Daily tips and tricks from the experts at Adafruit!
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HacksSpace, if you haven’t heard, is one of the best maker magazines around. If you’re not a subscriber, (you’re not a subscriber!?) the latest issue has a great feature on Adafruit and ladyada.

This popularisation of DIY technology is due to a lot of factors, but one of the largest must be the companies putting out great hardware to hack on, from kits that you can build to hardware designed for makers. Of this new breed of hacker companies, Adafruit, led by Limor Fried (aka ladyada) must be the most iconic.

There is no fatalism here — Adafruit is working hard to make electronics that people love to use and the community continues to grow, contributing back into itself, and pushing Adafruit forward. In this article, ladyada discusses how this all gets started, and takes you on the journey of new product creation — from idea to retail product.

Say there’s a fancy new sensor coming out… let’s take the last one I did as an example, it’s the SGP30 air quality sensor. We saw this on DigiKey’s ‘new products’ webpage and the specs looked good, so I requested the Purchasing team to order up 10 samples and, after reading the datasheet, get to work designing a breakout board in PCB CAD software (we use EagleCAD & KiCad). That only takes maybe a few hours, we often have I several designs in the works at once. On Wednesday we panellise up all the PCB and order prototypes.

A week or so later, the prototypes and sample chips come in, and the R&D team puts together the prototypes, handsoldering all the components. We use fine tweezers, microscopes, syringes with paste, and hot air tools to do the job. It’s good to make maybe three of each, usually one or two will make it through. Now we start ‘bringing up’ the design, soldering wires and headers from the breakout to a microcontroller, then writing C and/or Python code to communicate with the sensor, and learn its secrets! We’ll go through this step a few times, revising until it feels done. ….Now it’s time to manufacture!

Check out more of Adafruit’s process in HackSpace Issue #5.