Author Topic: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.  (Read 5853 times)

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Offline rx8pilot

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This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« on: July 18, 2021, 11:48:21 pm »
I love electronics and do it for fun and for a living.

The sad part is that the current state of the supply chain is so draining that I am dreading any electronics work. Of the three major professional projects I have been working on for over a year - all on indefinite hold. At first I tried part substitutions. Then altering the design based on parts I could get. At some point, I just figured that I was chasing my tail with zero guarantee production quantities. Kills the bottom line and destroys my interest.

How many small businesses are turning into dust with these problems?

Anyone looking for a career change right now?
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Offline pqass

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2021, 12:33:32 am »
Don't be too hasty on that career change.  The current situation won't last; another year at most?

Professionally, yeah, you have a short-term problem. 
Can you split your design such that a daughter board has the more volatile components? 
It might cost you an extra connector pair but gives you the opportunity to solidify most of your design.

I'm only a hobbyist so my lack of supply really doesn't matter.  I'll just buy a few new parts (whatever I can get) and experiment with those.  For example, I just bought a few ESP32-VROOM boards for my USBBluetooth keyboard design.
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2021, 12:49:04 am »
Don't be too hasty on that career change.  The current situation won't last; another year at most?

If I 100% relied on electronics, I would not last a year of not selling anything. It has already been months that I have not been able to build anything new. A small handful of products are being delivered from the remaining stock of parts.

I do have the ability to pursue some projects that are purely mechanical, but it will take a few months to get any of those to where I can sell them (at least). Definitely do NOT want a career change but this kind of pain is getting intense.
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Offline georges80

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2021, 12:56:29 am »
Use the time to dream up new designs and hunt for new projects/customers. It's also a time to rethink life choices and future goals. Potentially it is also an opportunity to think of new niche areas that are safe havens. Take some time to also study and learn about new products and technologies.

It's not just the component supply problem, even when components are available the prices continue to creep up. Some components I use have nearly doubled in cost.

And yes, redesign for available components can be a losing battle as others do the same and those available components disappear overnight. I've seen that happen a few times.

We're going to see some killer inflation over the next year or so.

cheers,
george.
 

Offline pqass

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2021, 01:13:03 am »
Don't be too hasty on that career change.  The current situation won't last; another year at most?

If I 100% relied on electronics, I would not last a year of not selling anything. It has already been months that I have not been able to build anything new. A small handful of products are being delivered from the remaining stock of parts.

I do have the ability to pursue some projects that are purely mechanical, but it will take a few months to get any of those to where I can sell them (at least). Definitely do NOT want a career change but this kind of pain is getting intense.

I thought you meant a more permanent career change.

If you can't sell anything because of lack of supply, then you might have to (figuratively) sweep floors for a few months to get by.

Do what artists are doing. Can't play gigs so write songs in the meantime.
ie. Buy small quantities and finalize your design now then go into production when quantities are available. 

If you're a contract designer, then convey same to your clients.  Everyone is the same boat WRT shortages.  I'm sure the need for your product will still be there when supply returns.
 

Offline AaronLee

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2021, 02:10:02 am »
I hear you in how the situation can be depressing. In my experience, I've always found it best to use dead time to learn about new technologies and things I've always wanted to study about but never had time. Then when things pick up again, you have some new abilities to be able to do even more.
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2021, 03:54:58 am »
Electronics as a hobby is outrageously fun  :D
On the corporate treadmill, it's not worth it as a career now. The component shortages have tripled the amount of work and stress.
You are constantly getting disrupted by people barging in, there's some part that cannot be procured "can you find an alternate?". Drop everything and panic, do instant re-design and "oh keep up the schedule" on everything else you are working on.

I design-in a (passive) part 10,000's in stock at disti's and then someone swoops in and scoops up all the stock, now 40 week lead-time. Hoarding is lucrative right now, the scalpers load up on parts and sell for massive overprice and are adding to the shortages. Just bought MCU's at 10X the old price. Small business has no choice but to pay, to have some product to sell, to keep manufacturing busy.

Some engineers are frustrated, angry and stressed from the constant blind-siding. You have to look after yourself and don't be a saviour for the company. In the lock-downs, hours were cut, and staff let go, so even less support now.
Supply Chain can't find alternates, can't get management to approve spending money for stock,  can't get parts any better than me using my Visa card and a web order. They are of no help. Change career to Supply Chain, they don't actually do anything and get paid for it lol.

