MacroFab Engineering Podcast #38
Trey German is back! Military vehicles, free lance engineering, and flying make for an interesting podcast.
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 guests Trey German
and your hosts Parker DOMA and Steven Craig. So Trey, you're back.
I am. I've been on quite the adventure the past two weeks. Yep.
And for our listeners, Trey was on step 10. Yeah. Cloudy IoT future, something like that
IoT is cloudy future. There we go. Yeah.
Yeah, so I just competed in what's billed as the world's toughest Air Race, the Icarus trophy. So if you're unfamiliar with that, which most people have never heard of this, I fly these things called powered paragliders, or they're sometimes referred to as para motors. And I flew one of these things from Montana, down to Nevada. And, you know, it's basically, you know, a lawnmower engine that you put on your back, like a backpack. And you know, glorified bedsheet is kind of what I like to call it, but like a paraglider and you literally just run into the sky. It's, it's incredible. That's awesome.
That's cool. So you were working on last time you work on this IoT device, right? That was supposed to help you paragliding right.
Sure. Yeah, I was. And I've kind of continued to work on that and iterate. And so at this point, I have kind of a packaged product, which I think the last time that we talked, it was still kind of a bare board. So I've got one here, it's, it's a little black box about the size of a box of matchsticks. And inside of this is a Bluetooth microcontroller, you know, a nine axis sensor suite plus a few other sensors, actually, I think there's got three axis accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, there is a barometer and a hygrometer, as well. So lots and lots of data you can get from this thing. And basically, what I was trying to do was actually put sensors on the paraglider itself, to instrument the wing. And, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever done this before, no one's actually put, you know, wireless sensors up on, you know, wing like that, because they have to be so small and lightweight. And excuse me, it's those beers, you guys have been feeding me. No, but I, you know, you put three of these sensors up on the wing, I use one in the middle, kind of as a reference point. And then I have to on the left and right trailing edges of the wing. And by measuring the difference in the angle of the sensors, right, I can actually detect the pilots control inputs. And that's really the special thing that really hasn't been done before, you know, measuring the attitude of a wing or something like that, or an airplane, right? People do that all the time. It's kind of a standard piece of instrumentation. But, you know, with a paraglider no one that I know of has ever been able to record, the control inputs that make the wing, you know, change its attitude.
So it's a bit it's a bit more difficult to do that with a soft wing. Yeah, absolutely. And
like, you know, you could, you know, potentially do it with like, you know, a sprung potentially ometer, that, you know, kind of was like a yo yo string or something like that, that, you know, you'd pull down on the line, and it would unwind the pot or something like that. But it's just not really, you know, an elegant solution, add stuff that the pilot has to deal with by by placing some pouches on the wing and just sliding these sensors in.
That's what the ask is, how's it attached to them? Sure, sure. And
that's a great question I, I've kind of gone through a couple different ideas and settled on these, like little pouches that are made from the same material as the glider. And they're adhesive and they've got like a little Velcro thing that you pop open and slide the sensor in. And, you know, you just attach it to the wing using the adhesive. And when you're not using it, it lays flat it doesn't really affect anything. And when you are you just slide the sensor in and it's good to go. But yeah, before that, right, Nothing's ever perfect the first time right, you have to design some stuff and learn from it. So I had 3d printed like a bunch of cases for kind of the the round version of the sensors. And I was going to magnetically mount them to the wing so they would be easily removable. So I would have a magnet inside the wing a magnet on the case, and you just sandwich it between the fabric and it would stay up there. Well. The issue with that right is the magnetic field from the magnets messes up the measurements from the back magnetometer and then you don't get any magnetometer data. So
except just like straight down, b Yeah, yeah. Sorry,
the direction the magnets in, right. So by moving to this, you know, just at ease of kind of velcro approach. It's a much cheaper and easier solution that's more functional. Right? It was really, really easy for me to manufacture these things out of a single piece of glider repair tape, right, I just drew out a stencil on paper, and, you know, laid out the tape once some wax paper above it and cut it out, and then folded it three times. And then I had this like, perfect little pouch. And it's, it's super simple. It's super cheap and effective. And oftentimes, right, the best solutions to problems like this. Art that the simplest and just glue it. Yeah, exactly. So that worked really, really well. So, you know, I'm on the race. And, you know, I'm trying to use these sensors. And well, you know, should always doesn't go to plan, right? Yeah. And, you know, there was some variables that I hadn't accounted for. And that's, you know, that's fine, right? This is, was meant to be a learning experience, an experience where I could kind of test these things. And so what ended up happening was, I would put the sensors on the wing, get ready to take off. And whenever I would start up my moto, and you know, start going and get up in the air. By the time I had gotten up in the air, I had lost the data connection between the sensors, and my phone. And I knew immediately like what was happening, right? The ignition system of the, the two stroke motor on my back, right, it's got really sharp rise and fall,
right at 2.4 gigahertz.
