DFA Tips from Duane Benson at Screaming Circuits

Judy Warner
|  Created: May 30, 2018  |  Updated: February 5, 2021

Duane Benson DFA Tips podcast

Duane Benson from Screaming Circuits shares DFA Tips and a piece of history as he shares the story behind the scenes in developing quick turn prototypes. Listen to learn how one entrepreneur brought a fresh perspective to the business that led to great success. And see why Screaming Circuits is uniquely positioned to handle all the leading-edge components that PCB designers have available.  

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Show Highlights:

  • Screaming Circuits was founded on the premise to get prototypes built quickly. It was a struggle to get small volume prototypes built and a market need was discovered.
  • For prototyping - going abroad invites its own set of risks.
  • A traditionally 6-8 week process, Screaming Circuits does in hours.
  • We don’t specialize in a vertical industry, so we see a lot of the leading edge components.
  • Layout isn’t taught in schools or its self-taught. The experts who knew how to make layouts work perfectly have retired.
  • We built a business around stuff being wrong. Stuff isn’t going to be right when it arrives to us and we have to fix it.
  • Why are we having a problem sourcing?
  • Personal interests? Photography and decaying industrialism.

Links and Resources:

Screaming Circuits Website

Screaming Circuits Blog

Downloadable Circuit Talk  

Twitter: @pcbassembly, @duanebenson

Screaming Circuits on Youtube

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Hey everyone this is Judy Warner with Altium’s OnTrack podcast. Welcome back to another podcast session with us. As always we have another incredible guest with us today but before we get started I wanted to invite you to please connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm very active there and share a lot of resources for engineers and PCB designers and also - I don't think I shared this in past podcasts - but we are also recording this on YouTube as well as just an audio. So you can always go to YouTube and go to the Altium channel, look under videos and you'll find these also in video format if you should prefer to listen to this and watch it in video format. And also with Altium, you can always follow us on Facebook LinkedIn or Twitter and we love engaging with you. We always love to hear from you about subject matter experts or subjects you'd like to hear or learn more about. So, without further ado,  I'd like to welcome our guest today who is Duane Benson of Screaming Circuits, out of Canby, Oregon, correct Duane?

Canby that's correct.

So Duane welcome, we've crossed paths for several years now and it's a delight to have you and learn more about Screaming Circuits and EMS and how designers can do things to be more effective in the design for assembly and just learn about Screaming Circuit’s model, which is a very unique model, by the way, I'm eager to jump in.

Well thank you I'm really happy to be here thank you for asking me to participate in this.

My joy. So why don't you start out by telling our listeners a little bit about who and what Screaming Circuits is, because it really does have a highly unique model, and kind of the why behind you guys started the company and created this model?

Well it started back in 2003, actually that fifteen years ago now. Yikes...

Yeah, I know, how did that happen?

So about that time our parent company Milwaukee Electronics they had a number of customers that were struggling to get small volumes of prototypes put together back in the back in the olden days - if I can use that term. Prototypes quite often were sort of slotted in on an ‘as available’ basis. So say you might need five prototypes and the EMS company would say, well we’ve got a big run going on and I can put you u on the machine in two weeks so you can get your prototypes then. And two weeks come along and something else came up, so another week... Even going back before that, back in my day they didn't focus, for example, building a prototype.We'd have a big bag of and some blank circuit boards, and we'd hand them to this poor technician on a Friday afternoon and the engineers would go, could you have these built up by Monday?

So it was becoming a real struggle to get prototypes, get small volumes of any sort built and a couple of our customers came and asked us and said, can you help us out with this? It's just not working and the Milwaukee Electronics’ management thought about it a little bit and thought, why can't we short-circuit the process?

No pun intended right?


So the management experimented a little bit and then decided, there's an actual business here. So back about that time they brought Jared Store out here to start up what they called the Screaming Circuits division to focus specifically on getting prototypes done quickly.


And, from that time the initial focus of the initial business was basically Jared with email and phone and one of our partners Sunstone Circuits, they built the blank circuit boards - the raw fabs. They'd give us a call and say, hey one of our customers needs some prototypes built, can you guys do it? And that's how the business started.

