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'[BUY]: Contract assembly services'
2005\04\27@143133 by PicDude

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face
Finally got the prototype nailed down, and ready to work on assembly sources
now.  I do have some contacts from my last blurb on this some weeks ago, but
please re-send me your info if you can meet the specs below.

I need the following:
- PCB assembly
- Possibly PCB manufacture (I already have sources, but am willing to have you
do it all if you prefer)
- Components sourcing (I also have sources, but willing to have you provide
them if you prefer).
- At this point, I expect to program the PICs here (after they've been put on
the board), and do all testing here, but again, open to options.

Board is about 6.5" x 5.5", 2 layer, 8-mil or higher traces/spaces.  
Components:  LED displays, light bars, 4 PIC microcontrollers, 1 dc-dc chip,
and mostly passives and discrete semiconductors after that.  Mostly
thru-hole, but PICs are SOIC.  I can also change a lot of the discrete
semiconductors and passives to SMT if there is any advantage to doing this.

I will need 500 boards by July-ish, and 2000 next year.

This is all high-level for now.  If it fits within your capability, please
email me offlist and I can get you more specifics.  I will ask you to sign an
NDA, as required by my customer.

Thanks,
-Neil.



2005\04\27@174007 by PicDude

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Mauricio,

I am open to having it manufactured in Argentina, but would you handle
logistics for me as well?  I ask because I'm not sure about regulations of
shipping components outside of the U.S., and back in.  I'm not sure about
duties I would incur, etc.

Cheers,
-Neil.


On Wednesday 27 April 2005 04:21 pm, Mauricio Jancic scribbled:
{Quote hidden}

2005\04\27@190348 by olin_piclist

face picon face
PicDude wrote:
> - At this point, I expect to program the PICs here

How do you expect to program the PICs?  At those volumes you need at least a
somewhat automated process.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2005\04\27@191409 by Vitaliy

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face
PicDude wrote:
> Board is about 6.5" x 5.5", 2 layer, 8-mil or higher traces/spaces.
> Components:  LED displays, light bars, 4 PIC microcontrollers, 1 dc-dc
> chip,
> and mostly passives and discrete semiconductors after that.  Mostly
> thru-hole, but PICs are SOIC.  I can also change a lot of the discrete
> semiconductors and passives to SMT if there is any advantage to doing
> this.
>
> I will need 500 boards by July-ish, and 2000 next year.

Mauricio wrote:
>> Are you open to doit in Argentina or is the contract open only to US (if
>> that's where you are...) companies?
>>
>> A board of the size that you specify would cost something like U$S 7.5...
>>
>> Regards,

I don't see how Mauricio can provide even a rough estimate based on Neil's
requirements.  The difference can be as much as $20, depending on what Neil
means by "4 PIC" microcontrollers."  The specs are too vague.

If you can modify the board to use all SMT components, US companies would be
able to offer more competitive rates.

Best regards,

Vitaliy

2005\04\27@193042 by PicDude

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On Wednesday 27 April 2005 06:03 pm, Olin Lathrop scribbled:
> PicDude wrote:
> > - At this point, I expect to program the PICs here
>
> How do you expect to program the PICs?  At those volumes you need at least
> a somewhat automated process.

Yes.


>
>
> *****************************************************************
> Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
> (978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com


2005\04\27@201014 by John J. McDonough

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face
----- Original Message -----
From: "PicDude" <.....picdude2KILLspamspam@spam@narwani.org>
Subject: Re: [BUY]: Contract assembly services


> On Wednesday 27 April 2005 06:03 pm, Olin Lathrop scribbled:
> >
> > How do you expect to program the PICs?  At those volumes you need at
least
> > a somewhat automated process.
>
> Yes.

Doesn't need to be so automated. One minimum wage high school kid per shift
on one programmer, that's less than a month's work.  Dreary, boring work,
but some kids would find that preferable to flipping burgers.

