I was recently reading an article on another website that caused me to reflect on where we’ve been and how far we’ve come in this industry. The article covered a design engineer’s experience with modding a board back in the 80s and being required to ship the board with the mods instead of getting new ones made properly.
Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I worked for a company that designed and built business-oriented displays. One of the products was particularly troublesome to get going and the first production versions shipped with something like 24 different mods. If the company had respun the boards, we would have added at least a month to the schedule and payed somewhere in the range of $20,000 to $40,000. If I recall correctly, one of the biggest problem areas was the PLL (phase-locked loop). We were over-driving the parts a bit and that made all of the support passives and the layout that much more critical. Not smart, but I guess that came from one of those “cost-benefit” analysis-type things.
Contrast that today where you can get a new set of boards from a PCB fabrication like Sunstone.com in a few days for a few hundred dollars, get the parts from Digi-Key overnight and have us (Screaming Circuits) assemble them in a day or two.
Of course, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Like when faxes and later email came along. Written communications cycles that used to be measured in days became measured in hours and minutes. The expectations changed. Can you imagine writing a letter to a company and waiting a couple of weeks to get a response?!! That’s the way it used to be.
In the same vein, we at Screaming Circuits (and some others too) have changed the prototype cycle expectations. Can you even imagine finishing your layout and waiting four to six weeks for assembled boards to come back? Yikes! But that’s what it used to be like. We’re all making things go faster and faster. It keeps getting faster and it won’t slow down. But that’s good, because time = money, so less time building = less money spent and more time selling = more money earned. Right?
I… Just… Need… More… Coffee… NOW!!!!