On this episode, Parker and Stephen talk about the Houston Maker Faire and the FX Dev Board.
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. We are your guests, Brandon Knight,
and Justin Knight.
And we're your hosts Parker, Dolman and Steven Craig.
So this is episode number 4242. So we got to have the two of our macro fab buddies here, the night brothers and Knight brothers, Brandon Knight and Justin Knight. What's up? So let's, let's start with you. Justin says here on the sheet that your vice president of operations can tell us a little bit about yourself.
Sure. I'm, like my brother from Connecticut, we've slowly been moving southward. For over the past few years. I have been working in all kinds of different things a bartender, I worked in nonprofits. I few years ago, quit my job and made some video games. And that's what kind of got me into technology. I always was a kind of a technology hobbyist, but never really has an occupation until that. Doing that I was able to get into a career in modeling and simulation research type stuff, worked at Vanderbilt University and started a company from there. I joined macro fab, this summer in July, and I'm really excited to be working a little more hands on and not kind of had a computer so much.
So what did you think of Houston in July? Compared next,
it's a good bump up from Nashville. It's significant. So yeah, it's uh, it's cool. You know, it's, I think more than anything, it's a big city. So it has all the cool things that come with a city it's got kind of one of everything at least and I kind of like that Nashville is a little bit more small in that sense. Met nationals is super cool place. But Houston has this kind of mega city thing that i i enjoy as well.
Specifically conveyor belt sushi.
That's right. That's right. So yeah, Brandon, same thing.
Yeah, I, let's see, basically, whatever job Justin could get me from college to now, I have taken includes working at the nonprofit, we worked at the Urban League, in Hartford, in Houston. Yep. And started a bike shop, which is pretty cool. I then worked, I moved to Colorado and worked at a boarding school in the mountains, helping at risk youth at an alternative school is really awesome. And then I moved down to Denver and a dropout prevention to help in freshmen who in in sophomores, getting bad grades, like going to school, make sure they came to school and did well. And then Justin got me a job at Vanderbilt. I was a kind of a project manager, program coordinator. And we then work together at a startup that came out of Vanderbilt. And I was in charge of kind of getting some of our boards made. And that's how I came across micro fab. And it was actually Justin's idea to he's like, why don't you go check out that company, maybe see if you get and go out there for a month. And, you know, we'll support you and just kind of find out what happens. On the other side of manufacturing, we were doing design. So contacted Chris, our CEO, and he was like you can't visit but if you want to apply for a job, you can do that. So did that worked out. And then I got Justin, come along.
So Brandon Knight is our Director of Customer Success. So if you if you call up macro fab, there's a very good chance you're going to be talking to him. And I know we've had guests on the on the past that have mentioned Brandon, because he's been kind of our main point of contact with a lot of their projects. He's the outside world. Right, right. He's the voice. So how long have you been on board with neck Feb?
July of 2015. So
over a year and a half now. Yeah.
So So previous to this. Both you guys were working together. Right?
So we actually always work together. Really?
Did you work if you work in Colorado?
That was for Public Allies and I was working in the DC office. Gotcha and tea. Yeah, I I kind of knew all the other branches in the Colorado one just seemed super cool. And we kind of did some work on the back end to get them in and yeah, so
we started working together at a deli in our hometown in Connecticut.
And you know what? This job is kind of the same basic premise.
Sandwiches. Yeah, sir resistor.
Yeah, the pieces go together. Then it goes in the oven. The mustards the pace,
right? Yeah. Summers angry. They don't have their. Yeah.
On their sandwich.
Yeah, I gotta get my fast
you put you put the wrong man. Same thing. So Justin, you're the oldest right? That's right. And Brandon, you're somewhere in between? Or are you going on number three? Number four out of four.
Cool, cool. So
Justin, the Vice President of Operations, what is it? What does the day look like for you at macro? Fab? What what do you? What do you do?
So I oscillate between sort of strategy and process work and firefighting. And I try to start the day in the more strategic sense. And then usually, it just devolves into a war zone. You know, so the company is doing really great, we're really busy. And that all has to come through operations. And, you know, we're pretty lean team. And so so we are around the clock cranking out boards, trying to keep up.
So you so you're taking the lead on making sure everything gets out on time with the right quality? And, and the way the customer wants it. That's a pretty big role.
Yeah. And also, you know, spearheading development, making sure all, you know, operations has the right software they need and all that stuff, too. Right. So it's a big role. So
so, you know, I have more of a software background, then manufacturing background. I worked in software that that tied into manufacturing, but not so much hands on manufacturing. My my relevant experience is, I have a woodshop, back in Tennessee, and my father is a an electrician, and I worked with him a lot. And so it's really just kind of taking a technology approach. We're trying to deploy a more ambitious operation that that has a lot more customer transparency and higher technology. And it is my job to deploy that strategic vision. Sure,
sure. Yeah, well, since he, since MakerLab, has the whole system, the interface system that a customer utilizes, when they when they log into our site, there's a ton of stuff that goes in the back. That happens after a customer press presses order, and handling that and managing that and making sure it flows right is a huge task. And and on top of that macrophage has developed all of that in house. So so being able to see the vision and and future for that. It's a It's not something that that just happens overnight, for sure.
