#458 – An Interview with Ken Burns

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Manage episode 242175040 series 1244155
By Dave Jones & Chris Gammell, Dave Jones, and Chris Gammell. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Welcome Ken Burns of TinyCircuits!

  • TinyCircuits is located in North East Ohio (NEO), in Akron.
  • Ken also attended the University of Akron
  • Decided to stay in the Midwest
  • Past guest Todd Bailey talked about going to a job for working with graybeards
  • Ken used to work for Avid, which was later bought by Avnet/E14.
  • Since it’s a design shop, he got to try out different types of electronics.
  • This included learning the entire process and taking it to a CM.
  • Wireless HART developed by Rosemount (now Emerson), based on 802.15.4
  • MACtek made a PC based interface device for wireless HART
  • Dust networks bought by LT
  • The standard uses a negotiated time for when to wake up to save power.
  • Pepperl and Fuchs bought out Mactek
  • Decided to leave Avid to start a company
  • Wanted to make a smart sensor platform
  • This was late 2000s (2008), so Arduino was getting started
  • TinyDuino (and the other boards with the same form factor) is 20×20 mm
  • TinyCircuits have launched 3 kickstarters
  • Digispark was 2 months prior
  • This was early kickstarter days. His Kickstarter video recorded rough.
  • The stretch goal was to do mfg, inspired by companies like Dimension Engineering
  • Couldn’t have done it otherwise because of the volumes being low per board
  • Kickstarter money worked as seed money
  • Design was done, but the manufacturing all the problem
  • Example system is a processor board + USB shield + GPS (for tracking cats)
  • Was in MAKE magazine for that kit
  • Everything is open source
  • Didn’t need as many feeders as they got for the PNP machine.
  • Bought a used machine
  • Machine was from 1996
  • It had 80 feeders included and was bought with the reflow oven
  • All delivered for 25K
  • Juki
  • Started with 0402
  • Bought it from a company that was reputable
  • A month of tinkering to get it started
  • The bigger learning curve is making consistent product
  • “Paste is by far the most critical step in the process”
  • Yields started at 40%
  • Need to use fresh paste every time
  • Yield is 99% now
  • Dek 265 helped make things more consistent. Got it a year after original stuff for $3K
  • They are now running with a Panasonic SP60
  • Got a new PNP 2 years ago, also from Juki.
  • New machines allows small runs or big runs
  • Allows testing of a lot of different products
  • It’s gotten much cheaper to send it out than when they started.
  • Doing manufacturing allows you to do a higher mix, which might be cost prohibitive with sending out to a CM.
  • TinyCircuits has done some CM work where it makes sense. Ken says they’re not going to offer ISO9001 or anything.
  • It makes sense if the customer wants something custom designed
  • Robotic golf caddy
  • Chris asked what customers are asking for at TInyCircuits.
  • Roadmap is higher end stuff
  • Whiskers are breakout sensors.
  • They are now funding on Kickstarter!
  • 5 pin input mux allows you to talk to different versions of the same sensor (up to 16)
  • Dealing with the Tariff
  • Selling batteries on digikey
  • “18650 is the biggest thing we sell on eBay”
  • Selling on digikey and mouser
  • Johnny 5 / firmata (used by past guest Jason Huggins)
  • Latest stuff supports circuit python
  • Little Bits sold to Sphero for unknown amount after raising $70M.
  • Working with group out of MIT
  • tinycircuits.com
  • They work out of the old Goodrich plant in Akron

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