Guerrilla engineering at its finest!
C-Lab mantras: (The ultimate unorderable list! Thanks to
everyone who has ever worked here.)
Call it like it is.
Timing is everything. Timing is
everything. Timing is everything.
Timing is everything.
Make everything run smoothly.
Why guess when you can know? Measure it.
Check the easy stuff first.
Fix the problem, not the blame.
If you have a better way, say so.
Planning is more efficient.
Give the customer what they need, as well as what they asked for.
It's worth doing right the first time. And faster.
Anything "free" is probably worth less than you paid.
Never miss a chance to put a smile on someone's face.
We can become expert at it before you can figure out we weren't already.
from Robert Heinlein:
"A good engineer is a fellow who can do for a nickel what any damn fool
can do for a dollar."
"One man's magic is another man's engineering."
"Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to
find easier ways to do something."
viewed with anything.
- "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an
invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet,
balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take
orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a
new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight
efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
C-Lab maintains state of the art labs and abilities in several
areas, including hard and software development, chemistry, physics,
information theory, and math. The bulk of what we do is product
development and instrumentation design for other companies. Much
of this work involves microprocessors and DSPs along with PC software
for both Windows and Linux. We have significant expertise in all
forms of electronic engineering, from low level analog to RF to of
course, computers of all kinds, and using all kinds of devices, even
vacuum tubes and custom transformers. Two of our electronics
engineers have 80 years combined experience between them, for
example. We have an in-house fast prototyping facility that
includes PC board manufacture, machining and many other types of
materials fabrication abilities. We can turn an idea around into
physical reality in mere hours.
We really enjoy working on multi-discipline sorts of things, as we
excel at them. We capitalize on the excessive specialization of
others by being specialists in lots of disparate arts and tying it all
together in new ways. We're renaissance folks here, synthesists as
well as general purpose from-scratch inventors who've learned how to
make it pay by being very effective at it.
Although we are always busy, we are also always looking for interesting
work. If you've got a strange or tough problem, we're the guys who
can and will solve it fast and economically for you, because that is how we have fun. On
the other hand, if you've got a need for some boring Windows
database/financial programming or a ring-0 opsys driver that needs to
workaround a badly flawed hardware design, be prepared to pay our
topmost rates in the unlikely event we'd even accept the job. That
is, unless you need us to teach you how to train MLFF neural nets on a
Linux cluster to mine your financial database, which then falls back
into the fun category. We can probably send you elsewhere for the
boring sort of things if you need that kind of help. Glad to be of
service, but we are already rich enough, and now concentrate on the
better things in life. 42, for those in the know. Fun jobs
go cheap, stupid ones buy the next few Ferraris -- if we want them,
which is not a foregone conclusion. We'd rather have fun.
One of our specialties is something we call Intuitive Systems Design,
for lack of a better term for it. Many times a consulting firm
such as ours is tasked with something that sounds more or less like
"solve my problem using my method" to which the polite response is "why
do you need us at all, then?". Often we can produce significant
savings in money and time by taking some unique approach to the problem
that a customer hadn't thought of -- yet. That's our core
expertise, seeing outside the normal boundaries. Sadly, we can't
tell you everything we do, as some of our customers prefer to claim
credit for what we've done for them, or have other security
considerations. That's fine with us, it's just part of the deal we
made with them -- or will make with you. But we often retain
non-exclusive rights to what some hold their noses and call
"intellectual property" so we can make it available to other customers
in general, in non-compete situations, at fire-sale prices. Just need a
tip? It's no skin off our noses. After all, the work's been
done already, and we are mainly interested in advancing the state of the
various arts. See some of the links on this page for a few
examples of what we can
say. Note that because of what we do, and who we often do it for,
this is mainly the very lowest-level stuff. Some is mainly to
share some worthwhile techniques with hobbyists and financially
challenged startups so they can become more interesting in their own
right. Hey, life is for fun. Especially after you have
enough fun-ds. Enjoy!
Inexpensive inert atmosphere UV curing
Solder reflow oven in a coffee can
Efficient backup generator for a
Some of our more recent customers have included:
Metavox (prosthetics for deaf persons, this page's background is a
segment of the board)
C&S Audio "The Woofer Tester"
"the Government" (various agencies)
But that's about all we can say about most of them. We can
provide references in private to many previous customers under our NDA
agreements -- after you sign one of ours, which is fairly gentle as
these things go. We do a lot of
repeat business. and like that model. But there's this little
problem with actually, truly, solving
a customer's problems -- they run out of them at some point and don't
need us anymore, they just need to get on with their core
business. We help this along, on purpose. It's what we do.
Soon to come:
Inexpensive vacuum system and accessories. We use cut 3 liter
wine bottles for bell jars, an inexpensive thermister based Pirani
guage, and other nifty tricks.
Fast response multi axis wind measurement device -- a servoed stick
gives instantaneous wind readings for micro ecology studies and
benchrest shooters. Patent pending.
Rants, and pages on things like hard realtime micro-RTOS design, hybrid signal processing, and
other informational stuff.
Oh, and if you're feeling generous and have a need to understand some
basics of DSP for audio, you could always buy Doug's book.
Search amazon.com for either
Doug Coulter or Digital Audio Processing. A really cool CD comes
with the book, with much totally "open source" code for DSP and some
very nifty user interface MFC-based code for Windows. This is
slightly obsolete, but if we only sell yet another 10k+ copies, we might
someday get our first royalty payment. Kind of like the
RIAA-musician setup in some ways. Don't get me started on that
one. The publisher has actually reported negative sales on
floor-planned books after saying this is impossible, and without
reporting the initial positive numbers. Go figure.
Links to suppliers and other helpful things
It Almost Worked Tales of woe,
some funny, some just informative.