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Monday, March 4, 2024

Bobby on 12 Years at SparkFun – Information


SparkFun is 20 years previous this 12 months! We’re fortunate sufficient to have a bunch of workers which have been round for over 10 of these years, and we needed to share their reflections on their time right here with you. Right now you may be listening to from Bobby Chan!

Bobby's Employee Photo

Inform us a bit about your background.

I used to be born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I moved as much as Boulder in 2005 for the College of Colorado’s engineering program. I graduated within the winter of 2010 with {an electrical} and laptop engineering diploma.

I first began as an meeting technician in manufacturing division at SparkFun in June 2011 (wow, 12 years on the time of this writing!). That is me within the entrance doing a bit freeze.

Production Department Photo from SparkFun Production: A Brief History

In November 2012, I moved over to technical help division serving to prospects with components for his or her initiatives or troubleshooting points.

Technical Support Department Photo from Who You Gonna Call?

On June 2017, I moved over to high quality assurance and documentation staff to work with our tutorials beneath the product providers division!

Bobby in Product Services Department during the Pandemic

Working within the constructing with staggered schedules in 2020.

What’s your favourite mission you’ve labored on at SparkFun?

Awww, there’s so many cool initiatives! It is onerous to simply discuss one favourite mission or one which I’ve labored on. Beneath are a number of initiatives that I’ve constructed! There are different initiatives that I might wish to work on however I’ve not had an opportunity but.

What is the coolest factor you’ve seen a buyer make with our merchandise?

Ahhh, there’s multiple cool mission that I’ve seen prospects construct with our merchandise! Hmm, those that I can discuss… I might say GPS monitoring animals or arctic ice with the are fairly cool! There’s additionally the Roast Imaginative and prescient utilizing the Qwiic Photodetector (MAX30101) Breakout to measure the extent of espresso roast. Escape Rooms utilizing relays, RFID, sensors, and buttons are fairly neat as effectively. And even the Mars helicopter utilizing the LIDAR-Lite v3!

What introduced you right here?

I used to be a scholar engaged on my bachelor’s diploma simply earlier than becoming a member of SparkFun. I did not know a lot about SparkFun till my first soldering class with the Simon Says SMD Equipment. If I keep in mind appropriately, there was Nate and some different SparkFunions. I used to be a bit sluggish grabbing the SMD elements utilizing tweezers and soldering them on the board. I used to be the final one there soldering and everybody was affected person with me. The solder joints have been fairly unhealthy however the board labored. I nonetheless have this board at present!

Once I began ordering elements for my senior design mission, I believed it will be superior to work at an organization with the kind of merchandise accessible within the catalog and assist make electronics extra accessible for folks.

How has SparkFun advanced in the course of the time you’ve been right here?

SparkFun has matured quite a bit by way of designing boards and merchandise. I really feel like boards have been a bit scrappier and it was tougher to get revisions by. I really feel like we have gotten quicker and higher at designing boards. Our manufacturing division may also deal with extra complicated builds and rework!

Tutorials have been nice again then however onerous to work with (this was barely earlier than my time working in our documentation, nonetheless I discover myself going again to the previous tutorial web site each occasionally). It’s a lot simpler to put in writing tutorials with the instruments made accessible from our IT division and they appear extra skilled. Tutorials additionally observe a extra standardized template (though there’s nonetheless some flexibility relying on the character of the topic and the writer). Code can be simpler to share and replace with GitHub repositories.

Expertise has additionally come a great distance and SparkFun’s catalog has modified as effectively to adapt to EOL elements and extra highly effective IC’s. Need a small animal tracker? It was tougher to prototype manner again once I labored in our technical help division. I keep in mind speaking with a number of prospects about making prototype GPS trackers and suggesting some components to transmit location knowledge. The components have been restricted in vary with the mobile modules and XBees accessible. The components mixed have been additionally large and clunky. Now, it is quite a bit simpler as of late to trace an animal wherever world wide utilizing the Iridium or Argos Satellite tv for pc Networks!

The main focus has additionally shifted to incorporate different sectors of the market. SparkFun was extra for enterprise to shoppers (i.e. hobbyists, college students, educators, makers, and so forth.) to start with however has grown to business-to-business (i.e. partnerships with different organizations and corporations).

Describe your first day!

Hmm, I keep in mind components of my first day. I got here in by the entrance the place the big, inexperienced GPS LED clock was hanging and headed into the breakroom within the previous constructing at about 9:00am able to work. There have been free burritos (not an on a regular basis factor so I used to be fairly fortunate). I then headed to my desk and started my coaching within the manufacturing division with Adam!

Favourite spot within the constructing?

Hmm, the engineering division is fairly cool. It has a lot of the instruments and area that I must construct initiatives. I additionally get to listen to about initiatives or take a look at boards which are coming down the pipeline.

Engineering Engineering Work Tables

Different spots that take pleasure in making my rounds embrace the manufacturing division (they’ve further instruments for transforming and cleansing boards, but it surely’s additionally candy testing the decide & place machine or seeing everybody in manufacturing), LED testbed set up by the engineering tables, and break room.

How would you describe SparkFun’s tradition?

I’d describe SparkFun’s tradition as a mixture between a laid again ambiance with onerous employees that put a variety of care of their work in order that prospects obtain a high quality product. Everyone seems to be open to new concepts, keen to pay attention, and approachable. It doesn’t matter what your background is, SparkFun is supportive of 1’s development (whether or not it is private or profession targets), and who you might be as a person. In fact, you may see canine, skateboards, scooters, and candy initiatives.

What’s the finest a part of the work you do?

Having the ability to work with my co-workers on new expertise and making electronics extra accessible to folks world wide!


We have been celebrating our long run workers all 12 months – take a look at the opposite interviews we have achieved:

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