Seems like it? Yeah, it certainly seems like it right. And it was throwing off a bunch of RF. And right, these are Bluetooth Low Energy sensors. So I'm just swapping. Oh, yeah, absolutely, these guys don't put out you know, much energy at all. So the, you know, the RF from the ignition system, like totally killed the sensors. And so what we're doing right now, what I'm doing right now, is, I have some parts on order to where I can shield the ignition system. So I have a new spark plug boot, which is completely made of like metal, it's completely shielded. And then I have some copper, like braided copper sleeve sleeving that I can put over the ignition lead itself. And then I'll solder that to the top of the metal boot. And so that should give me a real, a nice shield to kind of capture all that RF to kind of keep it within there. There's also like a ground wire for the coil. That's how you like, kill the ignition, right. And so that's also going to have to be sleeved, right? Cuz it's connected to the coil, it's gonna radiate stuff like crazy. So I'm actually going to have to completely rebuild the throttle cable kind of assembly, right, it's got the, the little sleeved kind of bike brake cable in there, that's the actual throttle cable, but then it's also got a couple of wires going through there. So that all gets sleeved, and then we'll test the sensors again, but I have seen them work on the ground, right? I've gotten down to the beach, and guided the wing. So that's where you're just on the ground with a harness, no motor involved. And, you know, you fly it, and like I had the sensors in there, I had the app on my phone, and you know, it works brilliantly. Excuse me. But yeah, there's there's always, you know, obstacles that you you encounter, and you just have to push through them. And, you know, this was a major issue. And, you know, the race, the race was great. It was, it was it was really special. And I highly encourage anyone out that's out there, like, go out and try and do things that you think are, you know, completely batshit crazy and like, that you don't think you're capable of because, you know, you might surprise yourself, right? I didn't think I was really, you know, that great of a paramotor pilot or anything like that. I thought I was you know better than a beginner but you know, didn't really know what I was capable of. Right? And so by going out there in, you know, attempting the aggress trophy. Y'all I really surprised myself I did things that you know, I didn't think I was capable of doing I pushed myself and I grew I think a lot as a both a pilot you know and a person you know, there was really challenging moments there were you know, things that were you know, difficult emotionally and like dealing with with people and then also you know, the the toughness of you know what I was doing physically You know, taking off at 6000 feet with zero wind and you know, a full tank of gas and you know, 2030 pounds of gear on you, it's really, really hard, you have to run your little butt off. And you know how heavy is the motor, the motor, the new one that I have. It's from a company called Air Conception. And the dealer here in the US is aviator PPG. It weighs, I believe it's about 45 pounds dry. And then I've added like little self inflating floaties and my reserve parachute. And so that creases, the weight by probably another 10 pounds or so.
So you're running with 100 pounds of junk stuff.
Yeah. And you know,
you got the you got a propeller helping you,
right, it's not so much that you're running, it's more, you're just trying to get your next foot out in front of you before you follow. thing, right, the motor puts out all the power for you to run, right? The trick is, you know, getting them guiding it. Yeah, getting that wing up overhead, right, you're doing what's called a forward launch. So the wing starts laid out behind you. And you grab some of the lines and you hit the gas and you start running forward. And if you don't keep the pressure on those front lines, the wing won't come up. And that's, that's really the key is keeping the pressure on those lines and getting it to come up evenly. till it's nice up and overhead. And then you're, that's when you really start running and picking up the speed that you need to kind of take off. But that can be you know, at these higher altitudes, very, very difficult, especially with the added weight of, you know, full tank of gas and the gear and you know, all the stuff that we need when we're doing these these cross country flights, like like we did. Sure.
