MacroFab Engineering Podcast #227
This week, Riley Hall of Fictiv joins the podcast to discuss how Fictiv connects engineers and designers to job and machining shops.
The US Mint Denver produces 30 million coins a day. Denes, the tooling department manager, discusses with us how production at this scale functions.
Stephen is on the hunt for the next step in his electrical engineering career and shares the shifts in the industry and what employers are looking for.
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, you like us,
and we're your hosts Parker, Dolman
and Steven Greg.
This is episode 227.
eli Hughes is the CTO of t zero research and development. T zero was founded in 2016 by three Penn State University graduates who have training and experience in embedded systems, acoustics, mechanical engineering and software. Eli's technical background is in electronics, software and acoustics. Eli currently also does work for NXP Semiconductors. Before t zero II lay worked at the Penn State Applied Research Lab where he worked on applications in sensors, condition based maintenance, robotics, undersea vehicles, and space science. Eli also taught part time at Penn State University II department. In his spare time, he plays guitar and keyboard and enjoys woodworking.
So thank you, Eli, for coming on to our podcast.
Thank you. Glad to be here.
So tell us more about you.
Okay, just just just let's just jump into jump right into it.
You know, where do I start? It's like an origin story. So yeah, I grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania, in a little town called Kane, Pennsylvania. Graduating Class, I don't know, like 70 or 80 students, small town, Allegheny National Forest. And, yeah, I was just kind of like a Pennsylvania farm boy. And at one point, I believe it was a seventh grade. We had, it got introduced to apple to apple to E computers in our computer lab. And I at that point is where I kind of got hooked into programming electronics, the whole, you know, the whole kind of circle, because prior to that my wife was Nintendo. And yes. But once I kind of discovered the Apple TV computers, and we learned, you know, how to program and basic draw lines on the screen, that kind of thing, I kind of made a connection in I, and I kind of tell the story in the same way as my best friend at a time, Adrian, our biggest thing in the world was Friday, I get on the bus, you know, we would ride back to his house thinking about playing like Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Metal Gear, you know, the cool Nintendo games. And we would always about half an hour bus ride, we'd have the Nintendo Power magazine, which was just the coolest thing in the world, you know, at the time, but kind of right in the middle of learning about this apple tv computer, the Nintendo Power, they kind of had like a spread on what's inside that the NES and I mentioned that had a six, five, a two microprocessor. And it was almost simultaneous to that I was digging through the manuals, trying to figure out how to do something for a little game I was making. And it said inside the apple two, computer II with the 6502. And it was like right there. And I said, you know, what, if, if this chip can be in this box in this box, and doing these two separate things, I can make this chip do anything. And that's where I got hooked in the back of the manual. It's kinda like the back of the old video stores, really, the adults were allowed to go was the, the manual for the assembler that was built into the apple two. And that's why I really got hooked on doing really neat stuff with 652 assembly because it was the only way to get any kind of performance out. And so So yeah, that was kind of, you know, I was in middle school, I actually fell away from engineering technology in high school because they didn't offer any other programs. And that's where I got into keyboard and guitar. I like super into guitar almost to I was gonna go to Berklee School of Music. I, you know, really got into that. But eventually, I circled back and went to, you know, a Penn College Pennsylvania College of Technology. They had a four year degree in Electrical Engineering Technology. And I got hooked because when I went and visited, they were doing all the neat stuff with microprocessors and hooking computer boards that were on at the time on the ISA bus and an old PC, literally to breadboards to control robots. I mean, it was like, I kind of found my people you know, and so that's kind of a little bit about my background, went through Penn College. What drove a lot of my interest in programming, it was the video games I was really into, you know, 3d was still really new. I was really into the mathematics all of that. But the other thing I was into I play guitar and I really liked guitar effects. And in I think it was 1999 ish, maybe a little earlier, a company called line six, made a device called the pod, the red being the red being the kidney being the first real digital amp modeler. That sounded pretty good. And I wanted to know how that thing worked. I was not giving up until I knew everything about it. And the next year in college, we had our introduction on digital signal processing. And so I kind of started down this other path of getting really into DSP and algorithms.
And that's what I wanted to do as a career. In my, it was interesting that the first job I got was actually at a company doing power electronics. And I thought, You know what, this is just, I need, I need the money. You know, at the time my first daughter was born, I'm like, I gotta grow up, I need a job. That kind of thing. But, but it turned out that all the stuff we were doing with power electronics, and for piezo, electric ceramics, it was all tied together. Because I was I ended up working on research projects at Penn State. With these high power piezo transducers used by the Navy, I essentially had the build 100 kilowatt amplifiers that you know, instead of a speaker is going to a big transducer. So it was all tied together. And through that, I actually found Penn State, which was about an hour away from me, had a degree conferring program for graduate programs PhD and Master's in the science of sound. And I got really interested because I was thinking about grad school for electrical engineering, computer science, but I was like, you know, what, I'm, I'm kind of working a job, I'm doing all this stuff, I kind of wanted something new. And I always joke, the reason I went there is because they're the only place that let me in. But the reality is, is that is, you know, their only entrance requirements. I mean, there, it was tough, but you had the you know, your background, and you know, math and physics and all that. But the pool of people who come in there is very diverse, like mechanical engineering, physics, electrical engineering. So there's actually software people biology, speech, human hearing. So you end up with this pot of people coming from these different backgrounds, coming to study, and I just had to be part of it. So I packed up, you know, the family, we moved to St. College, I ended up going, you know, trying to figure out how how, how we're going to do grad school and have a family and, you know, get this master's degree, did that ended up with a job at the Applied Research Lab at Penn State, which it's a department defense, a university affiliated Research Lab, focusing on underwater acoustics. So I kind of fell into this position that was just really awesome. I got the degree, State College is a great place to live with a university town. And so yeah, so that's kind of where my life started.
We mentioned origin story, or you I believe you mentioned origin story earlier. And, and, and as you were talking, the first thing that went through my head with that is, you know, in the Spider Man movies, when he's in like the research lab, and the spider comes down from the, from the ceiling on the web, and bites his hand, I kind of imagined a 6502 processor coming down from the ceiling and poking you in the finger.
