I work with a guy who routinely lifts whole sections from a dev-board pcb layout and places it into his own design. Lets call him Sparky. You think Sparky is gonna calculate values for the discretes surrounding that maxim boost converter?  Heck no! Not if he can help it. Sparky is all about easy street. Now that I think about it, I think something traumatic happened to Sparky involving addition and subtraction…. maybe in college, maybe addition was driving…I can only speculate.

It’s off-the-shelf brains and muscle.

At my current place of employment, there is a very large and very expensive test rig that is built almost entirely out of dev-boards and SBCs (single board computers). I would give you more deets, but I can’t. The specifics of this machine are super secret. Also, it seems that because, for so many years, waves of engineers have been modifying and maintaining these fixtures, it is almost certainly impossible for me to explain it anyway. In fact, this thing is such a Gordian knot of overlapping and recursive tech that no one man could hope to keep and know all of it’s secrets within the compass of his mind!

That said, in my professional experience, it would be extremely unlikely that a dev-board would be shoe-horned into an actual product. It wouldn’t be cost effective, unless this hypothetical product was made in very low quantities and sold with a considerable margin. I am sure it has been done somewhere, but I have never done it.

  • Upper left: chipkit-pi (link)
  • Middle left: Raspberry-pi (link)
  • Lower left: PIC16F877 (link)
  • Bottom middle: PIC18F252 programmer/dev-board if you try hard enough (link)
  • Bottom right: A Maxim MAX668/9 Step-Up controller (link)
  • Upper right: Olimex PIC-P40 with a PIC18F4331 plugged into it (link)
  • Middle: an old, 68HC11, I couldn’t get this running if I tried, I lost all the cables for it. You would think I would recycle it. But i’m not gonna. It has sentimental value. It is my first dev-board. It was issued to me in college and I first learned to program assembly on it. (link)

This is just a sampling of my dev-boards. If you look closely, you will draw some conclusions. I like dev/eval boards…and PICs. I have more boards, a lot more, but I think this pic gets my point across. Dev-boards are handy. They are invaluable. Why, why I ask, would I purchase a chip just to get it, design, and then construct on breadboard or PCB the network of discrete components just to get said chip to function, when I can just buy the dev-board.

Dev-boards leap-frog development. Like I touched on in previous paragraphs. When you get a dev-board and plug it in, it already works! (ideally) Like my co-worker, just lift the dev-board circuit and import it into your own. You have now saved time and effort by just using what you know already works. I have seen this backfire, but that is a story for another day.


The one-man ace engineering wrecking crew - If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find me, maybe you can hire... the Cabe-team.