Forums

parts researcher

Started by John Larkin September 10, 2021
On 9/11/2021 2:33 PM, jlarkin@highlandsniptechnology.com wrote:
> On Sat, 11 Sep 2021 13:29:33 -0700, Don Y > <blockedofcourse@foo.invalid> wrote: > >> On 9/11/2021 8:06 AM, legg wrote: >>> On Fri, 10 Sep 2021 16:43:24 -0700, John Larkin >>> <jlarkin@highland_atwork_technology.com> wrote: >>> >>>> On Fri, 10 Sep 2021 13:19:27 -0700 (PDT), sea moss >>>> <danluster81@gmail.com> wrote: >>>> >>>>> On Friday, September 10, 2021 at 12:50:57 PM UTC-7, John Larkin wrote: >>>>>> We could use an occasional parts researcher. Anyone need a part-time >>>>>> job? Maybe 5 or 10 hours a month. >>>>> >>>>> What types of parts do you need to research? For silicon parts, your new staff member should be able to help. >>>> >>>> A lot of connectors, hardware, passives, cables, relays, and of course >>>> silicon. Part of the work is to look into price, availability, and >>>> second-sourcing, maybe to read some data sheets and discuss needs with >>>> the engineers. >>>> >>>> I don't want any staff members to spend a lot of time looking for >>>> parts! >>>> >>>> I don't mind looking for silicon so much. All that other stuff is >>>> distracting. >>>> >>>> For example, I want to find a pre-assembled 10-pin cable to connect >>>> this LCD thing to a controller board a few inches away. >>>> >>>> https://www.dropbox.com/s/fd9y8d7rjxxbztr/VM800_3.jpg?raw=1 >>>> >>> >>> Part of engineering discipline is not to put your design into a >>> difficult supply position. >>> >>> The only way to learn this, is to force the engineer to spec >>> the actual part numbers or drawing, for quotation - ie rub his >>> nose in it. >>> >>> You don't want your staff looking for parts because . . . . >> >> Same reason he doesn't want them talking to factory reps, distis, >> answering phone calls, dealing with email, attending meetings >> or offsites, taking lunch breaks, browsing the 'net, etc. > > Why do you make up nonsense like that? It's not even very good > nonsense.
Oh, those "non-design" activities are acceptable uses of their time? But, looking through selector guides to pick specific parts (and discovering other devices that may be of use in TOMORROW'S design) isn't? Talk about nonsense...
>> These "distractions" are the very things that expose folks to new >> ideas. Trying to keep people "on" continuously leads to less >> inspired designs. Look at the folks who work in large bullpens. >> >> Put them in a bubble and see how many NOVEL ideas they come up with! > > Researching availability and price and pinouts of connectors and > relays isn't our concept of inspired new ideas.
How do you know what's available if you haven't LOOKED? Or, do you keep both feet planted firmly in the past? Never looking to see how the world around you has changed? Some years ago, I had to design a device that had an attached "sensor array". The array had to be movable without altering the position of the instrument to which it was attached. So, a coiled cord is the logical connection mechanism. Sixty sensors in the array. Obviously silly to look for a 60 conductor COILED cord! So, some sort of processing will be required *in* the array. Which means the (disposable) array is now more expensive. How *much* more? What's a realistic number of conductors? Should I offload that selection job to a droid and delay my design of the array *and* the portion of the instrument that will accept those connections? What criteria should I give him for his selection? Summarize ALL of the available offerings? Tell me about those that have 10 conductors or more? OTOH, by doing that research myself, I can hypothesize different approaches that might work with the item I'm looking at THIS MOMENT ("Gee, 8 conductors... I could mux 8 sensors onto each of 8 wires... but, still need power and ground so 8 isn't viable. Maybe 10 onto 6 wires, plus power and ground? But, then how do I control/infer the current multiplex selector?") I can also see how many vendors offer cables of a particular type so I can infer their existing markets -- if everyone is selling 4 conductor cables, that suggests that most other customers are looking for *4* conductors, and not 10 or 12 or... Do I want to tie my design (because the choice of cable is a significant part of the actual design approach) to a single vendor -- who is EAGER to meet my needs (and lock in my sole-sourced design)?
