COVID restrictions mucked up the works for all sorts of businesses -- and especially those of us who provide engineering services related to real, physical widgets.
In an experiment to connect hardware engineers personally with more clients, we created Odd Engineer.
There, you can find a variety of hard-to-find physical product development pros. And access to them has never been simpler.
How To Do the Thing
Look in the Odd Engineer directory for a discipline you're looking for or search by keyword. Then, click on an individual engineer's profile to learn more about specific technologies and industries they have experience in.
Once you find the specific nerd you want feedback from, immediately book and pay for your appointment. When you click "Book Appointment" you'll be taken to a calendar of available slots you can choose from.
NDA's are optional, and if you have one, you can upload your signed copy at the time you book, too. Your engineer will email you if there are any questions on it.
All appointments go for up to 1 hour, but it's up to you to bring all your questions, data, CAD, spec sheets, etc. to fill up that time. To get the most out of your appointment, we advise you write out all the questions you want to ask and have data ready to show off and explain.
Remember, no matter what engineering guidance you're asking for, it's always best to provide a real life example of "what is good" and "what is bad". You'll get much more helpful feedback with images and samples demonstrating the specific issues you're asking about.
Not Ready for a Full-Length Optical Engineering Contract with Spire Starter?
Erin McDermott is one of the engineers available on Odd Engineer. So, if you need optical engineering guidance but aren't at a stage where you can invest in a full optical engineering project, you can still get advice by the hour from Erin. You can check out her profile here.
Are You a Freelance Engineer?
If you're interested in this marketplace platform from the other side - as an engineer who offers services, we have stuff there for you, too!
Check out the Resources for Engineers page.
There, you'll find:
Help Odd Engineer Survive Past the Pilot!
This experimental pilot program is slated to only last for 4 months - ending May 26, 2021. There are also a limited number of spots for engineers in this short run because we're building each profile out manually.
After that, if we prove that we can successfully connect more paying clients with engineers, we'll build a V2! It will be more automated, with fuller functionality and able to showcase way more engineers.
But for the pilot to be a success, lots of engineering teams - large and small - need to hear about this thing. So please spread the word! Let those engineers trying to do something outside their discipline know there are niche engineering pros that can make their lives a lot easier. And access to these nerds is as easy as can be!
Erin McDermott's talk at this year's Synopsys LightTools User Group meeting is hidden in the customer portal.
So, when we got a request from non-Synopsys customers to see it, we created a new video!
Director of Engineering, Erin M. McDermott, will be presenting at the Synopsys LightTools User Group Meeting on September 17th, 2020.
Erin's talk will cover some of the neat features available in LightTools which have been proven to BLOW HARDWARE STARTUP MINDS at Spire Starter.
Providing optical engineering as a consultant to startups and larger manufacturers is a different ballgame compared to working in-house!
For one thing, coming in with just weeks to find a rushed, emergency solution changes what is possible. When optical engineering exists in-house, or when outside consultants are involved in the development process earlier on, there's enough time to validate and measure materials, surface finishes, and sources, if needed. Still, with LightTools' powerful simulation capabilities, some hacks can be made here which still provide meaningful predictions that the other hardware engineers didn't know were possible.
For 2: a lot of companies that never interfaced with optical engineering before are surprised by things we optical engineers consider basic! One of those is stray light analysis. Imagine if you were a hardware engineer with a prototype emitting stray light, and you had no optical simulation software, and you were expected to find and eliminate the source. Seems next to impossible. But with optical simulations, finding sources of stray light appears to be MAGIC in comparison. And in LightTools, stray light analysis is a super-simplified process compared to doing this work in other software.
If you're a LightTools user, you can enroll in the webinar HERE.
Did you see the article on SolidSmack in which Spire Starter client, Core, was featured? Check it out if you're interested in learning the fascinating lessons they garnered the hard way. They built a hand-held device -- with some lovely lit elements -- which trains people to meditate more effectively and regularly.