And then there was one other thing you had built. Right? There's the the satellite module, right. Sue, was that working?
we want Trey's mic was falling. I just watched it over like the last five minutes, a little,
a little droopy there. So yeah, this next generation kind of air traffic control system. The way it works is these planes basically transmit their GPS location over you know, an RF radio and so anybody with a you know, one of those USB, SDR sticks, right can pick up this information. And there's lots of people doing that, well, you know, I was trying to I been successful, I just finished the software, basically build a system that someone in a light aircraft could fly with that would be able to receive that information, and then basically show a map of where these airplanes were on their cell phone, school. And so, you know, you could do this with a, you know, a Raspberry Pi and one of those sticks, you know, but that's gonna be really power hungry, and it's gonna be much bigger, much more complicated solution. So I was able to find there was a module vendor in Germany that does a bunch of RF kind of pre certified module things, and they had a solution for one of the ATS. b frequencies. And so yeah, I've got a board, it's, I've got a case for it and everything. It's, it looks like a professional product, I hope. You know, the case is, you know, I think it's IP 67 or whatever rated, so it's it's waterproof and dustproof, and all that kind of good stuff. So it's pretty rugged. Yeah, it's just a matter of kind of finishing up the software for that, but like I said, the priority is kind of getting one product out, in then, you know, supporting that, and then, you know, as I have the means to grow the business, you know, we'll push out more products and hopefully, you know, help people out, that's really the goal is to, you know, make things safer and more fun. And, you know, one of the ways you can do that is by, you know, gathering data, you know, in the event that something bad happens, right. And that's kind of one of the focuses for this is to help these wings manufacturers and people that create equipment for, you know, really anything, you know, it doesn't have to be paragliding, but enable them to make their their products, you know, safer, and, you know, higher performance by gathering data in ways that they haven't been able to do before.
Cool. Awesome. So can we share pictures and stuff
like that? Oh, yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I've got lots of pictures of these guys. I actually, when I flew my last flight into the finish line of the Icarus trophy, I was wearing the All your base are belong to us macro fab T shirts. Awesome. I'll have to send you guys some pictures of me sipping on some champagne at the finish line with the the macro fab shirt. Oh, cool.
Yeah, we'll totally put that all over the blog.
So I got two things for you real quick. Sure. Sure. So if somebody wants to learn more about this, is there some information that they can go check out?
Sure. Absolutely. So I'm actually, you know what, screw it. Let's do it. So we're going to actually launch the new trade german.com website today, the trigger on the macro fab podcast. Yeah. Go to trade German calm t REYG. Er, ma n.com. That's an awesome. Well, yeah. And, you know, that's kind of like my personal blog. So I'm posting updates kind of, on what's happened during the race, it was very difficult for me to do anything, but kind of fly the race and keep myself safe, and keep my crew, you know, kind of together and all that. So, yeah, I've got lots and lots of media. I've actually got like, half a terabyte of videos and pictures just to sift through and like, lots of writing to do to put up on the blog. But then also, yeah, information about the sensors and kind of my efforts there will, they'll start to come up on on, yeah, my personal blog. And then we've also got a website in the works for the company, that should be coming in the next month or two as I start kind of rolling some more of this stuff out. And getting closer to an actual product launch.
Awesome. Great. So last question. Yep, you can do the race again?
Oh, absolutely. This race was, you know, I think one of you know, those, those special experiences in your life that you'll never forget, you know, the friends that I made with the other pilots, and I mean, just everything that happened, I there's no way I wouldn't do it again. You know, there was probably, you know, some of the best flights of my life and also some of the worst flights of my life in terms of, you know, scary stuff and things that, you know, was new to me, or that I wasn't expecting, and so, you know, I think it's important, you know, to continue to push yourself, right. If you just like, kind of sit there and, you know, just live, you know, the normal life that, you know, is not the American dream or whatever, you know, just going into your corporate job, you know, doing your eight to five and, you know, all that kind of mundane stuff, like what's the point you're not living, right? You really have to get out there and chase after your dreams and passions. And, you know, sometimes you're going to do things that are uncomfortable or scary, but, you know, doing those things and pushing through them. You know, you learn a lot and I think it makes you a lot better person. So, yeah, that was probably a little more than you wanted, but no, that's fine. That's a little chase your dreams. Little
philosophical from once on on the map.
