New York on PAUSE
With the shelter in place policy mandated by the governor of New York in effect, the majority of engineers are working from home, being furloughed, or being laid off completely. BotFactory is no exception to Andrew Cuomo’s policy. The majority of its team members are engineers and are in fact working from home. Given the unfortunate situation that New York is in, BotFactory has made the best of the situation and has found that these circumstances have become an interesting use case for their SV2, a printed circuit board printer.
Tools of the Trade
BotFactory has office space in Long Island City outfitted with a plethora of tools that make an engineer's life easier. It is equipped with an oscilloscope, multimeters, power supplies, soldering stations, two 3D printers, and several SV2s and Squinks, among other items. Additionally, they also have access to NY Designs’ Fab Lab, a fabrication space complete with laser cutters, saws, drill presses, and anything else an engineer would need. All in all, BotFactory’s office space provides a great tool set to empower their engineers with the opportunity to innovate and test new creations, allowing them to turn ideas into reality. Unfortunately engineers need to have access to these tools in order to be fully productive.
Shipping Portable Electronics Labs
Due to the COVID-19 situation, BotFactory is unable to work from the office space that houses all of their tools and equipment. Luckily for them, they were able to quickly send a few of their engineers SV2s and everything else required to help them work efficiently from home.
Carlos, Andrew, and Md are BotFactory engineers who are using SV2 to work remotely. BotFactory hoped that they would be able to use the printed circuit board printers to maximize their productivity while they worked remotely.
Pursuing Grants and Projects
Carlos is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of BotFactory and he described the ways the SV2 has helped him while working from home. “I am using the SV2 to run demonstrations for the projects we are pursuing, this includes grants and projects with other companies.” His work entails fabricating printed circuit boards of different designs, from simple to complex, and showcasing the capabilities of the SV2. Despite not having a lab, Carlos can still produce circuit boards. He utilizes computer aided design software to design boards from home and he says that the distributors of electrical components are still open and fulfilling orders. With the use of the SV2 he can fully assemble his boards and test them from the safety of his home, something that he says would be impossible without it. He has been able to continue his work on projects and is able to “keep delivering” all while impressing his customers with the rapid response time BotFactory has.
Team Collaboration and Customer Support
Andrew is the lead programmer at BotFactory and is in charge of the development of both firmware and software related to the BotFactory SV2 and Squink products. "I am using the SV2 to create software updates and improvements, including faster file/data processing, moving with simpler/cleaner toolpaths, and user interface/experience improvements." While Andrew does not use the SV2 to work on hardware, he is able to continue with the majority of his responsibilities from home. Having an SV2 at home has allowed Andrew to tackle his primary responsibilities all from home, including creating software updates and improvements, modifying existing firmware, and validating code modifications from other co-workers. Having an SV2 allows Andrew to coordinate the work of several engineers. He is able to verify the code modifications of other engineers as well as test the mechanical changes suggested by the resident mechanical engineer. With Andrew’s first hand experience with both the software and firmware of the SV2, he is also able to resolve support tickets from customers. Andrew can not only replicate a customer’s issue and work one-on-one to resolve it but also keep notes on what caused the issue to prevent it from happening in the future.
From Idea to Product All From Home
Md is an application engineer at BotFactory and works on finding unique applications that the SV2 can satisfy. As an application engineer, Md has to prototype a lot of designs and according to him “Working on rapid prototyping has never been easier than using the SV2 at home. I don't even have to leave bed!” Md, like Carlos, is using the SV2 at home to showcase the capabilities of their product. Md’s main responsibility is to showcase the SV2’s capabilities and restrictions by developing interesting electronics and iterating on those designs. According to Md, “The main pro of having an SV2 while working from home would be the fast turn-around on creating multiple iterations of a single board.” Designing PCBs is tedious and requires long hours of focused attention. Mistakes happen. They can cost engineers days of time, but not Md.
As Md puts it, “Once I print my first design, if there's a mistake in my schematic or I want to add a new component, or I want to change a footprint to accommodate a different component, I can have a new working single layer board within the next hour, and a few hours if it's multilayer.” Md also utilizes the SV2 to bypass some common issues regarding documentation. According to Md, he no longer has to spend hours to search for documentation on integrated chips (ICs), he can print a circuit and directly incorporate the IC directly on his board. He’ll then test the IC and work out any issues with his design by troubleshooting the circuit he created. According to him, working on a circuit makes the “troubleshooting process much more intuitive and hands on, and I can make any changes directly in my design and reprint it rather than sending it to a third party and waiting”. He finished up by saying that “I also don't have to worry about costs or manufacturer specifications when making my prototype - If I can design it, I can print it.”
Md's HomeLab Setup