Arduino Forum

Community => Gigs and Collaborations => Topic started by: scswift on Jun 13, 2013, 09:09 pm

Title: Looking for work!
Post by: scswift on Jun 13, 2013, 09:09 pm
Hey guys!

I'm looking for a full-time or contract position writing code and/or designing simple circuits.

I have been programming games and applications for over 20 years, and I've been self-employed and working full time designing circuits with the Arduino since 2009.  Though three years of experience may not sound like much, in that time I went from making simple 555 timer circuits to designing and manufacturing my own Arduino clone:


More info, photos, videos:

Sadly, though that project has been quite successful, it isn't really paying the bills so I need to find a real job. 

I am located in New Hampshire, and I am willing to relocate for the right position, or I can work from home.  I design my schematics and PCBs in Cadsoft Eagle.  I used EagleUp and Sketchup to create the rendering you see above.  I know C/C++ and some assembly.  I will provide sample code. 

You can send me an email by clicking the little envelope over on the left.

By the way, in case you're wondering, the board above is designed to add lights, sound, and motion to costume props.  It features an Atmega1284p, along with a 12 bit DAC, and 3W amp for sound.  It also has a MicroSD slot for sound effects, and is capable of applying firmware updates using the SD card as well.  In addition, the IO ports are set up so you can plug servos in, and TLC5947 LED drivers can be chained to the board, allowing it to drive 24 LEDs per LED module.  I also designed a small switchable 12V boost regulator that connects with a servo cable and can be used to drive automotive LED bulbs for strobe effects.  To make it all work together I modified several open source libraries to use the additional timers and USARTs that the 1284p has available to allow the sound, servos, LED drivers, and SD card to all be used at once.  And I wrote a system to allow the LEDs and servos to be animated over time, shifting from one value to another.
Title: Re: Looking for work!
Post by: graynomad on Jun 14, 2013, 04:52 am (

Title: Re: Looking for work!
Post by: geurillawarfare on Jun 14, 2013, 04:21 pm

Not trying to burst your bubble but you might want to stick with the programming side of things if that's your area of expertise.
There is a LOT more to PCB layout than just taking an atmel dev board design (like this "arduino"), copying, it, and rearranging things or adding a few well-documented peripherals.  From the looks of it, you added a few things that have been added a million times over by other hobbyists who are playing with these boards.
Designing to reduce EMI/RFI, designing for high-power/high-frequency switchers, etc are all things that require years(even decades) of knowledge to do right (and to therefore provide a design that is actually worth paying for).  All of this is not to mention the basic electrical theory that you must apply to every PCB you design.

This "arduino" movement does not necessarily promote the knowledge that you need - This community is mostly comprised of individuals who are just getting started in the world of electronics (or are at that knowledge level in general) and just want to copy things that have already been done by others.

I would suggest that you take this programming skill - it sounds like after 20 years you might be very good at it - and use this to your advantage.  Move away from the beginner level (arduino) and get some real development boards - Go get a board from digilent or microchip or whatever - Get a decent C compiler - learn this platform.  You don't need to limit yourself to Atmel or Microchip controllers, either - There are literally a million and one options out there.

It's all about finding out what your strong point is and using that to your advantage.  If you try to make it in the layout/design world with little to no experience, you're starting from scratch and unless you have some amazing ability to become an EE design engineer overnight, you're going to lose money and waste time in the long run.  On the other hand, if you use your strong point to your advantage and focus on it, you might get lucky and find some good work.

I've been doing schematic & layout design for high-power DC-DC converters for years, and I started with a pretty solid knowledge of EE in general - And I would still consider myself a beginner.  Good luck.  If you haven't already, get some decent EE textbooks and start reading them cover to cover.  The best way to become good at design and layout is to be mentored by someone who knows what they are doing...   Learning by yourself, in a vacuum, will not be productive in the long run.  Also, remember - don't be afraid to step out of the beginner level and get out into the "real world" of microcontrollers.
Title: Re: Looking for work!
Post by: scswift on Jun 14, 2013, 04:50 pm

Oh, I'm well aware of my limitations.  If there's one thing I've learned after three years of studying this stuff, its that electronics stuff is hard.  Much harder than programming. 

I think I'd be a good fit for a company like Sparkfun that makes a lot of small simple boards for hobbyists and which has other more experienced engineers who can double check my work.  I could also see myself doing work for some artist who wants to add lights and sound to their project.  For example, if Volpin Props were not capable of designing his own light circuits for his Daft Punk helmets (, that would be something I could do for him under contract. 