> Some junior engineer might learn something from that sort of thing. To > a serious designer, it's wasted time. Tell the kid what we want and > see what she comes up with.
You underestimate what your "senior engineers" learn by being exposed to The Outside World. Does the Junior Engineer read technical journals *for* them and filter only those articles that he/she deems appropriate from "wasting" the senior engineers' time? Likewise, attend seminars and industry conferences -- so the senior engineers don't have to waste *days* on those things? Does the junior engineer interface with customers to determine their needs and opine likely product offerings? Or, do you waste your senior engineer's time by exposing them to the needs of real and potential customers? Great "family" you've got, there!-
On Sat, 11 Sep 2021 08:49:00 -0700, jlarkin@highlandsniptechnology.com
wrote:

>On Sat, 11 Sep 2021 11:06:36 -0400, legg <legg@nospam.magma.ca> wrote: > >>On Fri, 10 Sep 2021 16:43:24 -0700, John Larkin >><jlarkin@highland_atwork_technology.com> wrote: >> >>>On Fri, 10 Sep 2021 13:19:27 -0700 (PDT), sea moss >>><danluster81@gmail.com> wrote: >>> >>>>On Friday, September 10, 2021 at 12:50:57 PM UTC-7, John Larkin wrote: >>>>> We could use an occasional parts researcher. Anyone need a part-time >>>>> job? Maybe 5 or 10 hours a month. >>>> >>>>What types of parts do you need to research? For silicon parts, your new staff member should be able to help. >>> >>>A lot of connectors, hardware, passives, cables, relays, and of course >>>silicon. Part of the work is to look into price, availability, and >>>second-sourcing, maybe to read some data sheets and discuss needs with >>>the engineers. >>> >>>I don't want any staff members to spend a lot of time looking for >>>parts! >>> >>>I don't mind looking for silicon so much. All that other stuff is >>>distracting. >>> >>>For example, I want to find a pre-assembled 10-pin cable to connect >>>this LCD thing to a controller board a few inches away. >>> >>>https://www.dropbox.com/s/fd9y8d7rjxxbztr/VM800_3.jpg?raw=1 >>> >> >>Part of engineering discipline is not to put your design into a >>difficult supply position. >> >>The only way to learn this, is to force the engineer to spec >>the actual part numbers or drawing, for quotation - ie rub his >>nose in it. >> >>You don't want your staff looking for parts because . . . . >> >>RL > >Because their time is valuable, and because we will finish more >product designs if someone can research parts for us. > >I don't make them order office supplies or snacks either. People who >are good at design are rare and should get all the help we can give >them.
