I'm sitting at my desk holding a tasty little treat from SchmartBoard and saying to myself, "What a clever idea."
The picture below shows a 2x2-inch Universal Through-Hole and Surface Mount SchmartBoard sitting on my desk next to a quarter.
This board has an array of vias with through-hole pads on one side and surface-mount pads on the other, as illustrated below. As a result, it is ideal for prototyping with a mix of through-hole and surface-mount components.
Your knee-jerk reaction is that there's nothing special about this board, but you'd be wrong. Why else is it being snapped up like hotcakes? Designers are finding it extremely efficacious for their prototyping projects. To the best of my knowledge, no one else has done this before, and I'm always tremendously impressed when I see something that's so simple, elegant, and useful.
Have you visited the SchmartBoard website recently? It actually offers a wide variety of products, including -- I'm interested to note -- Arduino prototyping boards and shield kits. (See: It's Crunch Time for Me to Learn the Arduino.)
SchmartBoard also caters to people who want to know how to hand-solder surface mount (SMT) components but were too afraid to ask. As it says on its home page:
Are you an engineer, technician, educator, student or DIY hobbyist who has avoided utilizing SMT components? Those days are officially over, because with SchmartBoard practically anyone can hand solder SOIC, QFP, PLCC, QFN, BGA and discrete surface mount components.
Forget all of those difficult hand soldering techniques and special surface mount soldering tools. With SchmartBoard hand soldering surface mount components is even easier than hand soldering through hole. Instead of denying yourself the most current chip technology or paying a fortune for prototyping, you can now use todayís most advance chip technologies in your circuits.
Elsewhere on the site, the company says, "We can teach a 10 year old, who has never held a soldering iron, to hand solder a .4mm Pitch chip...flawlessly, in 1 minute."
All this may seem bold until you watch the company videos, a bunch of which appear on the Resources -- How To page. A very amusing and well-made introductory video is also worth a few minutes of anyone's time.
I know that my chum Duane Benson is going to be very interested in this site. (For all I know, he may already be a customer.) For one thing, he always has a bunch of great ideas for different ways to do things, and Neal Greenberg at SchmartBoard welcomes ideas for new products his company could offer.
Speaking of which, Greenberg would love to hear from you at neal.greenberg@SchmartBoard.com if you have any suggestions for products that would be useful for your own projects.