--McD


2005\04\27@211740 by Jose Da Silva

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On April 27, 2005 05:09 pm, John J. McDonough wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "PicDude" <picdude2spamKILLspamnarwani.org>
> Subject: Re: [BUY]: Contract assembly services
>
> > On Wednesday 27 April 2005 06:03 pm, Olin Lathrop scribbled:
> > > How do you expect to program the PICs?  At those volumes you need
> > > at
>
> least
>
> > > a somewhat automated process.
> >
> > Yes.
>
> Doesn't need to be so automated. One minimum wage high school kid per
> shift on one programmer, that's less than a month's work.  Dreary,
> boring work, but some kids would find that preferable to flipping
> burgers.

Sounds sort of like my 1st co-op program punching restaurant ID cards.
Was rather a mechanical process for an electronic terminal but students
got to start somewhere.   =-)
500 PICs get programmed pretty quick, even if it's maybe 50 per day.

2005\04\27@232523 by phil B

picon face
Why not just use a service?  I know Digi Key will
preprogram for fairly cheap if you buy from them.  I
looked into this about 6 months ago - the minimums
were pretty small and prices reasonable.

I thought about the low-wage kid approach but didn't
like it because I was worried I'd get a couple of
percent error rate (chip not programmed, most likely).
Reworking a few more percent wasn't something I
wanted to do.  Maybe with a good process it could be
100% but letting the supplier do it was a better
approach for me.

--- "John J. McDonough" <.....mcdKILLspamspam.....is-sixsigma.com> wrote:
> {Original Message removed}

2005\04\28@031518 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
>> How do you expect to program the PICs?  At those volumes you need at
>> least
>> a somewhat automated process.
>>
Huh?  2000 per year is 8 per day, more or less.  That only requires a
mid-sized fraction of a moderately intelligent employee.  I mean, it's
about two minutes per PIC, 10 minutes per unit counting time to switch
a programming cable between the different PICs, right?  There are a lot
of "manufacturing tech" style people who would like a job like that.  
Don't
be quick to assume that everything you wouldn't want to do yourself
requires
'automation.'  (OTOH, adding employees to an endeavor is a daunting task
in its own right, especially if you don't have any employees yet.)

BillW

2005\04\28@035641 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Why not just use a service?  I know Digi Key will
>preprogram for fairly cheap if you buy from them.  I
>looked into this about 6 months ago - the minimums
>were pretty small and prices reasonable.

Or get Microchip to provide them ready programmed? At 500 this year, and
2000 next, there is going to be close to a small reel of each PIC, so
getting a programmed reel from Microchip would probably be viable.

2005\04\28@035811 by Jan-Erik Soderholm

face picon face
William "Chops" Westfield wrote :

> Olin wrote :
>  >> How do you expect to program the PICs?  At those volumes
>  >> you need at least a somewhat automated process.
>  >>

> Don't be quick to assume that everything you wouldn't want
> to do yourself requires 'automation.'

If that 'automation' includes a ProProg, I could see a reason...

;-) ;-)

Regards,
Jan-Erik.



2005\04\28@071754 by olin_piclist

face picon face
John J. McDonough wrote:
>>> How do you expect to program the PICs?  At those volumes you need at
>>> least a somewhat automated process.
>>
>> Yes.
>
> Doesn't need to be so automated. One minimum wage high school kid per
> shift on one programmer, that's less than a month's work.  Dreary,
> boring work, but some kids would find that preferable to flipping
> burgers.

I didn't mean to imply that it needed to be fully automated.  However, a
high school kid getting bored out of his skull is going to start making
mistakes.  I think you want enough automation in the process so that it's
hard to accidentally skip steps or skip missing problems.  I had originally
asked because it looked possible that my ProProg production programmer may
be useful in this situation, but it looks like Neil doesn't want to discuss
his production setup anyway.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2005\04\28@080635 by John J. McDonough

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face
----- Original Message -----
From: "Olin Lathrop" <EraseMEolin_piclistspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTembedinc.com>
Subject: Re: [BUY]: Contract assembly services


> I didn't mean to imply that it needed to be fully automated.  However, a
> high school kid getting bored out of his skull is going to start making
> mistakes.

I wouldn't expect someone to actually sit programming PICs for 8 hours a
day, but on the other hand, it's pretty interesting work compared to many
auto industry jobs here in Michigan.  But I thought that sort of measure
would help to scale the size of the job.