So I agree it's no fun anymore and I'm avoiding any new projects because things are so unpredictable right now. Late stage, going into regulatory testing, a part vanishes and it's another new panic that blows up the project.

I suspect the shortages are actually a trade war with our favorite country and it won't ease up like we all think.
 
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Offline VK3DRB

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2021, 02:17:36 pm »
I also have had thoughts of chucking it in, or as the Americans would say, throwing in the towel. I have had enough of designing in parts that are no longer available. Yes, it triples the stress. Customers want results, not excuses. The biggest root cause of this mess by far is the insidious China virus.

Think of control theory. A relatively stable supply chain system has been directly impacted in a significant manner by external disturbances, creating medium term instability. Negative feedback loops will drive it into stability again. The system will change and adapt. The West will move manufacturing away from countries run by tyrannical regimes, and away from regions prone to devastating environmental impacts. The West will come out of this triumphantly in a few years. Already the West is looking for alternative sources of rear earth metals. The other lesson learnt is some once trusted name companies can no longer be trusted, like Bosch who have treated the engineering community quite poorly. Engineers will gravitate to companies that have a record of being reliable suppliers and treat engineers with due respect.

Hobbyists have it easy. They don't get their arses kicked when they can't get parts. They can switch to 3D printing or gardening. Being a hobbyist sounds a lot more attractive than being as meat-in-the-sandwich engineer.
 

Offline Marco

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2021, 02:27:19 pm »
US and EU should get together and just ban offering for sale or buying parts for more than 2 times the pre-covid prices.
 

Offline themadhippy

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2021, 02:41:36 pm »
Quote
US and EU should get together and just ban offering for sale or buying parts for more than 2 times the pre-covid prices.
remember its a 2 way street,so would you also accept  banning the  sellling surplus stock for less than half the price
 

Offline Marco

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2021, 02:46:22 pm »
No, because this would just be a temporary intervention to calm the market and prevent hoarding. Stock being dumped is very unlikely to create any economic problems at the moment.

Price controls have their own issues, but I'd consider it the lesser evil for the moment.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2021, 02:47:56 pm by Marco »
 

Online nctnico

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2021, 03:20:40 pm »
I hear you in how the situation can be depressing. In my experience, I've always found it best to use dead time to learn about new technologies and things I've always wanted to study about but never had time. Then when things pick up again, you have some new abilities to be able to do even more.
Yup. That is what I'm doing right now. Surprisingly parts for a new project I'm working on are still availble  :-+
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Offline m98

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2021, 05:09:32 pm »
Even worse if you beg your client to actually stock up the parts used for one production run in advance and he insists on waiting for compliance testing and all firmware bugs getting ironed out first, with the result of a quarter of the parts becoming unobtanium in the mean time and me having to redesign everything...
 :scared:
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2021, 05:31:19 pm »
I love electronics and do it for fun and for a living.

The sad part is that the current state of the supply chain is so draining that I am dreading any electronics work. Of the three major professional projects I have been working on for over a year - all on indefinite hold. At first I tried part substitutions. Then altering the design based on parts I could get. At some point, I just figured that I was chasing my tail with zero guarantee production quantities. Kills the bottom line and destroys my interest.

How many small businesses are turning into dust with these problems?

Anyone looking for a career change right now?

It's currently bad for many of us.
As others here, I would certainly not suggest any career change. That's a decision that you would need to make for yourself with your own rationale only, and for other reasons than just a temporary difficulty (even though at this point I cant tell how temporary it's going to be really...)

Of course, one option (if you can "afford" that in terms of finances) is to focus on longer-term projects. If you can't get ahold of many parts these days, you can still design. So you could embark on this project that maybe you had always postponed because you had no time, it was less certain than others, etc. You could also focus on parts that are not hardware-dependent (at least to an extent), such as firmware development, HDL, etc. If those are not strong points of yours, maybe you could take this time as an opportunity to learn.
 

Online langwadt

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2021, 07:09:20 pm »
We're going to see some killer inflation over the next year or so.

If you think so run out and borrow as much money as you can, the interest rate at the moment is basically zero
 

Offline tszaboo

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2021, 08:56:47 pm »
I love electronics and do it for fun and for a living.

The sad part is that the current state of the supply chain is so draining that I am dreading any electronics work. Of the three major professional projects I have been working on for over a year - all on indefinite hold. At first I tried part substitutions. Then altering the design based on parts I could get. At some point, I just figured that I was chasing my tail with zero guarantee production quantities. Kills the bottom line and destroys my interest.

How many small businesses are turning into dust with these problems?

