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Lo-tech: An Update / What's happening with Lo-tech

pearce_jj

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Lo-tech has been running since about 2012 providing PCBs and a few components mostly to the likes of vcfed members, and it's evolving.

I'm moving the brand to a partner based model, meaning a small number of approved partners will be able to offer Lo-tech products, either as bare boards or, for the first time, as finished products ready-to-go.

This is an exciting time as this will make it much easier to buy Lo-tech products and will free up time to work on PCB development, something that has become increasingly difficult for me in the last year or so.

This change is happening now! Please stay tuned for updates.

Also, thank you to everybody that has supported Lo-tech over the years and made the whole thing possible. If you are interested in working with Lo-tech as a partner or as a designer, please get in touch via the contact form on the site.
 

Kevin Williams

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TexElec.com coming soon to sell Lo-Tech and other boards

TexElec.com coming soon to sell Lo-Tech and other boards

Hello Everyone!

Thanks so much to James for allowing us to setup a United States-based site to carry Lo-Tech products! I look forward to working with you, and thanks again for the opportunity to do so. We are currently setting up our website, and hope to have it available in a month or less. We plan to start off carrying the 1MB XT RAM board, the 2MB EMS board, the MIF-IPC Clone board, the ISA ROM board and of course the ISA CompactFlash IDE board. We just ordered a low-volume of boards to test a PCB manufacturer, and will get those listed on our launch if they pass quality control tests. If the boards work out well, we will place another larger order within the month and hope to restock within 3 weeks of running out of a given board from there on. Our intention is to sell fully assembled boards as well as bare PCBs, if you would prefer to assemble them yourself.

We have sold over 150 Assembled Lo-Tech boards on eBay in the last two years under the store name TexElec. We have the domain http://TexElec.com registered and it will be hosting our store soon. Over time, we intend to offer more boards as interest is expressed, and carry other popular boards and items as we find them.

I will post back here once it is live and we really look forward to working with VCF community!

Thanks so much!
-Kevin Williams
TexElec
 

pearce_jj

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The quality of Kevin's work is also excellent (ability to supply quality is really my main criteria).
 

glitch

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Any chance we'll start seeing these boards with selective hard gold edge connectors, rather than ENIG?
 

Kevin Williams

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Any chance we'll start seeing these boards with selective hard gold edge connectors, rather than ENIG?

The price difference looks pretty steep for the boards. I understand the appeal, especially with vintage PCs, but I suspect the demand would still be pretty low for the cost. We'll assess interest on this as time goes on, I'm certainly happy to consider any possibilities.

Thanks!
-Kevin
 

glitch

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The price difference looks pretty steep for the boards. I understand the appeal, especially with vintage PCs, but I suspect the demand would still be pretty low for the cost. We'll assess interest on this as time goes on, I'm certainly happy to consider any possibilities.

Thanks!
-Kevin

Yet we manage with the XT-IDE rev 3, XT-IDE rev 4, and the little Apple II protoboards :) Yes, it's more expensive, but if you're pushing quality, ENIG is no substitute. It's not a matter of interest, it's the way you make edge connectors that'll last.
 

pearce_jj

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In my experience it only starts to cost in at quantities of 250 or so, which really precludes most of these boards. That said the rev.3 ISA CompactFlash were hard gold, but I've never had a complaint or issue about any of the ENIG boards.
 

Kevin Williams

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Hello Again. I did run 10 boards of each using HASL for now just to make sure we don't have any production problems. Much to my surprise, the boards came in already and look pretty good. The HASL boards do contain lead, so they will only be available in the USA initially. I plan on doing a larger run with ENIG next time around for now. I personally like the HASL boards myself over ENIG, but they probably won't be around too much longer.

I will have 5 assembled and 5 raw boards each for a soft launch of the site to work out the bugs. After I get a few built and tested, I will place another order. Hopefully by the time the second-round comes in, we will be ready for the official launch a few days after we get a few of those built.

We're moving along!
Take care,
Kevin
 

pearce_jj

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Good to hear things are progressing Kevin.

I'm quite proud to announce that Lo-tech is now powering part of BT's recording studio. BT is an American musician widely credited as a pioneer of trance and intelligent dance styles. BT posted this on Instagram yesterday: https://www.instagram.com/p/BYjVL9FgddC/
 

glitch

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Hello Again. I did run 10 boards of each using HASL for now just to make sure we don't have any production problems. Much to my surprise, the boards came in already and look pretty good. The HASL boards do contain lead, so they will only be available in the USA initially. I plan on doing a larger run with ENIG next time around for now. I personally like the HASL boards myself over ENIG, but they probably won't be around too much longer.

One of the benefits of selective hard gold is that you get to keep the HASL finish on the rest of the board, which does indeed make soldering nicer. HASL on an edge connecto wears in pretty fast though, and the solder dust goes somewhere, mostly into the ISA slot. My prototypes are of course HASL edge connectors, but those don't get sold to people. Just used for prototyping and sometimes experimentation (I cut them up for the Slot 8 Support tests, since they're not good for much else).

Of course, if you're ordering in QTY 10 for "production" runs, you'll never get the cost down on selective hard gold plating. I doubt very many shops would even want to do selective hard gold on an order that small.
 

dr.zeissler

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New devices as "ready-to-go" would be also nice. (e.g. XT-IDE combinded with an EGA/VGA or an Adlib/Clone.)
 

pearce_jj

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Those kinds of cards would be a tremendous amount of design effort. Kevin is though intending to offer assembled boards.
 

Kevin Williams

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Hello Everyone,

We're a week or so behind, but we're getting close to our soft-launch date. We will only have only a few boards of each in stock to start and I will be placing an order for more shortly after we get rolling and get the bugs worked out. The first batch will be HASL boards. Personally, I like these myself as they seem bullet-proof, but with the global lead restrictions, I will be using ENIG long-term. Just be aware on the first batch we will likely sell to the USA only, just to make sure we aren't sending lead to a location which has a restriction.

Take care everyone, and thanks!
-Kevin
 

glitch

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I'd just like to raise concern again that HASL is totally inappropriate for the edge connector on a production board. You're likely leading people down a long-term maintenance headache. There's a reason HASL boards have a solderability shelf life, and the same oxidization that builds up on the solder, making it difficult to solder without an extremely aggressive flux, will build up and cause intermittent or failed contact in the ISA edge connector. ENIG is better than HASL, but not a whole lot -- since it's so thin (a few atoms of gold) you quickly end up down to the nickel underplating, and then down to the copper, both of which oxidize and create higher resistance connections.
 

Kevin Williams

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Hello Everyone,

The site is up! We are live for orders and are working on new products to add right now. If anyone has anything they would like to see, please let me know. We have a DIY reflow oven, and are able to build decent SMD boards, as long as they're not too fine-pitch. Come check us out @ https://TexElec.com.

We will have a very limited supply of most items in stock right now, but will get more added as we build some traffic.

Have a great evening everyone.
-Kevin
 

Kevin Williams

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Hi Again Everyone,

We sold out of our TI-99/4a joystick adaptors, so we placed another PCB order. So, we ordered a round of the CompactFlash adapters in ENIG. Should be in stock in about 3 weeks, or less. We are waiting to sell the other boards to order more, but it should be pretty soon.

Thanks everyone!
-Kevin Williams
https://texelec.com
 

jltursan

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Sorry to bump this thread but I would like to know if finally the Lo-Tech products are being marketed from Europe or TexElec in USA are the only providers?
 

Malc

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Not that i'm aware of, It's just TexElec these days, Why ? beats me.
 
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