Do you know what sucks about manufacturing was that if you get one thing wrong, all the good work you did, leading up to it and after is almost invalidated. Because one thing wrong one missing part one manufacturing defect, and all the process all the sort of getting the right people together, it stops. And so you kind of have to execute perfectly. And that's why you see the way a lot of modern manufacturing is it's automated. It's very rigid. In software, you're kind of able to fake it a bit. You're able to kind of hard code things or you're able to kind of engineer it for the demo and get to the point where it feels like it's working the whole time until actually is work. Yeah, back. Sure. A lot of stuff. If you stub your toe, you're done. And that's been a big adjustment for me. Sure.
Yeah. Yeah. Hardware is 100% or zero, right? There's no in between. It's it's the most brutal test you'll ever take in your life. Well, it's
even above and beyond that, because you could have an order that a customer has were with, say they want to 1010 units, and nine of them are flawless. And one of them has one issue to the customer's eyes, the entire order has an issue. You have to know you got you got, you know, way way close. So it's it's yeah, it's difficult. Perfection is the
How did this happen? And we're like, well, we messed up, we put it wrong wrong. It's like, well, how did this happen? Yeah, you suck, I'm sorry.
And my sort of hobby is wood and wood is very forgiving in the sense like, you know, as long as you don't crack it, you can kind of connect it and play with it and you can do it like
glue and sanding. Yeah, amazing things
cover up a lot. And, you know, it's like perfectly imperfect wood.
But you know, so do you ever do this I,
Oh yeah, I have an issue like I'll be I'll be searching for furniture with the wife or something like that. And I'll totally be the guy who's looking at joints and things like that. And seeing where a guy Nick's sawdust and glue together kind of match up a little hole. And I will notice that, and I don't have a problem with those kinds of things. Because I'm like, I know you. I've done that I've been. Yeah.
That's a That's right. I think I'm, you know, through experience very forgiving of things like that. And especially in software. I think you see, like, on the internet or with things with if, like a game comes out and has bugs, like people destroy it. And it's like, Man is making software without bugs is so hard, you know, so Oh, yeah, we kind of Brandon i and Brandon ran a beta test for software that was kind of never gonna work. And it was really a really hard job to kind of, you know, I think that's why he's really good for this job is that he, you know, he's, he's taken a beating on on these kinds of projects before. So he's he's immune to the, to that sort of thing of, you know, customers being harsh for them and stuff like that. Sure.
So Brendan, what experience is your customer success at Maghreb? So we're experienced, you grab from your previous jobs, like at the deli? Yeah, we like the cashier?
Well, first thing, we want customer success, because customer satisfaction had a weird connotation to it.
But there's no like, checkbox for happy ending
right on macrophages.
In that, in that sense, customer service has also got a weird kind of feel to it.
So yeah, I think for me, all of my jobs, have the common theme is dealing with a customer in some way. Even doing dropout prevention, you know, you're trying to get a student to do something, you're trying to get them to go to school, do their homework,
dealing with, you know, dealing with the government at Vanderbilt doing beta testing, and it's what you learn what I've learned, the biggest thing I guess, is, anytime you push back in any way, or resist what the person's trying to tell you, you're just going to add fuel to the fire. The best approach is to be as empathetic as possible, and just just fix it, just get it right. And I think, you know, I think that's a complicated thing with going overseas for manufacturing is there's a language barrier, sometimes, you might my experiences, like if I've complained to a Chinese company, it's just I'm completely misunderstood. It's, you get kind of in a position where you just feel like the root issue is not resolved in any way. So that's what really I try to focus on. It's just like, totally get it your borders, lay this part was on wrong, whatever. on us, or not even like, I'm not looking for fault. I'm just thinking like, how can we make sure this is isn't fixed? Our customers are really smart. A lot of them are engineers. First. They they never really are looking to point blame. They just want to know what happened. And how can we make sure this doesn't happen again? Sure. And yeah, being direct and honest. Yeah. And we're not asking exactly, I just want to say we try to be transparent with our customers, both on our interface. We're working on that more and more. And in our customer success department. We don't try to hide anything, we try to really meet them in a way where we're giving them the information, they need to know what design changes they need to make. Sometimes it is their fault. Sometimes it's on us. But there is something they may could communicate to us next time. And they're PCB notes that would get to our line operators make sure that that part gets placed correctly. I mean, hardware, there's just a lot that can go wrong. We've learned and
there's never enough communication to make sure that thing gets built correctly. Oh, yeah. Every single part on that board could go wrong. Yeah, there could be an issue with every single part. There could be an issue with the board itself. I mean, we had a customer a few weeks ago, who he placed a fairly sizable order with us. And he actually came in to kind of review the order and got to the boards. They were all finished. And the boards didn't work. He ends up looking at his his design files and saw a mistake on the inner layers of the boards and it was just, oh, well, you know, kind of have to kind of have to restart. I mean, there can be issues in every possible aspect of it makes it that much harder.