That probably isn't, I don't know what it is, I do describe it was somewhat of an epiphany, it's something changed about how my brain thought about everything. Because, you know, kind of growing up in a rural area where we didn't have access to a lot of anything. I mean, we'd have a computer at home. I mean, the fact that this device was no longer magical, that someone could you could understand it, you can buy a book, the other piece of the, you know, the, you know, the thing, that piece of the puzzle was, you know, I would go visit my mom, my mom and dad are separated, and I'd go visit her in Pittsburgh, you know, larger city in the summers. And, you know, this was seventh grade, and I was young for seventh grade because, you know, you know, I entered school, you know, kind of a weird time. And so I was like a year or two younger than everyone else, but I remember my might have been 10 or 11 walking around, we went to this flea market. I was born out of my gourd. I hated everything. And we were walking through this old area with all these books in low and behold in the middle, it was like shining like the ray of light. It said like 6502 exact sizes. I went over there and I begged my mom I was like, I don't care, whatever 50 cents, whatever we have, I want this book because it broke down like assembly language and that was the key that was like what I needed and I would actually hand write up programs because you know, that's that's all I can do. But yeah, so I got bit by 652
You found your Rosetta Stone? Yeah.
I still have the It's on. It's on my shelf here at the office. Like I still keep it. The book is yeah, the book, the original book. It's one of the few books because I like a lot of ebooks. But it's one of the things I'll keep, I keep that in the art of electronics. That will be in physical copy, because I feel if you're on a deserted island, and you have to choose one book, it's a hard choice. I probably go with art electronics, but the programming six five, a two is probably in the same class. But it's it's kind of special to me.
Do just out of curiosity, do you have the third edition of our electronics?
The new one, the gold one? Yeah. So I have the silver one. The second and I got the third? Because at Penn State, while I had to use the texts that were part of the curriculum, and some of the courses I did. That was I couldn't require the book. But I strenuously encouraged that everyone taking a circuits course buy this book, because all this crap will make a whole lot more sense when you have this other perspective. Especially at like a traditional university type, you know, methodology for teaching, which wasn't always, you know, I think a lot of students, you know, have a tough time because it's approached, maybe not as easily as it could be. But that's why I like Agra electronics, it's definitely a good reference that you know, to have to work out.
So you mentioned quite a bit about getting involved in sound and audio, and even doing guitar stuff. And for any long term listeners of our show, they're probably expecting that we're going to go down that route for this episode. But in, in reality, we're probably actually not going to be touching on that as much, which is, which is probably surprising for some of our listeners.
Exactly. Because t zero has nothing to do with guitars, at least I'm pretty sure about that.
I hope to use the profit someday to to maybe change that. But I do have this act of pickguard circuit hanging from the ceiling. I have stuff around here. But But no, the the actual the business is much different. But it is sound it is tied to sound. So
So So you like what is T zero? How did it start your involvement?
Yeah, so So t zero, was founded by, you know, you know, three kind of myself included graduates from Penn State and kind of came here for, you know, from different places, but probably circa 2012 or 13. I met one of my colleagues, business partners, Stephen wells, he was he was just starting graduate studies in acoustics. And he was working in the department at the lab that I was in, we just started talking in the back, we were setting up a test and we just started talking about, you know, what, if we had a business, what would you do, and we had a lot of, you know, kind of pie in the sky ideas about culture and how we'd want the business. And I mean, it went from the the electric bike powered from the iPhone to, you know, sensors that detect hydrogen to, you know, all over the place. But so, Steve worked with me at the lab. And he was super in the audio, but he's a mechanical engineer, completely different. Background, but he played in the band and you know, did the same thing I did. Was he a drummer? No, he actually did keyboard. Okay, yeah, keyboard. So, so anyway, but Steve, like all like all students do graduated. He eventually he got a job at Boeing doing structural acoustics on the SLS, the Space Shuttle replacement. So his job is to make sure that thing doesn't vibrate apart and figure out where everything needs to go. So he's really big into simulation with really expensive tools looking at, you know, vibrational modes of this structure. And it's kind of cool because he had access to all this data from all the space shuttles. And that's what he did. But so time marches forward. So Steve is working at Boeing, kind of becoming a rocket scientist. It turned out his brother Nick, went to mechanical engineering school as well. And he ended up actually just serendipity in the same department. And we started talking, I say, Hey, how's your brother? He's just, you know, good. And we eventually got talking again, and Steve was thinking about coming back for his PhD to Penn State, which he did. And then it kind of started up again we went to Maker Faire we built this little boom cube we were doing little Bluetooth, you know, amplifiers with DSP. Put in a suitcase. We were doing kind of neat stuff like that trying to figure out do we want to sell this Um, and we kind of farted around with a bunch of different things. But what really happened I, in 2017, it started getting kind of serious where we were trying to really figure out well, what what could we be doing, kind of putting all our powers combined, because we each came from different backgrounds of much different skill sets. We're engineers, we're not salespeople. You know, we didn't have training and running a business, but we had a lot of ideas and a lot of passion. And so we had two or three different ideas that we put together plans for and just went around pitching them. And so we ended up somewhere in a nearby town at kind of like a meeting of people who, like invest in local businesses, and you kind of pitch to them. But we met a gentleman, Mark Barnhart, who owned had a very successful business, you know, kind of in the printing industry, he prints, you know, IRS tax forms, does a lot of logistics, sa t tests, but he sees data and information as a as a thing. You know, he told us, you know, I really don't care for your business plans, but I really liked the team. Your engineers, you really need to work on this. But so at that point, we started really talking. And that's where the mentorship came in, of someone who really knew how to grow business, interact with customers, you know, get to the bottom of what people want. And so, in 2017, we kind of Steve had moved back, he was going to work on his PhD. But Nick and I, we all kind of decided we needed to quit our jobs to really focus on this. We had to quit kind of some really nice jobs with really nice people it was it was tough, but to really pursue this because it was at a point where you know what, we have the right people. We have some backing, we have the right mentors, let's give it a shot. And so, you know, so we did, it was like 2017, I think September 30, or whatever, whatever the Friday was, we checked out a Penn State. Monday morning, we showed up in the basement of Nick's house, and we sat and looked around and like, alright, what? What now?
