This sad FACE FRAME! documents the moment Ian found out Dirty PCBs hit Hacker News, Hack a Day, etc. Here’s the story behind our joke PCB site…
A few months ago there were some comments in the forum about various PCB services making ‘crap’ $0.90 boards. Later we posted a picture of our own $0.20 PCB on the blog and the first comment was ‘silkscreen sucks’. It became an inside joke around here because a few years ago we were all more than happy to pay Olimex $100 for a tiny PCB with no silk…but now people complain about minor things like a smudged silkscreen on twenty cent PCB.
In the forum we joked about about starting a PCB site intended to be crappy: “Dirty Cheap Dirty Boards”. One of our team members, who shall remain nameless, took the joke way too far and made an actual PCB website based on that joke. The site promises cheap and bad PCBs. We used it internally to handle our PCBs, and let a few forum contributors place orders too – easier than doing it all manually.
Here we are, eating hot pot dinner on the street of Shenzhen with the rump end of the hacker camp crew enjoying a Tsing Tao. Phones buzz – order notification. Phones buzz more. And again, and again. Then someone from the HAX group delivers the terrifying news – our little inside joke is on Hacker News. Then it pops up on Hack a Day too.
We hit the comments to say it was a joke and flame the trolls who dissed our flippant attitude (you like it dirty and you’re back for more), but the damage was done.
However, Dirty PCBs wasn’t entirely a joke. The platform combines all of our ideas for a ‘no nonsense’ online ordering platform. No stupid logins with yet another password to remember, no login to get order status, obscene amounts of status updates (email, SMS, Twitter), and a single step ordering process with flat predictable pricing.
The Dirty Platform is used in two new projects we’re launching. The first is Dirty Circuits – a schematic entry, PCB routing, and footprint building service for open hardware that’s open now. It’s been available privately to some select projects for a while and has been a great success. Soon, we’ll add Dirty Cables, a way to create custom designed cables from quantity 100. That’s not the end of the Dirty world either, we’ve got more new projects launching soon, all with the goal to help make more and better open source hardware.