Yeah, the hard and hardware.
I'm sure that's where it came from. Yeah, sure.
So Justin, great jokes on the podcast, by the way, we're working on.
Brandon's always busting their chops all day. Just you, you were saying you had a bit of experience with software in the past. So you had some experience working for Google, right?
That's right. So. So we started a company, and our first customers was Google. And it was, if you guys remember this project, our modular cell phone actually was just in the news, maybe like a month or two ago, because it was finally killed off.
Yeah, we actually mentioned on the podcast, talked about it, okay, a long time ago. And then Motorola came out with a, like, kinda similar thing. They use like backplanes, that you like, plug into your phone? Yeah, like the hackable phone or Yeah, and
I saw a Kickstarter, that was a case that would attach these things. And so, you know, this is kind of the the notion going into his Apple has this phone, that's this singular, beautiful thing. And all these companies are just losing competition with them. So Google's gonna go the complete opposite way and do the phone, that can be anything you want it to be. And it did have this standardized backplane. And what they wanted to do was create a, an app store for hardware, where people would sell their modules on this store. And other people would buy them and plug them into their phones. So these things would be like, you know, pollution sensor, or different infrared camera or different types of displays. So there's like a hiker, one that had like an E Ink display. So the battery lasts for like six weeks, and different battery type configurations and things like that. And it was very ambitious, because, you know, a phone still has to do the things a phone does and to have modular hardware, you know, you're going to lose performance, you know, you're going to lose battery life. So that was a big challenge. So our job was to create design tools to allow people to design hardware for this kind of your marketplace. Yes, yeah. And, and it was really cool. We so so we effectively created a tool to design electronics on and we, we did our job. But we had a lot of challenges. What one, you know, the modules were really small, it was 20 millimeter by 20 millimeter, 20 million by 40, millimeter and 40 by 40. So those were, there's three sides, they're all really small. So if you want sort of you wanted like the wider audience to be designing electronics for this, you needed to that that skill level is really high. Yeah. And so what we, we kind of came up with a concept of, we would model sub circuits that were fully designed, and allow the person to kind of add those pieces. So it'd be like, oh, I need a an accelerometer, well, they would pull out the accelerometer from our component library and put it in and it would be fully kind of optimized. And, and then I like Lego blocks. Yeah, like Lego blocks, and kind of like, and we would have, all these sort of interfacing would would be done for them. So it was a super cool project. And we got to kind of hang out at Google and meet a lot of cool people, they spent a lot of money on it, they, our company made a lot of money off it, but ultimately, they they really couldn't get past the battery life and the performance. And, you know, I don't know, I think there might have been questions about what is it that you actually want to do with these hardware pieces that you can't do with software? Because you can do a ton of shit with software? Yeah. And, you know, an app, an iPhone, or everyone's phone in your pocket does a ton of things. So those extra things, were they the type of thing that a person was willing to buy this kind of complicated phone. So you know, it's kind of a bummer that they that it didn't work out. I see they have a new phone out now but it's more like an iPhone clone thing.
Yeah, it's almost exact like iPhone. I got one right here. Yeah, the pixel. Yeah.
So but it was cool, cool experience. But Google's
into doing those those just experiments. They're their way into putting money into like, what happens if you do this?
That's right. That's right. Yeah, and that that was really, really cool they. So we, what they did, they created Google a tap, which still exists, and it's advanced technologies and products. And they, they followed a DARPA style model, they hired a bunch of DARPA people to do it. And the DARPA style is, you hire kind of the best in the industry, for short term, term periods, and you, you bring them together to work on a project. So there is a sort of central group, but they're always recruiting kind of, like, you know, university folks and companies and things like that to come together and develop a project. So it's a big team in that sense. So I got to meet meet some cool people and, and, and do some cool things. But, uh, yeah, the phone never kind of worked out. ARRA was actually one of the guys names, the, the, the kind of lead me on the project was his name was ARRA. And so they named it after him. And, and, and I remember talking to him and being like, you think that's cool? And he's like, No, because like, every time the phone has worked, people have been like, as stupid areia. Person his name all the time. So he was a little disappointed about that. But yeah, almost there that project. But it got our company going, should certainly did that. And you're that company's macro metamorphosis, still in business. And they have a lot of cool customers doing different types of modeling and simulation projects for them.
