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The folks at Antipasto are running an interesting contest to show why their sensor breakout boards are a useful idea. Whether you agree with all of their sentiments or not (the part about not needing to understand datasheets made me cringe), I think they have a good point about using the right tools to make your job easier:

There’s a point to this contest, and this is it:

Open Source Hardware and Physical Computing is done by people like me, DIY’ers who typically have day jobs, and do hobby projects at night and on weekends. I do my work in my own time, and I don’t have time to fiddle around with spec sheets for hours just to get a sensor up and running.

DIY projects live and die by the clock. I call it the Race Against the Physical Computing Clock. If there’s a portion of the project that takes too long, or is too complex, or requires me to read a 15 page PDF specification sheet in order to figure it out, the project will die.

Learning not to build everything myself has been a struggle for me, but has certainly paid off when it helps me finish a project that would otherwise languish on my already crowded shelves. What are your experiences? Do you roll all of your own circuit boards, or use prefabbed modules whenever possible?