It did get me thinking about how I would do it, though.  The DigiKey
approach is probably one I would cost out, but for some reason, I would
"assume" that Mchip would be too expensive ... don't know why I would assume
that, but I would.

Of course, I don't know Neil's application, but I would assume that the 2000
the second year would be spread across the year, and that there would be
some probability of revisions during that time, so ordering 2K programmed
parts seems risky.

I think I would be tempted to contract it out to minimum wage labor on a
piece basis, perhaps with a second team for verification.  This would
require buying a fistful of programmers, but they aren't very expensive.
This is something that quite a few people could do at home, make a few extra
bucks with little pain.

> I had originally
> asked because it looked possible that my ProProg production programmer may
> be useful in this situation

You're pretty transparent, Olin.  It took about a millisecond to figure that
out.

--McD


2005\04\28@080852 by olin_piclist

face picon face
phil B wrote:
> Why not just use a service?  I know Digi Key will
> preprogram for fairly cheap if you buy from them.  I
> looked into this about 6 months ago - the minimums
> were pretty small and prices reasonable.

I see a lot more last minute in-circuit programming than I did a few years
ago.  Especially with surface mount chips, you want everything assembled by
a place that does mostly that.  Often new firmware versions come out
regularly, so with ICSP the latest can be programmed at final test and
calibration time.  ICSP capability also gives a potential path for field
upgrades.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2005\04\28@082041 by Mauricio Jancic

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> I don't see how Mauricio can provide even a rough estimate
> based on Neil's requirements.  The difference can be as much
> as $20, depending on what Neil means by "4 PIC"
> microcontrollers."  The specs are too vague.

I was talking about the board alone... 6.5" x 5.5", 2 layer...etc

Mauricio Jancic
Janso Desarrollos - Microchip Consultants Program Member
infospamspam_OUTjanso.com.ar
http://www.janso.com.ar
(54) 11 - 4542 - 3519


2005\04\28@125541 by Vitaliy

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face
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mauricio Jancic" <@spam@infoKILLspamspamjanso.com.ar>
>> I don't see how Mauricio can provide even a rough estimate
>> based on Neil's requirements.  The difference can be as much
>> as $20, depending on what Neil means by "4 PIC"
>> microcontrollers."  The specs are too vague.
>
> I was talking about the board alone... 6.5" x 5.5", 2 layer...etc
>

I got a quick quote from 4pcb.com, they want $6.06 and $5.83 each for 500
and 2000 PCBs, respectively.  The lead time is 4 weeks (you pay more to get
the PCBs faster).  Of course, the actual price will vary (I used the default
values for the most part) but I think it's going to be comparable to what
Mauricio quoted ($7.50/each).

IMHO, the only time US manufacturers are not as competitive (all else equal)
is when the board requires a lot of manual labor.  For instance, it costs
2.5 times more to produce a certain through-hole circuit in Spokane, WA than
producing it in Shanghai.  If most of the process can be automated (which is
possible even for SMT/PTH and pure PTH designs), you can get competitive
rates for electronic assembly here in the US.  You are also more likely to
get higher quality and shorter lead time.

Best regards,

Vitaliy

2005\04\28@131922 by phil B

picon face
As I recall, the turn around time was not that long.

I just think setting up a seperate station/line for
programming adds a lot of process and thus cost and
complexity (manufacturing and organization).  If you
are doing small quantities and the price can bear the
cost it makes some sense for quick one-offs for
specific customers.  I'd recommend against making it
the standard manufacturing approach, though.

ICSP is a good thing to build in anyway.  Field
upgrade is a seperate issue - its irrelevent to when
the chip gets initially programmed.  There are also
lots of issues of how the upgrade gets done but that
subject of a different discussion.

--- Olin Lathrop <KILLspamolin_piclistKILLspamspamembedinc.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

*****************************************************************
> Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton
> Massachusetts
> (978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
> --

2005\04\28@134224 by PicDude

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face
Let me clarify some things and add some detail...

Once assembly has started in mid-late June, I'll have a month or two to
deliver all the boards, so there is time.  And with some recent delays, I
expect that that time may stretch out some.