The correct guy to go 'searching' is a rabid purchasing agent armed with a solid part spec and a purchase order. RL
On Sun, 12 Sep 2021 12:10:58 -0400, legg <legg@nospam.magma.ca> wrote:

>On Sat, 11 Sep 2021 08:49:00 -0700, jlarkin@highlandsniptechnology.com >wrote: > >>On Sat, 11 Sep 2021 11:06:36 -0400, legg <legg@nospam.magma.ca> wrote: >> >>>On Fri, 10 Sep 2021 16:43:24 -0700, John Larkin >>><jlarkin@highland_atwork_technology.com> wrote: >>> >>>>On Fri, 10 Sep 2021 13:19:27 -0700 (PDT), sea moss >>>><danluster81@gmail.com> wrote: >>>> >>>>>On Friday, September 10, 2021 at 12:50:57 PM UTC-7, John Larkin wrote: >>>>>> We could use an occasional parts researcher. Anyone need a part-time >>>>>> job? Maybe 5 or 10 hours a month. >>>>> >>>>>What types of parts do you need to research? For silicon parts, your new staff member should be able to help. >>>> >>>>A lot of connectors, hardware, passives, cables, relays, and of course >>>>silicon. Part of the work is to look into price, availability, and >>>>second-sourcing, maybe to read some data sheets and discuss needs with >>>>the engineers. >>>> >>>>I don't want any staff members to spend a lot of time looking for >>>>parts! >>>> >>>>I don't mind looking for silicon so much. All that other stuff is >>>>distracting. >>>> >>>>For example, I want to find a pre-assembled 10-pin cable to connect >>>>this LCD thing to a controller board a few inches away. >>>> >>>>https://www.dropbox.com/s/fd9y8d7rjxxbztr/VM800_3.jpg?raw=1 >>>> >>> >>>Part of engineering discipline is not to put your design into a >>>difficult supply position. >>> >>>The only way to learn this, is to force the engineer to spec >>>the actual part numbers or drawing, for quotation - ie rub his >>>nose in it. >>> >>>You don't want your staff looking for parts because . . . . >>> >>>RL >> >>Because their time is valuable, and because we will finish more >>product designs if someone can research parts for us. >> >>I don't make them order office supplies or snacks either. People who >>are good at design are rare and should get all the help we can give >>them. > >The correct guy to go 'searching' is a rabid purchasing agent >armed with a solid part spec and a purchase order. > >RL
We have a purchasing agent, but she doesn't know enough about electronics to find new parts for us. The ideal parts researcher would have ideas too. As in "Are you sure you want that kind of part? How about..." It's ideally a design function. -- Father Brown's figure remained quite dark and still; but in that instant he had lost his head. His head was always most valuable when he had lost it.
On 9/12/2021 9:10 AM, legg wrote:
> The correct guy to go 'searching' is a rabid purchasing agent > armed with a solid part spec and a purchase order.
No, the engineer is most quaified -- as he/she may use insights from that search to refine his/her design! Given the amount of time Larkin spends posting OT stuff on USENET, I'd wager *he* could spend those "5 - 10 hours per month" doing the work with no loss -- other than an "audience". Let's assume he's a one-man shop. 5-10 hours monthly translates to 75 - 150 minutes per week. As a one man shop, he'd not need to spend any time in "team meetings" -- except with customers. I wonder how much time (besides USENET) he devotes to reading trade mags? Sales literature? Research papers? If he's TWICE that size -- TWO designers -- then they'd each spend 35 - 70 minutes a week on this effort. Of course, in addition to solving their immediate goal (finding a specific part), they'd also LEARN about OTHER parts that are available. Like "browsing" through a databook in years past. But, those two people might have to "waste" time on meetings to discuss their progress/plans, so that's a given overhead. So, I doubt he's really concerned with the TIME involved. Maybe business is really slow? Or, super competitive and he has razor thin margins on his products? Or, maybe he just wants another "audience" -- someone to marvel in his explanations of why part A is no good but part B might be? Or, maybe he's trying to get some free labor beyond the clerical aspect of the job?
On Sun, 12 Sep 2021 12:39:17 -0700, Don Y
<blockedofcourse@foo.invalid> wrote:

>On 9/12/2021 9:10 AM, legg wrote: >> The correct guy to go 'searching' is a rabid purchasing agent >> armed with a solid part spec and a purchase order. > >No, the engineer is most quaified -- as he/she may use insights from >that search to refine his/her design! > >Given the amount of time Larkin spends posting OT stuff on USENET, >I'd wager *he* could spend those "5 - 10 hours per month" doing >the work with no loss -- other than an "audience".
Parts research is boring.
> >Let's assume he's a one-man shop.
25. 8 engineers.