Anyone looking for a career change right now?
Yeah I thought about farming, but then weather can mess up your business. Then I thought about fishing, but sometimes the fish are just not where you are. Then I though about making Youtube channel, but sometime the algorithm will bury you. Then I though about trading on the stock market, but then maybe the bear markets eat your profit. Then I thought about opening a shop, but then pandemic could be bad, or people's interest might just change. Then I though about going into crypto trading, but then Elon Muck ruins you with a tweet. Then I though about joining the army, but then a stray bullet might be bad for your future income. I tough about going about writing an app, but then 12 new versions of Android came out befor I made it compatible with one. And apple might decide to pull the app, without giving a reason.

Sure this electronics is actually not that bad.
 
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Offline Bassman59

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2021, 09:22:40 pm »
Anyone looking for a career change right now?

The only other thing I can do for income is front-of-house mixing for rock bands.

Talk about an industry that was killed dead.

(I have a couple of shows scheduled for November. Maybe we'll actually do them.)
 

Online langwadt

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2021, 09:49:45 pm »
Anyone looking for a career change right now?

The only other thing I can do for income is front-of-house mixing for rock bands.

Talk about an industry that was killed dead.

(I have a couple of shows scheduled for November. Maybe we'll actually do them.)

I'd expect that industry to boom soon, people have 1.5year of build up hunger for concerts

 

Online peter-h

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2021, 10:26:52 pm »
Several threads on this topic recently.

I reckon this bubble will burst end of 2021, and it will be a bloodbath for the vendors.

Supporting evidence for this

- no shortage of most passives (so no unusual demand for real end products)
- some "2022" lead times being revised to much sooner (just got one today)

So hang in there. And if it is your business, carry a year's stock whenever possible. I carry several years' stock of an H8/332 - now obsolete of course. I bought lots when the last time buy came.
Z80 Z180 Z280 Z8 S8 8031 8051 H8/300 H8/500 80x86 90S1200 32F417
 

Offline Bud

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2021, 10:51:08 pm »
Please quit electronics and move to baking pizza, which has always been in demand. Clearly Keysight awarded a scope to a wrong guy.
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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2021, 11:19:29 pm »
Anyone looking for a career change right now?

The only other thing I can do for income is front-of-house mixing for rock bands.

Talk about an industry that was killed dead.

(I have a couple of shows scheduled for November. Maybe we'll actually do them.)

I'd expect that industry to boom soon, people have 1.5year of build up hunger for concerts

I'd be "cautious" about the "soon" here.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2021, 12:52:17 am »
- some "2022" lead times being revised to much sooner (just got one today)
Yes, this blip is into the unstable phase as people who booked in long term orders (worried that supply restrictions would drag on) are now cancelling and the product arrives back into the open market. Same experience here with several parts I was watching for late 2022 are now in stock and available normally.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2021, 01:38:15 am »
One of the problems is that designers and manufacturers are snapping up all the stock they can get thier hands on. JIT (Just In Time) methodology has gone out the window.
This mean you are forced to do the same, and very quickly there is nothing left. It's a self perpetuating guarantee. It's equivalent to the great toilet paper rushes of 2020.

This too shall pass:
 
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Offline rx8pilot

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2021, 04:23:05 am »
One of the problems is that designers and manufacturers are snapping up all the stock they can get thier hands on. JIT (Just In Time) methodology has gone out the window.
This mean you are forced to do the same, and very quickly there is nothing left.

The places where I got busted is getting through a design, proto, and test so that I can order a production supply of parts. I didn't feel like I could rough-in a schematic and then just buy a years worth of parts against it.

I am not giving up on electronics, but actively pursuing some of my mechanical product concepts to buy myself some time. Not sure how well that will work out, but it sure beats just staring at empty part bins and a pick-and-place machine with cobwebs on it.  :scared:

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Offline AndyC_772

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Re: This isn't fun anymore. All my projects are on hold.
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2021, 08:48:49 am »
I'd expect that industry to boom soon, people have 1.5year of build up hunger for concerts

You'd think so, but I'm not so sure it's the case in practice.

Here in the UK the cinemas reopened a few weeks ago and my local multiplex had its first showing of a repeatedly delayed Hollywood blockbuster. You'd think there would have been pent up demand, but I went along on the first day and there were no more than about 20 people in a theatre with more than 10 times that capacity. It was a pretty surreal experience.

The concerts I know of aren't selling out either. There's still tickets available for a festival I'm going to in September which should have taken place early last year and has been deferred twice now.


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