What are they doing now?
So let's see. So we had customers like, Oshkosh, not the overalls, but the, the heavy equipment, which is that was a that's a really cool company, Raytheon, missiles and satellites. We, we did some work for DARPA, we did some work for NASA. There's some other ones but you know, a lot, a lot of kind of a lot, a lot of big stuff. Yeah, a lot of really challenging problems. You know, these these big companies, their systems get more and more complicated, right? Oh, yeah. And the, the, the need to try and simulate and model it before you build it grows as the complexity grows. But the challenge of doing that is even harder. You know, some companies, you know, a lot of companies are in this sort of concept design phase, and they want to do it all via computer, but it's just a really challenging problem. You know, one thing that I saw, we worked with Caterpillar that one thing that they did that was interesting is they had a more ground up modeling philosophy where they would model the way the oil sloshed around in the engine. And then they would start modeling that subsystem of the engine, then model the engine based on that they would take all those inputs and kind of keep expanding it out, and then use that knowledge base to then do their modeling. Wow, which you have an advantage because they have existing stuff. Whereas if you're trying to come up with something totally out there, it's so it's just a lot harder to do. Yeah,
but that's like super, either in house developed or ultra custom just for them software. Yeah. Yeah, I worked at, I worked at a utility provider in Texas, a while back, and they had so much proprietary software. And I mean, they had they had a few 1000, transformers, big, you know, 500 kV, a transformer kind of stuff. And they had software that would just determine, like, how much oil to put inside of this transformer. And it was this software package that they spent, like $100,000 for some guy to develop it. And it just told, and you just put in some some values and it just said, three tons of oil or so you know, something like that? Yeah, crazy.
Yeah, they, a lot of these companies are vicious about their secrets. And even when they're buying off the shelf software, they are generally customizing it dramatically. So you know, the kind of anecdote we always kind of knew about was Boeing has more lines of code in Catia than the base of of actually CATIA, the CAD software that these design their planes. So you know, they've extended it so much that it's it's more it's more complex than even, you know, the original thing. So kind of crazy. Awesome. Yeah.
So we mentioned last week that there was a Maker Faire here in Houston. Yeah. I know. Brandon made it out. Justin,
did you make it out? No, I worked. I worked at
I was at I was at the fabric. I also worked
Yeah. I was One on Sunday. Brandon was there on Saturday. Right? So how was that Brandon?
It was pretty cool. It was different than last year that I think they switched to day format. Last year was one day and last year was a little less organized, but also a little more crazy, which I kind of liked. But there were some cool booths to share. I talked to a guy from Salina, Kansas who takes old suitcases, like the bright orange ones that are plastic, and turns them into basically speakers that you can load up music from your phone via Bluetooth. It's awesome. Yeah, that was a cool one. And he he's like a retired electrician who is doing this and there's a few other stations are pretty cool. One thing that was really neat is like all the local Houston hardware companies have used us at like some point or another to do prototypes, or even a little more. I see a lot of red boards. Yes, a lot of red boards. That's pretty cool. See how we're like so involved in the hardware Houston community.
That's really great.
Do you guys feel like the whole world is trying to get you to buy a Bluetooth speaker? A little bit
so much so that they're even in suitcases now.
You need it. You just have to have to have that. That's right. Like plugging stuff in? I don't know. I like the tactile feel of that.
So you're not big touchscreen fan then. Hmm.
Not so much I especially the reflow oven at work. Yeah, it's okay. It's so slow.
You press the button and it responds like five seconds later.
Yeah. It's I think it's they're even worse, like when they're in cars or when they you know, where they don't belong on my TV has like a touch screen on often.
So Oh, my wife's car, Parker can attest to this. He's He's rode my wife's car, sometimes I take it to work, it has the touch the touchscreen, it's a it's a Hyundai Tucson. And when when you first start the car, it pulls up like a warning message. And it's like, Please drive safe. And it gives you like, instructions on how to drive safe. And you have to press except on this thing. It like you have to tell it, I'm going to drive safe or safely, whatever. And here's the thing, it will not allow you to access anything on the radio until you press Accept. Now here's what here's where it gets stupid. And this is a design thing that is just absolutely bugs the hell out of me. So if you had the radio on previously, and you had it to, I don't know, something, whatever, even just static, it will pull that on. When you start the car, the next time it'll go to that radio station, you can't change anything until you press Accept. Now here's the thing, you're normally in a parking spot, the very first thing you do is go in reverse. If you go in reverse, it switches to the reverse cam. And then you can't access anything at all. So if you had your radio on super, like this ultra loud blaring and now it's static, you can't do anything until you go to park and then except that you're going to drive well. Then you can change the radio
in the knobs locked out, there's a volume knob and it's locked out. You can't adjust the volume. Yeah, you can't you cannot
turn it off, either. You can't turn the radio off. Terrible design choice.