>5-10 hours monthly translates to >75 - 150 minutes per week. As a one man shop, he'd not need to >spend any time in "team meetings" -- except with customers. I >wonder how much time (besides USENET) he devotes to reading trade >mags? Sales literature? Research papers? > >If he's TWICE that size -- TWO designers -- then they'd each spend >35 - 70 minutes a week on this effort. Of course, in addition to solving >their immediate goal (finding a specific part), they'd also LEARN >about OTHER parts that are available. > >Like "browsing" through a databook in years past. > >But, those two people might have to "waste" time on meetings to >discuss their progress/plans, so that's a given overhead. > >So, I doubt he's really concerned with the TIME involved. >Maybe business is really slow? Or, super competitive and he has >razor thin margins on his products? > >Or, maybe he just wants another "audience" -- someone to marvel >in his explanations of why part A is no good but part B might be? > >Or, maybe he's trying to get some free labor beyond the clerical >aspect of the job?
We'd pay pretty well for this function. -- Father Brown's figure remained quite dark and still; but in that instant he had lost his head. His head was always most valuable when he had lost it.
On 9/12/2021 1:10 PM, jlarkin@highlandsniptechnology.com wrote:
> On Sun, 12 Sep 2021 12:39:17 -0700, Don Y > <blockedofcourse@foo.invalid> wrote: > >> On 9/12/2021 9:10 AM, legg wrote: >>> The correct guy to go 'searching' is a rabid purchasing agent >>> armed with a solid part spec and a purchase order. >> >> No, the engineer is most quaified -- as he/she may use insights from >> that search to refine his/her design! >> >> Given the amount of time Larkin spends posting OT stuff on USENET, >> I'd wager *he* could spend those "5 - 10 hours per month" doing >> the work with no loss -- other than an "audience". > > Parts research is boring.
As is reading research papers, attending seminars, TRAVELING to those seminars, filling out time cards, TESTING products, writing specifications, etc. "School" was boring. All those classes! OTOH, filling one's head with all those ideas has a long term payout -- something that folks who spent those hours SURFING (far less boring!) wouldn't appreciate. If your engineers can't be bothered exposing themselves to what's happening in their industry, then they are likely firmly tied to the past -- which is never a good thing in a tech company. If *you* don't want them bothered with that stuff, then I pity them for the bind they've found themselves in.
>> Let's assume he's a one-man shop. > > 25. 8 engineers.
So, each engineer, on average, spends *one* hour PER MONTH on this activity? They likely spend more time in the toilet in that month... Will you be outsourcing that activity, as well? Or, do you NOT consider it boring??
>> 5-10 hours monthly translates to >> 75 - 150 minutes per week. As a one man shop, he'd not need to >> spend any time in "team meetings" -- except with customers. I >> wonder how much time (besides USENET) he devotes to reading trade >> mags? Sales literature? Research papers? >> >> If he's TWICE that size -- TWO designers -- then they'd each spend >> 35 - 70 minutes a week on this effort. Of course, in addition to solving >> their immediate goal (finding a specific part), they'd also LEARN >> about OTHER parts that are available. >> >> Like "browsing" through a databook in years past. >> >> But, those two people might have to "waste" time on meetings to >> discuss their progress/plans, so that's a given overhead. >> >> So, I doubt he's really concerned with the TIME involved. >> Maybe business is really slow? Or, super competitive and he has >> razor thin margins on his products? >> >> Or, maybe he just wants another "audience" -- someone to marvel >> in his explanations of why part A is no good but part B might be? >> >> Or, maybe he's trying to get some free labor beyond the clerical >> aspect of the job? > > We'd pay pretty well for this function.
So, if you pay your engineers $100/hr, and opt to pay the "grunt" $50? $75? $99.99? What are you saving? Recall that you now have the added overhead of interfacing to another person who likely isn't very invested in your organization ("I got a better paying gig! Sorry..."). And, the possibility for misunderstandings between them. No, it sounds like you just want another audience. I run my designs by my colleagues on periodic offsights. *NOT* to impress them -- they already know my track record, abilities, value to their designs, etc. I want them to tell me what I've done wrong or overlooked. My original "you have USPS mail" design called for a sensor located *in* the mailbox. The wire is already hanging in the garage at the closest point to the mbox, waiting to be buried. One of my colleagues questioned why I wasn't going to use the same mechanism (video scene analysis) that i was using to watch for visitors to the front door? After all, there are fewer timeliness constraints on "detecting mail delivery" (it would be nice to know within an hour or so) than detecting guests at the front door (which has to be "real-time"). D'oh! I'd been more preoccupied with how to detect mail going IN the box than noticing if the mailman had visited it! Now I've got an extra network drop with no assigned functionality. <frown>
On Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 1:10:47 PM UTC-7, jla...@highlandsniptechnology.com wrote:
> Parts research is boring.
