February 15, 2023

Flux Public Launch Announcement

Screenshot of the Flux app showing a PCB in 3D mode with collaborative cursors, a comment thread pinned on the canvas, and live pricing and availability for a part on the board.

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Flux Public Launch Announcement

Hey everyone! We’re incredibly excited to announce that we have decided to open up Flux and move out of private beta! What does this mean? If you’re a current user of Flux - nothing will change for you. For new users, this means that we’re now allowing anyone and their team to signup! Exiting the private beta is a huge milestone for all of us and we have a lot to thank you and the community for. Over the course of the 2-year private beta, we’ve had 25,000 engineers join and over 240,000 projects created in Flux! We can’t thank you enough for taking a chance and joining a generational effort of reimagining how PCBs get made. It’s your candid feedback, ideas, and encouragement that enabled us to dare to change this and build Flux. And we are just getting started, so consider this our warm up lap 🚀!

In terms of pricing, nothing will change. Our mission is to take the hard out of hardware and enable anyone to design PCB boards and make electronics hardware. As such we are fully committed to always have a no nonsense free tier that allows you to host up to 10 private projects and unlimited public projects. If those 10 private projects are not enough, we offer a Pro tier at $12/mon per editor that features unlimited private projects. Now what about team tiers and features you ask…bring the upvotes!

Dare the impossible

When we started out 3 years ago, we knew that we were embarking on a monumental effort that would require early and ongoing input from hardware engineers. That’s why we decided to launch Flux embarrassingly early and build in public, learn in real time, and build a community that pushes back against the forces of stagnation in EDA/CAD tooling and is ready for change. 

Wow! Did you deliver.  ❤️ Everything we’ve built was inspired by insights we gained during the series of events we hosted, video calls, heated slack debates, and passionate email exchanges. And frankly the naysayers who told us that change is impossible; that it should be resisted; that it goes against human nature - change isn’t optional. It happens all the time. And we live to prove the naysayers wrong!

We knew that to make the big leaps in PCB design we wanted, we would need to build it from the ground up with re-usability, speed, and collaboration at the forefront. This took time, but we think it is worth it. Some of the major features that make Flux’s PCB editor different from others include:

  • Layout Rules - Flux takes design rules and uses them as a design tool. Instead of checking to ensure your design adheres to manufacturability standards after it’s completed, Flux enforces design rules automatically as they are created.
  • Sub-layouts - Sub-layouts are re-usable sections of layout that allow you to drop in fully functional blocks into your design. You can filter for sub-layouts in the component library by using the filter in the search.
  • Live DRC - In Flux, DRCs run in real-time, and their results can be accessed from the messages menu at the bottom of the editor. Instead of checking at the end of a process, Flux gives you real-time feedback when there are overlapping traces, un-routed nets, missing footprints etc.
  • Ground fills - Ground fills are enabled by default in Flux. Whenever there's a ground symbol in the schematic editor, every layer of the PCB layout will contain a fill connected to the ground (GND) net.
  • Generic Parts - A generic part is a basic component whose properties can be defined at a later stage. With generic parts, when you're ready to select the package size, you just need to modify a property. Flux will automatically select the right footprint and add it to the PCB editor.

In terms of performance improvements, we were able to make huge gains to enable projects of increasing complexity with less lag. Our goal is for Flux to provide better performance than native applications and be available on any device type, from high end CAD workstations to your phone or tablet.

What are people building?

It’s been incredibly inspiring to see what people have been building in Flux, and how fast they’ve been able to design projects. Kerry Chayka, who worked on the iPhone motherboard for 7 years, puts it well “As a one man hardware startup, Flux gives me the super powers I need to work as fast as an entire team. Customers come to me with rough ideas of what they want and I’m able to build a product mockup before our first meeting even happens. I can do something that usually takes 2 months in half a day”.

At Flux, we’re inspired by a no nonsense and plug-and-play philosophy that makes it 10x faster and easier for anyone to create, share, and remix projects with others. If you think about how easy it is today for a 12 year old to build an iPhone app, our dream is to make it as easy for them to build their own iPhone. That’s what drives us to host competitions such as the recent Custom Arduino Shield Competition to create awesome shields, HATs, and wings...to have more of the building blocks for your projects available. Here are some of our favorite submissions:

  • Arduino Electrical Control Shield by sullylau80 has a ton of peripherals and expansion capability - including temperature monitoring, dual motor control, USB and RS232 communications.
  • Smoke Sensor Shield designed by tpetrovic2 that can power the Arduino Uno and measure indoor air quality.
  • MidiFreak by ebarranco uses the board itself as a touch surface to play music! Combined with all the modulation options, this board is a great jumping-off point for anyone exploring digital music.

Our current competition is focused on Energy Harvesting if you’re interested in getting involved. We’re looking for projects that can capture any type of energy, such as solar, kinetic, thermal, or RF; and no, wall chargers don’t count.

The Flux team is growing!

Over the last 2 years, we’ve been incredibly fortunate to grow our team from 10 to 22 with former engineers from Apple, NASA, and Facebook from all over the world. I think what makes our team unique from other software companies is that we love and build hardware! From high intensity strobe lights to drum machines, we’re always using Flux to build our own projects, which makes it easier to figure out what needs to be improved.

Want to get involved? You can check out open full-time positions here. There’s also plenty of part-time opportunities and sponsorships available to those who are interested. Feel free to reach out to Nico on Slack if you want to figure out how to plug in.

What’s next?

This milestone is really just one step forward towards our mission to take the hard out of hardware. We still have a long way to go, and I hope that the collaboration with the community will only continue to grow.

Just because we’re exiting private beta doesn’t mean we have everything figured out! We’re constantly looking for ways to improve and your feedback is absolutely critical to making an EDA tool that everyone loves. You can always submit feature requests or report bugs and we’ll do our best to address them quickly. Here’s a handful of the improvements we’re focused on.

  1. Ability to measure distances on PCB
  2. Show pin info on schematic when I need it
  3. Make core attributes easier to modify on PCB
  4. Drag part over route to connect it

Help spread the word!

Interested in helping us take the hard out of hardware? Tell your friends! Let them know that we’re opening up public availability and encourage them to signup and get involved. Talk about us on your favorite forums and other online communities, or post about us on social media. Every little bit helps!  

Thanks again for all the support during the private beta. We really appreciate all the candid feedback, your patience, and your encouragement as we push forward.

Onward 🚀
Matthias & Lance

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