So it's one thing with cars is they it takes so long for them to actually get a car out on the road that like, you know, technology changes so fast. By the time it's out there. The technology is already getting old. And so I worry when it's really ambitious in a car where it's like that all these buttons and things.
Oh yeah, in fact, Parker and I were talking about how soon is it too we get self driving cars. And um, you know, we have some self driving cars, but How soon is it till that's like a regular thing, but such that it's not like, you know, you look down the road, you're like, Oh, that's a self driving car. You know, until until we're past that point.
I saw something that said like in three years they'll or in four years they'll be 10,000 on the road. So it seems like it's I still
haven't seen one that three Port says they can drive in the rain,
huh? Yeah, you know, but what you were saying before though, reminded me of in high school, my friend had a Pontiac Bonneville and the tape player or no, the radio broke, the volume got turned all the way up and then snapped off so the volume was permanently all the way on. So he had to have a blank tape in the tape player all the time and it was just like
whenever he was driving, he had to record the quietest thing ever. I
just had a blank caving in. Everyone's right here to the auto flip like church.
I like how that's his motion analog version. I call it that's a solution. fixing it instead of just like actually fixing the non blank tape.
Yeah. Little hiss No, no music. Amazing. I'm offered self driving car though. I mean,
I personally think 20 years it give it 20 years. And we will and the majority of people will just be like, Yes, I'm okay with self driving cars.
Yeah, commuting would be nice.
What do you think this is interesting. So self driving cars, it's going to predictably go that the first self driving cars are gonna be more expensive, right? Of course. Yeah. So you're gonna have this situation where a person in a junky car crashes into someone in the expensive self driving car, and you're gonna have this like, class conflict. I just wonder if that's like going to be a thing of,
you know, it's it's like how, if there's a if you're on a one way road, and there's like a family walking across the road, what does the self driving car do? Does it try to stop, but it's not going to be if it can't stop fast enough to try to swerve. And that speeds up
and you know, you run over the father and mother. Yeah. Yeah. It doesn't. It doesn't. You know, it's like,
algorithm. Directive one. Yeah. No, save the passenger. Yeah. Director to run over little children. I mean,
they commented that line,
the one with the biggest head
actuarial kind of, you know, more life to live. So you save the kids?
Yeah. These are all data points that the need to gather in order to update the algorithms podcast a good dark turn. Well, shoot. Yeah. Good for RFO Yeah, I
think RFO time
RFO is a rapid fire opinions where we pose just some kind of interesting project or thought or idea. And it's supposed to be rapid. It easily doesn't turn out to be rapid. And we're, we try to give opinions but sometimes it just turns into rants sounds. That's RFO. Yeah. Sounds super lame duck. really lame.
I'm real effin opinions. Yeah.
So we talked about this a lot is IoT. And we've talked about the FA RT tower. And so this
is the at the Maker Faire.
Unfortunately, they couldn't get it working. Really? Yeah, they didn't have a USB power Kingi for it. Oh, okay. Well, they took it. They didn't take it, though. So anyways, this is similar idea. It's a the internet of farts. So it's a device that records the VOC particles that can come out of your body. But it also integrates with, basically, what kind of food you eat, and what time and location so it's like geocaching your farts?
Just not like, did you like Oh, yes.
Something happens where you're just like, look, I've got six weeks to live. Right? Like that's a problem. I'd like some data on that.
Yeah. So this thing actually gives locations. And and I mean, what other data does it tracks your food?
So you can input what kind of food you eat? Yeah. And so you can track like, oh, yeah, burritos actually do make you fart more.
You know, it's so this thing could take two turns, it actually sounds like it's something that you could make useful for actually gathering good data, or just fun.
I think it's both probably more towards
the fun side, in college in the dorms, me and my roommate we wore, you know, headphone sets on our kind of like cod pieces. So like, one goes over your junk and one goes over your butt. And we would, we would hook that into the, to our stereo, which was really loud. And we could we could like rock the floor. But we were always trying to figure out ways to you know, get get more out of our system. So this would have been really useful for us.
My question is, how involves a female audience with this? Like, either they secretly want to know this, or they want nothing to do with this?
Right? Let's be honest, this is this is a an engineering and electrical engineering Podcast. I'm just going out on a limb here because I don't have any actual hard data but the female listener ship is probably slim to none.
Yeah, I was, you know, say like, last place we work. There's more guys named Mike, then girls, you know? Right, which I mean, the biggest thing true with Chris at our place. Yeah. You know, if you are a female engineer, you got your own bathroom. It's pretty sweet. Because if you work in engineering place with guys, it's like, it's like a bus station in there. I mean, it's an operating.
