Ampersand made hero

Circuit Break Podcast #91

An Ampersand Made Me A Hero

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Don’t Worry About It

Right to Repair is going global and Stephen might have solved his injection molded component's void by tweaking the mold design.

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October 27, 2017, Episode #91

Mike Williams and Kaylan Smith join Parker and Stephen to talk about developer life at MacroFab.
  • Kaylan Smith
    • Houston native, rice owl , UX designer, artist, die hard Astros fan, and MacroFaber since July 2016
    • One of the strange breeds that went from being an artist to software development
    • Attended a talk that Stephen Kraig gave about MacroFab at her school where she was learning to become a developer
  • Mike Williams
    • Fascinated with computers since 7th grade, when he first got to use a TRS-80 model 1
    • Seen the software development industry advance from MSDOS to smart phones and cloud computing
    • Written and designed software for flying cameras, high speed trains, and lots of business apps
    • Joined MacroFab about 2 years ago and moved to Houston last year with his wife Loretta and his dog Kosmo
    • Heard about MacroFab from the episode of The Amp Hour where Chris Church and Parker Dillmann where guests
  • Kaylan and Mike talk about the new PCB experience on the MacroFab platform they helped develop
    • Overall cleaner interface that provides more information to customers
      • Quick turnaround
      • Eagle 8 and zip file uploading
        • Supporting Eagle 8 – challenging because of their new subscription model and purchasing by autodesk
        • Only need to upload a board file and BOM will populate with it automatically
      • Actual color preview of board, part notes & moves
    • Updates to BOM Screen
      • Price break graph
  • For inspiring devs what are some tips to getting a solid background for getting that first dev job?
    • Williams: Tech is always going to be changing. Need to have great problem solving skills, and research and find information. Don’t be a specialist. Good language to start with is Python or Javascript.
    • Kaylan: Be a good collaborator and communicator.
    • Stackoverflow article about different programming languages used today
  • Who at MacroFab writes the worst Jira tickets?
  • What do hardware/electronic people do that drive you nuts?
    • Eagle writing out gerbers, it fills in with rasterized lines and default is .01 mil per line that generate monster files. You have to know to go in and change it.
  • Longest you have looked for a semi colon or any other kind of syntax error?
    • Williams spent three days to find a missing ampersand.
  • Visit our Slack Channel and join the conversation in between episodes!

If you have a cool idea, project or topic that you want Stephen and I to discuss tweet at us @MacroFab or email us at

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Figure 1: Mike and Kaylan. Two of the developers here at MacroFab!

Figure 1: Mike and Kaylan. Two of the developers here at MacroFab!

Figure 2: Kosmo. Mike Williams doggo. Looking classy as frig. 11/10

Figure 2: Kosmo. Mike Williams doggo. Looking classy as frig. 11/10

About the Hosts

Parker Dillmann
  Parker Dillmann

Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.

In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.

In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.

Parker also runs the blog,, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.

Stephen Kraig
  Stephen Kraig

Stephen Kraig is a component engineer working in the aerospace industry. He has applied his electrical engineering knowledge in a variety of contexts previously, including oil and gas, contract manufacturing, audio electronic repair, and synthesizer design. A graduate of Texas A&M, Stephen has lived his adult life in the Houston, TX, and Denver, CO, areas.

Stephen has never said no to a project. From building guitar amps (starting when he was 17) to designing and building his own CNC table to fine-tuning the mineral composition of the water he uses to brew beer, he thrives on testing, experimentation, and problem-solving. Tune into the podcast to learn more about the wacky stuff Stephen gets up to.

Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!

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Don’t Worry About It

Right to Repair is going global and Stephen might have solved his injection molded component's void by tweaking the mold design.