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We saved money with the first PCB

Jeff the Engineer

In 1999, we were hired by Northrop-Grumman to design and build three test interfaces that would operate in a vacuum to test satellites before launch.  Because this project was thought to be a 1-off (okay, 3-off), we didn’t budget for any dedicated test fixtures and just inserted probes in each connector contact to make sure each system was working before delivery.

By 2004, we had delivered 6 systems, with an order for three more replacement boards, each taking the better part of a day to test.

I knew a dedicated tester would cut test time by hours per unit, but had little money to develop a solution.  I had seen ads for PCB123 for a couple years and, after some research, decided it was the best package for my needs and downloaded a copy.

The user interface was simple enough and I produced a board in less than a day, with two PCBs costing less than $350.  Management was impressed and Northrop-Grumman even requested the second assembly for in-house use.

Eight years and 8 systems later, we are anticipating an order for two more systems and that first experiment is still saving hours of work every time it is used.

The savings in test time paid for the design, fabrication and assembly on that first batch and it’s been gravy ever since.

- Shared October 10, 2012