Some time back, Amazon gave my trilogy book a discounted price but unfortunately it only applied to the US and for a limited period. A reader residing in Canada expressed disappointment over it and I decided to do something about it. So here it is:
This discount of 12% off the retailed price applies to all Amazon online stores (US, Europe, Asia). It is my way of saying thanks to all my readers across the world for their support.
Amazon sometimes offers discount without authors' knowledge as a way to promote book sales, especially new releases. I've come to realize and appreciate this fact so always keep a look out when I publish my books. True enough, my trilogy is currently up for grabs at a whopping 17% less the retail price.
Click on the picture to order before the offer ends.
Was browsing through Grand Idea Studio website and noticed Joe Grand put up his Curriculum Vitae (CV) for download. Out of curiosity, I did just that and scrolled through his impressive references of qualifications, product portfolio, patents, publications and presentations. Something caught my eyes:
Yep, my sequel book was mentioned in the list of publications, alright! That really make my day...
This post has nothing to do with Elisabeth Haydon's fantasy-romance series, The Symphony of Ages. Rather, it is a celebration of the third milestone in my writing journey since completing the trilogy book to the PCB-RE subject.
Since its release less than two weeks ago, sales of the book is climbing steadily, thanks to the support of readers. And while it is not as abrupt as the sequel book, it too has achieved the No. 1 spot on Amazon's New Book listing much like its predecessor:
Since I started out to write my first engineering book in 2013 while working part-time, the journey has been both challenging and rewarding. Compared to other well-known authors in the electronics discipline, I'm still far from a best-seller author (and I don't think it'll probably happen any time soon...). Still, I'm happy how it has turned out and shaped my appreciation for the many kind people out there who supported me through honest purchase, and in return expressed their appreciation for my engaging and entertaining writing style.
I don't think I will be writing a fourth book on PCB-RE, though I had mentioned one by name out of enthusiasm in an earlier post. Likelihood it'll be put on hold indefinitely unless there is enough demand or request from readers on specific topics of interest, which I doubt since the sequel book already covers much of what tools and techniques there are out there.
So yes, the PCB-RE trilogy works is a complete collection. Perhaps some other engineers may take up where I left off to write their stories and experiences in days to come. I would gladly look forward to that day!
Meantime, I'll be taking a break from writing engineering stuff for now...
For readers who wondered about the ScanCAD edition of PCB-RE: Tools & Techniques, it's not been formally published but wholly reserved as a marketing and distribution material for ScanCAD's use. If you managed to get your hands on a copy at one of these exhibitions the company participated, count yourself lucky!
Still, I would like to fill my readers in on a rare email interview I had with the CEO, Bill Loving, the details of which was recorded in the said edition. Here is the transcript:
It's not often you get the chance to talk to someone in the PCB-RE industry with a wide portfolio in terms of exposure and experience, much less to share what they know about their tools and trades. So when I was fortunate enough to get in contact with William Loving, the CEO of ScanCAD International Inc., I was tempted to ask him a few questions:
Me : Why is PCB-RE fast becoming an important and indispensable industry?
Bill : PCB-RE is a respected and much needed business activity in the world today. The tools and processes covered in this book are used globally by many companies and even governments to keep legacy systems running and to recover design data that has been lost.
Me : Do you think PCB-RE tools are susceptible to abuse for piracy purpose?
Bill : Any tool or process can be used for good or bad——it's a function of the user. We like to think that our family of customers are working for the good of all concerned. Sure, there will be some bad apples in the group, but we think it's very, very rare in our crowd. Like your good self, we do not condone illegal or unethical activity that will hurt the interest of any individual, company or organization.
Me : How do you think ScanCAD can benefit the PCB-RE community or companies?
Bill : Having been in the business for 27 years, I see PCB-RE as having a greater impact and positive influence not just on a community or company. Having worked with over 1000 companies across 48 countries, I dare say that our products contribute to the overall well-being of our environment. How, you ask? By keeping legacy systems running, we are extracting more value from our earth's limited resources that have already been used to produce existing electronics and systems. Keeping them out of landfills and in operation is a good steward thing to do. This helps on several levels: reduces the waste, extends use of resource and productivity, reduces air and water pollution since new systems do not need to be made to replace the old, etc. In some cases, a PCB may represent only a fraction of the mass of a large system, yet this PCB can cause the entire system to be scrapped if it can't be replicated. Now, that's a big multiplier effect!
