, learn a lot or, you know, if you don't have any technical skills, or you know, like, I get a lot of people that are clients that are software engineer, so they're technical, but they don't understand hardware. And they don't
realize they don't realize that compile doesn't work in hardware. Yeah.
Yeah. And you can't just keep spamming the compile button with hardware. It cost a lot of money each time.
Exactly, exactly. Yeah, you want to try to get it right. You know, obviously, Nothing's ever perfect the first time, but you obviously want to try to limit the revisions that are necessary.
Gotcha. Well, actually,
so here's a question that's sort of along the same lines, but one that I'm a bit more curious right now. At what point do you usually get injected into a project? And at what point are you usually kind of retired from a project?
Yeah, that's a great question. Typically, you know, I get involved once you have a concept that you've kind of nailed down, you have, you know, the basic features that you want to know the battery life, the product size. So that's where I typically I like to get involved as early as possible before they start, you know, throwing 1000s of dollars and not really having any direction. So that the better I'm involved, you know, I think the better that is for the entrepreneurs, startup inventor, whatever you want to call them, as far as when I you know, so, my process flows, I provide this report, then I give you references for you know, someone that can do the full design and make the prototypes. And then then I also do like, monthly consulting plans so that I can stay on and provide some oversight. Like I do design reviews on the schematic and PCB, and just provide some sort of independent In consulting that's not, you know, their primary designer, and then that allows them to, you know, they can feel a little more confident in hiring, you know, a lower cost engineer in the Philippines. As long as you know, outsourcing is great, but you need to either have the skills to judge the quality of the work or have someone else that you trust judge that quality. So I, you know, I like to stay on it to the full stretch, but, you know, manufacturing is not really my, you know, getting helping them get manufacturing set up, but not, you know, the, the long term manufacturing I'm typically not involved with.
Okay, so pretty much right up until manufacturing.
Yeah, pretty much pretty much I mean, though, keep me up, you know, for, you know, in the ballgame, you know, for some of them well, for during that time, but generally I kinda in not quite as useful once you're got manufacturing up and running.
You were talking about, you said a little bit about DFM. And that explanation. So what are some like, so if someone came, what was like the worst, like, cringe you ever had, when you saw someone's design? When they came to you?
Um, you know, I would say, you know, first of all having like, it well, you know, at this point, they don't, it's more of a design idea, I guess, but, you know, they think they can fit, you know, Wi Fi, cellular, Bluetooth, ZigBee, you know, 10 gigahertz processor, all in a watch running off a coin cell battery here, you know, those are the days I have to give them a dose of reality, I would say some of the mistakes I see. I mean, by far the most common mistake I see if they give me a design to look at is typically to do with how they've laid out the antenna on the PCB that seems to be kind of on the most calm, and then, you know, they just do a minimum with trace. And that's kind of it without any impedance matching or anything like that.
So that would be I guess, if you're, you know, looking to, that'd be the biggest mistake then from a design standpoint.
But yeah, that's, that's probably the the, yeah, that's probably one of the biggest mistakes that I see. And then the other is having a 3d model that can't ever be injection molded without, you know, 50 side actions and a really complicated mold, or, you know, that just can't be ever, you know, actually injection molded. Yeah.
Back to I got my original question was,
I mean, we're kind of going over the common the common questions, okay. He's not actually Oh, no, he mentioned something. It was before the DFM. You said something about DFM? No, no, it was the
basically, people come to him and want to break physics.
Well, like he said, dose of reality is, yeah, it's that's a hard pill to swallow sometimes. But I get it, it
does. It does happen. Luckily, you know, most of the people that contact me, you know, they've done some, you know, you know, some of them are completely non technical and have never touched an Arduino, but others have at least done some front development work. So, you know, I think most of them have some realistic expectations, at least on the feasibility of the product, you know, not down to the details, but, you know, most of them aren't asking, it's very rare Do i ever get, you know, presented a product idea that is just absolutely impossible. It happens, it may be impossible to do affordably in a reasonable amount of time. But, you know, most things are possible if you have enough money and enough time. Within reason, it's not gonna you're not gonna break the speed of light or anything like that. But
as my next question is, like, you know, if someone came with you with an idea to build, like, the time machine from Back to the Future,
I just want to know how much that would cost. You just give me that in an email. I mean, come on.