So you guys created the synergy. Now I've had the pleasure of meeting Jared once at least, through the phone and email and Jared was young, right? He was the son of the owner so, I have to insert that. Because I kind of love that those of us who are kind of old dogs in the industry - I kind of love that he said, well why can't we do this? And he just kind of, like you said, a phone and a thing and just said why not. Because he wasn't constrained by the way things were done in the past which I kind of love that.

Exactly he was a young entrepreneur, in fact, I don't know if he'll want to admit this but this was his first job out of college this was kind of an experiment for him to get into a career, into business and he did a fantastic job. Basically by ignoring all of the old rules.

I know yeah.

Yeah and then in 2004 - well somewhere between late 2003 and early 2004 - we first went online with a very, very simple quote system. We boiled it down into six different factors and based on that, came up with a quote and it was all kitted at that point. So we'd say, hey it's going to cost you this much, send us your kit, send us your files, and we'll build them up for you.

Now since that time, when we were talking earlier, it seems like it's morphed into not just specifically prototypes but just quick-turn. It could be quick-turn pre-production quick-turn production even right?


The world of manufacturing of electronics has really changed in the last decade and a half. There was a time when electronics were not going to be designed and built in this country. Back in the 90s, when I was working for InFocus again, everybody was outsourcing everything and then over the next decade after that, it was all going away.


And there was going to be nothing but high volumes manufactured offshore. Well about the time we started doing this, coincidentally the open-source hardware movement came about with the Arduino and some of the other things that came with that. Kickstarter showed up and that really changed the hardware design dynamic. It lowered the barriers to entry to building a hardware company and over the last decade and a half the hardware startup has come back with a vengeance. The problem is, as manufacturing is really, really expensive - unless you're doing super high volumes - so these companies would run a Kickstarter, they'd sell a thousand of an electronic board and nobody would build it for them. So then, they'd then run off into Asia and they toured all these shops and these people would either say, no that's not enough or they’d change the design, steal the intellectual property and, you can't. There's little details like that so, getting a hundred or a thousand or five thousand is extraordinarily difficult. And yet there's an awful lot of companies that sell just that many of something.

Yeah, it's really interesting that it morphed into that niche right?


You had, it sounds like you had everything, in place to fill it right? You'd built it to do address prototype - traditional prototypes - and as the market changed you were kind of ideally positioned to address those kind of start-up Kickstarter things. So you and Sunstone have worked together in parallel, I take it throughout this process?

Yes they've been our partners since the beginning, and at this point, they build the vast majority of our circuit boards and we do, if necessary, go elsewhere. Or if a customer sends us the boards or requests something else, but the vast majority of our boards are built by Sunstone. They're about ten miles away over in Mulino Oregon.

Another big city like Canby…

Laughter - well compared to Milano Canby is the big cities...

Yes well, it's a beautiful area. So, tell us about what you would see in a given day and then I would like to ask you to jump into speaking to designers that may be listening, and go into kind of some DFM tips and tricks. But before we do that, tell us about what are you going to see in a day?

To get a picture of what happens there at Screaming Circuits there's two factors that are pretty important. One is a traditional EMS company. We see about as many different jobs through here in a week as a traditional medium-sized EMS company we'll see in a year.


And the other factor that's important to notice, is that in - using that term the olden days - getting a quote and an order for a project might be a three to four week process going back and forth with all the files, component availability, making sure the design works and then after you place the order, you've got the NPI process which is another three to four work weeks. So, you've got a six to eight week process that we do in six to eight hours.

How is that possible? I mean we may not have enough time here Duane, but I've been in the EMS industry and it’s an extremely complex process, just getting the components you need and making sure they're right and there's not obsolete, and that you've got a clean, and it's so complex. How have you condensed it without giving away your secrets?

Well there's a lot of things that matter if you're building a hundred thousand of something or a million of something. At that point fractions of a penny count and you're going to spend a lot more time quoting. You're gonna have to worry about getting large quantities of components if you need 20 of a board you can go to Digi-Key and get the for a buck, that would cost you a quarter of a penny if you bought them at high volume, and that's still fine now, that's part of it and then you don't have to worry about some of the inefficiencies that would absolutely kill a high-volume manufacturing manufacturer. You don't have to worry about those because if you have to tweak things by hand, while that is more expensive per unit, if you're building 20 or a hundred or a thousand it doesn't matter quite so much. So really what we've done is, we've stepped back and we said, what is important and what is not. The objective is to get working boards into an engineer's hands as quickly as possible and you'll notice there aren't things like how do we make it the absolute least expensive, or things of that sort, it's about getting the working board's as quick as possible so you focus on just the things that matter for that.

