Q: How does e-lab Digital Engineering ensure the confidentiality of my company’s designs?
Confidentiality is a primary concern for us. To begin with, our General Services Agreement, required to be in place for every design effort that we undertake, outlines our commitment to keep your product details confidential, and secures your rights in this matter. Information shared with eLab in the process of performing your design remains held in the strictest of confidence.
Q: We’re interested in outsourced electronics engineering, but are concerned about ownership of the final design. If we work with e-Lab on the design, are we obligated to have the product manufactured by e-Lab as well?
Absolutely not! Upon fulfillment of the design contract, all engineering files and copyrights belong to your company, and you are free to work with any contract assembler of your choosing, including eLab. We have many great clients who perform their own manufacturing both in the US and overseas, and we are happy to continue serving their design needs in an ongoing basis.
Q: Will you use a project timeline to enable clients to track progression of their design?
A project timeline, with measurable milestones, is the first item created for client review once the functionality goals are understood. Though only an estimate, the timeline provides a valuable tool for all parties to keep abreast of the current stage of development as well as to assess the effectiveness of our design efforts. Weekly billing correlates to project milestones so that any questions regarding the design can be addressed immediately, and any changes to design priorities can be integrated in a timely manner.
Q: Our in-house engineer is a fantastic microprocessor and analog circuitry designer, but we need a video circuit designed that is beyond his area of expertise. How can e-Lab help?
We’ll work with your engineer to create a video peripheral that meets his requirements, to which he can connect the microcontroller of his choosing and land on his PCB layout. We’ll make every effort to ensure his success, such that he will consider us a ‘tool in his toolbox’ for the next specialized application encountered.
Q: One of our products has firmware written by an engineer who is no longer with the company. We would like to make some enhancements to the product, but don’t know how to begin. How can e-Lab be of assistance?
This is actually a very common situation. Legacy firmware needs a modification, and the original author is no longer around. To assist, we’ll need to review the source code to understand its functionality and logic, as well as configure a compiler to translate our modifications into a programmable manufacturing file. Since there are dozens of microcontroller manufacturers, each with their own compilers, we may need to do some research to determine what compiler revision your original engineer used, or even update the software to a newer compiler revision. Once that’s done, it’s a matter of coding the new changes required, verifying performance, and creating the new programming file – giving you the new-found confidence that you have control over your product’s firmware once again!
Q: I’m an inventor, and have a great idea for a new product. Can you create one prototype for me to show to potential investors?
Creating one fully functional prototype involves as much design work as creating a million. The circuit must be designed, the board layout performed, and the microcontroller firmware written. We have found one successful path for the inventor to be that of a product mock-up, a non-functioning physical housing along with an explanation of final functionality for potential investors.
Q: We see that you are affiliated with several popular microcontroller and FPGA manufacturers. Will you perform a design based on vendor’s product outside this list?
Absolutely! We work with hundreds of component manufacturers, and have no agreements of exclusivity with any of them. If you have a strong preference toward a particular vendor, we’ll do our best to accommodate as we have many times in the past. We do keep good relationships with several of the leading microcontroller and FPGA manufacturers to maintain full familiarity with the advances in the semiconductor industry.
Q: Will my final design require FCC, CE, or UL testing and approval?
Testing and approval decisions are product specific. While FCC and CE electrical testing are mandatory for some products, UL may not be mandatory (although it may be a very good idea to attain it in some situations). E-Lab typically performs the electronic circuit design portion of product development, producing the PCB to be worked into the housing and other components of the final product as developed by the mechanical engineer. Because a product is tested in its complete form (not just the bare PCB outside the housing), it falls to the company wishing to produce the product to attain the appropriate testing certifications. If desired, e-Lab can be contracted to work as a liaison to the 3rd part test laboratories on behalf of your company.
Q: What is RoHS, and why is compliance important?
RoHS, also known as the Lead-Free Initiative, stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances. RoHS (or Directive 2002/95/EC) originated in the European Union and restricts the use of six hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products. All applicable products in the EU market after July 1, 2006 must pass RoHS compliance. RoHS impacts the entire electronics industry. e-Lab complies with the RoHS initiative by designing only with RoHS-compliant components and utilizing lead-free printed circuit boards and soldering methods.