Hey, no, that's, that's super awesome. And congratulations.
Thank you. I think that's great.
Um, so we're gonna skip the rest of the topics here. No, because just what Trey had to say was very interesting. So there's no reason to write on our OH YEAH. So you found this earlier this week. It's called the scary AK. That guy. That's like a very act but scary, I guess. Right? That's controls. It controls AC current and voltage by using water and two pieces of copper and a plastic tub. And as you move the copper closer, it reduces the resistance and Yep, yeah, more power. So this guy basically wanted a very act to control like his stick welder. Yeah, he made a homemade stick welder. Homemade stick welder sounds safe. With a magneto from a microwave. I think it was.
What Yeah, I think I think he rewound one of the trends or two of the Transformers from a microwave. Okay. And it's like, you know, you have the you have the big spark coil. And I think he put like, two turns on the backside. Just all current.
Yeah. And his problem was he couldn't find a pinion he built his own homemade stick welder. And so he wanted a cheap solution to control it. And he couldn't get a very act that could do like 40 amps at 220 volts. So he made his own with a Tupperware container.
And it's made of Tupperware and PVC. Yeah, the control handle is just this. It's red PVC.
He painted it red for warning.
Yeah, this might be hot. You might not want to touch it. Yeah.
And the guy's name's grant. Thompson. He's got this really cool YouTube channel. I think he his code name is like a coda. Yeah, code name is the King of Random. Hmm. So this is long thing I've seen on his channel so far, but it looks pretty interesting. His production values are insane. Are those video Yeah,
yeah. production values. And then he shows you I mean, the scary EQ is an absolutely very apt name for what's going on. I mean, that is psycho stuff. And just a
big resistor, right? Like, yeah, well,
water is the salt water with a teaspoon of lye in it. Okay, so
his electrolyte basically making a liquid resistor. Yeah. And by increasing the distance, sure, you increase the resistance.
This reminds me of using like, because I've done this before is used like enamel wire, and then dunking the enamel wire into a bucket. The cool the nanowire off to use that as like a low ohm resistor. Mm hmm. done that before. Yeah, that works. Yeah, yeah. The similar idea except he's actually passing the current through the water. You're using
the water as a coolant. Coolant? Yeah. I, it's just go watch it on YouTube. It's scary. It is. Absolutely.
He does work. You are so right, Bob, using it. So it's 220 volts.
But what I mean, what's the open circuit output on the other side of it? Where's his so is this resistor on the primary or secondary side?
I mean, if you stick welding, it's gonna be like, one volt.
Well, yeah, I wanted to Yeah. But like the starting voltage right before you
two, I think it was 220. Yeah. Yeah. Just so you can really start that. So you can start the arc. Right. Right. And then it then it drops, right. Pretty much immediately, huh. Yeah. But still, I mean, that much juice flow through it just, I don't know. It's scary.
I mean, the current right isn't the scary part to me as a human right. It's it's the, you know, the voltage right,
and what the currents don't kill. Right. Right. Like,
you need the voltage. Exactly. Through your skin. Yeah, exactly. So if the voltage is high enough, right. It's, you know, it's not a concern, right. From a safety perspective.
I'm pretty sure if you stuck both your hands and this
is one of the things yes.
So you had a bear a bear copper wire that was like zero gauge. And it had 50 amps going through it and one volt I still wouldn't touch it. Yeah, no. I think it's still kind of that mentality. It probably wouldn't hurt you
know, it wouldn't cut it. As long as you had dry skin right? You'd be fine.
Well, Winston, we never have dry skin.
Yeah, yeah. No, but it's it's look right. So you get wet no matter what. Yeah.
It's automatic game over.
Yeah. That would not be good. I just need to get a very act. Yeah. So Stephen, my God. Next one, I think
yeah, so you Stephens got a variac I've seen it before. Yeah, but does it handle like how much amperage Can you pump through that thing?