Right, you mentioned when we talked a few weeks ago, about it becoming what you had called a transactional model, which is really a different industry and you can go online, place your order in a very transactional fashion, but it also speeds up your time to market, and gives you something highly valuable?

Yes it does, we don't we don't spend an awful lot of time on the financial component of it. For the most part you give us a credit card and we start building so we don't have to worry about the bank component of it. For larger companies we do, because some people, the government or whatever, they have to operate that way. But for the most part you just give us a credit card and that again cuts some time out of it. We also look at each order as an individual transaction, that's why we call it transactional manufacturing, or unforecastable. We don't have to worry about the fact that you're not gonna need exactly 500 every month for the next 24 months. In traditional EMS, you have to worry about that, you plan for that. We don't worry about that, we don't care.

Yeah it's interesting as well it's neat model and I see it as a real enabler. So, congratulations to you guys. All right, let's dig in and give our listeners that are designers and engineers some tips around DFA. The way that you and I originally came to know each other is, I had been blogging and writing and then I came across a little publication you put out called Circuit Talk in which you were doing what I was doing, which was giving designers some really immediate tips to apply to make their jobs hopefully a little bit easier and so, I think you've done a really nice job of that. So can you talk about why you started Circuit Talk and then go ahead and share some of those tips or tricks that are around design for assembly that's gonna make designers’ jobs easier and smooth the time to deliver a good product in time to market.

Well, thank you. You  know the volume of jobs that we get - it does lead to chaos of sorts - but it also is a huge advantage in that we get to see every single mistake that anybody's gonna make. We don't specialize in a vertical industry so we don't only see mistakes related to a certain type of component tree. Name a component that's leading-edge, we've undoubtedly seen it and, so we see these things - and it's not just beginners, it's not just experienced designers, it's not just big or small or university - everybody makes the same mistakes. It's so complex and there are so many variables, so many new types of components. Geometries are shrinking and in parallel to that people have less and less time to design these things. Quite often layout isn't taught at schools, or it's self-taught. The experts who knew exactly how to make a layout work perfectly have retired now, or they've been let go, or things have changed so fast they can't keep up.


So we see these problems every day. Case in point, one that I write about quite often relates to the QFN Quad Flat-Pack No Lead, and then the DFM. The DFM leads along one side. They have this big metal heat slug in the middle, looks like a very simple component, it's cool, it's small, has great signal characteristics. But most of the CAD software, when you try and use a QFN, the footprint is wrong. It comes from the with the solder paste layer, not designed specifically for the component, so you've got to imagine flipping a QFN upside down. You've got a little row of contacts around the outside - very small - and then a big giant heat slug in the middle that covers almost the entire component. So most of the components we found have a full aperture opening, so the solder paste layer is completely open for that heat slug in the middle. And what happens is you end up with too much solder in the middle, so the part floats up and the connects on the side don't connect.

Oh boy.

Yeah and this is even more prevalent with some of the open-source CAD software, or some of them with a lot of user-generated content, nobody told those folks how to make the footprint properly.

I see.

Quite often the manufacturers, in their data sheets, even specify it that way. But what you need to do is, to modify the footprint so in that center pad, you get somewhere between 50 and 75 percent paste coverage. So, you take out the default paste layer for the center pad and you put in a little windowpane-looking thing - problem solved.

Interesting. Yeah it's a little scary, unless you have a partner that's on the ball to what you can accidentally pick up off a data sheet or how to interpret that data right? So okay well, that's a good one.

Another one we run across these tiny little micro BGA's 0.4 mm pitch, some of them even 0.3 mm. I've actually seen a 0.24 mm pitch BGA. Yeah, some of the rules change with the bigger BGA's. You want non-solder mask defined pads, so you want the solder mask opening to be slightly larger than the little pad where the BGA ball’s gonna sit down.


