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Winner Interview - Meet Kevin Yang and his D.I.Y LED VU Meter

by: Aug 12,2020 398 Views 0 Comments Posted in Activities

D.I.Y LED VU Meter PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest PCBWay PCB

PCBWay Team: “Could you please briefly introduce yourself?”

Kevin Yang: “Hello, PCBWay community. My name is Kevin Yang. I'm a rising freshmen self high school. And I guess to describe myself, find my electronics hobbyist. That's been just fiddling around with electronics for the last four years. And I just like playing around with Arduinos and then most of the time I prefer to just use bare transistor logic, resistors, capacitors. As well, I'm an AI and enthusiast and I like programming. ”


PCBWay Team: “ When did you start making and how did you learn the skill of PCB Design?”

Kevin Yang: “So I already said this, but I started making about four years ago. This was really like hobbyist type of making. So like fixing electronics here and there. And then over time I started to want to make my own designs for electronics. So that's how I started making PCB’s. And if there was an issue that came up while making the PCB, I just search up the issue on the internet and then try and find the problem. And then if I, if I can't find it, I guess it would just be like troubleshooting or something like that. But really, I don't know, cause I'm, I'm not in college yet, so I've never really been in an electronics class before. It's really just using the resources that I have, the internet specifically, such as YouTube or like online forums and then just learning from there. ”


PCBWay Team: “ When did you get involved in the maker movement? Do you remember what first drew your attention?”

Kevin Yang: “So I first got into the maker movement because there's so many resources that the maker movement has.Everything that's open source. Right. So I guess the thing that really drew me in was Arduino. So I just watched a video by GreatScott someone you may know, and he's a really big YouTuber. And then he had a video about how to learn Arduino.

Then I watched that video and I'm like really interested. So for my Christmas present, I asked my dad to buy me an Arduino kit and then that's what got me into learning electronics in general. I guess the maker movement has a lot of resources. So definitely that's like a big plus for just like learning electronics and being part of the maker movement and especially all the open source software and then the hardware out there. ”


PCBWay Team: “ How did you know about our 3rd PCB Design Contest? And what drove you to attend this contest?”

Kevin Yang: “I found out about PCBWAY’s PCB design contest just from just going onto PCB ways site, because I've already been making PCBs for, I think the last year now. So, and then, I guess PCB way is a pretty big company in the PCB space or at least for the maker PCB space and I was just on their site.

And I've already written up an article for the project that I made the, the DIY V U meter. And so I already had a pretty I guess technical article on it written for a, for a school project, that's not like, you know, why not just like send the the article over to to submissions and then miraculously, I got runner up for the, for the contest, which I think, like I'm quite surprised actually. I didn't think my project would go that far.

So, for the VU meter, the project really came out of the want that I've always had for VU meters, right. I've seen videos about them and they look, they look so cool, especially when you're playing music and they just go up and down with the music. So I've always wanted one. 

And so I’m just looking on eBay, and I realized, Oh, wow, these are kind of expensive. For a decent VU meter, it could be from like $50 to $70, which I think is just utterly outrageous. And so just, I think like six months ago, before the project I'm just looking around and reading articles. Then I found an article about op amps and making them into a comparator. And I was thinking, Oh, wow. I could probably make a VU meter to measure the, difference in voltage. And I was like, I think I can definitely do this. So that's really just how I started designing the schematic, which then became the PCB.”


PCBWay Team: “About your award-winning work, D.I.Y LED VU Meter, could you please tell us more details about it or the story behind? And why did you choose it as your entry?”

Kevin Yang: “The most exciting part of the process for making a project is definitely seeing everything start to compile together. Right. So having the PCB done and then ordering it and then actually seeing it in real life. So spending 24 plus hours working on this, just like this digital design. And then finally after, I don't know, like a month of hard work, you can finally see it in real life in flesh. Just like the PCB, which I think is just amazing, honestly. And then besides that, I think something else that excites me a lot is actually seeing everything fall into place and seeing it work right. Just like putting all this time and dedication, and then finally seeing all your hard work, just, just like working, I think that's like the most amazing part of electronics for me.”


