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Hi everyone!  I would like to get some bids on an integrated circuit design.  Most of the hardware we are using is open source.  The system design includes 6 CCD, MCU,  Direct Memory Access,  GPS unit,  power regulation, clocks, accelerometers, compass, temperature, pressure, and SD card.  We have most everything bread boarded up.  We need an expert to look through the parts and reduce the BOM and produce gerber files for manufacture.   If your not interested but are familiar with pricing I would like to hear your opinion!

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Final cost and completion date will be at least double first estimate. ;)

That may well be true if the spec for the product changes during the design process, or it's not properly defined upfront. The key to keeping a job on time and budget, is to have already worked out exactly what's needed before you ask for a quote, and most importantly, don't change your mind afterwards. Ripping up work and doing it again is not free, and any question of the form "can you just...?" is likely to carry a substantial cost penalty.

A good engineer will ask plenty of questions about your project before asking for a quote. There's the obvious stuff like, what does it do, and which parts you've already decided you want to use. Then there's the less obvious stuff, like the environmental conditions it needs to withstand, the volume in which it will be produced, the regulatory requirements that it needs to meet, and the level of support you require (documentation, production testing, integration with other systems). You don't necessarily need to know all the answers straight away, but a good engineer will help you work them out before producing a quote.

Personally, I prefer not to get too involved in jobs where much of the design work has already been done by someone else. If I'm going to end up taking responsibility for whether or not the finished product actually works, I still need to do a thorough design review to spot any bugs. Doing this properly can take nearly the same amount of time as doing the design from scratch.

I clearly recall one job in which the schematics had already been drawn up by the customer but they were buggy, and despite my protests, I was specifically told to design the board 'as-is', bugs and all. So I did, and the board didn't work properly. Yours truly got the blame, of course, so now I tend to only quote on jobs which are of the form "we need a circuit to do X", rather than, "we have a prototype that does X but need it turning into a proper circuit".

Sounds like a job which is more than just checking the schematics. Putting off the shelve blocks together on a breadboard for a demonstrator is one thing but creating something which is reliable and doesn't rely on parts/sub assemblies which may or may not be available is a different story. I'd be interested but I'd go the same route as Andy: start with getting the requirements on paper and design a circuit which matches those requirements.

I agree. and we can discuss the full requirements off line.  We are an experimental physicist, Electrical Engineer, DevOps, Front end developer.  We have a very well defined system, and we will work with you the assure the clearest communication and requirements.  We have all designed circuits, but I am the only one to take a breadboard to a 4 layer PCB.  So I know more or less what we want.  I would be happy to discuss this project!   


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