We actually have to make something now,
what's step two? Step one, quit job. Step two, what's step two? Step
Yeah, so Exactly. Well, because as you know, we had been working on things, and we had engaged some different using acoustics and a lot of different application areas. But, you know, like, like, anything, what you what's interesting to you as an engineer, and what you can, you know, make isn't necessarily what can sell or what's profitable. So it's trying to trying to match all these things together. But the one thing about Mark is Mark, who is our kind of partner and friend, in mentor, you know, he had a lot of the contacts who build businesses, and someone came to us and said, Hey, we've got this, you guys are kind of experts at sound and fluids. Have you ever heard of this thing called specific gravity? In could you measure? And so, you know, we looked each other and like, I can measure anything, like, with enough time, money and everything, so. And that's where the whole brewing kind of application started, was that we were approached with, hey, you know, we think if brewers had something to monitor fermentation, to kind of know, when the when the brew starts, stops and is done, that can be valuable, especially to breweries that I mean, they're trying to run a tap room, they're trying to do canning, they have a lot of fermenters
we're actually trying to schedule something,
they're there, they have hundreds of 1000s in tanks and plumbing. And that's it, that's an asset like, you know, capital that they're trying to make, they want they need to make money with. And when someone maybe once a day has time to pull beer from the tank to take a gravity reading. Could you help with that? And so we said, you know, what, being from a science background, yeah, well, we'll give it a shot. We said yes. Right. Like you say, yes. Just because, you know, Steve and I being accurate sessions, you know, it's, you know, when you take a fluids course, you get the wave equation drilled into your head, and the thermodynamic models of, you know, how fluids work in density is like, one of the one of the two big terms right and sound speed. So, we looked at a bunch of different options, and we kind of came up with this, a couple of different designs, but eventually came up with this thing. Kinda looks, I sent you some pictures of it. It's kind of like a long, long, six to seven inch cylindrical tube with a reflector at the end. It's designed to fit right in a tri clamp port. So the idea is there's no There's no retrofit, you just kind of pop it in with a cable coming out. And
for people that don't know, what kind of port is that, so a tri
clamp port, I explain it as kind of like, in your house, like if you're to do plumbing on your, you know, say your sink, you could look at it, and it's like either an inch and a quarter, an inch and a half, you go over to Lowe's, and there's a million things that fit that you can put it together while these big industrial tanks have a port called a tri clamp. And it's you know, it's a fitting a different diameters, inch and a half is a pretty popular fitting that you can insert things into this port. And it clamps together with compression and this little o ring. And they make everything it's kind of like the USB port of text, right? You can buy analog temperature gauges, you know, the racking arms, you have sample ports, pressure transducer, everything can go on and try clamp. So that was kind of our first big constraint. We said, you know, what, if we come up with something, this got it, this can't be something additional that the Brewers have to think about cleaning and dealing with, it's got to plug into an existing port.
Well, and I think that's one of the big words there that's special about try clamp is the fact that it's so easy to clean. And it's meant to be very sanitary.
Well, it's two flat surfaces with a gasket.
Yes. It's, and it's literally, I think the first time I did it took me a little bit to get the hang of it. But someone who's good at it can put those things together. Like, you know, 510 seconds, your your latch phone,
Will. And if you watch some of these guys who are good at them, they do it one handed, they slept, they slept that try clamp on it swings around, and then they spin it up, and it's good to go.
So So yeah, so we looked at it and spoke to a lot of breweries, you know, of different sizes, because little breweries have different problems with big breweries. The bigger the brewer, the more money they have, and they'll invest in really expensive equipment. Or, or do you better be able to, like hire an automation company. You know, there's big vers he talked to they can afford a quarter million dollars to give to Rockwell Automation that come in and stole some Allen Bradley PLC, it's like, but that's not most that's like, that's that that's on one end, then on the other end, you might have a startup brewery that, you know, maybe has a few 10 barrel fermenters or, or even smaller that
their mom is running the Yeah. upside? Yeah.
So so we have to kind of take a look to try to figure out well, you know, if we can build this thing, or build something that that, you know, will be form factor compliant? Like, what, in what form would it be, like, useful? And, you know, so that that's kind of where we went down this path, we, we spent a long time just exploring that. Because we came from a background of building scientific instruments where the goal was to build the best possible thing you possibly can form factor and all the other things. Well, not unimportant. I mean, that wasn't the first thing you went after. We're trying to do research because we want to make sure the spaceship makes it. Right, you know, the space or the or the submarine doesn't sink. And you're building one of them, you know, or at most, maybe eight because we messed up the first set.
The test destroyed the test equipment.
Oh, yeah, exactly. It was exploring kind of like this product, you know, Market Match. And kind of having fun at it. And I got to say, you know, like, like anything that, you know, there's stressful days, there's days is difficult, you're writing code, you're having a hard time. But to be honest, being able to interact with growers is just the best thing ever. Because, I mean, these are people that are just awesome to talk to, they're, you know, you literally go on the job to have a beer with a guy to just to understand his problem. I don't have to dress up is like, in fact, like, if I don't look like them, when I go in there, like I immediately lost 20 points. So like, I couldn't ask for like a better situation, you know, to, you know, to talk to these guys. And, you know, I describe it. When we were when I was first meeting a lot of these these professional brewers, they're kind of like this cross between like a biologist, some chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and a plumber. Like, it's like all these things put together and so you end up with meeting some really interesting people who are, you know, wicked smart at what they do, and it's just really fun to kind of learn from their experiences.
You know, okay, so, I think it's, I think it's a good idea to take one quick step back, and just kind of recap everything right now. So, t zero creates tools, or I guess maybe potentially one tool that brewers can use to monitor beer fermentation is sort of like, the last 25 minutes over me.
Yeah, just kind of like, know, exactly. So what, what the product ended up being was more than just a sensor, but we're trying to deliver a solution to get the weekends back or to be able to, to know what's going on that tank without you being there, or paying someone to take samples, you know, all the time, because it was such a big meeting brewers learning that, you know, Chris, you know, who is at our local brewery here as part of our pilot, I mean, he might have to drive 45 minutes on a Saturday, he would pitch yeast on a Friday, he would just drive in and see what's going on. And I mean, that's time away from the fishing boat or your you know, you know, kids baseball game. And so we're trying to build tools to enable, you know, enable these guys to get the data they need.
Right, so So traditionally, when it comes to that monitoring process, it was, you know, take a sample, in other words, pull off some of the liquid, and then do some kind of mechanical process, like floating something in the liquid or, or some other method of getting it, what does your product do to solve that solution?
Yeah, yeah, that's a good question. So kind of the, the existing tech is like a hydrometer, you float a hydrometer. And it, you know, you kind of like, read Little graticules, with your eyeball to see where it's at. To get the relative density, we take a completely different approach. So our sensor is this, you know, six inch long stainless steel apparatus that touches a fluid, that's all it sees, is stainless steel, and we emit sound waves that will travel through a little one inch section of the fluid, hit a reflector, and then come back. And the idea is that when you look at, you know, in acoustics, you study the thermodynamic equation of state and use that to derive, you know, the wave equation of how sounds travel through a fluid? Well, you end up with, at the end of the day, with an equation that tells you, you know, the speed of sound is kind of related the three things, the temperature of the fluid, you know, think of like something called the bulk modulus, which think of it is like the springiness of the fluid over the density of the fluid. Now, there's a lot in each one of those terms, but there's kind of three, three parts. So if you can kind of get a grapple on two of them, you can get the third. And so since specific gravity is what is used by brewers to kind of, you know, keep their thumb on what's going on, if we can get a density, we can get specific gravity or a relative density. And so we use that Soundwave and measure basically, how long does it take to go through a two inch column of that fluid continuously, so we keep bouncing back and forth. So that's the underlying principle of operation of the sensor. Once you have that data, you apply a ton of math, and you end up with a curve. And that's, that's the magic curve that would replace, you know, taking a reading, you know, once a day, or, you know, for us, we can do it, like, say once a minute.