My thoughts/intention on programming is to move the programming headers out to
one large connector and run 4 programmers simultaneously.  A linux
batch-script should work easily for this, and I just have to figure out how
to get each instance to read a different config file so it points to another
output port (currently parallel ports).

I intend to do the testing here, and since there are a lot of LED's on the
board, there will be a lot of manual testing.  I'd like to setup the
programming connector as the test harness as well -- so the system will
program the board, power it up, and inject the correct signals/etc into the
board for testing in one shot.  Still have a lot to work out for this.

Reason I want to program here is that they will probably be a couple
variations of the code.  The digikey programming option sounds good, but
looks like I will get the PICs at significantly lower-cost from another
source so I'll probably go that route.

As for PCB's, I intend to go with eprotos.com.  500 boards are < $4 each.  
I've used them before and happy with their service/quality.

For assembly, I expect that SMT will be lower-cost, which is why I'm open to
changing those parts, but some parts will remain thru-hole, such as all the
LEDs and a couple connectors.

Cheers,
-Neil.



On Thursday 28 April 2005 12:19 pm, phil B scribbled:
{Quote hidden}

2005\04\28@145846 by olin_piclist

face picon face
PicDude wrote:
> My thoughts/intention on programming is to move the programming headers
> out to one large connector and run 4 programmers simultaneously.

You're volumes aren't super high, so a little more time per unit shouldn't
be that big a deal.  It may be easier to use a single programmer with relays
switching the lines to the various PICs.  This also allows it to be totally
disconnected for other testing.  You'll probably need relays anyway to
switch in various test signals, power supplies, etc.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2005\04\29@080052 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
PicDude wrote:

> I intend to do the testing here, and since there are a lot of LED's on
> the board, there will be a lot of manual testing.  I'd like to setup the
> programming connector as the test harness as well -- so the system will
> program the board, power it up, and inject the correct signals/etc into
> the board for testing in one shot.  Still have a lot to work out for
> this.

One thing that is possible with ICSP is to burn first a program that tests
the hardware separately. There are sometimes things that your normal
application doesn't test explicitly, and you may not have the extra code
space to add it. After that hardware test, you burn the real application
firmware and do the normal overall functional tests.

Gerhard


'[BUY]: Contract assembly services'
2005\05\02@115714 by William Chops Westfield
face picon face

>> However, a high school kid getting bored out of his skull is
>>  going to start making mistakes.
>>
That's why you try to "grow" a "manufacturing engineer" instead of
treating
them like a minimum wage idiot only capable of plugging in a cable and
pushing
a button (or whatever.)  You have an opening ideal for an 'entry level'
geek,
which is pretty rare.  I wouldn't think you'd have any problem filling
it with
a reasonably intelligent and capable person.  (cisco got some of their
early
manufacturing personnel via a group that fed (semi?) skilled deaf men
and
women into industry.  The group provided ASL interpreters and other
assistance,
and it worked quite well.) (of course, when it DOES work well, you end
up having
to keep giving your employees big raises to keep them, but it's
generally worth it.)

BillW

2005\05\04@024322 by Dmitriy Kiryashov

picon face
Hi All.

What would be cheapest and still reliable hardware
solution to support ICSP in high volume manufacturing ?
( besides low cost connectors(plastic), pcb board edge
 connectors and jtag like pads with pogo pins assembled
 on the stand )


WBR Dmitry.



Olin Lathrop wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2005\05\04@041258 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> What would be cheapest and still reliable hardware
> solution to support ICSP in high volume manufacturing ?
> ( besides low cost connectors(plastic), pcb board edge
>   connectors and jtag like pads with pogo pins assembled
>   on the stand )

*any* connector you like. spare pins on an existing connector. I assume
you want to test your circuit after manufacturing/re-programming, so you
need some external connector anyway.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2005\05\04@043834 by Jose Da Silva

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On May 3, 2005 03:38 pm, Dmitriy Kiryashov wrote:
> Hi All.
>
> What would be cheapest and still reliable hardware
> solution to support ICSP in high volume manufacturing ?
> ( besides low cost connectors(plastic), pcb board edge
>   connectors and jtag like pads with pogo pins assembled
>   on the stand )

Well, going for cheap-n-reliable....   ;-)  ;-)  ;-)

3 pieces of wood nailed together in the form of a U shaped jig.