It's 500 Watt. And it's meant for 120 So not much
five amps max if that Yeah. If that
so he needs to get is one of those big gangs like three phase Variax and just parallel them up? He'd be
very act from the from the intro Back to the Future ones, you know when he's amplifier with the six speakers.
Yeah. valen I swear, if he could buy one of those, he could buy a stick welder. It's true. Very true.
And hence the point of why the scary act
sponsor this guy and get him a real welder or a member membership at a hackerspace or something.
Alright, so topic two. This was found on the amp hour subreddit. So I'm kind of pilfering from them. It the title of the article is your brilliant Kickstarter idea could be on sale in China before you even deliver it. Hmm. So it's a story about this guy who made a I'm didn't know this existed, but it's pretty cool idea. I guess. It's a selfie stick that's built into an iPhone case. That's like, all collapsed up. And so you basically press a button and it goes fruit and stick pops out of it.
It actually makes that noise, right? Yes.
The Chinese ones don't though. That's how you can tell Oh, that's
how you can tell the candidates? Yeah.
Like before his Kickstarter was even funded. And over. There was already copycats on Aliexpress that you could buy. I believe in one week. Yep.
Was it open? Was it open hardware?
No. So it just looked at it. It's mechanical design. They took probably a couple days to figure in and manufactured it. Sure. So this article covers a lot of stuff like, like IP, and also the boring stuff you can read if you want to. Basically it says, Oh, it basically what we've been figuring out over the past couple of years is anything can be copied and will be copied if it's good enough. And there's nothing you can do to stop it.
It doesn't even have to be good enough. Yeah. I mean, there's
a selfie iPhone case. Yeah, the definition is,
is not good.
But yeah, like, you know, it's almost at the point where, yeah, this guy, this guy who commented on the article had a million ideas like new prototyping technique, introduce a new idea on Kickstarter. Wait till the knockoff comes off on now express, buy out the clone, and just sell that. So you don't have to do any development yourself. You have to lock up. Wow. That's that's that's
a free engineering free engine. Absolutely. Free engineering.
Clearly, I'm doing it
wrong. Yeah. Well, it was another thing in there. It's like, when your product gets to a certain complexity, it makes it really hard to copy without the actual device. So you will be okay. There. So Right. High end electronics, like some high end, you know, self balancing illuminating selfie sticks.
Yeah, I mean, throw a gyroscope on the end to stabilize the phone or something like that. Yeah,
I'm actually surprised no one's come up with a like pocketable. quadcopter that you can slap your phone in and kind of like toss it out there. And so you can take a group photo from a quadcopter I know you know, our idea right there guys.
There's gonna be clones next week, next week that I did listen to our podcast.
to I think it was like a about two years ago for one of these design competitions that Intel put on, like the winner from that was basically like a little drone you could wear on your wrist. And then it would like you could push the button, and it would pop open. And the four arms would come out and it would fly it had a little camera, take a picture of you and then come back. There we go. But, you know, here we are, like two years later. And you know, it hasn't really happened. Right?
That sounds like a nightmare.
Yeah. I mean, from a marketing perspective, it's an absolutely great product idea. But to get something small enough, that is, you know, usable enough. And it has the battery life. You know, it's it's a very, very difficult thing to do. But I think a lot of this stuff, right is is due to battery technology. Yeah,
actually, I think there was a Kickstarter or Indiegogo like that that actually tried to do that idea. Yeah. And they failed. Yeah, I think they couldn't produce a file find it and put it in the description like that would be pricey. Yeah, yes. And it was just they couldn't get the software done fast enough.
Oh, so when you say failed, did they get funded and then didn't deliver? Correct? Oh, that's worse. Yeah.
Yeah. Don't do that. Yeah. I don't know why people go to a Kickstarter when they don't have like, I get the point. Right. It's to raise money so they can fund their idea but like, you need to know it's feasible right? And it's a lot better to go you know, into a Kickstarter campaign with your actual ready to go tested product that you know, is functional. You know, if you need the money to do like the, you know, the Bluetooth certification or the FCC certification. or whatever? That's a great use, I think for Kickstarter, yes. But if you're gonna use it to pay rent for the next six months while you continue to develop this idea to production level, like, you're doing it wrong, sorry. legal battle.