So you have to characterize the hell out of your sensors, right?
Yeah, so what's really important and is we have to have precision temperature. So we have a temperature sensor that is calibrated with probably the world's most fanciest, you know, this Fluke calibration bath that we have to get heads this big, long certificate and we spent a bunch of money. So we could accurately get the temperature in really cow over the ranges, we wanted to you need that. And you effectively need a way of measuring time to you know, a very precise value so So speed of sound in say, like water, like around 1492 meters per second. The actual time of flight, like say in our sensor path, I'll put a number out there like is 45 microseconds, that by itself, isn't that hard to measure a 45 microsecond delay? What we're after is not that delay, but the changes from one measurement to the next as things move. So, to look at the, the changes in sound speed, we need to look at we need to get down into the nanosecond region of changes to pull out the the the changes in sound speed. And so a lot of the engineering was getting the circuit I could do that, you know, you know, reliably repeatedly over and over again, and get us a good number. So we knew how fast that way with traveling through that. And so that's kind of like the underlying opera, you know, operation. Now there is one other interesting thing I mentioned that you kind of get for free with this method versus, like, say floating hydrometer is that, you know, beer is like, the war is not a static kind of thing and how you put living organisms in, they eat things, right, and it creates this, you know, I like think of like whether in the tank, right, you, you know, the yeast consumed the sugars, carbon dioxide, and alcohol are byproducts. So you've got bubbles, which there are people at Penn State, I know them who have done PhD, you know, dissertations on sound waves and bubbly media for sonar to analyze how to make sonar systems better. And so initially, it's a challenge, because you essentially have all this noise in the fluid as the yeast get active. But if you kind of understand the physics of the bubbles, you can sub effectively subtract that out and use that as an indicator of how active the Yeastar. So with some signal processing, we can get another number, in addition to temperature in the sound speed, that's directly it's almost like an RPM gauge that we know exactly how active the yeasts are during the ferment. So
you have like an acceleration a second order.
Yeah, and it's actually a turns out to be related to the derivative of the gravity curve, that we get another measurement, but we we pull out in a completely different way. And when you look at this thing, it kind of looks like it, it looks like the derivative and arctangent function, it looks like a kind of like a bell curve, where it starts out at zero kind of comes up and kind of comes back down. And that's one of the things we have in our dashboard, you can just without even looking at anything else, you can look at that thing and say, Hey, I pinched a day ago, I should be at this level. It's either is it or isn't in shine, make an adjustment. And then you can just look at that curve and know when you're done. And kind of know when to trigger other operations in your in your process. So
that's, that's really crazy that that a brewer can have on like on their phone, the ability to look at this and say, This living organism is on a feeding frenzy right now. And they will be for the next three days. And then it'll start to taper off. And I can plot that.
Yeah, it's in probably what was, I don't know, it was really exciting for us. Because when we were first, because you can imagine, okay, you got to build this precision instrument, right, we've got to build some we've got to get in the hands of some brewers that'll let us like use their tanks and be part of, you know, some engineering testing. We also got to get the data out of the brewery, we got to be doing data analysis, but I remember it was in 2018, it was the Fourth of July weekend, or the Fourth of July holiday, you know, local brewer we were working with, he likes to he had a brewery that he was fermenting really hot. And we didn't know he was going to ferment it hot. But July 3, you know, he pitched yeast we were like watching it because it was like one of our first real things we could watch. It was like Mission Control at NASA, we could watch the whole thing. And it was July the fourth towards the end of the day, like we're looking at, we gave Chris a call, we said Chris, your brew is done. He's like, there's no way I just, I bet you if I bet you $50 In a dozen chicken wings, you're gonna go in, you're gonna be at a terminal gravity. And it's done. Because you were brewing you know, for four or five degrees hot with some weird yeast he was using. And lo and behold, he actually went in, and we were right. And we were like, it was kind of like vindication, that kind of date, just that data of knowing that how accurate your yeast were, because you can make a decision. Because you could have the other problem you can pitch in, nothing happens and you need maybe it's your fourth or fifth or sixth time we're using the yeast and they're just not very active and you need the bump the temperature or, you know, pitching the yeast. So all of that was super exciting from the data science side and just seeing kind of the system work all at the same time.
So speaking about the system, let's let's go ahead and just kind of talk about the, the system as a whole, like what is all encompassed in this so there's obviously sensors but what more goes into it?