Yeah, that that's outside my expertise. I don't really do time machines anymore. But
anymore. Ti, right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So okay, so one of these other questions on this list was, how long will it take to get my product on the market? And I guess, a little bit of a twist on that, because that's kind of a hard question to actually answer. Just maybe from your experience, what what have you seen to be kind of like the average time that a project goes on for
Okay, yeah, um, you know, once again, I think the biggest variable is the person doing it, you know, it's like if you're, if you're really good and you have a lot of money, you can make things happen faster than someone that has no money and no experience and no one on their, you know, team that has any experience with life. tronics design, but you know, I think just a general guideline, you know, I, most of the projects I've seen are six to 12 months to get from idea to a manufacturable prototype, and then another six to 12 months to actually get it to where you're, you know, pumping out 1000s of them. So one to two years, one year, if every, you know, if the stars aligned for for you
pass your FCC and CE on first dry.
Yeah, that happens all the time.
All the time. And you're not making a time machine
not making time machine. And three, no parts shortage, probably.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And, you know, works on the, you know, maybe, you know, I mean, nothing ever works really perfectly the first time, but you know, at least by the second or third revision,
well, and your bank has an enormous line of credit open for you, that also helps.
That does help, I mean, money always makes things easier, it doesn't necessarily, and I had people that, you know, you could tell had the money to spend. And, you know, a lot of times I think that's a worse position to be in, because you're you're always looking to take shortcuts and solve problems with money and not actually doing the research to, you know, to do the right thing, actually.
Well, actually, so that kind of works a little bit into the next question, which is, if I don't have a ton of money, how do I get my product to the market?
You know, basically, you have kind of, well, I mean, yet, you always have the option of getting more money, which is
that's why I just said,
obviously, that's the point, you know, for a lot of people why they're doing a product and make more money. So by its very nature, most, you know, the people that contact me are rich. So if you don't have the money, either, you're gonna have to learn to do a lot of this on your own. So you're gonna, it's gonna take a long time, or you know, better yet, you can find a co founder that has the necessary experience, your chances are going to be much better, if you if you don't have any experience, if you at least have someone on your team, and not just, you know, a paid consultant like me, but that actually, you know, as equity in the company, you know, ideally 5050, or whatever. So, either a co founder, or you're gonna, you're gonna have to learn a lot, or raise outside investment, but, you know, getting investments, you know, I've been through that with my own hardware startup. And it's, you know, that's a whole other humongous goal in itself, just trying to raise money, especially if your pre prototype then it becomes kind of impossible, in other than, you know, through a Kickstarter campaign or something like that. But even that, you know, you don't, you're not gonna put your your project up on Kickstarter, and think that people are just going to start giving you money for that,
waving Kickstarter, you have to have a working functional prototype of your whatever you're trying to pitch.
Yeah, yeah, you should, you really need to, ideally, you have to have at least for Kickstarter, you have to, but yeah, you want to have a, you know, a prototype, because otherwise, it's just there's too many unknowns. And, you know, everyone has ideas, it's, it's, I always tell people, the ideas and what's important, it's the execution, that's where the values at. So people before anyone wants to is going to give you money, they, they want to see that you've put up a lot of your own money, or that you've executed and made some significant progress on it. Or better yet, both of those,
right? Yeah, that sounds about right.
So like, when you, when you go to a manufacturer, if you go to an injection mold, or if you go to anyone who's going to do some work for you, in many cases, or in all cases, it helps to be prepared before you show up, especially if it's, you know, Game Day at your manufacturer, you show up and you don't have all your stuff together, you pretty much guaranteed to have an issue there. So that I would assume that sort of applies the same way with you. So what can people do to be prepared before they even contact you to have their product such that it goes smoothly with you?
Yeah, well, the main thing is, is to have you know, a list of features at least have the product nailed down to some extent, you know, what features you want, which would be nice to have but not essential. And, you know, some realistic expectations that obviously I'm going to help you have those, you know, expectations that are realistic but you know, at least come in expecting that this is going to be 1000s of dollars, not hundreds of dollars. I mean it's it's rare. Most people don't have the illusion they can get a product on the market for a few 100 But for you know Some third world countries, I have people contacting me that, you know, are wanting to try to do that. And that's just, that's just not realistic.
