Announcing EE Concierge

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Upverter just launched a new product. It’s called EE Concierge. If you’re a hardware engineer and you don’t use Upverter to design your PCBs you should check it out.

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Upverter is the same professional, collaborative, cloud-based design tool you know and love except more so. We’ve made our free plan even better than before, and added even more professional layout and 3D features – more on this soon.

17 months ago we began an experiment within the Upverter editor to make sure that every single part a user ever needed, every part they ever searched for, and every part they ever used existed in the Upverter parts library. At the time we thought it would help us get users to adopt Upverter as their preferred EDA tool. You can read more about our early experiments, and why we built the concierge here.

We’ve since realized that the concierge is so much more than a way to convert engineers into Upverter users. It turns out that most engineers hate making parts. It doesn’t matter what tool they use, where they work or what industry they’re in – making symbols, making footprints, modelling parts in 3D and copying attribute data out of PDF datasheets is tedious. It’s slow, painful and error prone. 75% of manufacturing problems are a result of mistakes by engineers who should be designing, instead of making parts.

We built a new product for these engineers. For engineers that don’t want to make parts, but can’t or don’t want to switch to Upverter; engineers that have better things to do, engineers that can’t afford manufacturing errors because they made parts themselves.

We call it EE Concierge. The Electrical Engineering Concierge Service. And we’re here to help you with any electrical engineering task that you need help with, starting with making your parts for you.

The big difference between this new product and other online part libraries is that you can trust it. When we started the parts concierge for Upverter users we decided that it wasn’t enough to just give people questionable data. No true professional would ever use a random part off the internet – they’d rather make it from scratch and be sure it was going to work. So for the parts concierge to work, we knew the parts had to be perfect – perfect attributes, symbol, footprint, pricing, and they would need to come with a 3D model.

It’s a very hard problem to convert PDF datasheets into CAD symbols, footprints, attributes, and 3D models reliably. Especially if people are involved. To address this, we built a massive distributed team of electrical engineers, and software to split up tasks and spread them around the world. These electrical engineers all work on the same parts together collaboratively using the Upverter toolset and our amazing crowd-sourced design rules. Their data is compared, and checked and improved to eventually produce a winner, or if a winner is not produced, we request more samples from more and more electrical engineers until we are confident the data is correct. We then pass all this data through a machine intelligence to verify if the part is correct. This is the only way you can reliably make the highest quality parts in huge volume and still trust that the data is correct. This is our first secret weapon. You can see an example of our quality by downloading our example library here.

We store all of this parts data in a common format that we’ve been developing over the years at Upverter. This common format is our second secret weapon. It allows us to build intelligent export configuration and translation tools so that the users of EE Concierge can configure their parts library to export in exactly the same style as parts they make internally. One of the first steps to using EE Concierge is to provide us with your internal hardware team style guide, so that we can help you setup your export to be exactly the same as the parts you make manually. You can see our Style Guide and all the many configuration options here.

Finally we’ve built a sophisticated pricing algorithm so that you get charged a fair price for every part you request through the concierge. We think it’s crazy to pay the same price for a resistor that you’d pay for a 2500 pin BGA. That’s why our algorithm is based on the complexity of the part – not one price to rule them all, not how long it took us to make it, or how many parts specialists needed to be involved, or anything like that. You pay an algorithmic, deterministic fair price based on the complexity of the part we made for you. Resistors are cheaper than BGAs, and parts that can be generated with our software are cheaper than non-standard connectors that we need to draw by hand. You can see example pricing on the pricing page of the EE Concierge site.

Our part concierge has grown considerably over the past 17 months. I thought some of you might be interested in some of our stats:

Requests per week:  301,  trending up
Part edits made by our Parts Specialists:  1,145,  trending down per request
Manual Intervention Required rate delivering parts:  4%,  trending down
Error rate in verified parts:  0.2%,  trending flat
Average cost of a request:  $34,  trending up
Mean Time between request and delivery:  21 hours,  trending down
Mode Time between request and delivery:  6 hours,  trending flat
Contract Parts Specialists working full-time for EE Concierge:  22+

Finally, I want to tell you about a special promotion we’re doing right now. For a limited time, if you sign up for EE Concierge we will give you an Example Library of parts worth more than $1500 and an additional $150 in request credit that you can use to request any parts that you want from the concierge – all for free. This is enough credit for 5 or more average sized parts, so you can truly test our capability, quality, performance, and turnaround time.

As always if you have any suggestions, feedback, or questions please comment here, or in the Upverter forum, or email me at zak@eeconcierge.com.

Whats Next at Upverter

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We’ve been a bit quiet for the past few months here at Upverter while we’ve been working on version 4. My apologies for that. We are alive and well. In fact the business side of Upverter is performing the best it has ever performed. Our key metrics are strong, we’re growing, and we’re (finally) making money.

Version 4 is finally, almost, just-about, ready to launch. You’ll see the first of the new features go live in the product this week, and then continue to trickle out over the coming weeks. If you’ve ever signed up for an account with an email address, or are on our mailing list, or follow the upverter forum we will notify you there too.

I’m pretty excited about all the new features, and some of the new super powers we’re giving engineers using Upverter. But I’m even more excited about a change we made in our thinking about a year ago. We decided that we couldn’t convert every engineer from using legacy desktop software like Cadence or Altium, into Upverter overnight. That it was going to take time. And that we needed to stop alienating these users and instead make it easier for them to participate in the Upverter community, and to benefit from the Upverter marketplace today. And so as part of the Upverter version 4 launch we will, also for the first time ever, release a set of plugins that give Upverter’s super powers to users of desktop ecad software. Now anyone can be an Upverter user, without needing to switch software.