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, I think as crowdfunding grows, you know, just the community learns their lesson. Sure, in a way, and you know, they never do well. We're gonna, we're gonna get there. And you know, originally Kickstarter didn't require you to have a prototype of your thing right before now you have to have a functional model. Yep. And and so you know, those those simple rules
help out? Well, it's all a Crowd Supply is takes a step further, it's basically your device has to be ready for manufacturing. Before you can do a Crowd Supply. Gotcha.
Yeah, yeah, right, right. And there's something there's something inherently good about having to put your money up front, you have skin in the game, you have something that you've poured yourself into. And like Trey was saying, you're now getting the money to go to production to pass certifications to do that kind of
things that really needs to go towards Yes. Right. And can put otherwise, how are you going to, you know, fulfill these, you know, orders that you've got to fill now. Right? Right. They paid for this stuff, part of that money has to go to actually manufacturing,
development cost a lot of money? Sure. Well, it can cost a lot of money. And so just having people randomly give it to you is not a guarantee that you have an outcome. Mm hmm.
My legal costs. My only development cost is rent and food to keep me. convenient thing.
Yes. That's pretty nice.
So speaking of China, the next RFO is it's not really an RFO. I guess. It's just this article, not really article either. It's a tour of a wire bonding facility in China. Shinzen be exact. It was really cool actually seeing like, the machines that actually bond dyes to the packages. And that because of this factory also did the glop tops that's on PCBs, where they actually put they basically superglue the dye onto the PCB and then bond directly to the board. And then Apoxie over
what's what's the name for that? Chip on? chip on board?
I think that's chip on chip on board.
But But oh, I was thinking flip chip. It is chip on board. Yeah. And I was thinking flip chip. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Um, so it's really cool. Except when you look at some of the pictures. Some of the factory workers are wearing wireless ESD straps. Now, to be fair, they're like, you know, leaning on an ESD mat that's hopefully grounded. And so they're, you know, they're not gonna be ESD staticky, but it's just really funny. I just think it's really funny that they're wearing a completely bogus product.
I use wireless ESD straps all the time you see mine, I'm wearing it right now.
Oh, he's also invisible.
Hey, we live in Houston, that humidity does it for me, right? I, I mean, that was one of the big things when I worked at TI right. They they hammer into you like ESD strap ESD strap ESD strap? Yeah, there's yearly trainings on this kind of stuff. And that was one of the things that I was never like, never really did much. You know, I never like burned out stuff or like, it never really was an issue. Right? Their concern is that, you know, by frying chips or things like that, right? Especially if you're debugging things, you can create problems for yourself that you don't really know that you have exactly. Chasing Your Tail. Exactly, exactly. But yeah, down here in Texas. It's even in the wintertime. It doesn't doesn't really get bad here. Yeah, up north, if you ever worked on electronics like oh,
yeah, that's like when every board. Yes, people complain about ESD all the time. And I've never had a problem at all my home shop. It's just you know, your house is 50% Humidity always. Like
there's an outside is 98 98%.
Yeah, just wall water when you walk outside? That's right.
I have I have knowingly destroyed an ESD chip, or ESD destroyed a chip once. And we actually it was at a previous job. And we took the top off the chip and actually looked at it. No, and lo and behold, there was all that like, looks like acne, you know, pock marks all over the dye. And we're like, wow, this can happen in you know, in a decade. I've done it once to one chip, you know, so, but there was actually a time I was up in I was working up in Nevada doing some some engineering up there. And we were gosh, it was like so 6% humidity. And we were we were working on this system that had a whole bunch of like module cards that went into this big rack and stuff. And just putting an SD card into monitor data, we would shock the device enough for it to reset. We were actually hitting well enough lines to make the processor which wasn't even the card, we were putting the SD in, it would it would lift the ground high enough to reset the whole device. So yeah, Houston, it's not one thing. But elsewhere. It's yeah, it's a big deal. Big deal.
And it's different. If right, you're working on, you know, your own stuff. Or if you've got a customer's board or you're doing production work, right, there's, I think different levels of work that we do that require different kinds of precautions. Yeah.
Matter of fact, we do heel straps. Yep. And grease traps that you plug into your bench. Yep. And the benches are grounded. Everything's grounded.