All right, cool.
I guess we'll move on next question then. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So the focus on product development? Oh, I just messed up that question. It's not written, right. I know, I started reading the question. I'm like, Ah, I did not read that before I put it down. Before I hit copy, paste,
you should just play it off, put it off.
Yeah. No one would have known.
Um, so yeah, um, you know, most people come to you with a focus on product development. But what about the focus on marketing?
Yeah, that's, um, you know, I'm an engineer. So obviously, you know, I tend to think product developments really important. But my experience is everyone, regardless of the, you know, where you're at, they put, you know, there needs to be emphasis on product development, obviously, you don't have anything to sell until you develop it. But you can't go in and think, Okay, I'm going to spend two years getting this product developed and ready for market, and then I'll worry about how I'm going to sell it or who I'm going to sell it to, you know, there's two problems with that is, marketing is, it's hard, it's not an easy thing to do, I don't care what type of business you're in marketing, I think is probably one of the most important things, important steps to success. But secondly, I like to encourage people to get marketing involved from an early stage. So you can make sure you're actually developing a product that people want. If you're living in a cave, and you have this great idea, and you're keeping it super secret, and you never share it with anyone, and then you go off and spend all this money, most likely, you're going to develop a product that only you want. So I encourage people to try to develop a community early on around in their industry around their product idea. And whether that be an email list or whatever, in a Facebook group, and and such and begin getting feedback as early as possible. And don't Don't be super secretive with your your idea, because you won't get anywhere that way.
Yeah, the was the saying is you build it, they will come but only if people like really want it. So
yeah, that's a Yeah. And if they, it's more, only if they can find it, that's the problem. No one's gonna know your you exist, or that your product is even out there if you've not done significant marketing.
So what's what's what would you suggest for people to do? I know that's not your wheelhouse. But
yeah, it's not, but I've kind of been through that, you know, because obviously, I have my own business now. And part of that is marketing. I'm actually, you know, an engineer that I enjoy the marketing side of things to some extent. But now, I lost track of what I was gonna say, What was the question again?
Well, actually, we can talk about, like, you said, you had a hardware startup. And so how did you do the marketing for that startup?
Um, you know, I probably didn't do it correctly. So I learned a lot, you know, I did the traditional stuff I did trade shows, you know, I would just call you know, you know, retailers in our and get meetings with, you know, other Home Depot or Walmart. So, you know, I would do trade shows, and had a website and all that. But generally, I think the best way to do marketing is the, you know, to set up, have a web page and begin from the moment that you think you want to take this product to market, collecting people's email addresses that may be interested in that topic. And then just keep engage with them during the entire development process, so that you get their feedback, and you develop a product people actually want. And then once you have it ready to sell or you're ready to start a Kickstarter campaign, then you have a community that you can drive, you know, to either purchase the product or to help you find it.
You got build that hype train.
Yeah, exactly. It's all about, you know, it's all about building you know, mentally an online community but in any type, you know, you just you need to have a community built up to actually help you develop the product, the right product.
Stephens just looking at me.
I thought you had a train going on here. No, no, no, no,
the hype train was done. Yeah, I thought, yeah, I was reading the company's questions. So
would you like to read some of them out loud?
Actually, kind of wanna talk about what before you shut up? See When we're talking about a SpaceX launch,
you know, it's one of those things where I didn't even know it was happening today. And then I looked on Facebook and like every other post was like something about a rocket going into space. So it's like, it's like, we've never done this before. The rocket? No, no, there's, there's something special about it. Right? It was like it was the heavy had a big payload or something like that. Is that what it is?
Yeah, it was the they've launched the Falcon Heavy, which is an I don't think it's the the keep saying it's the most powerful rocket, but I don't think it is. Do you know, John?
I don't know, maybe the combination of all three, you know, three rockets? I'm not really sure.
Yeah. So they say it's the most powerful rocket launch ever. So they launched a car in space.
Awesome. Yeah. Okay, well, back to our guest. Sorry, we both have a bed. No,
I don't help develop rockets, by the way,
actually, so I am kind of curious. A lot of your work is based around startups and makers, right? Yes. Why? Why did you choose to go that route?