Yeah, so we started off with the sensor, right? So we built this thing. And we we put some fairly serious processing horsepower in it with what I was going to do is try to get the intelligence I could in that sensor and get all these fancy algorithms, which I can talk about a little bit later. But, and that's what we did. And then we had the built some way that to get the data out. Well, one of the things as engineers, you think everyone knows how to do the things you do. So for me, if I got a sensor with an RS 45 interface, I'm like, hell yeah, I'll just hook that up, get this data acquisition. So do whatever, I'll hook it up. Well, okay, that's not most people, and especially not most people who are really busy. So just coming with a sensor, while there were people who would appreciate that and know what to do with it. That wasn't the majority of customers we were engaged with, right there. They're super busy. They're trying to run a Taproom. They're trying to put things in kegs there, they need a solution. So that's when we sat around trying to think about, well, what else could we do to take it to the next level? So so that's where kind of like in I don't like to use, like, the whole IoT, you know, kind of acronym a lot. But that's where the the IoT part of it how do we get the data out? How do we get it to a system that they can log in and, and see it and see their their data without being experts in any of this,
and being annoyed by it,
and being annoyed by it. So we we went through several iterations. And with this, not only this project, but we had other projects, we were looking at the same kind of thing, and we kind of ran into the same problem was that we kind of had two different customer profiles. And we originally think, Okay, well build this little box, kind of hook it up to their Wi Fi, get data out, push data up, secure it. Well, there, here's the reality of walking into a lot of these environments. You either walk into an environment where the internet connection is some old Linksys router, to which the password is still potato 123 that you have no idea. There's no security, and it's not even up, you're trying to use this to deliver your service. Right? How do you do that? So that's one side of it. Then you walk into, and they said, Hey, can we we need the hook? And they're like, What are you talking about, there is no way we're letting this device, we're going to do an analysis of everything you're doing, you need to do all this stuff for us, we're going to do a full security, you know, we're gonna go through this process, and you go through security on it. Yeah. So you end up months later, still not having deployed hardware, because you're trying to convince someone that, hey, I'm not going to do anything bad in your network. And if you think about trying to deploy this, it's frustrating, because you want to just get get the data out. So we ended up kind of going a third way is that is going a cellular route. Because what it allows us to do is drop off a piece of hardware with no configuration, I mean, literally, it's already set up, you can plug your sensors into this thing, and it's transmitting data in to the cloud and cellular is, especially with some of the new, you know, you know, the newer protocols such as like NB IoT, Cat M one, which are designed for like low power, low data rate sensor, the cost is, you know, is much smaller, it's really easy to deploy. And it's actually easier to secure because you can work out deals with AT and T will, they can establish a VPN between those cell modems and your infrastructure, and it doesn't even touch the public Internet. Like you can literally get to that level. So you have a lot more control. And really, what it came down to was if we're trying to deploy this, you add up what is the cost of two or three hours of a network security engineers time? And how much cellular data to that by? And it's not even close, like when you're when you're working it out that? So when we looked at this model, we said, well, we want to get this thing so we can ship them hardware. They don't have to configure anything, what would it be? And we kind of landed on the soiler. And it's worked out really well, precisely for that reason, because they kind of bounce your problem. You know, in in kind of a nice way. So that's the middle part, back to your question. So we've got to get the data out. So then the last part is, well, it has to go somewhere. So we we have infrastructure, we run, you know, kind of in the cloud. That ingests all the data we actually do probably now 95% of the signal processing in the cloud, to do all these measurements to kind of derive all this data, kind of throw that into a system that a web application then can you know, a brewer at, you know, Jimmy's brewery logs in. He has eight tanks on his account. They're associated with the cellular devices in the sensors, it can give them that digital dashboard. So t zero brew is kind of like the sum total of all that. So we got to put it all in a box, you get this kit, you plug it in, and then on day one, you're, you're, you're good to go, you're good to go. It's it's a, it's aimed at, trying to minimize that hassle on on all sides, for the brewery and for, you know, for the people providing the equipment.
Well, and you kind of avoided the route of just giving CSV lists of data, right? You actually have graphical, you know, dashboards that show these things and make it a little bit more simple.
Yeah, so that's kind of the other side of it, too. And, you know, if I put on my data science hat, I love plots, I love looking at every little nook and cranny. What, what the interesting from the value proposition is that what we found is that people really like to look at something that looks like a tank on the screen with some basic information. So you could put it up on a TV, see it, and then drill down into it a curve to say, hey, it looks like this thing's ripping and roaring, it'll be done in a day. So trying to get that balance of, you know, this cool looking dashboard, that looks cool. But being able to get the data as well as if you really, really want to export, you know, like a CSV file. So they can dig into like, say one minute time interval data, if there's something they wanted to pull up. So yeah, so that's, that's kind of the other, you know, the other side of it.
So I'm looking at the pictures that you sent us. What, What's been the process of the hardware design for the sensor? Come seeing a couple different iterations of the boards?
Yeah. So at some point, I want to get like a glass display case. So we can have it I was thinking about writing a blog, just to it, not necessarily from the TZ or bruke perspective, but on the hardware design perspective of from idea to product, like here is what you're expected to go through. And what you're seeing there is the really nice end of it. So like anything it's started with, all right, we're sitting in the basement. All right, it's dark, it's kind of damp. We got some computers, we're like, Alright, how are we going to solve this problem? And so so so Nick, you know, one of our co founders, mechanical engineer, he started thinking about the try clamp, Steve, who's really the acquisition, data science started, think about that. I started with electronics. So we each kind of started on each of our own domains. And so for me, it was, okay, I know I have to measure this thing. Here's how precise I'm very familiar with piezo, electric ceramics, all the analog finance, here's the piece that I need. So the first thing out of the gate is I had some dev boards for an NXP processor that I was using on something else. I'm like, I'm gonna make like a little shield add on, to start bringing this stuff together. So I had already had a dev board for some analog front end ICS like it was when I say ugly, like it was not pretty. You know, this is what I want to put in my glass display case. So we took all that what did an iteration on these dev boards, got it just to do something right report sound speed. In early on, we measure our kind of how quiet our front end by looking at a statistic on our tiny measurement. So if we look at the standard deviation over a group of pulses, is that when we started this, the standard deviations were around 10 nanoseconds, you know, for a measurement of on the order of 45 to 65 microseconds. By the time it was the last version. We have it down to for a good probe 50 pico seconds. And so it was just starting from dev boards, how you would think you would do it cut some circuit boards, we literally just to save money, like we thought we were saving money. We should have income in the macro fab. We got a little skillet we were doing SMT and a skillet with some Kaptaan stencils. Nick made the first 10 I have no idea how he even got them to work that way. It was It was rough going. Because because we came from, you know, we came from a background where the budgets are pretty fat to us. You know, military grade contract manufacturers were, you know, to work trying just to prototype ideas quickly. So we made use of you know, low cost circuit boards. So we probably went through several iterations but at some point three or four in after the dev boards where we started packaging it in that sensor. And that's where it started to get a lot you know, a lot more real. So, in the pictures I sent you the longer version so there's one picture I have it has like George Costanza.
I So we're not going on our blog.
So the longer the two boards, that was the form factor that we had established for, you know, we had several versions with, but we event we had to go through like one more iteration. It turned out all the junk, we had the stuff down in there, the cabling, and make sure there's proper strain relief. You know, Nick said, if there's anything you can do to get me some more space, just for stuff, because we have to seal this thing up. You know, and that's what that iteration was. We added some, you can see on one side, there's actually edge card fingers. That's actually for like an like a test a little test for that we put it in, let it bring all the signals out. So I can I can look at things.
I see a nice tag connector programming header on
there. Yeah. So you tag connect, I usually start right from beginning as it gets closer to production, something like that board. Like that's all you can fit, like there's and we can actually program it through the, the edge card. And so I just kind of made a funny Twitter post because I was showing it to my wife, who had never actually watched Seinfeld before, and I still tease her about it. I'm like, you're missing all these cultural, you know, these great cultural references. And so yeah, that was kind of fun. And of course, like the picture like I always like to put fun little graphics so I had the bubbling tank
that looks actually really good. Yeah, looks fantastic.