Also, remember - don't be afraid to step out of the beginner level and get out into the "real world" of microcontrollers.

I wasn't aware that Atmel were considered a "beginner level" microcontroller. :)

I like Atmel, not just because of the Arduino, but because their documentation is awesome, and their IDE is really nice.  And, well, that's what I know.  I don't have the luxury of spending months learning a new architecture right now.  And they seem to have some decent new lines of processors.  Is there something I don't know about how often they're used in real world applications?

Anyway, I'm not looking to get into designing generic consumer electronics products or anything like that. I mean, if some toy company came along and they were looking for a programmer and someone to do electronics on the side in an entry level position with oversight from an experienced electrical engineer and they were interested in helping me further my education than that might be something I could see myself getting into.
Title: Re: Looking for work!
Post by: geurillawarfare on Jun 14, 2013, 05:05 pm
Oh, I wasn't calling Atmel a beginner level - I was referring to the "arduino" style development where people seem simply copy things, not really considering how the implementation works nor learning much in the process.

I just meant, it sounds like programming is your strong point, so if you're looking to make money, I would focus there.  You won't find any real-world companies using "arduino" for development...  It's a hobby-level product and the money to be made with it is very limited :)
Title: Re: Looking for work!
Post by: Arrch on Jun 14, 2013, 06:11 pm

Oh, I wasn't calling Atmel a beginner level - I was referring to the "arduino" style development where people seem simply copy things, not really considering how the implementation works nor learning much in the process.

That's funny, I've seen (and made) plenty of original idea items built from Arduinos.
Title: Re: Looking for work!
Post by: Lakes on Jun 15, 2013, 09:07 pm
Is not the MakerBot platform arduino based?, I think they made quite a bit of money out of that.
Title: Re: Looking for work!
Post by: Paul Beaudet on Jun 19, 2013, 05:38 pm
I'm going to also disagree with the no money in arduino comment. DIY drones was also based on arduino they have just transitioned in to becoming 3dRobotics which is a very large operation.

I think engineers get mad when they see that hacks are many times more then sufficient. Users only care that the thing works. Engineers have invested so much of there time in not being hacks and payed big money for engineering school, its understandable they feel this way. I think this leads to a bit of not seeing the forest through trees.

Theses hacks are important to the products you end up working on!

I'm currently building a company in NH with its first product being arduino based. Will I eventually move on to bigger and better more industry standard things? Yes. However arduino is a quick way for an entrepreneur with an idea to get to an MVP (minimal viable product). If I get there then I can justify raising the capital for real engineering work.

I don't see most of the engineers I know getting excited about that second part because running a business in not necessarily their forte. If we want to see more innovative hardware companies rise, we have to accept that everyone starts somewhere! Generalist are really important in the start-up phase of a business.  Its really tough right now to be a hardware start-up, but it will become a more prominent thing as barriers to entry changes because of projects like arduino. Actually its already happening. The people in this space will be looking for folks like scswift. Given those folks have the luxury of living on the edge with a start-up. If they don't have the luxury then guerilla's points are probably relevant. Just pointing out the defeatist attitude is unnecessary.

I'm still at an early phase where I can't offer positions. Things will likely happen fast when that point comes though. Check out the project @, see if your interested. Hobby involvement is resume and application, or point me to an open source project you have worked on.
Title: Re: Looking for work!
Post by: vincenzo2 on Jul 07, 2013, 05:03 am
This is a very interesting discussion. I'm looking for work too, but I come from the other side. I have a grad degree in EE and spent quite some time designing different projects with different microcontrollers and I partly agree with guerilla in that most people in the arduino community don't really know much about digital or analog design (ask someone how does an ADC or DAC work or what's a schmitt trigger or where to start with a switched-mode power supply design!). But, I think that building commercial products with arduino boards is not elementary at all, especially if you design your own board and understand the code in the "bootloader" being assembly or C.
I explained what I just started doing here (last reply on page 3).

[ I don't see most of the engineers I know getting excited about that second part because running a business in not necessarily their forte./quote] I totally agree with this. I'm one of those engineers and have many ideas but being new in America and trying to get established makes starting a business an overwhelming task.

If anyone is starting something here in NJ and knows how to start (or do kickstarter stuff or attract investments) and needs technical help, please let me (and my friend who started this discussion) know.