Customer Review: Geppetto Guarantees What Gets Delivered Works

August 29, 2018 | Jesse Ludtke

Why use Geppetto?

From a customer who used and loved it!
Geppetto has been serving customers since 2013. In that time, we’ve had many customers, but it’s a challenge for us to find one willing to share their story due to NDAs.

Without breaking any NDA, I interviewed Geppetto customer, Bruce R. Koball on his Geppetto experience.

About Bruce

Bruce is an independent engineering consultant based in Berkeley, California, specializing in embedded systems hardware and software. With more than 40 years of experience under his belt, Bruce was impressed with Geppetto!


He works on different kind of projects, often simultaneously. Right now, he is working on a cryptographic signing appliance based on the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3. Originally, he was planning to design the board from scratch with an estimated cost of $20,000 USD for engineering, a project timeline of 6-12 months, and at least two spins of the PCB.

Yes, it’s difficult, expensive, and it takes a long time to build a customized board.

Geppetto and Bruce

Bruce was searching for solutions that used the RPi CM3 board and he found Gumstix. He was looking at our off-the-shelf boards which are all designed in Geppetto and found the Geppetto app there. Below are things we asked him:


You found Geppetto, what made you decide to contact us?

It’s an interesting approach and I wanted to learn more. I called customer support to see if Geppetto was real or smoke and mirrors. And, I am usually able to gauge vendors by how they interact with me.

What made you decide to use Geppetto?

After our call, I sent you a requirements list and that same day you sent back a preliminary design with a guarantee that what you delivered would work or Gumstix would fix it. It was too good to be true. I was ready to be impressed.

How was the experience of designing using Geppetto?

It was remarkably easy, especially with your support. It’s a building-blocks approach using modular functions that the designer selects from a library. Unlike using a traditional PCB CAD tool where one usually has to define every part of the circuit from scratch, Geppetto’s modules are complete functional circuits that are well characterized and ready to be inserted into a design; I am sure your engineers spent many hours building this library. All the designer has to do is define the functions required for the design, select them from the library, drag them onto the board, and satisfy the modules’ dependencies with a connect-the-dots interface.

Drag and drop modules to Geppetto board
Satisfy module dependency with a connect-the-dots interface

What are the things you want to change in Geppetto?

I’d like to see more modules in the library; things like networking components (ethernet switches, etc.), other I2C and SPI–based analog sensors, etc. Perhaps you could offer qualified engineers the ability to define their own functional modules; simple circuits like bit-banging logic functions or analog signal conditioning functions using an enhanced Geppetto interface, under NDA.

What was the deciding factor in choosing Geppetto for the project?

Your team answered as many questions as I had so that built confidence in the Gumstix/Geppetto system. But the key factor was the bottom line: the non-recurring engineering investment (NRE) and unit price for an assembled, tested board with a working Linux build was so low that it was worth a try, just as a proof-of-concept prototype, even if it didn’t work out for the finished product. Fortunately for us it yielded a finished working product for a fraction of our initial budget.


After you placed an order and received your board, what was your initial impression of the quality and performance of the board bring up of the device?

It worked the first time I powered it up. I plugged in a keyboard, mouse, HDMI monitor, and microSD card with the system image, and it booted Raspbian Linux right up. I was writing and running code on it immediately. I connected the ethernet to my network and it worked. I tested the peripherals (I2C GPIO expander, RTC, RS232 port, codec) and they all worked. I was so impressed I almost fell over!

Were there any changes to project timeline and cost?

It changed from months to weeks and from an estimate of $20,000 to roughly $4,000 (NRE plus 10 working boards). It saved us time and money.

Before Geppetto After Geppetto
Estimate Cost $20,000 $4,000
Project Timeline 6-12 months 3 weeks
Number of PCB spin 2 1

Sharing Geppetto

Would you recommend Geppetto to customers, colleagues, and friends?

I already have! My engineering colleagues and friends were quite impressed when I told them the price point for an assembled, tested board, with a function Linux build. As I said earlier, it would be worth it simply as a proof-of-concept. The $2000 NRE cost is a bargain; a price point that most people would be more than comfortable with to get them to 75% to 100% of their project.

Why do you think people should use Geppetto?

If your collection of modules can solve their problem and meet their requirements, it’s a no brainer. Are you familiar with the phrase “shaving the yak”? It’s a metaphor for the seemingly endless series of small tasks that have to be completed before a project can move forward from one step to the next. Geppetto solves a lot of that for electrical engineers.

Start a Free Design

How do you recommend or explain Geppetto to others?

It’s a board design and manufacturing service using a browser-based CAD interface that allows customers to create a PCB using a “building-block” approach. The designer selects a set of predefined functional modules from an extensive library, satisfies each module’s dependencies by “connecting the dots,” then, after a minimal lead-time, receives assembled and tested units (with software!). It could not be simpler.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and time with us Bruce. It was a delight working with you and we couldn’t be happier to help you and your customer save time and money with your Geppetto board.

If you’re looking for an embedded hardware and software consultant, be sure to let us know and we’ll happily refer you to Bruce.

Are you a Geppetto customer who wants to share your story with us? Send us an email at with the subject: Geppetto Success Story.

Geppetto is our free online design tool that allows you to create a custom hardware design. Moreover, we handle everything, from sourcing of parts to production, to ensuring that your board boots out of the box. We take care of production while you focus on your software or application. We will deliver your pre-tested, fully assembled boards (not just PCB) after 15 business days.