Um, because it's the it's kind of what I was passionate about from my own hardware startup. And that process of being an entrepreneur. So I felt like with my own startup, I learned all these lessons and things to make the process smoother. So I kind of wanted to, you know, I was sort of hooked in with that community. And it's what I enjoy doing. You know, I, I love engineering, but I also love entrepreneurship, just in general terms. So. So it's sort of a combination of two of my interests. So
That's a good answer.
I'm just thinking to how to go off that. Like, you know, just kind of it's not real. It's kind of like giving back to where you started. That would be that right?
Yeah. Yeah, I think so. You know, I actually really enjoy helping people. So, and I like people that have big dreams. So I'm kind of drawn into that. I kind of consider myself to be a big dreamer. So I kind of like working with people that have a bigger vision for their life. So
can we I forgot to ask, How long have you been doing it for?
Um, I've been doing it sort of for 40 years. The first year I started off, I was just doing freelance design through like Elance or Upwork. Then what then a year after that I was doing my business was called Kill engineering. So I did that for one year. And then the past two years, I've been predictable design. So
what's the first, if you can say something about it? What's the coolest thing you got to work on? What you think the coolest thing even if it was like, not a good thing, or whatever, but like, Go is the coolest thing you got to look at? It's really
hard for me to answer that because I have to sign a nondisclosure with everyone. And, you know, entrepreneurs, inventors and stuff are obviously kind of secretive with their ideas. So I'm, unfortunately I can't answer that.
I think you said earlier, you made a watch with ZigBee and a 10 gigahertz processor and all this other stuff that ran on a coin cell battery, right?
Oh, yeah. Well, that was a hypothetical.
That might have won the Hackaday. coin cell challenge.
Oh, you're sure.
And also cooks your toast?
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention that. But only really small toast.
Yeah. Does it? Does the processor have a bagel pin? That's all I care about.
I have not seen that feature yet.
You know, I know another weird tangent. Okay.
Great on that. Let's go for it.
Oh, no, I was I was, I was looking through a lot of the entries into that Hackaday coin cell contest. And someone actually calculated, you know how much joules you get out of a coin cell. Like if you could extract every electron out of there. And it is enough energy at least to like jumpstart a small car.
If you can have it all at once. Well, yeah, you would, you would, you would basically slowly
trickle charge ups and supercaps and fire the engine. That was the idea he didn't manage to get there. I can't remember what his efficiency was at the end, but wasn't enough. And I was thinking you could do the same thing with the coin cell and cook toast.
One helper for
toast. Oh, yeah, that totally should work. Yeah. And then you can
start a fire with the double A battery, but I've never tried it with the coin cells.
How exactly do you do that? Like poke a screwdriver through it or something like that?
No, if you you can take like, like a the wrapper of a piece of gum that's like aluminum foil. You just short the two ends, you sort of make the wrapper narrow and in the middle, and then that will actually ignite, you can start a fire that way. And that's me. I'm kind of in the survival techniques on how to start fire. So
you see, if you go, if you go get your design made with predictable designs, then you get all this extra information like I started, there's a double EIGHT. You ever
used the double lot steel wool? nine volt battery trick?
Oh, yeah, that'll light real fast. Yeah, what was that?
So you get really fine steel wool, and then you just hit it with a nine volt battery, and it will immediately go up and oxidize, basically, very rarely. Yeah. Yeah, I did that accidentally once when I was like, 12 in my room. And then like how to run this burning mound of metal like into the bathroom. And the back the sinks were plastic
sounds really bad.
Yeah. Yeah. A good buddy of mine was was tightening the, the battery terminals on his car with a with a wrench. And he dropped the wrench and it hit both terminals, and it welded the wrench to the batter. The whole wrench turned red hot. So oh my gosh. So actually, that kind of segues into common mistakes made by new hardware.
That's a good segue.
Yeah. So yeah, we get some I get some some questions. Are these questions that you were preparing this list? Are these questions that that you've seen before John? Or are these haven't seen?
Yeah, I've seen the question. These questions.
Cool. Well, then let's let's just walk through them real quick. So under estimating the complexity and the time to develop a manufacturer manufacturable product? Let's talk about that.
