The Amp Hour Electronics Podcast: Standardizing Manufacturing with Pete Staples
Podcast Show Notes:
Podcast Show Notes:
Welcome Pete Staples of Blue Clover Devices!
- Blue Clover Devices (BCD) is “The IOT ODM“
- ODMs are a flavor of CM where they do more of the design work
- Busy EEs use their services to take on more of the design work
- Most products are on a 9 month cycle. Some smaller designs (like a recent SiFive dev board) are shorter timelines.
- Started in LA
- Now have an SF office (where Pete is located)
- They reluctantly started mfg in China, because CMs wouldn’t take on the work.
- The factory started with “Screwdriver work” (assembly), but have moved on to PCBA and precision cable
- Core of workers help to mentor younger workers
- Pete took an MBA class in operations but he didn’t expect the difficulties with manufacturing
- Container party
- Taking stuff to china: comes down to economics. Doing it for products making less than $1M per year doesn’t make much sense.
- Learn manufacturing locally first.
- Pete checked out CMs in the bay area and didn’t think they could add much value otherwise.
- Devices like the LPKF and Nano Dimension Dragon Fly aren’t good substitutes for a PCB house
BCD’s flagship product is the PLT
- PLT200 – targets IoT devices like nRF52 (described in Embedded.fm episode)
- PLT300 – targets Linux devices
- The PLT acts as a bridge between developers and factory
- Programming and testing devices on a line
- Programmable power supply
- Souped up JLink
- Freq counter
- Linux computer
- UART interaction as well
- CAN bus
- Many test stands are Labview based, so they are tied to that location
- With the PLT, can have one in the US and one in the factory
- Revision control and using CI/CD
- Not built for design validation (like NI or test equipment mfg)
- How does PLT talk back?
- PLT cloud – a portal to manage devices
- Needs to be a secure connection
- Slack app integration
- The PLT hooks to the ICT (In Circuit Tester)
- Supports 48 digital and 45 analog test points
- The cassette is custom, but can be used again with future designs
- Webhooks allow for pulling serial numbers
- Box is enrolled to an organization
- PLTs used in China
- Not blocked, but network isn’t always reliable
- Needs internet to work
- YAML test script
- Different steps might be connecting up to the PLT
- Test Plan Reference
- Scanner / label printer works at a lower level than Jan was talking about on the show
- Release can be Zebra label format
- How is data being used?
- Example: product with 3 circuit boards
- Gage R&R
- PLT running Zephyr and linux
- Trends: things are going up market and have more Linux in them. There will still be a separation due to power, cost.
- Blue Clover is working on having less environmental impact after the pandemic
- Working with people in the climate neutral community
- Food and apparel have talked about sourcing their materials
- Check out bcdevices.com for more info
- Twitter @petestaples
- To get a free USB cable: email firstname.lastname@example.org
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