Yeah, well, we upgraded now with the new building. Yeah, we
have two bathrooms that have multiple stalls in them. Yeah.
You guys use the women's room? Well, for a
while there was a sign that said Brandon's office on it. Yeah.
Cool, cool project. Yeah, yep. Yeah. Thumbs up. Alright, so topic two.
Real quick, good. The more interesting thing is like who's got the most powerful parts? Right? And if they're like, yeah, it can measure, like, sound smell. I
don't know if it does sound but power axis?
Yeah. Like that is something I'd be kind of interested in.
That it can do it can do the Malla particles in the air. So although the sound would be good,
I needed sound. There's
no where's that bell doesn't need to measure. You know, I mean,
if you put this in, like a frat house, I mean, the thing would just break in how off the charts it would go. Be interesting.
Yeah. All right, I'm ready to throw up. We're gonna.
Yeah, next up that topic.
Earlier this week, Indiegogo, which is a crowd sourcing company, they partnered up with micro ventures, which are taking advantage of the new SEC rulings on basically, who can invest in what. Last year, or before, then the only person that can invest in the company was someone that was actually had that classification of investor, like, you had to have the right SEC rulings, like you have to have make a certain amount of income. You can only invest X amount of dollars, which is a percentage of your income and blah, blah, blah, blah, stuff like that. Basically, they made a new classification. So basically, you know, average Joe can now invest in any company that he wants. So
basically, not just rich white guys. Yeah.
So So what do you think these investments like? Couldn't they just be like, for backers, like, you know, so contribute this much 1% of the company? Well, that's kind of
that's, that's how
it's kind of is. Yeah. Because right now, or before it was new, or backing a product being built. But now you're backing a company being formed, like the most successful Kickstarters and stuff like that, we're, we're like, let's say, like Oculus who actually created a company out of the crowd supply, or crowdfunding. So I guess this is kind of like, you know, skipping the product step is you're you're funding a company.
This seems like the category with a high risk, high reward investments. Right? Yeah. Well,
that's actually one thing is the its capital investment and venture capitalists is that's like one of the worst kind of investments you can in terms of return. Yeah, there's not a lot of actual investment funds, or capital venture funds that like actually do well. Yeah. And so now you're given average Joe, the keys to do this, you know, most of them are probably gonna lose their money.
Well, you got the issue of this guy who may not have all of his ducks in a row, he but he wants to start this this big company with big ideas. And that's fantastic. And, and this is giving him the ability to start by settling parts of a company that doesn't even exist,
or just the ideas that Well, the idea is not sound enough to just get traditional VC funding.
Right, which is why he might not have gotten VC funding. Yes. So so it's dangerous. Like you were saying, Justin, this is, yeah, this would be high risk. So whoever, you know, partakes in this, you know, it would it would be wise to be prudent about how you're, you know, how your money's moving around, and where you're putting it but, but it is pretty cool that, you know, now the option exists. If if I do have a cool idea, and it may not be super, I don't know. It may not may not look well, to a VC. It's not well developed. Yeah. But yeah, but now there's, there's another option. You know,
it'd be interesting to see the top reward for like, Kickstarters and stuff. It's like, We'll fly you out to dinner. It was like 20 grand to be like a seat on our board. Like that would be, I think kind of intriguing. Yeah, I mean, no one ever gets that top prize. I think
I've seen it very rarely. Yeah, you have to really, really like, what's going on? Yeah. But I mean, yeah, yeah. Pay him to have a seat on the board. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I mean, that's what that's what happens. I what happens? Yeah.
I mean, it's just gambling. Right?
I think it's a, I think it's a good I won't, I'll put this way. It's people should be allowed to spend the money however they want. Yeah. So it's a good thing about that. I'm just hoping, which won't happen, because most people, you know, just, you know, will invest in Kickstarter and stuff like that, on projects that are obviously going to fail. But I'm hoping that people are smart enough to invest wisely. In these companies. I think that there's like an MMO RPG company. That's one of the first ones there's a bar. Ours. distillery, I can't remember distillery and
cocktail bar. Yeah.
I mean, I think the big issue with crowdfunding is, like making sure that the company actually delivers. And I wonder if this helps that in any way, because that just seems to be the thing that hasn't been solved. And Kickstarter is working hard to like, come up with different policies and give like more protection to backers, but I don't know if they've still cracked it yet, where someone could just buy a house with the money and
well, okay, so that also brings up an interesting thing. How does how does the, I don't know if anyone here would even know the answer to this. But the legal side of things, you know, if you're looking for an investment to start a business, and let's say you get an investment from, I don't know, four individuals or something like that, they each give you $250,000. You know, you got a you got a million dollars. But so so that that makes the the paperwork and the legal side of things potentially, a bit easier, because you're working with for individuals, blah, blah, blah, what if you get that million dollars from 300,000? Different people? You know, how does that work? Does that just make it that much more difficult? And then what happens if you go belly up, and you owe 300,000? Different people? Cash, you know, like, that's where it starts to get really sticky. I wonder
if they would treat it like stock options where you have to own a certain percentage of stock. And then you you have a voice in what, you know, at those, like big meetings that those companies have.