I'm surprised it turned out there was another picture of another or cellular gateway that they actually the silkscreen registration was a few mils off and both x and y and it actually turned out in the camera the effect was awesome it looked it had this like 3d kind of look to but yeah, so we'd like to have some fun you know fun with like the circuit board artwork and whatnot so
now we don't have to share this on our on our blog and Twitter so listeners can look him
Oh yeah, yeah. So so the hardware for from the engineering perspective, I'm kind of lucky that that part you know was probably the easiest part of the whole system because you know, building you know, you know microcontroller getting the power supplies, the analog front end, you know, something we're used to really, probably the most challenging aspect is the actual the system that really matters. That's the hard to build is actually the acoustic front end stuffed way down to the tube is a piece of ceramic that's kind of designed for we engineer for kind of certain frequencies to interact with a bubble just right. It has to be epoxy with some special epoxies and go through a process to make sure it's kind of made it to the inside of that stainless steel just that process, Nick who's a mechanical engineer, other co founder that's kind of what he championed and not only that is he had to figure out this to write it you know it's kind of machine from one piece of three or four stainless of you know, we wanted it so when your brewer holds on to this thing it looks like you know a nice piece of industrial equipment The only thing that touches that fluid is that stainless but at the same time we can't call it have been cost $400 Just for the
say like a chunk that big is kind of pricey
Yeah, we boy and this was all Nick work Nick's work of we ended up the good thing about this whole project is everywhere we go saying hey, we're making this cool fermentation center for the sensor for the beer industry. Are you in in like everyone says yes so so the we found it we have a shop in town the guys looked at us oh yeah, we can probably do this and you know went through a few the first versions you know, Nick maintenance garage by welding some pieces and using a lathe and doing sanitary welding. But we we eventually got to this one piece assembly with you know, the tubes hollow and in it we're in you got to figure that out. But pretty much the sensor as they come off the line, everything about how well it performs is that assembly up front, the electronics part of it, the good news is like once you figure that out, like having a cm kind of stamp that out, as long as I do my job of marking which way diodes are facing and actually give someone a ball. That's right. Like, you know, that's kind
of easy, then then you should have 100 100% yield, right?
Oh, yeah. It's like, well, you know, the other thing too, just going, you know, in my career of building electronics, like, you kind of go into every project with these, like, huge ambitions of dominating the world on your first iteration, and everything's gonna be awesome and the other reality is is like you figure out how to figure out what your mistakes are quickly and keep iterating. Like, you're gonna make mistakes, it doesn't need to be perfect, iterate. Just because the services to do this to do electronics today are cheap, so inexpensive. I know compared when I started the fact that I could get a raw circuit board or even come to like a macro fab, in my basement, in my shorts, put throw up an order, and I get something in a few weeks, for a reasonable price is pretty amazing. So, you know, I think the days of, you know, puzzling over something for months to make sure it's just right. There's certainly industries that you certainly do that. But you know, I fully expect that anything we do, you kind of do three versions of, you know, one to build it, you know, the second one that kind of fix your mistakes. And then, boy, you run into production challenges where you have to deal with, you know, something changed your closure changed the part changed some sort of DFM so, so yeah.
Totally makes sense. I've certainly fallen into that category, also, where it's like, oh, this first one, I've thought of it all, it's everything's gonna work. We're all good. And then yeah, four revisions down the line, just like, Oh, my God, when is this thing gonna work?
Yeah, sometimes it's all about can you set I think, in myself, I'll say I'm guilty of this as much as anyone else is learning how to set boundaries at which you will not cross meaning, I feel engineers work really good. When you set here's the box, you will work in now engineer the hell out of this. And you end up your brain turns on, you know, different side of your brain fires, when you're kind of boxed in a little bit. So you know, it's just when the world is at your fingertips, when you have literally the selection of any microprocessor that cost next to nothing, you have all these services, when you have no box, you know, the best thing you can do is first draw the box you're going to work from explore that, then then maybe change some parameters. And I feel that it applies to the software world as well, because it has even more degrees of freedom. You know, when you think about how to architect software?
Yeah, how much code can you fit on a two terabyte hard drive nowadays?
Well, I kind of go the other way. And this is actually where we kind of ended up with the probe is I stuck to pretty powerful microcontroller that could do all the algorithms in real time. Unfortunately, this problem is not as simple as taking a measurement and applying like a multiplier on an ad to get a result. Because measurement of density and fermentation, it's fundamentally like a stateful process, meaning you start at some state, right, there's some root, some extract in the ward, you have some bounce of sugar and water at temperature, you now add something new in the system evolves over time. So there is currently no way that I know that you can have an electronic measurement and directly measure density and output a proportional voltage, you know, such a thing doesn't exist. So what you have to do is measure these other things, know the initial state, and then kind of build a model of how it will, you know, how the east will perform. But from the software world, we originally started putting all the algorithms in the probe, which was certainly more than capable of handling, but there was kind of like a practical measure of, you know, we would do your release of firmware, you know, we've get it in the probe, send it over the brewery, it actually had a bootloader in the probe, we could load code. But then you're under the problem as you're going through iterations and you want to tweak things, even on the fly, is the we want to put the brewery in control, I'm just not going to remotely update firmware in the middle of a job. Like, that's a very bad thing to do. And so when can I? And should I expect that the brewer will upload firmware? It's like, no, it's like they got other things to do. That's why we move to a model of that's where the cellular really a dividend paid off, where we take a bunch of measurements, I do some signal processing on this large data set. To reduce the features down, we get that to the cloud, their computational computing power is nearly infinite. In what's nice is I can have one broke brewery running on one version of algorithm, but say another brewery who's willing to test I could be literally tweaking that algorithm on the fly without having to like remotely update firmware on a device because I can I can do it, you know, in our infrastructure. And in it, it was so much easier to think about deployment of, you know, many devices, especially when you don't want to interrupt, you know, a process where you could have a discussion saying, Hey, can we try this? Are you willing to Have you tried the new algorithm at all?
In just getting non computer savvy people to update things is another challenge in itself?
