#200 – SolidCon and Traveling Tech – Joined Junk Jocularity


Chris is back in his lab after a week and a half of travel; Dave continues to trick out his lab to take advantage of his high speed internet.


  • Chris has road-tested the portalab! There isn’t enough lighting, nor time in the day to work on it.

  • Does solder have an expiration date?
  • Dave is going lead-free in his lab.
  • Flux pens can be nice, but pricey. No clean flux isn’t worth it.
  • In the late 80s, there was a push to use citrus cleaning solvents for boards (PDF).
  • The TSA also went through Chris’s Portalab case. They were met with this note:


  1. says

    Dave of course you have no time for electronics, you continuously refuse to let go of all the non electronics chores :)
    Re listen to Marcus Schappi (#189), enjoy free time/quality of life improvement instead of doing every single minimum wage job you need done.
    Keep moving up in the food chain. Instead of hugging ucurrent spend that time designing 5 other little gadgets.

    >recording convention speeches>
    If Dave says something, but there was no one to record it – did it really happen?

    DaveCAD – fork kicad and MAKE IT HAPPEN! davecad.org is free to register :)

  2. says

    Yeah I realised how stupid that is 5 seconds after I posted it :)
    But repackaging stable releases under DaveCAD name is a solid plan. Dave could build whole company around supporting Kicad. He doesnt even have to learn it, just build community, filter out most knowledgeable and enthusiastic people, make them moderators and offer to pay for solving customer problems in internal paid section of the forum. Be a trusted middle man, source of confidence in Kicad as a mature product.

    One day Dave could even overtake Altium :DDDDDD 😛

  3. says

    Great show as always, I really like the mobile lab, at one point I made a small one for my car, so I could work on projects between school and work.
    I tried listening to the The Internet of things podcast… I cannot recommend it.

  4. says

    congratulations on the 200th show guys! You will soon have been running for 4 years – scary thought!

  5. says

    Found you Anglophones on Science360 radio, and it’s the one scheduled podcast where I understand virtually nothing. But asphalt is cheap.. Happy 200th!

  6. Ben says

    The lower cost Portalab case from Serpac mentioned in the show is actually made in the USA as opposed to what was stated in the show.

  7. Bill Borgen says

    About who made the “first” IC.

    Kilby wire bonded several of the circuit nodes together to get the first chip to work.
    Fairchild added a metal layer on top of a masked-etched passivated layer to connect the nodes using their own very successful patented Planar process. The practical, mass produced monolithic integrated circuit as we know it today was essentially born at Fairchild. In fact TI had to go to Fairchild to license the process to make their own chips in the early days. I think Fairchild was the winner
    in practical terms. I personally would rather have the wafer containing the first working chip(s) from
    Fairchild in my collections, than the Kilby device.

  8. says

    For an alternative to Pelican cases. I’ve found that Explorer brand cases offer similar models and cases with about the same cost as Serpac.

  9. James says

    Hello Chris and Dave,

    I was listening to your podcast this morning and at the end you said you wanted to hear from hardware engineers that spend money. Well, I am one!

    I have worked in several companies as a permanent EE since I graduated in 2002. Over 10 years my salary increased from £20K to £36K. It’s not great but far above minimum wage and yet I never had any money left over after bills were paid. I drove cheap throw-away cars that I repaired myself; I had time but no money.

    In 2012 I stopped working for the man and and last year I had a little boy. Now my situation is reversed; I have plenty of money but no spare time! Now when I want a new gadget I don’t have time to search for the best price or fight with cheap retailers that don’t deliver; I go to a trusted retailer and pay their premium for good reliable service.

    In a business environment I believe in spending money on good equipment. It costs a lot of money to hire engineers so you need to keep them busy. Saving a few hundred pounds buying a budget power supply might seem like a good idea but when it breaks you a) damage the prototype boards you were in the middle of testing, b) waste time fixing/returning it c) eventually have to buy a better one anyway. The cost of a new piece of kit might be less than the cost of getting multiple quotes, discussing it with purchasing, your manager, his manager and trying to persuade someone in finance to sign off the capital expenditure… Nice kit is less likely to stay unused in a cupboard and it holds its price for longer so it’s an asset.

    Buy cheap, buy twice. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it! Good work guys, love the show.

  10. KindleMyBook says

    Any update on The Second Machine Age book mentioned a couple weeks ago?

    Seems the book reviews have a strong start but never get the final verdict!

  11. Dieter says

    So does solder have an expiry date ? Probably not – I have 2 rolls of multicore that are at least 35 years old, that I purchased when I was a teen. Flux is still good, but smells somewhat as accumulated grime is
    melted off during the solder process. Have resorted to giving the rolls a bit of an occasional scrub to remove the grime.
    All in all still fully useable, but prolly not for smd work :-(