So, so effectively, this is just making stock market 2.0 And I
have met all this is you can invest in you have no say.
That's what it is. What I'm saying is, like, if you if you're 1%, then yeah, then you have a say, you might not be on the board, but you say like, Hey, you know, I don't like that thing. Yeah, who knows? Well, here's
the thing, it's already hard enough to successfully fund a project. If you're promising to deliver something to somebody, think of how much harder it is to fund a huge business, when the result is that the business just become something, you know, if you're not getting anything in return, no one's gonna give me money. So you have to you have to have some kind of buy in in some way. I do it. Yeah.
I think it's cool. I didn't invest if I you know, I mean, those company. That was good idea. Yeah, I was like, or maybe their motives were more altruistic. And something I believe in like, I would though, right? Get some cash. If it was climate change, or something that was kind of going to help us all like, I think that might be a cool, cool way to go. And I you know, it's a gamble if you're gonna buy the $20 You know, IoT device detector. Yeah. Like, you know, you may not get it.
Right. Right. Right.
You say that because you understand it, but there's a lot of people out there that they think they're buying something on Kickstarter.
Yes. Well, I think the biggest, like, the reason that stuff works is people look at it and they say, Hey, I would buy this for this price. I mean, it's just regular market kind of economy stuff, right? Yeah, sure.
But there is the mentality that hey, if I give this money, I will get this.
But if you don't get it, you get to self righteously destroy them on the internet, or 20 bucks.
Long as comment?
Yeah. Either way, you get something right. Yeah.
You comment? 20 bucks. Yeah, right. Their
satisfaction comes either way.
Yeah. Good about being a jerk.
It's Brandon, would you would you ever do that? Would you ever invest on the company through a Kickstarter like platform?
Well, I got like 60 bucks so
well, you can invest $60 In widget i OH.
i think i think it's cool. I want to see how it pans out. I want to see if it's even possible. I know there's so many examples here. We're seeing but but those could just be use cases. Yeah, I'd like to see, you know, is there something? Is there something that really can come out of this? And is this a new way of investment?
Yep. And we'll see. Yeah. All right.
It's cool to invest in tangible things, whether it be real estate or like a singular company. Gold, I think just kind of like, mutual funds is kind of like, some not fun about that sort of thing. And that's,
that's just hedging your bets? Yeah. Yeah.
All right. Last topic on the RFO. Mac's don't have replaceable hard drives now. Go figure. Yeah. I think one of us here is a Mac user.
Yeah, I am. I, I feel like. So I will argue that the best laptop ever made is the MacBook Air. That thing has 10 hours of battery life. It's tiny, does everything I needed to do, it kicks ass, but they're not making that anymore. I find more and more I'm getting there. I don't know if I'm getting old. But like they're adding features that I don't care about. More and more. And they're doing they're kind of doing these things that that make me feel a little more alienated. Now, I almost I wish there was something that could be some of the things that they've they've got down because I probably would would go in that different direction. I saw this thing. Yesterday, they're coming out with a book. And it's, it's a book of sort of high quality photos of all of their devices. And that's the most circle
we know. So there's a small size for 299 $299 and a large size for $399. Which is again such a those guy move. And I almost wonder like that is so ballsy. That, is that an experiment to see how many of their lives
wrapped in it's like the the book of what's the Book of the Dead? And the Necronomicon? Yeah, it's like, it's like that. What's that Steve Jobs face stretched over?
Like, what do you put that on your coffee table? And then like you have a dinner party and people like oh, look at this. This is the 1986 Lisa model. Yeah, you know, like, see the difference between
the 2012 MacBook and 2013 is a whole half a millimeter thinner. So you see these two fun, actually. So
next year, they're going to come out with a new version of the book and it's going to be Apple book ass. And it's going to have one more picture.
But they took an old picture out
it sounds like the you know, to make stuff smaller, you need to integrate stuff more. I don't know if there is this the actually put a hard drive in it. And it's just you can't take the the laptop apart, you know non destructively, or is it actually on the motherboard now like a like your phone? The the RAM chips on that RAM chips do that rom flash, the flash, the flash is actually on the motherboard of the phone is that's how I don't know if that's how they're doing it or is it?
I don't replace a lot of hard drives anyway, I don't you know with it.