With some of the 0.4 mm pitch BGAs, you want solder mask pad or defined pads, otherwise you get bridging.

Oh yeah, that makes sense.

Yeah, it kind of depends on the geometry of the solder ball, but that's a pretty error as well. So you see these things that component manufacturers haven't fully studied, haven't fully published and they are just setting people up for problems.

Yeah, and what I have found - and not just in relation to components - I have talked to people who manufacture either components, or they manufacture laminates, and what's not widely understood is that sometimes the studies they’re doing is us.

Yeah we’re their guinea pigs.

Yeah, and then we yell and scream and we give them back data and then they produce overtime accurate data sheets. I was stunned to hear that, but it's absolutely true. They need to get stuff to market because the market is demanding it, and the testing is so complex and so widespread, and the applications are so widespread, that they can only go so far. And then the rest of the data has to come from real world.

Yeah the hardware industry really is paralleling what the software industry did.  We had open source software then open source hardware. With software, we started calling it ‘beta test the world’ because you couldn't beta test anymore, it's too complex.

Right, it’s too complex, so we become the beta testers and I don't think that's often understood. When I first understood it my jaw about dropped because I'm from the old school, like you are and it's like; wait nothing would ever go out that was not fully vetted or understood and tested, and things have just gotten so complex. And so there's just a hard limitation there, it's not a bad business practice or whatever, but it's a reality that I think is wise for designers and engineers to keep in mind - another encouragement to work closely with people like you, that can say, we've seen this already a bunch of times, we know what's going to occur here.

Yeah we've built our whole business around everything being wrong basically, start to finish. It sounds kinda funny, but It's all about this stuff probably isn't going to be right coming into us, so we've got to figure out how to make it work.

I don't know, like what happened to the world Duane? This is not how we started but here we are. Another thing you talked to me a little bit about, you had mentioned one time in a conversation, about polarity markings.

Oh yeah. That's that's maybe third or fourth in terms of the issues that we see here with diodes especially. Capacitors somewhat, but diodes even more so. Any kind of ambiguity, when you're dealing with machines, it's a problem. If you've got a barrier diode for example, it's backwards from what you would consider a conventional diode. So if someone marks it with a plus and it's a barrier diode and they're expecting us to know whether the plus goes to the anode or the cathode, we're gonna put it in the conventional manner, not knowing it's a barrier diode it's gonna be backwards so you can't use a plus to mark a diode. You might think minus, Also, does that mean negative or is that the lion on the diode symbol you can't do that because it doesn't tell us anything you've got to say K for cathode not C - because then we might think it's a capacitor, or the full diode symbol the down - lot of people will put in silkscreen, the mark that's on the bottom of a surface mount diode...


-which at first glance seems like it makes a lot of sense - but only if you give us the exact diode that you got the marker off of. I've seen two diodes 0.603s in the exact same package from the exact same manufacturer just a couple characters off, in the part number, and literally, on one the mark is the anode mark on the other it's the cathode mark. I've got to I've got to do a datasheet and I have a clipping from that data sheet on the Screaming Circuits blog that shows that it's got this part anode mark, this part cathode mark. I made the same mistake myself. On one of my boards I put the little marker on there and I gave the company the orientation and the CAD files, and then I made a substitution because one part was no longer available and used the other one - same thing but it was backwards because I went from cathode mark to anode mark.  So, remove ambiguity. A few years ago I would say, it's okay to mimic the silkscreen - just give us the exact part. But with supply chain availability being such an issue right now, I would not rely on the mark that's underneath the diode because they can reverse if we have to substitute something.

Okay I'm gonna put a pause there and talk about what the heck is going on with supply chain. Stuff about diodes like these, very basic building blocks to design, why are we having problems sourcing?

Well we've been told a couple of things from suppliers. One is, they're telling us that the automotive companies are buying up literally an entire line. They'll come to a component manufacturer and say this particular part: I need all of your production, all of it and so there it goes out of stock. Internet-of-Things companies - the super, hyper-mobile devices are also causing issues because they're increasing the demand in the super small components. Well then the companies that make the don't have fab capacity to also make the larger ones so, some of the component manufacturers are telling us that they're going to stop making some of the bigger form factors 1206s 0805s even 0603s may become even more and more scarce because if they can make 0402 or 0201 to cover all that range they'll do it and not make the other form factors.