Yeah, that's, well, I'm guilty, like myself. So my own my own systems, because you get the problem is you get busy, right? And, you know, we're all busy. So if you're not, if you're not on top of it and right, not everyone is an expert in TLS security and thinking about, hey, TLS, one three is out, should I be using that, you know, to transport data over my, you know, HTTP connection? You know, no one's thinking about that. Right? And so that that became a challenge. So, my design approach, especially with this product, is think about when I write code, treat that device as if it's, you know, read only memory, like, try to do the due diligence in our testing in our firmware development, that we just aren't going to say, well, we'll ship it out and update the firmware later of thinking about how do we get this thing rock solid. So, you know, we're not updating firmware for new changes every month? And how can we engineer the system to you know, to kind of like when you send up a probe out in space, like, they certainly can do firmware, but it's not something you're like, hey, let's just try this today. Like, it's, you know, you know, what's the point a little bit of discipline so so it's
the exact opposite of the video game industry?
the video game industry used to be like that. You right, Bert, your EEPROMs for your Atari and that was then that yeah,
game over. Right. Yeah. But now you just ship it when it's 60% done. And
so I think, you know, because I mentioned, I grew up like on the NES and Super NES where you they, they had a basketball, right, they have to burn a billion of those things. So you have something shippable And so growing up like that was the norm, you go to the local KB Toys, you buy Super Mario Brothers to you pop it in, it's gonna work boots up. I had a period in life where I was super in the video games. It turned out all the other stuff in life turned out to be as enjoyable as a video game. And I knew if I played the latest, you know, Xbox or Playstation, I would get, you know, way too addicted. But if, a couple of years ago, we said, you know, my daughter really wants to play this game Overwatch. So I said, Well buy this ps4. And they had a they're having a sale on a Star Wars game and like, yeah, I want to play the I want to be an X Wing. So I got really excited. We got this Playstation four. What's the first thing you put the disc in? I'm going to play the damn game. Alright, Electronic Arts we need to download eight gig update. That comes down three hours later. It's it's installed. Oh, you need an EA account. Oh, we now have to repatched like he was I swear to god six hours later, I just wanted to be I wanted to blow up the Deathstar. Like I really wanted that then it was not two days later Hey, we have a patch XYZ for the game to you know make it playable. So it's yeah, it's definitely a different world
you know, as a as a side tangent, I saw this last December and I never really thought about it because I've never had to think about it. But I saw it on my social media somewhere it was like if you bought a video game console for your kids or whatever don't just give it to them fresh on Christmas Day open it up download all the crap make sure it's ready to play such that you give it to them and it's ready to go
yeah that's that's probably good advice because my guilty pleasure lately is like when I you know I just I need some time off to like like I do a lot of woodworking and that's like my time to think but my other guilty pleasure is
tablesaw doesn't need an update does it
the nice thing was for me a would have loot boxes
the good thing about the table saw it's me that table saw and keeping my fingers like that's the that's all that matters is those three things but
it can upgrade you oh yes I guess it's called downgrade
remove digits very fast but so yeah my other guilty pleasures like bought a copy of Red Dead Redemption to a few months ago just because I needed to like disconnect and you know once again I went to the store I kind of bought like a used copy at a local use game store and I thought I'm gonna go home and it's a Friday evening get some pizza and play and it was no it was probably two hours later that I was ready for bed like I just
so yeah so what's his last product in here that looks like renders at the very bottom here.
Oh, yeah. So that's kind of like so so we talked about like brew as a system. So brew itself right now and you know, I should back up a little bit so we were so last in 2019 Hardly spend a year. So we went out to there's there's this conference, the craft brewers conference, it was in Denver last year, it is one hell of a conference. I mean, 15,000 people drinking beer talking craft brew equipment. It's a giant party, it's awesome. We were at a point where we did all this engineering, we were now trying to, you know, go out, talk to people and try to sell this monitoring system and get some feedback. And that's where we were starting to get into the cellular, and you know, the whole system as a whole to kind of deliver the entire service. But it's really focused on the monitor aspect, meaning you hook the sensors up, you see what's going on. While we're doing this, we were running pilots, you know, you know, across Pennsylvania, just gathering data, seeing what's a, you know, a value, then, right, it's, we're about to hit, you know, you know, general release, and really push it out there, you know, the world kind of shut down with COVID-19 breweries everywhere, the tap rooms are closed. And we're trying to use it as some time to kind of reflect of like, how can we help the industry? And how can we look at all the data we collected about what problems people are having? And, you know, one of those things is the monitoring the fermentation is very helpful. We do get quite a bit of requests, saying, Well, you can tell me what the temperature is remotely? Can you control the temperature? Can you can you can I kind of replace my control system, because I literally seen every type of temperature control or now from the most complicated, you know, Allen Bradley type control system to the thing that is hacked together. In probably the most crude way, you see a wide variety of it, but
the dude in the corner just flipping a switch up and down.
Not only that, we actually went into a brewery the remote monitoring system was they they had their little PID controller for the temp with a little seven segment display, he bought a GoPro and like pointed at it and rigged it up. So he could like look at a webcam to look at the PID controller,
you think that might be crazy? I have seen setups like that in oil and gas field.
No, I get it. Like it's, it's you got to do what you got to do. So?
No, it's perfect. Because it's a it's an air gap. Oh, it is?
So you can't you can't hack the video stream?
Yeah, exactly. No, but we were just talking around. And, you know, we're certainly not if someone has a working control system, right. Like, everyone needs temperature control. I say most people require temperature control. But is it something we could add on as a companion product or maybe have a local readout. So if you don't want it in the cloud, you want it on the local device. In thinking about how to maybe instead of selling a system, where you have eight sensors, we have like a little cellular collector box is where you know, the price of the cellular and the modems. It makes sense, just to put it in everything as a single node is if someone just wanted to try out one, right we could you know, it maybe they want a temperature control offer a device that kind of mounts, maybe the you know, the blow off valve on one of these fermenters we plug in the fermentation sensor, you get the precision temperature does all that talks to the back end, so you can get your data remotely, but also it can hook up to a solenoid to control a glycol and kind of right there locally be a solution because you know what, one of the things we saw that was common especially in as the bigger the Brewers went, especially as they're planning it, they're like, Well, we're gonna buy we're gonna go to omega we're going to buy some RTDs you know, put them into thermal Well, we're going to run wires 200 feet back to where the controllers at. And then we're going to run another set of wires 200 feet back to turn the solenoid off and on. And they so that's just a lot of wire. And when we looked at I said you know what, if we kind of had we could have everything like right there just to make life easier to hook up. So we had a you know, a few customers that were really asking about it that they want to be pilots to kind of make it part of the product line to kind of offer another entry point. And so what you're looking at there is actually that was actually a real screen that I had on a dev board that I gave to Nick. He kind of designed an enclosure that you know there's a nice little mount that you really can't see but it would fit on the blow off valve it kind of has like a big silver knob. Think of like a nest. It kind of have like a sexy little.
