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Stephen Cass over at IEEE Spectrum interviewed Ladyada and a few others in the maker market about the part shortages we’ve encountered since early 2020. Not only does this affect the businesses and sales themselves, but the issues can cause problems that reverberate in hardware industries at large.

Technology often filters into the maker scene by way of manufacturers that cater to hobbyists—they do the hard work of putting new chips with new capabilities onto easy-to-interface breakout boards; developing drivers and libraries that work with existing programing ecosystems like that around Arduino microcontrollers or Raspberry Pi single board computers; and writing documentation and tutorials so that folks don’t have to try parsing enigmatic datasheets by themselves. In turn, ideas from the maker community bubble back up into industrial settings, often via engineers seeking quick or inexpensive solutions to problems—consequently both the Raspberry Pi and Arduino lines now feature pro products designed for commercial embedded systems.

Here is a little bit from Adafruit:

Limor Fried, founder and CEO of Adafruit:

It’s definitely been a challenge for small electronic manufacturers, makers, creators and inventors. We’re seeing massive shortages of semiconductors and particular, microcontrollers and more-complex ASICs are completely unavailable. We’ve seen some micros come back with lead times in 2023! We’ve had to scramble to redesign a few boards that we were about to launch, to use different chipsets—and some items are going to be delayed. We’ve also heard from other makers that they are struggling to finish and launch without key components. One thing we’ve been doing is helping folks find alternatives to out of stock components on our weekly video show “The Great Search”, sometimes we have been able to help folks source drop-in replacements!”

Check out the whole article for a bunch of other perspectives and experiences.