Holy... I don't know what to say about that - if I was a design engineer I'd be freaking out - this puts people in a really tough spot!

It really does and it's gonna change the way some things are designed. We have always had a policy that we will not substitute anything without explicit approval. Even looking at a bypass capacitor - 0.1 microfarad 16 volt bypass capacitor - in some cases you need exact parameters. There’s parameters you need to be exactly the same so you can't substitute. But there are also plenty of cases where it's just sort of by guess and by golly: yeah it's a 0.1, it could be 16 volt, 10 volt, 25 volt, 50 volt, whatever. If that's the case, people are gonna have to start being really flexible in terms of what they will accept for a component and maybe at some point the industry will have a flag on a bill of material that says: this one's engineered so it has to be exact. This one, just make it close.

Another thing, our industry is changing so fast, it's just a big reason why Altium and I've decided this podcast would be a good idea. Same reason why your Circuit Talk publication is a good idea because it's like we can't get the education out fast enough or get the news out. Like holy cow, why can't I get this capacitor? It's not a unique form factor specialized BGA they're capacitors! This is like bread and butter, so it's been puzzling to learn about that and I'm just really interested to see how these component manufacturers are going to deal with this and again how designers are going to be forced to think hard about these it's really strange. Anyway sorry for taking a little side trip there.

That's important, it's a significant issue. We're being told this could last until 2020 and when we get out of this allocation, the industry is going to be different and, as I said, a lot of the bigger form factors consider moving all to 402s. It's more difficult to deal with these smaller ones but those are the ones, when the component manufacturers catch up, it's going to be in the smaller form factors because they can sell them to people building small devices as well as big. So think about that, be very, very careful when you're picking the specific component and tell us, and other manufacturers like us, what parameters are important.

Goodness that’s a great tip. You know I hadn't thought about it until just this minute when you were talking; I'm wondering if this will drive an uptick in embedded?

Embedded like embedded passives?

Uh-hu better passives.

I don't know I've been waiting to see that. I joined this company in 2005 and embedded passives were in the news at that point, and I actually made a prediction on the Screaming Circuits blog, that in ten years - I think I said -  80% of the passives would be embedded passives. I don't know that we've ever seen one. I guess technically you wouldn't see it because it's inside it.

No but you would know it was there, because I know it from my board manufacturing past, you would know cuz you would have to process it differently. It's a different process but I don't know what the cost trade-offs are there, but I've met Bruce Mahler from Omega and I've met some of those folks, and I'm just wondering if this allocation will drive, but I don't know what the cost trade-offs are or performance comparative. That makes me think, I need to call Bruce Mahler and get him on the blog because it's an interesting thing to ponder in lieu of what's going on in the marketplace.


Anything else you would mention off the top of your head that's something you see repeatedly that's a design for assembly thing that you would recommend designers to take a look at closely?

Well the polarity, the QFNs, BGAs as I mentioned. Something that isn't necessarily quite so obvious is the data files that is an important part of design for assembly. Ambiguity on a board is bad, ambiguity in a data file is bad. Bills of Materials, if there are in there that don't match the board, that's probably 80% of the jobs that come through here, have some sort of a Bill of Materials issue. So, double-check that that's accurate and that it matches your CAD files. If you can give your manufacturer the intelligent CAD files like an ODB++ or IPC 2581, that significantly reduces the chance of error, but then there's a little irony in there too that a lot of board houses still prefer Gerber's so we have seen cases where someone saves and then; oh yeah, I can give you the ODB++, but they forget they made a slight change and so now we have Gerber's that don't match the ODP++ so, make sure all of your files are consistent. Make sure the Bill of Material is clear and finalized. All in all if you add up all of the files issues that we see, that's probably one of the most problems. I mean, I run into those problems for myself. I designed some boards and run up to the factory here, and I know how to do this, in theory, I know how to do this, but I regularly make mistakes that my co-workers chide me for.

