Interview with Wayne Stambaugh about KiCad Electronics Development Application (EDA) – Part 2

Last time, Wayne shared with us some of his interests in life and his passion about electronics. He made me contemplate how far we have come in the embedded space and gave me a lot of hope for the future. For those nerds out there who think only about technology, Wayne makes you aspire to go on some golf outings or go out and at least sit on your bike for the fresh air. Wayne also brought up in our previous post that he started on the mechanical side, then became interested in the electrical. I myself remember this being the case when I was young, mostly because I didn’t understand electronics yet, and it was VERY hard to put electronics back together once you got them apart. How about the rest of you out there: where and how did you get started in electronics?

In Part 2 of this three-part series, we’ll explore with Wayne his thoughts on open source coding and teamwork.

JP (Jeremy Purcell): What drives you in the open source world?

WS (Wayne Stambaugh): The need to scratch my own itch and the desire to give back to the open source community are my prime motivators. Almost from the time I began using open source software (1996), I realized that it was a superior development model. I started hacking on KiCad when I got tired of dealing with some of the less-than-stellar EDA tools I was using at the time. I had been using open source software for quite a few years by that time and I was looking for a project where I could contribute and make a difference. KiCad seemed like a good fit. Who knew it would lead me to where I am now?

JP: What would make the open source world better?

WS: It would be useful if there was less duplication of effort, but I doubt that issue will ever completely go away since open source is still very much a scratch-your-own-itch endeavor. I could also live without some of the silly arguments and unnecessary hostility that happens from time to time. It’s always a time sink that I have yet to see produce anything of value.

JP: What’s your favorite MCU?

WS: It depends on the application. For small jobs that don’t require a lot of power, I’ve always been fond of the 8-bit Atmel products. For applications that require more power, it’s really hard to beat some of the new ARM stuff out there.

JP: What are your favorite hardware tools that you use?

WS: Way back when, any piece of HP test equipment was the gold standard. Their logic analyzers were some of the best. Probably one of the coolest pieces of hardware I’ve used was a Teredyne L210 in-circuit tester. It was an emitter-collector logic (ECL) beast with 00 cables coming out of the power supplies. Even in the mid to late ’80s, if I recall, this thing could place clock edges to less than 20pS.

JP: How important is a cohesive team when it comes to getting KiCad releases out?

WS: It is very important. You have to have buy-in from all of the lead developers so they stay on task. It’s very easy to start working on the next great feature and push off bug fixing and polishing required to get a stable release out the door. It also takes a big effort by package developers, library developers, documentation writers, and translators to get everything ready for a stable release. For a project that is as big as KiCad, it’s a far bigger task than most people realize.

In Part 1, we talked with Wayne about how he got interested in electronics and coding. In Part 3, we’ll take a deeper dive with Wayne on the actual KiCad electronics development application. Stay tuned!

About the Author

Image of Jeremy Purcell

Jeremy Purcell is the Program Manager for Digital Design Tools and is responsible for engaging tool providers and developing the strategy on design assets. He joined Digi-Key in 2006 and has worked as a Senior Applications Engineer on several campaigns around information sharing with the customer base and customer engagement inside the business. Jeremy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. He enjoys spending a couple of weeks each summer tinkering and running steam traction engines and the rest of the year thinking about them.

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