Okay, yeah, we've, you know, I've kind of hit on some of the, you know, this topic and some of the other questions that we answered, but is just having, you know, once again, my job is to give you realistic expectations on that, it's, it's going to take a long time, it's
double expectations, it predicted Thank you. That's why they keep me here.
So just in helping them, you know, they just, it's a common, if you've never done it before, I think people tend to always think something is simpler than it really is, if they've not done it. You know, I know, when I went through this process with my own product, it was, you know, it was a lot harder than I really expected, or it took me a lot longer than I, then I thought it would, and it's until you've gone through to it's really difficult to know what to expect. So that that's a common, you know, mistake, I guess, that I see is they just don't, they don't really know what to expect, they think they can have a product on the market in a few months for a few $1,000 So,
so what actually, so like, what actually prevents someone from basically saying, I built one thing, I want to build 1000 Tomorrow. Besides, you know, mine stuff, let's say like, you buy all your stuff on Mouser
I would, you know, there's several, you know, as you make more, you know, you make one of something and that one works, but then you make 10 of something and you realize only eight of the 10 work, you know, then you make 100 of them and you only realize 60 Out of that, you know, it's like no manufacturing process has a yield of 100%. And now, it's like any manufacturer has to deal with yield and, and slowly ramping getting that yield, you know, into the 90s You know, as quickly as possible, but that's not going to be the case early on. And, and you don't really you can't gather the data for manufacturing yield from one prototype. So you're just unknown problems are going to pop up kind of once you start expanding beyond just the one prototype,
so I thought I was gonna
expand on that before. Well, I mean, I along with that also, like do you help your customers go through those pilot reviews? Like you've done that? Okay, so let's say we got 100 units built and 60 work do you help go through what the issues are with the 40?
Not really I do consulting I you know, offer some you know, general advice or you know, technical consulting if they you know want to share with me you know, oscilloscope plots, and, you know, their their data that they've collected then I can help them but I don't actually, you know, visit them or get in the lab or Go to the production floor and do anything like that.
Yeah, I was gonna ask like, what kind of advice? Would you give someone who's designing their product? To make sure that, you know, their yields will be? Well, good.
I think we talked about lots of money earlier, right?
Well, like what can you do? Like, if you bring a design to manufacture? What are some things to make sure you're not going to get half your product to be duds?
Well, you know, I kind of mentioned, one of them, you know, is just the antenna layout is a common one, it's like, okay, you that may, you know, you may get lucky on a few units and have it just magically tuned correctly. But once you start ramping up, you may realize, you know, that the, you know, the tuning that I had worked, okay, for a few units, but once I start ramping it up that it's, it's not gonna, you know, I'm going to run into other problems. But yeah, there are, like, you know, literally, there's, you know, list out there of, you know, hundreds of things that you can do to, you know, try to make the product more, you know, more manufacturable,
I guess, if you intend to stuff is like, you know, tolerance of your parts have to align, like the planets and stuff like that. If you're not too careful with your design there.
Yeah, or, you know, you may have something where you're on the very edge of, you know, the maximum spesification. And, you know, it's, I don't know your it's a five volt par with an absolute max of five volts, and you're running it at 5.5 volts or something, you know, you're probably not going to fail, initially. But eventually, as you ramp up the volume, you're going to start seeing problems with that.
Yeah, one, one thing I've seen before is using basic like a microcontroller pin to drive a MOSFET. And it worked great. And when the MOSFET was on the when its gate capacitance was on the lower end of its spec, but when it was on the higher end of its spec, it didn't have the power to switch that MOSFET fast enough and basically, blow MOSFET up.
Yeah, no, you know, you kind of have to look at that stuff, when you're when you're going from one to doing a bunch is you kind of have to, you know, look at the tolerance on things and make sure that you're not operating at some edge like that. Yeah.
And just the difference in manufacturing products, because like, if you're, if you build one on your bench, you probably hand soldered everything. So the components weren't, you didn't experience hot, reflow environments. But yeah, yeah, that's what people don't know is that when you reflow a part, it can degrade its performance.
