What You The Customer Can Do To Increase Build Time & Efficiency

Let’s both put together the puzzle pieces for a more efficient build.

Customers often ask us how we can increase or improve lead-time on certain projects. The resounding answer often goes many different ways depending on if the project is turn-key, consignment, or a re-run.

We’ve put together a quick reference guide to help in getting your project back in your hands, as quickly as possible.

  • Assembly drawings in detail. Having clear polarity marks, especially LED’s cathode/anode marks can at times take an entire extra day off the lead-time.
  • BOM with manufacturers and their part numbers is key. Even if you only use your own part numbers, the manufacturer’s part numbers can help speed up the check-in and set-up processes
  • Kitting overages (additional parts) are always appreciated. Tape and reels work the best. We’ll send back what we don’t use in ready-to-use condition
  • Schematics can help to eliminate questions back and forth.
  • CAD Data is preferred although we can use X-Y-R Data. The more precise the better.

The following tips can help your board build move more quickly through the assembly process and improve the results:

1. Bill of Material (BOM) preferably in Excel format (but a plain text file is acceptable). All component designators of a given part number should be in the same cell (if Excel).

2. Gerber files for the PCB. A full set of files is required if we are supplying the PCB. If the PCB is customer supplied, we will need external copper (top and bottom) and Silkscreen layers at a minimum, but a full set is still preferable.

3. CAD files. They are commonly referred to as a GENCAD or ASCII output files and are an output or export from the CAD system the board was designed on. There are several choices which will work. One is a “native” ascii output file which is CAD system specific (i.e. Protel *.pro file), (Allegro .val or .va2 file). If you tell us what CAD system was used, we can tell you what the file extension would be. Another choice is a GENCAD file (usually a “.cad” extension). We can also use an IPC-D-356 file (either a “.ipc” or “.356″ extension). Also acceptable is a Fabmaster file (.fab). NOTE : The IPC-356 file seems to be the most popular and generic. Finally, in lieu of ASCII Cad files, we can also import the ODB++ data files.

Stay warm and connected with winter gadgets to beat the chill

The long, cold winter can be a depressing prospect for many. The threat of cabin fever looms large as we battle through the snow to get from one warm place to another. Sledging adventures and snowball fights offer a brief respite from the numbing, bitter cold. Braving the elements for the daily commute can be torture without the right gear. A warm coat, scarf, and hat is a given, but what can technology do to help? Let’s take a look at some high tech winter gear to keep you cozy until the spring thaw.

180s Down with Headphones ($35)

Everything is better with music and the right choice of tunes can transform barren, icy tundra into a winter wonderland. 180s combine behind the head earmuff designs with built-in headphones so you can keep your ears warm and enjoy good music at the same time. Your ears will feel great as they are protected by this down filled, water resistant shell with a faux Sherpa lining. The standard audio jack will work with most smartphones and there’s even a microphone for hands-free calls, which means you don’t need to get that phone out of your pocket in the cold.

NuTouch Gloves ($20)

There are actually quite a few options when it comes to warm gloves that will work with a touchscreen now, but these NuTouch Gloves offer great value for money. They are comfortable, they are fairly warm, and all ten tips will work well with your smartphone touchscreen. The classic charcoal color isn’t too eye-catching and the fingertips contrast in a darker color. You can wear thicker gloves over these if it’s really cold outside.

Columbia Bugaboot Plus Electric ($250)

If you’ve had that feeling that your toes are going to fall victim to frostbite then you’ll appreciate the idea behind Colombia’s Bugaboots. These boots are equipped with Colombia’s Omni Heat technology. They are completely waterproof and you can press a button on the side to activate battery-powered warmth immediately. They have three warmth settings and you can get an extra battery pack to give them a boost on extended trips. Colombia also offers Bugagloves and Electro Amp core vests for men and women that work in exactly the same way. We took their electric jacket for a test drive.

Tooks Headphone Beanies ($25 to $30)

Fool of a Took! If ear muffs aren’t enough, go for a beanie hat with built-in headphones. You’ll find various styles of hat available from Tooks and the headphones have a standard 3.5mm stereo plug. The nice thing about these is that you can easily remove the headphones and machine wash the beanie when you need to.

Hammacher and Schlemmer 12-Hour Heated Socks ($25)

Not everyone will want to spend $250 on a pair of electric boots, so for a tenth of the price you can enjoy toasty feet thanks to these heated socks. They run on batteries, one D battery for each sock. You can set them to a low or high heat and you’ll get 12 or 10 hours of warmth accordingly. They come with a lifetime guarantee so you need never have cold feet again.

HotRox Electronic Hand Warmer ($40)

This pebble-shaped hand warmer slips easily into your pocket and can be turned on for a blast of heat when you need it. It has two heat settings offering between 3 and 6 hours of warmth. You can charge it from the wall outlet, but this one also comes with a USB cord so you can plug into a PC at work to recharge. The underside of the device heats up quickly and it’s perfect for warming your hands as you wait for a bus or train. Try Firebox for U.S. delivery.

USB Heating Gloves ($20)

It’s official. You can literally get anything as a USB accessory now. We’ve all experienced cold hands as we type in a chilly room. Why suffer? Grab a pair of these gloves, slip them on, plug them into your computer and warmth will regenerate those fingers. You may even find your typing speed improves as a result, but if you’re in the office expect some funny looks from co-workers.

Scottevest’s  Revolution Plus Jacket ($200)

Here’s a warm winter jacket that is all about keeping your favorite electronics close and hidden. It has 26 pockets to hold everything from your glasses and your smartphone up to an iPad. The hood and sleeves are removable for temperature control. It also features wire management for headphones. With this jacket you can effectively load up all of your electronics and keep them safely stowed about your person. The internal clear touch pockets even allow you to operate touchscreens without removing the device. We took a look at their fleece jacket a while back.

This high tech winter gear should be enough to see you through to spring. If there is any other great winter tech device or clothing that you swear by then post a comment and share.

Garth’s Top 10 Car Winterizing Tips

Winterizing your car is one of the easiest precautionary steps you can take to be prepared for the cold winter.

1. Keep an Emergency Kit Inside Your Car
2. Make Sure Your 4-Wheel Drive Works
3. Check Your Car’s Belts and Hoses
4. Replace Windshield Wipers and Wiper Fluid
5. Check Your Defrosting and Heating Units
6. Keep Your Fuel Tank Full
7. Put in the Right Amount of Antifreeze
8. Check Your Oil and Oil Viscosity
9. Check Your Battery
10. Check Your Tire Pressure and Consider Snow Tires