I think there's some truth to every reply in the thread, which is darned rare around here. Yes, parts research is tedious, but it's also what product development *is* these days. I spend as much time looking for parts as I do using them. Back in the 1980s-1990s, the DigiKey catalog was about the size of an issue of Electronic Design, maybe 200 pages at most. Now, it's almost 3000 pages long and as thick as a metro-area phone book. The cover says it has 465,000 parts. Oh, wait, no, that's the 2010 catalog, the last one I have. They stopped printing them ten years ago in 2011. The web site currently shows 13,000,000 parts. You can't actually GET most of them, but that still leaves millions of parts that you can specify. Meanwhile, Electronic Design is about half as thick and full of not much in particular. I don't know if they even bother to print it anymore. So I think I agree with those who say that part selection can't be delegated, or at least shouldn't be. It's tedious, but I hate to call it boring, because if you took the 2010 catalog back to 1980, nobody would complain that it was "boring." They would be too busy naming their firstborn son after you. We should count our blessings. -- john, KE5FX
On 9/12/2021 2:06 PM, John Miles, KE5FX wrote:
> On Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 1:10:47 PM UTC-7, jla...@highlandsniptechnology.com wrote: >> Parts research is boring. > > I think there's some truth to every reply in the thread, which is > darned rare around here. Yes, parts research is tedious, but it's > also what product development *is* these days. I spend as > much time looking for parts as I do using them. > > Back in the 1980s-1990s, the DigiKey catalog was about the size of > an issue of Electronic Design, maybe 200 pages at most. Now, it's > almost 3000 pages long and as thick as a metro-area phone book. > The cover says it has 465,000 parts. > > Oh, wait, no, that's the 2010 catalog, the last one I have. They stopped > printing them ten years ago in 2011. The web site currently shows > 13,000,000 parts. You can't actually GET most of them, but that still > leaves millions of parts that you can specify.
And, with the exception of passives and discretes, many parts have datasheets that rival the digikey catalog in size; considerably moreso in complexity! The datasheets for the MCUs I evaluate are close to 2000pp, each. Yet, I have to have more than a cursory understanding of the capabilities and liabilities of each device *before* I can design it into a product. *THEN* worry about pricing, availability, etc.
> Meanwhile, Electronic Design is about half as thick and full of not > much in particular. I don't know if they even bother to print it anymore. > > So I think I agree with those who say that part selection can't be > delegated, or at least shouldn't be. It's tedious, but I hate to call it > boring, because if you took the 2010 catalog back to 1980, > nobody would complain that it was "boring." They would be too > busy naming their firstborn son after you. We should count our > blessings.
The days of browsing a databook ("catalogue") to get a feel for what's available are long past. You can't just leave "it" on the seat, in the car, and systematically thumb through it as you're waiting for traffic lights ("Took a peek at 10 parts, today, on the drive to work. Tomorrow I'll be exposed to 10 more!") The only way you can hope to find out what's available is to go looking for X -- and stumble on Y and Z in the process, even if neither Y nor Z are useful to your present needs. If they "leave an impression" (because they are "interesting", for some value of "interesting"), then you may think to go looking for them in the future, when a *possible* need arises. If you've no idea that they exist, then you'll likely never even think to search for them!