Yeah, I mean, the whole thing sees the heat. So it's not not focused, like when you're using a soldering iron,
well, and at the same time, each manufacturer has a different process, because they have different machines from all other manufacturers, you're rarely ever going to find two manufacturers who have the exact same setup on their floors. So this one might have this one machine that takes this requirement, and that other manufacturer has a different requirement. And your design might need to shift slightly in order to accommodate that. Or you might need to purchase some kind of jig or something to accommodate whatever that machine is. So so there's a little bit above and beyond the one piece, you know, that you built on your kitchen table, all the way towards manufacturing.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, anytime you're gonna transition from one manufacturer to another, there's, there's gonna be a lot of little things like that pop up that, you know, they're they're just their process, like you said is different. Right.
So we usually ask this question for all our guests is, what is the worst electrical shock you've ever experienced?
That train just keeps going?
Well, I have to one I don't really recall because I was young, I just always heard about it. Like, I don't know, I was like three or four and stuck a knife and electrical outlet, which my, my brother tell that story because my hair stood up. And you know, my mom didn't think it was that funny, but my brother thought thinks it's hilarious. So that's kind of my first one. Then my second one was, I had shortly after finishing finishing my Bachelor's, I worked in an automation control systems in a manufacturing facility. And I was in a control panel and somehow I accidentally touched I believe is around 500 volts DC. And yeah, and I didn't even know I had been shocked I thought for sure someone had come up from behind me and just kind of you know, like, the iron like tried to scare me. So I just immediately in turn around and looking and there's no one there and um, and you know, then I'm thankful that no one else saw me get electric.
And we weren't on the floor.
No, I was on the floor. But luck was around it was that that line was shut down so no one was around but so I was quite glad no one saw that because I would have been probably harassed about that for a while.
I you know, I think we've talked about this a bunch, but DC seems to hurt a lot more than AC.
That's that's my experience. All the time I've ever been hit by DC. That was enough to hurt but it I've been electrocuted by 110 You know, a bunch of times. Yeah. The 500 DC was was kind of a different experience for
me. I haven't been hit by that high with DC but 50 volt DC is not pleasant. No. Yeah, like 110 AC is kind of a tingles.
Yeah, yeah, it's just jiggles a little bit.
It could have been 300 volts. I don't know, it was hundreds of volts as long time I'd love to hurt it was enough to scare me and yeah, and hurt.
Yeah, you know, it was funny. I was actually doing some grocery shopping earlier today. And the cart that I had, the rubber wheels were just causing the cart to to build a ton of static. And it kept shocking me. And it was like, not like small shocks where it's like, oh, it was the kind of where like, you throw your hands off the cart. And I was getting hit by it so many times. And I looked up and there was actually a bunch of people looking at me because I was like, freaking out. I could have seen
that. I've had that happen to me before. And it's like, it's like you should just like turn around and put the card away and get a new one. I'm like no, so I just grabbed the handle as tight as I can. So just the build up was shorter. And so with the shock was less
wood I actually I found a part of exposed metal on the cart, and it was in an awkward spot. So I just held that the entire time. And I was walking around with like really contorted I must look stupid as hell but it and
it's just rocking. And the cart is still dumping that energy into you. Well,
yeah, no. So eventually, I guess you just go hit. I don't know something that's grounded. Everyone's want to give it a slap.
It was God wonder if I wonder if anyone got video of that.
I went yeah, I'm gonna show up on YouTube coming up here. Looking like an idiot in the store.
That's gonna be trending right next to the SpaceX rocket launch. Right? Yeah, yeah.
So John, where can people find more about you?
They can find more about me on predictable designs.com. And then Twitter is John till he
cool. So thank you, John, for being on the map.
Oh, excellent. Thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun. And you want to sign us out? Absolutely. That was the macro fab engineering podcast. I was your guest, John teal.
And we were your hosts Parker Domine. And Steven Greg lander
everyone take it easy.
Thank you. Yes, you are a listener for downloading our show. If you have a cool idea, or project or topic that you want Steven Knight to discuss, tweet us at McWrap or email us at podcast at macro calm. Also check out our Slack channel. If you're not subscribed to that podcast yet, click that subscribe button. That way you get the latest episode right when it releases and please review us wherever you listen. Whoa that changed podcast addict or iTunes. It helps the show stay visible and helps new listeners find us. Macro is also hiring apparently still
John Teel of Predictable Designs returns to the podcast to discuss designing for Injection Molded Enclosures for MFG.