At the top edges of the U, you put a couple of metal sticks to provide
correct PCB alignment (place PCB horizontally on U (4 to hold PCB
correctly in X direction, 4 to hold PCB correctly in Y direction).

At the bottom of the U, you drill holes to place test pins which point
up at your PCB. The X/Y locations depend on the X/Y location of your
bare PCB pads when placing your board on this U-shaped jig.

The Test pins are spring-loaded and replaceable, because they will wear
out due to hi-volume production.  Solder wires from the pin sockets
(holding your testpoints) to a socket which you can plug into your
ICSP.
On your PCB, you provide a few bare pads for your +5v, gnd, etc.

To program, place board on U, press down on testpoints, press a button
to program.

Unfortunately, this won't test for backwards parts, wrong components,
wrong voltages etc... but you did want cheap and it is rather simple to
build-n-fix   :-)  If you want to get fancy, you choose a decent ICSP
(such as Olin's) plus you add more testpoints to test other factors of
your PCB.


{Quote hidden}

2005\05\04@104324 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 10:12 AM 5/4/2005 +0200, you wrote:
> > What would be cheapest and still reliable hardware
> > solution to support ICSP in high volume manufacturing ?
> > ( besides low cost connectors(plastic), pcb board edge
> >   connectors and jtag like pads with pogo pins assembled
> >   on the stand )
>
>*any* connector you like. spare pins on an existing connector. I assume
>you want to test your circuit after manufacturing/re-programming, so you
>need some external connector anyway.

A test jig with contact pins is probably the most reliable (assuming
the jig is professionally made) and adds essentially no cost to each unit
(but some setup cost).

If you do use a connector, something like a telephone connector
will take a lot of connect/disconnect cycles and flexing on the
strain-relieved cable without failing. But they are huge and do cost
some money to buy and PCB real estate to mount.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
spamBeGonespeffspamBeGonespaminterlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com




2005\05\04@110624 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
>> What would be cheapest and still reliable hardware
>> solution to support ICSP in high volume manufacturing ?

Hmm.  Are there any bootloaders that permit themselves to be
overwritten?
The idea would be to pre-program all your PICs with the bootloader,
thereby
getting more flexibility in comm links for additional programming.  
(and if
you don't NEED that last bit of memory, you wouldn't have to overwrite
the
bootloader, but the space would be available...)

BillW

2005\05\05@073110 by Gerhard Fiedler
picon face
William ChopsWestfield wrote:

>>> What would be cheapest and still reliable hardware
>>> solution to support ICSP in high volume manufacturing ?
>
> Hmm.  Are there any bootloaders that permit themselves to be
> overwritten? The idea would be to pre-program all your PICs with the
> bootloader, thereby getting more flexibility in comm links for
> additional programming. (and if you don't NEED that last bit of memory,
> you wouldn't have to overwrite the bootloader, but the space would be
> available...)

You probably can overwrite parts of it -- at least the part that deals with
communication, buffering code in RAM and then overwriting the communication
code and command interpreter at the end. But the part that writes to flash
probably can't really be overwritten from code that executes in flash... at
least not more than one flash page worth of it. In any case this seems
risky (both overwriting the comms code and the flash writing code), as you
lose any possibility of verification.

Why would you want to do that in the first place, though? For a prototyping
situation, or while debugging, it might be an advantage to have a tried and
tested bootloader/debugger kernel in the PIC, and it might be an advantage
to be able to control things in the processor through a standard serial
connection.

But in a high volume production setting? For programming the PIC using a
bootloader you need external connections, just as you need them for
programming it using ICSP, so you don't gain any hardware facility. The
only thing you gain is that the programming setup needs only a standard
serial port. But for high volume production this doesn't seem to be any
advantage. So why not go with ICSP? It's safer (you can verify the code),
and it's probably faster, too -- a concern for high volume production.

Gerhard

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