PCBWay Team: “ In your opinion, what comes first - the exciting technology or the design idea?”

Kevin Yang: “In my opinion. I think it's a design idea comes before existing technology simply because like you gotta get creative, right? There's a lot of technologies out there and then you can easily easily build upon other people's technology. But for innovation specifically on trying to advance technology for the humankind, you gotta have ideas. Right. So just like sure, the existing technologies can give you inspiration, but definitely having an idea and then turning that into the design. I think that's the most important part of the process there. ”


PCBWay Team: “ What makes you different/ unique from other makers?”

Kevin Yang: “I guess what makes me different from other makers is quite frankly my age, right? So I'm 14 turning 15 next year. And then with this age, I guess I'm open to new ideas, right. I don't have this pre existing bias towards anything, et cetera. So that really helps with the creative process. Cause I'm still learning everything then just like taking it in. So I I'm, I'm willing to, I guess try stupid things. Right. to try things that others would believe as impossible. So I think that's really something that differentiates myself with other makers. And then I guess as well, since I'm a student money's a little tight for me. And so specifically for electronics tools that I have I've actually had to make them myself. Right. I can't afford those like keysight still let's go set up like $1,000 to $2,000. Right. That's like way over my head and budget. So specifically for my oscilloscope, I just bought a kid off of Amazon and then that really helped me learn how an oscilloscope works. And then also I guess for my benchtop power supply I tried converting an old old desktop PSU into one and that really helped me learn how a power supply works. Especially because I actually fried the the PSU, so I had to take it apart and then I had to troubleshoot everything. So that has definitely helped me a lot. Just getting into the into the game and then having to be a scrappy if you will with tools and the amount of resources that I have.”


PCBWay Team: “ How did you feel when you found that you were one of the winners?”

Kevin Yang: “Honestly, I, I felt really surprised seeing that I won an award and this was specifically because there were so many submissions. I remember two weeks, three weeks before, the deadline of everything, I was just going through the submissions on PCBWAY. And then I was just like, wow, there are so many good projects on there. I just felt like I could not compete against the others. I think there were like 300 plus projects I don't remember. And so just, if you calculate the probability for that. Right. So like I have less than one over 100 chance. I don't have the numbers right now, but, yeah. So I just think it's just; I feel so blessed. Even though I didn't win, like first, second or third I got runner up. I'm still really happy that I won cause like, I guess, like I didn't expect that I would win anything. To be honest.”


PCBWay Team: “What do you think is the most important inner traits to be a good PCB designer?”

Kevin Yang: “ I guess specifically for me, I was like, I don't know too many good PCB designers and I'm not as mature in the field. And I only have a year’s worth of design experience. But specifically for me, the trait that I guess helps me a lot in designing PCBs is this desire for it to look good. Right. So I remember I was watching a video about like how to design a good schematic. Right. And then the person said, I forget who I think you. It was a, that day from electro from EEEblog. But he said that schematics should be like a book. They should be clear and concise. Right. They should be designed so that others can easily read off of them.

And then I took that that idea, that ideology into to making PCBs. Right. So PCBs, even though they're all covered up in a case, right? No, one's going to see them. I still like deep down. I feel like you have to design them so that they look good. So specifically for me I like making my PCBs like symmetrical as possible cause I like symmetry. So if I have a component here, I try and align them perfectly so that they look nice. Right. And so that's definitely what I try and do. And then another trait that I have that I think helps out if a PCB design is like, I really like problem solving and specifically small problems. Right. So when routing a PCB, right. That, like I say, cause I don't really use our auto router.I think that's cheating. But when routing the traces for the PCB you come up with so many problems. Right. So if you run a wire this way, Oh, guess what? You can't run on the wire over it. Cause you're on the same layer. Right. So I guess like optimizing the PCB, such that you can run wires to, to every component while still keeping the trace length really short. It's definitely like some trait that that I have for like optimization. And so I think that's definitely helped me a lot. When designing PCBs.”


Link:

Winner List of PCBWay 3rd PCB Design Contest

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