a glimpse of the semiconductor shortage saga:

$0.90 component is gone, holding up our (relatively small) production of 300 units. component won't be restocked until 2023, if ever again. it's not quick/cheap for us to retool.

purchased parts we need from an overseas warehouse for $5/ea. after paying, were notified that the parts were 16 years old and corroded, but they had 1 year old stock which we could get if we paid the difference for $8/ea.

and i just paid.

welcome to the future.

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sadly i think the world will more or less return to normal in about two years.

i say sadly because "normal" is unsustainable but i expect capitalist logic will prevail--- recycling will not scale (it's great for individuals and small groups) and i'm skeptical of the effectiveness/reality of opening more factories.

(fyi our boardhouse is in poughkeepsie, NY, a couple hours away from our workshop)

what's more frustrating is every company making their own different solution for applications, so almost no IC's are pin-compatible yet alone protocol-compatible. think usb hubs, audio codecs, DACs/ADCs, power management (guhhh), battery chargers, LED drivers, and especially.... microcontrollers.

early CMOS tech (logic gates/etc) is way more sane: a bunch of different companies make pin-compatible OR gates, for example. there's a standard series of chips that are interoperable.

so designing something is the process of committing to a handful of companies and trusting they'll keep making your stupid-but-necessary little component.

the answer obviously is to stop making shit.

@tehn random question but if this $0.90 is something that is used in other machines could you imagine getting them sourced from a recycler would work for the type of small run you are doing? asking mainly cause I have always fantasized about the concept of a decentralized parts recycling coop/federation but never really thought it through enough.

@liaizon @tehn Somewhat related, @plgDavid made this excellent video about parts recycling:

It's not about generic components as much as it's about specific chips, but might be interesting to you as well.

@phooky @neauoire @tehn @plgDavid wow that worked way better then I ever would have imagined. I would probably have a big fan going to get all those fumes away from me. that is quite an impressive technique!

@liaizon @neauoire @tehn @plgDavid it's super fun! we didn't notice any significant fumes; solder liquifies but does not vaporize, and properly produced pcbs have very little residual flux. The biggest fume hazard would be if the plastic connectors started burning, but they're rated to withstand the temps of soldering in the first place. If you are worried about flux/other residue, you could just wash the board with dish soap first.

@liaizon @neauoire @tehn @plgDavid (although note that we tried this eight years ago; it may have smelled worse than I remember)

@tehn this is insane. I have so many things on back order from switches to SIP phones. I wonder where we are going to be in a year from now.

@tehn clearly the answer is 'teletype: classic', a stylish cabinet sized teletype module using transistors and saving it's memory to reel to reel tape!

@tehn yesss! But with an optional monochrome plasma display, or a mechanical flip-flap display...
I also propose Teletype: origins, which is a full on relay computer. With a built in mic so you can use the relay sounds as precission.

@tehn to be fair, the use cases for ICs in 1990 are very different (in particular, less specific) from the use cases in 2020, so I think its reasonable to assume that pin compatibility would get less common over time. on the other hand, id say the examples you listed (except microcontrollers) are probably some of the best candidates for pin-compatibility across the industry.

@jaxter184 i understand _why_ this happened, i just think it is a tragedy the same way web browsers and modern OS's are a tragedy.

i also don't believe we need thousands of microcontroller options--- any design you could conceivably implement on a huge subset of what's available. this is what we get from competition-focused market-driven rationale.

@tehn oh i see, i guess im approaching it from the wrong perspective; its certainly true that we dont need the huge variety of mcus that are available, and if hardware development were more focused on just a few of those variants, the pin compatibility issues probably wouldnt be as prevalent

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