facility is a purpose-built building with
a surprising amount of room for
expansion. The building (shown in
Figure 6) is well designed with an
inviting entrance and reception area.
Typical with many high-tech businesses,
the atmosphere amongst the many
employees I met gave me the feeling
that it was a fun place to work.
When the company president
enjoys having a bit of fun showing off
on an electric skateboard (Figure 7),
you can bet that everyone enjoys the
For a small electronics manufacturer, the in-house
capabilities that Parallax possesses are second to none for a
company of this size, in my opinion. Looking at the
mechanical side of manufacturing, if a company is building
completed robots or robot kits, precision is very important
for the components that must fit together.
I have assembled many Parallax kits — from the small
Boe-Bots and Stingrays, to the large Eddie and MadeUSA.
Holes and slots are precisely positioned so that other
components and screws fit perfectly. Though the Boe-Bot
sheet metal base is not manufactured in-house, it — along
with the mechanical aspects of their other products that are
made in Rocklin — are very well built. Nothing is more
frustrating than having to bend, tweak, or file holes so
different parts will fit together in a kit.
Parallax uses a large Haas SR-100 CNC router (Figure
8) to route, mill, and surface many of their large plastic and
metal parts for precise fitting. Two Haas CNC super mini
milling machines used to produce many aluminum parts are
shown in Figure 9. A separate standard Acra mill and metal
bandsaw shown at the right certainly adds to the flexibility
of their machine shop.
Parallax’s circuit board production uses the latest in
manufacturing technology. Modern SMT integrated circuits
are not only a lot smaller than older DIP circuits, but are
also harder to place and solder onto a circuit board.
Parallax uses a pick-and-place machine (Figure 10)
to assemble circuit boards. The selective soldering
machine in Figure 11 is used to solder circuit boards.
Hand assembly and testing is also important in any
assembly line. Figure 12 shows the final assembly of
the Parallax PropScope — a piece of test equipment that
I really like. I’ve finally stopped using my old Tektronix
475 ‘boat anchor’ in favor of this very useful tool.
Parallax Reaches Out
to the Community
Shortly after arriving this past February, Ken met
me and took me for a short tour of the facility before we
broke for a lunch buffet in the company’s lunch room to
celebrate several employee’s birthdays and another
employee’s 10 years with the company. After lunch, I was
invited to go along with some of the engineering staff to a
nearby school to help judge several science fair exhibits.
SERVO 09.2013 77
Figure 8. Parallax building.
Figure 7. Ken Gracey having a bit of fun.