Well I think again, that leads to the complexity of the data that's available. The data sheets; whether they're right. I mean it is such a complex thing and it amazes me that we can even manufacture circuit boards and then put components on it and come out workable sometimes. Because it is such a complex process, I'm really glad that - actually I appreciate it - I don't understand all those steps but having worked for for both a really high end EMS that sold to tier one’s, very complex boards, and also having worked for a variety of board shops. I really appreciate the complexity in both those disciplines, and I think sometimes because a board shows up as a line item on a that complexity sometimes can get lost on you. But yeah we're building things, even here Altium, into our own tool that helps, like an active, things like that, that hopefully help. I think design tool manufacturers like us, I think we're doing a better job helping in that regard.

Right yeah, definitely!

Well the last couple items I wanted to talk to you about... well thank you for all that by the way, and again, we will share in the show notes your website. The Circuit Talking, I would recommend to anyone who is listening or watching - that you subscribe to Duane's blog or just Circuit Talk or whatever and we'll put all the links in because again, he's got his feet in the fire and runs up against these things as he said. Because they're putting through such a width of product. Like I used to work for an EMS, and like you said, it was a vertical. So we worked with military Tier one, and so the type of bores we saw was a niche, but you're seeing everything.

Yeah, literally I mean we worked on a camera board, the electronics of it, for National Geographic - it's a plexiglass globe, they drop it to the bottom of the ocean, it's got a chain on it and when the chain rusts through the camera bobs to the top and they pick it up again. We've got stuff being built for the 2020 Mars Rover so, literally down in the ocean up into space and and anything in between, we've built Ardium base stuff, real simple things, through holes; we built a board with five thousand placements. It's just all over the place and it's just absolutely the most fascinating place I've ever worked certainly, because of that.

Yeah I can see that and again, kudos for you - it's easier to do a quick podcast or write a blog post or produce a Circuit Talk that can go out to thousands of people and get that information out in that kind of global sense and be helpful right.

Yeah rather than tell one person at a time.

Exactly it's kind of a scalability of getting that knowledge out, so I really appreciate what you've done over the years. One thing I wanted to ask you about which it was a fun thing is about; I don't know six to eight months ago, I had the privilege to go with the Altium team for the first time, to a Maker Faire because we have Circuit Maker and Circuit Studio - Circuit Maker is free and and now we've bought a company called , which is also free, and in the cloud, and we also have Circuit Studio. So, we went there with those products and because of my position here as Director of Community Engagement, I hadn't had any exposure really to the Maker community, other than seeing stuff online, and I went and it was like drinking from a firehose. It was so much fun… goofiest things... it was so much fun. So, I'm walking the aisles, kind of collecting things to write about, or learn about, and I come across Duane Benson, wearing what looks like rap swag around his neck - it was like a clock you were wearing right, or something - he looks like a rapper and I'm used to thinking of him as this Duane Benson from Screaming Circuits and here you are, like fully immersed in the Maker space, and you had designed this device and had LEDs on it and I'm like: what are you doing here?

So tell me about how you've come to serve Makers. It doesn't seem like, from a profitability or a business model, that it would be a market that a company like Screaming Circuits would address. So how'd you get there Duane?

Well you could say that I'm a bit of a method actor, I mean I love... I've been designing small circuit boards for a very long time and writing the software for them for a very long time and one way of looking at it, is I'm a Hacker and a Maker who happens to be lucky enough to have a manufacturing facility. But more specifically, those Hackers and those Makers they are starting businesses.

Yes they are.

Many of those businesses become our customers whether they be crowdfunding or bootstrapping or getting investments, they are the future. The Maker community has a lot of students in it. It has a lot of weekday engineer weekend Hackers, it has a lot of people who aspire to start a new business and just such a wealth of creativity. And part of our mission I always like to look at, I'm just one person, we're just one company but if we can make our tiny little corner of the planet just a little bit better then we've been successful and all of those people who want to design electronics...


-We know what they don't know. I mean, we know what kind of problems they’re going to run across before they do, and so if we know what they don't know why don't we pass that off? And some of those people will have boards built with our competitors. Some of them will build them themselves, some of them will have us build them. Whatever, we're helping them understand this industry better. And we are helping them build better boards. That's what we really want to do. That's why we're at the Maker Faires ultimately. It does always have to lead back to more business for us, and it does. People see Screaming Circuits, they get the Circuit Talk and they read it, and it's Circuit Talk a Screaming Circuits publication so all of that winds its way back eventually, to helping the business here, and that's how we can afford to do it. But if we can help the business build and grow the business and help these budding designers - everybody wins.