Well, and we're doing dual heel straps. Yeah, for one for each foot. So So here's actually a good question for you guys. Both being engineers. When is a board considered safe? When can you handle it?
Oh, you mean without ESD protection without
ESD? Protection? Because I mean, shoot. I mean, we've been handling boards our whole life? Sure, no, but when when do you consider it safe?
I would say once the board is fully assembled. And as long as it's been designed with ESD in mind. So you have proper protection on IO lines, like from connectors and stuff, you should be able to handle it relatively safely.
I will be touching the points that are intended to be touched. Yes, I would still
try to ground yourself like your touch, you know, a bench that's that's grounded or touch like a piece of conduit that's on the wall? Yep. Just to kind of make sure you're not charged up. But
I'm always charged up your storage.
And always try to grab the board by the edge if you can. Yeah, these kinds of things. Yeah. And I've I've heard that a lot where it's just if the boards fully assembled. In general, you can sort of consider
it. I'll put a beat. I'll put it this way. Having built computers almost all my life. I've never worn a restrap building the computer. Yep.
Yeah. And there's a lot of stuff that can be destroyed on that. Yeah.
It's almost like Well, usually when you're working on a computer, you're in the chassis of it.
And your arms are touching the edge of the case. Yeah, there's
no way to build up anything but I could see if you're living up north in the winter, and it's like 0% humidity on carpet. You could probably kill something pretty easily.
No, they're easily we just don't have to deal with it. Just sucks to go outside here.
Well, you say Houston is what the energy capital of the world? I think it's the air conditioning capital of the world.
Oh, well, yeah, absolutely. There's in like Dubai or something like that. That's probably but we've definitely got it bad. You know, that humidity here is just, it's out of control. That's that's a big thing like heat. You know, if you got to El Paso or something like that. it's manageable. If you're in Houston with 80 to 100% humidity. Oh, unreal.
That's the thing is out in El Paso and stuff. You can use a swamp cooler. Mm hmm. Which are very effective at cooling down localized air. Yep. You can't. That does not work in Houston. It just mixes they
will not water will not evaporate. Cooling is not possible. Yeah. Yeah. I wonder how less efficient you know, because a lot of buildings still use evaporative cooling hear how less efficient it is here versus you know, like the desert or something like that. Oh, by far I would think I just be curious to know the numbers like how many percent you know, less efficient or more efficient. It is out there
yet. Just taking a gut feel. I bet you it's a lot. Yeah.
60% or even higher? Oh,
well lower. You mean 50% lower efficiency and somewhere else? Yeah, probably. I that would not surprise me in the slightest.
We need some type of mechanical engineer he transfer Gaida Yeah, calculator stuff to the numbers for us.
We need to find one. That's actually was my
idea for at macro fab. Because we have air conditioners at the fab but the warehouse that we're currently in is not really well insulated. So it heats up quite a bit. I think one time it got up to like, you know, mid high 80s When it was like over 100 outside and I was thinking like what if we just took a hose and put it on the roof and just let water out? Like everyone in California is like no right now, but I'm here in Houston. We've been like flooded almost every other week during the summer.
We just pumped the Gulf water up Yeah, on the roof and just cooled
the roof down with water. And betcha that would have been pretty cost effective.
Yeah, maybe it'd be a crazy experiment.
Yeah. Well, we're moving next week. Like, literally on Wednesday next week we're moving. Yeah, yeah. So we're gonna try to do the podcast next Thursday. Mm hmm. Hopefully we can get done.
You guys think he'll be up and running Monday of next week? Are
that's the plan. No, it's
we don't think we will wait we have to we have to be I was
gonna say cuz I've got an order coming through. No, no, some contract work that I need to push through. So
I will absolutely be up and running. We will not have a lot of downtime.
Good answer. And with that, that was the macro fab engineering podcast for this week. I'm your guest trade German.
And we're your hosts Parker
Dolan and Stephen Craig.
Thanks for listening. We'll catch you next time later. Guys. Take it easy.
That was the best outro we've ever done. Thank you, Trey. No problem.
Trey German is back! Military vehicles, free lance engineering, and flying make for an interesting podcast.