Estimating effort

Circuit Break Podcast #350

Estimating Effort

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October 28, 2022, Episode #350

Why is estimating a projects completion time feel like it takes more work then the actual project? Estimating Project Time, the quest of management.

Python Demo for Extra Life API

  • Stream Date: November 5th, 2022
  • Functionality so far
    • Check Extralife API for donations
      • This is done with the requests module
      • This endpoint seems to return old and new donations
      • There isn’t a “new donation” end point it seems
    • Get the donation IDs and compare them to a local file
      • Local file is made with the pickle module
      • Pickle allows you to take any data structure in python and “package it” into a binary file for storage. 
    • If there is a new donation ID that isn’t in the local file
      • Queue up a random audio clip
      • Record the donation ID to the local file
    • Audio is placed through the playsound module
      • Weird “bug” that short audio clips get cut off
      • Add a little sleep after the call to get around it
    • Auto parses the audio folder for the files
      • Looks into audio file
      • Gets all the file names
      • Adding a new audio clip is as simple as dropping it into the folder
    • Preventing truly random files
      • Made a rotating buffer
      • Used the collections module to implement a bi-directional “stack”
        • Think like a bitwise shift but with an array of strings
    • Multithreading!
      • Threading module used to setup the API and Audio player queues
        • API runs every 20 seconds
        • Audio player runs every 30 seconds
      • If a new donation, global mailbox variable increases one for each new donation.
      • Audio player runs and looks at that global variable. 
      • Threading has a “lock” function to prevent race conditions on that global variable.
  • What is next?
    • Play graphics in Open Broadcast Software
    • OBS has some python hooks that I am just starting to learn 

Chip Fab Jobs

  • Need practically every engineering discipline
  • Mechanical to design and maintain equipment
  • Chemical for designing the masking / chemical bath processes
  • Electrical for testing and validation 

Estimating project time

  • PCB layout
  • New project revision
    • About 1600 parts
    • Lots of duplicates
  • Things that impact timing
    • Components
      • Parts with pours and complex ground
      • Specific trace routs like differential or snake traces
    • Layers
    • Duplication
    • Rest day
    • Cleanup day

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, longhornengineer.com, 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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