Me : Do you foresee yourself and your team doing PCB-RE for the next 30 years?
Bill : ScanCAD will be around for a long time for sure. Like my colleague Jeff said, we have a dedicated and very capable team, with very good people who strive to be a positive influence in the world and do what's right. If I might add, they are also fun to work with! PCB-RE is a strange little niche——one that we enjoy doing——and one that your book has given us some interesting perspective to look at too.
The rocky mountains of Colorado are not only a majestic sight to behold, situated in the midst of this scenic setting is the office of a remarkable company that has as its mission to help other companies manage the precious resources of our planet by means of PCB-RE. If you haven't guess it, ScanCAD International is what I'm talking about.
I had not the faintest idea what I was getting myself into when I posted my request via the company's online portal, without any particular expectation that it would get read or answered. Just one day after ScanCAD auto acknowledgement of my request, I received a courtesy email from Jeff Rupert, the director of sales and business development of the company. Wow... did I strike gold or what...? I went into overdrive and wrote a reply with a more formal and detailed introduction of myself and the sequel book I was writing, indicating the areas of interest for the PCB-RE subject.
Jeff, as I began to call him, became interested and got his CEO, Bill Loving, into the picture. Before the dust settled, I was already corresponding with these two heavy weights of the company that has a long history in the PCB-RE practice, with businesses spanning 1000 companies in 48 countries. That's pretty mind boggling to say the least.
Incredibly, Jeff took on the challenge to write the chapter dedicated to ScanCAD's diverse approaches with Bill overseeing the progress. There were discussions back and forth as we exchanged ideas and views on the content and presentation. When the first draft was done, Bill roped in his team of staff to do a thorough proofreading, listing out grammatical and typos so meticulously and stringently you'd thought we were doing audit on a major contractual document! When we were finally done and satisfied, the chapter had not only become the largest in the book but also the most informative on their product ever assembled. It's a win-win situation which both parties could walk away with a great sense of satisfaction.
As usual, I included Bill and Jeff's bios to give them credit with acknowledgement to their staff as well for doing a fantastic job. At my request, they submitted the following portfolio photos:
In appreciation for their tremendous contribution to my sequel book, I produced a ScanCAD edition featuring their chapter as a promotional material which they are free to reproduce and distribute to customers and at international exhibitions.
Bill was kind enough to pen the Foreword to both books and even bulk ordered my books as additional giveaway gifts and bonuses. What set out as a humble request from an obscured author ended up as a windfall that rekindled my passion in writing and confidence in knowing there are people who not only believed in what I do but went further to support my works. I felt deeply indebted to these wonderful people who made writing the book worth every bit of toil and sweat.
And if I may add, they ARE the motivational force behind my writing the trilogy book...
Sometime in October 2016, I came across a blog that featured a reader's personal review of The Art of PCB-RE, which in my opinion was well-written and fairly objective. On the good side, this is what he wrote:
The book guides you throughout the whole process (of PCB-RE) ranging from all necessary preparations, documentation, tools needed to the final document visualizing the PCB.
One could argue that it is more a book on Visio than a book on reversing PCBs. It is! But this may perhaps also be one of its strengths as it describes the importance of documentation of the process. I personally find it a good feature being a friend of thorough and easy to read documentation and all. I was thus quite positively surprised to find the extensive documentation used throughout the reversing processing. Many underestimate the importance of documentation, which ironically is one of the reason why this book was written in the first place.
Of course, he did lament the lack of other PCB-RE techniques which would be nice to include in the book (I did mention a little here and there, but The Art of PCB-RE is primarily focused on the manual approach with the average engineers in mind who do not have access to expensive or exotic equipment):
Throughout the book I could however not get rid of the feeling that I wanted more on the PCB reversing techniques... As the author is trying to revive/repair old or undocumented hardware, his process is quite non-destructive. I would like to see some other tricks discussed like for example delayering a PCB, a subject that Joe Grand, a dedicated hardware hacker at Grand Idea Studio writes about in a few great presentations and papers.