Stay tuned! And sorry again for the silence.

Upverter customer, AXIS, lauches Indiegogo campaign

Upverter success story, AXIS, lauches Indiegogo campaign



AXIS launches Indiegogo for the AXIS Gear

In June, Upverter met with AXIS to discuss the success of their product development using the Upverter platform.  AXIS’ head product development engineer, Marc Bishara, praised Upverter for its attentiveness and support for their customers.  AXIS took advantage of Upverter’s unique cloud-based design to have design reviews of their board before production.

“This was my first fully functional PCB, so from the start we don’t necessarily have the expertise to be 100% confident of the things that we’re doing.  Getting a second set of eyes on the board, to see issues that would potentially mess up the board or impact our ability to run diagnostics on it after it was printed, was useful.  The design review is great.”

— Marc Bishara, Product Development Engineer, AXIS

You can read more about our customer success story with AXIS

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You can visit AXIS’ Indiegogo campaign

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Try Upverter yourself for free

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Wondering how other HW startups did it?

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“The discipline of building hardware at scale is not something you can easily learn at school, even at university. While the path (e.g. tools, knowledge base, peer community) to become a good software developer is readily available to all in this Internet age, this is not true yet for hardware development.” – Eric Klein (Lemnos Labs)

The explosion of hardware startups has left many aspiring entrepreneurs and hardware makers thirsting for knowledge on how to build and sell amazing products themselves.

We’re very excited to announce that several dozen hardware startup founders have graciously agreed to help answer your questions. They’re from companies like Fitbit, Whistle, Zen, Spark, The Orange Chef, Misfit and many more! They have experience with a variety of products including wearables, smart thermostats, trackers, and cameras. They’re happy to contribute their expertise on everything from crowdfunding, prototyping, design, manufacturing, business development and anything else you can think of!

To participate in the Hardware startup founder Q&A, please submit your questions HERE.

Share Hardware Projects without Screenshots or Dropbox

Let’s face it: uploading schematics from your EDA to a fileserver is pretty goofy. Maybe not as goofy as pasting screenshots, but goofy nonetheless.

If you’re sharing with something like Dropbox, everyone needs to have a compatible EDA to even view your design, and you have to muck around with privileges within your file server to make sure only the right people get access.

If you’re using screenshots, all hope is lost: nobody can zoom in; search is impossible; and good luck inspecting the attributes of anything.

Enter Upverter.

Whether you’re posting a design review on a forum, communicating with your manufacturer, or just showing off: Upverter gives you the power to truly share your design with anyone on any platform. When you grant access to a group or make a design public, you’re empowering colleagues and friends to make a difference.

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Designs shared on Upverter:

  • Are fully searchable. You can search for any reference designator, part number, net name, or issue in the entire design and navigate directly to it.
  • Are completely navigable. You can pan and zoom in on any part of either the schematic or PCB. No nasty screenshot pixels!
  • Can be cross-probed. Select anything on the schematic and slam tab: you’re magically transported to the layout-side representation of your selection.
  • Can evaluate design rules. If you just hand me a file from another EDA, I don’t share your constraint setup. On Upverter, anyone interacting with your design gets to see exactly the same design rule reports you see.
  • Can be annotated. With the right permissions, shared designs can be marked up with our Issues Management tools. Others can highlight a region on your schematic or PCB they think is a problem and start a discussion about it – without leaving the tool!

All accounts start with a 14-day trial, and we offer a community edition for unlimited non-commercial open source hardware designs free of charge.

Learn how to import from EagleAltium Designer, or OrCAD Capture.

To learn more about how Upverter can accelerate electronics design, watch our superpowers video:

Manufacturing with Upverter

Manufacturing with Upverter

Building the greatest EDA tool on the planet doesn’t just stop at our schematic capture and PCB layout editor. We know the importance of bridging the gap between an electrical design and that same idea in the physical world. There’s also a whole other phase of bringing up a design–probing, testing, debugging–that can only be done once you go past that daunting line of manufacturing.

To help you do this, Upverter comes well-equipped with a number of exporting options that will make the transition easy and error-free. You’ll find all of the downloadable file formats on your project’s page under the last tab, “Download Associated Files”:

Download Associated Files

Often times, all that your manufacturer needs are gerber files. Simply click on the download icon and get a neatly zipped up folder with all the appropriate gerber files corresponding to the PCB’s layer.

If you’re looking to have your PCB assembled, we provide pick-and-place files for just that! The Bill of Materials, generated as a CSV file, is also just a click away. If your manufacturer also wants the project’s schematic, you can either download a PNG or simply send them a link to the project–one of the many perks of being a tool that can be accessed through your browser!

In a recent IEEE Spectrum article on cloud-based EDA tools, Upverter was put to the test, from design to finished PCB: “As a test, I designed a small board for an overlay display system for a first-person video project I’m working on. I exported the manufacturing files and had it fabricated through OSH Park. And I was delighted to see that the three boards I received 12 days later for US $7 each came out just fine.” Needless to say, we passed the test!

So the next time you’re ready to make the jump, take a look at our exporting options and see how easy it is to get your idea from screen to life.

Upverter Ribbons

Upverter project pages are getting more and more popular these days, so why not tell the world about your open source projects and invite people to fork them? We’ve designed these ribbons below for you to overlay on your personal site.

How does it work?

Simply copy and paste the appropriate snippet into your blog/site’s HTML. Make sure to replace the URL field with your project page link URL instead of “LINK”. This imgur gallery contains all the URLs you need.

Feel free to customize your buttons! You can download the psd files here. You’ll also need to download the free font Lato.

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