Embrace the New, But Don’t Forget the Old

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We were trading stories of our first self-made PCBs in the secret underground Hackaday bunker, and a couple of the boards looked really good for first efforts. Of course there were mistakes and sub-optimal routing, but who among us never connects up the wrong signals or uses a bad footprint? What lead me to have a hacker “kids these days have it so easy” moment was that all of the boards were, of course, professionally fabbed with nice silkscreens. They all looked great.

What a glorious time to be starting down the hardware path! When I made my first PCB, the options were basically laying down tape, pulling out the etch resist pen, or paying a bazillion inflation-adjusted dollars for a rapid prototype board. This meant that the aspiring hacker also had to have a steady hand and be at least casually acquainted with a little chemistry. The ability to just send your files out to a PCB house means that the barrier to stepping up

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