It would also be nice to see more advanced topics like chip-off techniques as this in many cases is a very necessary process in order to be able to both document and interact with parts of the PCB or its components. This is especially true when it comes to BGA – Ball Grid Array components. There is a bunch of cheap and easy to use tools available for this purpose.
Perhaps way out of scope and a bit too advanced as it may be out of reach for many, it would be nice to mention methods like computer tomography 3D scanning or fluoroscopic techniques available which may be available at university campuses for example.
Well, I heard him loud and clear. Be careful what you wish for! So after some deliberation, I started researching various industry PCB-RE practices and papers. However, real detailed information was rare, if much, to be found online. And though I came from a test engineering background and worked on quite a number of high-end test platforms, to undertake the task of writing a sequel book that covers these PCB-RE methodologies and equipment was way over my head. The more feasible way is to invite experienced engineers to contribute their knowledge in the fields of their expertise.
Since he mentioned the big name of Joe Grand, I decided to take a gamble and write to the kingpin as a first attempt. Guess what? He replied! I simply couldn't believe it... Not only did Joe gave me his permission to reproduce his work, he even vetted and edited the draft and inserted additional stuff to make it more up to date. To top it off, when I asked Joe for a photo to put it in the author bio section of the chapter, this was what he provided:
Was I flattered and floored or what! Of course, there was no prize for guessing which of the two I selected for his bio (grin!). But wait... another big surprise was awaiting me as I pondered and sent out several other invitations...
George Lucas' iconic Star Wars Trilogy was a big hit with loyal fans the world over, yet there are always critics who read the original novels by Alan Dean Foster and felt strongly that the order of screening did not conform to the actual story line depicted in the books. Lucas, of course, had his reasons to film series IV (Star Wars), V (The Empire Strikes Back) and VI (Return of the Jedi) as the classic trilogy in the pre-90s...
before going on to produce series I (The Phantom Menace), II (Attack of the Clones) and III (Revenge of the Sith) as the next set of Trilogy films.
Similarly, there are people who may be confused about my series of PCB-RE books and perhaps questioned the need for a trilogy instead of just one volume. I'll have to admit that when I first started out to write about this topic, a trilogy is far from my mind, let alone a sequel book. After all, I was just starting out as a relatively unknown indie author with a passion to share my knowledge of 15 years in this niche field, something which other PCB-RE engineers might not want to do or thought it too big an undertaking to worth their time or effort.
To be honest, The Art of PCB Reverse Engineering was published without any fanfare or advertising, and with much trepidation. Thankfully, the response was encouraging with readers who posted their comments on Amazon, one by a J. Ryan I thought was pretty cool:
Reverse engineering PCB's is to electronic circuit boards what hacking is to computer software... something people do, but no one admits to doing it, LOL.
Mr Ng not only does it, but he lays out a very clear and systematic approach to the entire process. I am self-taught in this field, and it was a real joy to find that someone had actually written an entire book on the subject. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic.
Even now as I look back, the emotions still run high to know that there are those who do appreciate my hard work, though admittedly I made an early blunder as an inexperienced author to have my book published in full-colors, and consequently priced beyond the reach of the average reader due to high printing cost. I realized it soon enough and went to work to produce a non-color edition that seen a wider readership.
I was quite content to leave things as is and went to write some other genre of books, co-authored with my wife as a way of saying thanks to her for supporting me in pursuing my lifelong writing passion. But as fate would have it otherwise...
Since posting the release of my new book on Twitter, there has been quite some flurry of feedback and following:
It remains to be seen just how well received the trilogy will be as I have not advertised nor promoted it, but simply depend on my loyal readers to spread the word around.
The book is priced affordably and filled with many hand-crafted schematics, drawn and re-drawn using Microsoft Visio for the best visual appeal and overall learning experience, and photos are carefully selected and edited for quality and clarity, coupled with an enjoyable literary style of writing and sprinkled with generous and informative footnotes. It should be worth every cent and time invested.
To all readers who have been following the progress of my third book, PCB-RE: Real-World Examples, I am happy to break the happy news that the wait is finally over. The trilogy to my PCB-RE series of books is now available on Amazon for purchase. Here is the book covers, front and back, with its updated look and feel:
You can click on the image above to order your copy on the Amazon website. Appreciate if you can help spread the word to those who are interested in this subject as well.