Engineering dry electrodes, the surprising difficulties of working with real wood in mass production and millimeter-level ergonomics design were all discussed.
You can read the full article on SolidSmack here:
Or watch the video interviews here:
Spire Starter's Director of Optical Engineering, Erin McDermott, will be attending CES 2020 to cover tech news for SolidSmack.com. Have optics-related tech to show off at the show? Please get in touch! She'll be especially interested to check out your development.
Have a great show, everyone, and happy new year!
We're in beautiful Colorado for all of September 2019! So exciting to learn about the many emerging startups and tech happenings here.
Right now, we're finishing up at Denver Startup Week. Our schedule is filling up fast for free, in-person preliminary optical engineering consultations with companies in and around Denver for September 23rd - 27th . (Longmont, Greeley, Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs, Golden, Boulder, etc.)
If your company is in this area and you'd like us to visit, drop us a line to catch us before we leave!
Nichia just announced their new LED technology, the 2-in-1 tunable white LED. It will allow a range of color temperatures to be emitted from a single, small, LED package. Ok, but who cares? Optical engineers care! This development will allow us to design lighting in a more controlled way than ever before which can go from warm to cool-colored white light.
We don’t see literature yet on what the range is exactly, but to imagine the concept, think of your dining room lit by a candle-light kind of warm white, and then making that bluer until it’s that clinical, white-room kind of white you could do lab work under.
For the optical engineer (OE) to design this functionality into your lighting, we’d typically need to use at least 2 separate LEDs. The problem with that is it at least *doubles* the surface area of your fixture’s light source. OE’s need the *smallest emitting surface area possible* to get the most controlled light direction. Each groove in your reflector/lens/ film directing the light can only be aligned with 1 point on the LED - let’s say, the center point. Any ray NOT coming from the center, will ultimately not go precisely where you want it to. And the further from center, the farther from ideal that ray will fly, because physics.
But if the LED gets smaller, the light beam coming out can be tighter with light going more closely to right where you want it. Plus, the size of your optics can potentially be smaller which means the size of your overall fixture could potentially be smaller.
So, the smaller the light emitting surface, the more cool things OE’s can design! Way to go, Nichia.
We'll be in Seattle the last week of October to visit a few events and facilities and meet with people working on a HW projects involving optics. Spire Starter provides free preliminary optical engineering consultations to teach you what optical analysis and design can do for your specific project! Design, analysis, optimization, or system debugging if things all go wrong and you don't know where to turn: we can help with all of it!
Erin M. McDermott will be on hand at the Seattle VR: Demos & Experiences MeetUp October 25, 2018 to cover the event and Seattle VR community for SolidSmack.com
Here's the link to that MeetUp:
Be sure to say, "hi!" if you're there!
We'll also be visiting The Facility Makerspace at Edmonds Community College for another SolidSmack article and video.
If you won't be attending these events but still want to schedule a meeting with our optical engineers, get in touch via the CONTACT form on this site.
We received a request a while back to add some pretty weighty terms to our online glossary: MTF and OTF. Aka: modulation transfer function and optical transfer function.
After a lot of work trying to condense these definitions down into the most distilled, layman-friendly versions possible, we decided these guys needed their own articles, too!
For the quick glossary definition, you can find them alphabetically at:
For a longer, detailed explanation with pictures and a graph and everything (!) see this link:
The full article is still geared at someone with a beginner's understanding, not to worry. We worked hard at giving a thorough, but still easy-to-comprehend lesson with as little jargon as possible.
If anything is still unclear, or if you have comments or questions, please let us know! Or if there's anything else you'd like defined for laymen, hit us up. These articles and the glossary are open for continual improvement. You help make them better!
We just applied for the WomensNet Amber Grant! . . . because we strongly believe in playing every card you got . . . even if that card is simply being a woman-owned business. All the finger crossings you can lend would be greatly appreciated!
We'll find out the beginning of next month if we won the $1,000 monthly prize and if we qualify for an additional $9,000 at the end of the year!