On Sun, 12 Sep 2021 14:06:44 -0700 (PDT), "John Miles, KE5FX"
<jmiles@gmail.com> wrote:

>On Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 1:10:47 PM UTC-7, jla...@highlandsniptechnology.com wrote: >> Parts research is boring. > >I think there's some truth to every reply in the thread, which is >darned rare around here. Yes, parts research is tedious, but it's >also what product development *is* these days. I spend as >much time looking for parts as I do using them.
Then you could design more if someone did parts research for you. I need a particular 61-pin circular MS connector with PCB pins, that mates with another particular MS connector. Price might be $85 but might be $350. It won't enrich my life to hunt around for that one.
> >Back in the 1980s-1990s, the DigiKey catalog was about the size of >an issue of Electronic Design, maybe 200 pages at most. Now, it's >almost 3000 pages long and as thick as a metro-area phone book. >The cover says it has 465,000 parts.
Yes. And the search engine keeps getting worse.
> >Oh, wait, no, that's the 2010 catalog, the last one I have. They stopped >printing them ten years ago in 2011. The web site currently shows >13,000,000 parts. You can't actually GET most of them, but that still >leaves millions of parts that you can specify.
Not specify: hunt for.
> >Meanwhile, Electronic Design is about half as thick and full of not >much in particular. I don't know if they even bother to print it anymore. > >So I think I agree with those who say that part selection can't be >delegated, or at least shouldn't be. It's tedious, but I hate to call it >boring, because if you took the 2010 catalog back to 1980, >nobody would complain that it was "boring." They would be too >busy naming their firstborn son after you. We should count our >blessings.
Lots of big companies have components engineers. Big mistake? -- Father Brown's figure remained quite dark and still; but in that instant he had lost his head. His head was always most valuable when he had lost it.
On Sun, 12 Sep 2021 14:49:29 -0700, jlarkin@highlandsniptechnology.com
wrote:

>On Sun, 12 Sep 2021 14:06:44 -0700 (PDT), "John Miles, KE5FX" ><jmiles@gmail.com> wrote: > >>On Sunday, September 12, 2021 at 1:10:47 PM UTC-7, jla...@highlandsniptechnology.com wrote: >>> Parts research is boring. >> >>I think there's some truth to every reply in the thread, which is >>darned rare around here. Yes, parts research is tedious, but it's >>also what product development *is* these days. I spend as >>much time looking for parts as I do using them. > >Then you could design more if someone did parts research for you. > >I need a particular 61-pin circular MS connector with PCB pins, that >mates with another particular MS connector. Price might be $85 but >might be $350. It won't enrich my life to hunt around for that one. > >> >>Back in the 1980s-1990s, the DigiKey catalog was about the size of >>an issue of Electronic Design, maybe 200 pages at most. Now, it's >>almost 3000 pages long and as thick as a metro-area phone book. >>The cover says it has 465,000 parts. > >Yes. And the search engine keeps getting worse. > >> >>Oh, wait, no, that's the 2010 catalog, the last one I have. They stopped >>printing them ten years ago in 2011. The web site currently shows >>13,000,000 parts. You can't actually GET most of them, but that still >>leaves millions of parts that you can specify. > >Not specify: hunt for. > >> >>Meanwhile, Electronic Design is about half as thick and full of not >>much in particular. I don't know if they even bother to print it anymore. >> >>So I think I agree with those who say that part selection can't be >>delegated, or at least shouldn't be. It's tedious, but I hate to call it >>boring, because if you took the 2010 catalog back to 1980, >>nobody would complain that it was "boring." They would be too >>busy naming their firstborn son after you. We should count our >>blessings. > >Lots of big companies have components engineers. Big mistake?
Kinda. Their often purpose is to tell people what components they cannot use. There was a big push to standardize components several years ago, basically by generating and enforcing an approved component list. (Impendent of the approved supplier list.) At the time, one company had about 20,000 engineers, and their component engineering group had about 20 engineers total. Turns out that those component engineers are not smarter than 1,000 ordinary EEs. And certainly not 1,000 times faster. Joe Gwinn