I'm worried, like, let's say you spill soda on it. And so you can't boot up your computer anymore. So, if it's on the motherboard, you're screwed because you can't get it off. But if it's removable, well if it's like just an actual hard drive, you can just like take, you know, a grinder to the back of your MacBook cut it open and yank out the hard drive. That's actually one thing I've worried about whether like your phone if you use your phone stops working completely, you're not gonna get any your data off of it.
You know, some cloud?
Well, yeah, you can you can pay services to backup your data,
like five bucks a month or something like that. I don't know everything I have. I can find it online. I don't have any data.
I see what Mac what Mac moves to Apple, Apple, sorry, Macintosh, whatever. So So I was a Mac user for gosh, a long time I was I was a flag bearer for Macintosh. I love them. They were they couldn't do anything wrong in my opinion. And then I got a Windows and I really started playing with it. I was like okay, well, yeah, there's no turning back now. But, but regardless, I see the integration and the ease of use. You just get it. You just use it. It just does what you needed to. You turn it on, you get worked Dun, and you turn it off. And that's yes, that is amazing. And on top of that, it looks nice, it's light, and it doesn't have a whole bunch of extra bullshit that you don't really care about. And that, you know, even if it had this extra thing that you might use one time in the entire life, you just don't care. Right. So like, I get that mentality. But exactly along the lines of what Parker was talking about, where what happens if we spoke on it, it's done. And it's just, it's hard for me to fork out legitimately three times as much as it cost me to make a computer to get the thing that does the same amount of work. So I don't know. I like the ability to access my data to actually access a physical hard drive somewhere. Just opinion. Yeah.
I don't know. I think I bet their audience doesn't. doesn't do that. Yeah. But no, I think I That's my theory with this coffee table book is like, are they putting it out there to see? Because I think a lot of their market is people buying the next version of the thing they already have, right? So they I wonder if they're just trying to test out like, how hardcore are fans still? Because you know, it? Who would my book have pictures of iPhones and shit. I mean, that's, I
just, I mean, this is total.
Nerd, that's going unsubscribe. Now.
I can just see some like some like hipster dude in New York, who just has that coffee table and is really proud of
it. So the other thing that drives me nuts have gold leaf on it.
I thought it had Steve Jobs skin on it didn't Is that what you
both? So I made I made an iPhone video game. And we had a really, everything every decision we made was about performance. Because at the time it was, I don't know, 2010 performance was it, you know, the amount what a video game could do on a phone was was limited. That has gone up so much. But the actual performance of your phone has not gone up. And I feel like I don't I'm not trying to say as a conspiracy, but they with every new operating system, it does seem like you're getting phased out of your older models of phone. And I wonder if that's deliberate or it's justifiable, but I do feel like when it upgrades, it's always slower. And the upgrades always are timed with the new hardware. So like, what's up with that? Yeah,
it's probably a little bit of you know, column a little bit of column B.
it's, it's it's a conspiracy.
I guess the one thing sympathetic to say is that it is a really tough thing for them to do where people are like, don't take away anything I like, and keep coming out with revolutionary things like iPads, and iPhones and Macs.
Yeah, I want you to make an iPhone but better.
And take away nothing I like about it. Exactly. Right. So it is tricky, but it does feel
like you know beyond tricky. That's a hard thing to deal with.
It does feel like post Steve Jobs. Oh, they have been just iterating on what they do. Right? They haven't really I mean, I guess a watch but that doesn't.
So the the watch had some cool features. But the the whole thing where it like, I don't know, pokes you or vibrates and you can tie that to someone else's heartbeat. I know you guys know about that feature. Yeah, that's like Okay, so you can link it to like your boyfriend or girlfriend's heartbeat, and you could feel their heartbeat on your wrist. That when I first heard that I was like Steve Jobs would have never done that. That is too gimmicky and too kitschy for him. Like that sounds like something Samsung would do. But But But Steve Jobs now yeah. So So in other words, I think we're seeing the the change of the company with his passing
Well, I think you know, the person who starts a company is more as a visionary and a person with an invention the people who run big companies are business people and money people and then in that that's just where a lot of these things go. Sure.
I don't like it that's my RFO so I was like I want to removable hard drive.
Parker's thumb down I'm thumbs down. What do you guys think don't care to have branded
Yeah, I guess I'm getting thumbs down on the on the Apple thing in general. But least the book Yeah. At least the book.
Well, I think that was a I think that's pretty good for episode number. 42.
Yep. When you guys want to close what was
that, like six hours?
Go ahead just
this has been the macro fab engineering podcast episode 42. Thank you.
And our guests were
just tonight and my brother Brandon Knight.
Yep. And we were your host, Stephen Craig Parker. Thanks a lot guys. Take it easy. Later.
On this episode, Parker and Stephen talk about the Houston Maker Faire and the FX Dev Board.