We talk a lot about speed here at Screaming Circuits. Back in 2003, one of the main reasons our parent company started us up was because their customers were telling them that they needed prototypes faster.
So, I know that getting everything built is faster these days – we can ship fully built boards as fast as 24 hours after we receive a kit, and you can get the raw fabbed PCBs in a day too. Certainly, everyone knows that you can place an order with Digi-Key and have the parts on your desk (or in our shop) the next morning. But has the rest of the process gotten faster too? (See if you can find the shameless plug in there. Sorry.)
Whether you’re using Sunstone PCB123, Ultiboard, Eagle, Pads, Altium, Allegro, or any of the common CAD packaged, you’ll probably spend most of your prototyping time in the software. It’s also probably the least predictable segment of the process.
What takes longer? The schematic capture or the layout? Or are both completely variable and totally unpredictable? If your boss came running into your office and said:
“Bob! Quick! We just spilled something. We need an underwater temperature sensor with a video camera that can send a real-time temperature data stream and live video feed a mile back a cable to a host computer. And we need it NOW!“
How long would “NOW” take for you?
Changing your reaction to the duration of time since 2003…