This is why I love you, and love you guys. I just I love that philosophy, I love that approach. I try to live by an old Zig Ziglar thing and this reminds me of you and Screaming Circuits’ model that you just explained. Zig Ziglar used to say, you really can't have everything you want in life. If you just help enough other people get what they want.


So it's kind of knowing unconsciously that if you put good things out in the world, and you do the right thing, and you're ethical, and you have integrity, and you serve people, that good will come back to you and and you'll do okay. And I think that's a big key to your success actually, by kind of leading with service and and not ignoring the bottom line. We are in business to make money, we have to do that, or we're not in business anymore. So, I really appreciate that.

Well we're wrapping up now and I think you've listened to a couple of these podcasts now and so two questions for you. One are you a nerd or a geek?

[Laughter] I’m a Gunerd…

That's the best answer I've ever gotten yes you're a Gunerd.

Yeah, there was a time when those were really pejorative terms but I think nerds and geeks have taken it back and said, you know what, no we're not going to be ashamed of liking technology and loving it,we're proud of it. I mean, yeah so I’m a Gunerd.

Oh my gosh, I'm totally gonna steal that and use it somehow Duane, that will come back to haunt you later I promise.


And the other question is, but I think I know what the answer is if you've listened to podcasts. I always ask designers and electronics professionals in the end - this is ‘designers after hours’ - so because there is so much creativity involved a lot of people, like you said are Makers or Hackers, or they play a musical instruments or they're sculptors or whatever. So, what is your kind of guilty pleasure that you like to do after hours?

It would have to be photography. I chase animals around and take pictures of them, animals, landscapes, and then I have sort of a weird passion for old, decaying industrial sites as well. But photography would probably have to be my passion when I'm not playing with electronics.

That's so cool. Do you have a website where you share any of that or is it just mostly personal stuff and you keep your photos and share them with friends and family and whatnot?

It's mostly a personal thing I have had them on websites before but it's just my thing.

And what do you mean about industrial sites?

Well, old decaying, industrial and rusty factories. There's a place here just north of Canby Oregon City and we've got a waterfall on the Willamette River and most people think of waterfalls as pristine, and nature and that's all wonderful, I love that. But this one: back in the 1800's they started building paper mills and they built a set of locks. It's the oldest - well till they just recently closed down - it was the oldest continuously operated locks west of the Mississippi. And so now, you overlook the river from a nice restaurant and you see this shut down, decaying, industrial plant and - well no it's not the beauty of the river - but I see a sort of beauty in the symmetry and in the way people constructed these things. It's almost like an architectural dig, you can see things from a hundred years ago, from eighty years ago, from sixty years ago, and you can see the evolution of that, as this thing built up and then as they abandoned it, and there's just for some reason...  I really enjoy that sort of view as well as the natural views as well.

They do have a really unique aesthetic and things have changed. It is kind of like a little time capsule and the rest is actually beautiful and sometimes the design itself is beautiful.

Yeah well thank you again, this has been fabulous and I'm sure we can talk more and more, but thank you so much for giving me so much of your time and sharing DFA tips and the story of Screaming Circuits, and we wish you continued success and we'll certainly share the website and Circuit Talk. And if there's anything else you'd like to share with us, give me a holler and I'll make sure we include those in the show notes.

Thank you very much, it's been a privilege to be on the show here, thank you.

Again this has been Judy Warner with Altium’s OnTrack Podcast and Duane Benson from Screaming Circuits. we look forward to seeing you next time until then always stay OnTrack.


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About Author

About Author

Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry for over 25 years. She has a background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing, focusing on Mil/Aero applications. 

She has also been a writer, blogger, and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, PCB007 Magazine, PCB Design007, PCD&F, and IEEE Microwave Magazine, and an active board member for PCEA (Printed Circuit Engineering Association). In 2017, Warner joined Altium as the Director of Community Engagement. In addition to hosting the OnTrack Podcast and creating the OnTrack Newsletter, she launched Altium's annual user conference, AltiumLive. Warner's passion is to provide resources, support, and advocate for PCB Design Engineers worldwide.

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