I was just about to say this looks so nasty, but it also looks like a baby mom. trigger, which is still kind of, like applicable to.
So, so where we're at. So in this is where we actually have, you know, I built some, we literally the first controller is running on dev boards in the back room and I actually used, which I've actually originally didn't think I would like it. But I found some boards that used like Adafruit is really using a circuit Python, this embedded Python, so I just needed to make a prototype, I bought some of these things, and probably a day, I had everything hooked up. And it was actually an interesting experience. I, from a prototyping aspect, it was really, really fun. But we built this thing, I built another prototype that had, we figured out the screen we wanted that was nice and bright that you could be, you know, 3040 feet away from your, your fermentation vessel, your bright tank, see with big letters, you know, it's it's a pretty high, you know, high pixel density screen. So it looks nice, it kind of has all that nice features, we, you know, to it, but it also reads the fermentation sensor has outputs to control, you know, solenoid to control the valves, as well as be able to kind of connect if you want that. So we can have like, a couple different entry points for for people who want. Maybe they just want to test standalone temperature controller and monitor the East productivity right there. Maybe they don't want a remote SG curve. So So we'd have you know, something else in the product line. And, and that's what I was mentioning, actually, the first rev a board that's going to fit in the enclosure is that macro fab as of like yesterday, you know, 345 Eastern, that's really tying all the prototypes together so we can get some boxes built and kind of get out in the world. So So yeah, that's so that's what that thing is.
Cool. Yeah. Um, does anyone have anything else? Any more comments about brewing? I have one. This is what I've been thinking. Because we've been talking about acoustics and things growing. And it's, there's research in in plain music for plants. Have you? Have you tried with your P's Oh, to send music into the East, oh, lullabies
from the NES controller?
We have not. Now our system generates, you know, a fairly narrowband signal around two megahertz. So it's a bit maybe above human hearing? I'm not really sure if the yeast like it or not.
Yeah, what's, what's the vibratory resonance of a yeast cell? And are you actually destroying?
Actually, that's actually a good point. One of the things to really exploit the to measure the activity of the yeast is, you know, you can imagine these little bubbles going up on the tank, while those bubbles have they have a radius, right, is that if you pick your, you know, the wavelength, everything is kind of with respect to the wavelength, you know, measured in, we can measure millimeters or whatever, as compared to that bubble. So, so in acoustics, a lot of times you don't, you don't think of dimensions in terms of units, you think about how many wavelengths across is this is this feature? Well, if it's really, really long, if that wave is like really long, compared to the bubble, it doesn't interact with a bubble at all, they just, it's like, it's not even there, it's like, imagine a huge wave in the ocean, in a tiny little boat in the middle, like that boat isn't doing anything. If you make the wave too small, you have the opposite problem, the beam is way too focused, and you get way too much scattering, meaning it's going to reflect it off. But if you pick something that's about the order of magnitude, about the same size, you get an effect where you get most of the wave that comes through in and you get scattering and you can measure both and so that's where the some of the acoustic design kind of came in of understanding that this wave is much bigger than I think the cells but they're they're on the order of magnitude of the bubbles and that was kind of some of the you know the magic
so the bubbles probably don't like it
they probably don't like it although I think I think I think when because there's a lot of them
I kind of love it just because the look of this sensor thing. It just looks like a steel tube with a weird extra steel tube at the end of it and it's one of those things where it's like this is doing something and there's some you know, voodoo and smoke and mirrors behind it, you know?
Yeah, and out the other end is this connector and Did you know that would be the thing to you if anyone's interested? You know, one thing along the way we found, especially in the food and beverage connectors are actually probably the biggest I know circuit board design. I absolutely despise dealing with connectors, because you can spend a long time burning up figuring out what is the connector that's going to last. And so we use, it's called an M 12 connector. So because it's a 12 millimeter, you know, threaded connection, used quite a bit in the food and beverage industry, but some of the brewers are, are probably rougher than others on hardware. And we found out the connector is kind of a point where that thing, it better be a threaded in, kind of thing, because we've had people sit on the sensors, like everything that you can think could happen has happened and so well,
your beef with connectors, you have found your people here on this pod.
That's a long running thing on this podcast.
Yeah. It's a hard problem. Because I, I think you know how like computer science, like, the classic problem is the off by one error, that's like the thing that will get you in the butt. So I think is in the in the electric electrical engineering world is it's like, which way is the diode? Where's pin? One is it flipped, because you, you rotated the connector upside down. For a flick. It's like where the where the frick has been one. Or you
didn't see on the datasheet? The drawing says view from bottom side or some in a small little bullet point.
Or it's just not or there's no, you know, that's the other thing we've noticed is like my colleague, Nick, we're kind of at each other because like you ease and your your documentation, you don't follow the ASME you know, standard way for dimensioning apart, which it is it's like a two different worlds about, you can tell who's a mechanical engineer that dimension depart. And who's a PCB engineer, and how they dimensioned apart because the world is how you use it. And the tool is completely different. But I certainly feel for you.
Well, so if people want to learn a little bit more about t zero brew, where could they go find out about it?
Well, if you go to first of all, if you got a t zero brew.com You can learn about it actually, if you're a brewery, we because of the the COVID 19 pandemic, we actually released a free version of the software, just the dashboard in what it is it gives you the dashboard where you just enter manual measurements, it was just something of like, hey, it's a tool to help keep your teams on board. It's simple, you can kind of manually put in your measurement, get some graphs, and just try to provide a little bit of value. You know, it's there. And we're certainly love to hear any feedback of how to make it better. Because, you know, those guys are out there every day doing the work so and certainly, you can reach out to me on Twitter, you know, EMH 203 If you want to check out the Twitter feed, I have a lot of these pictures of his stuff on there. A lot of my engineering projects, you know, just ended up as Twitter posts, feel free to reach out.
I think at the end of of all this COVID stuff, we're going to need a lot of beer, so we're needing heroes like you. You know,
I'm Eli beer and I'm hoping that like if we make the argument, you know, like beer production has been around for a while it'll continue being for its you know, while there's always ebbs and flows, ups and down, you know, you're not going to stop people from drinking beer and good beer and good craft beer. So we just want to try to help and be part of the, you know, ecosystem and try to help merge our expertise with the expertise the Brewers to make good product.
Thank you so much, Eli for coming on to our podcast.
All right, great. Thank you. I enjoyed it.
You want to assign us out?
This was the macro fab engineering podcast. I was your guest, Eli us. And
we were your host Sparky Dolman Steven Craig. Later everyone take it easy.