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Fireside Chat: Live, from the X-ray Van!

FCX Xray Van

Fireside Chat with the Xperts hosts David Kruidhof and Megan Bergsma heard that the X-ray van was going to be back at Creative Electron world headquarters, and decided to take full advantage.  In today’s episode, they hit up Creative Electron’s Luke Balona for a tour of the X-ray van and got the inside scoop on what a typical van visit is like.

When the van visits your, place feel free to bring out anything you’d like have imaged, from microelectronics to microphones, even mascara.  Turns out you can X-ray anything that starts with “M”, and as a bonus, anything that doesn’t.  While a typical van visit last anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, Luke’s enthusiasm suggests that you could probably talk him into staying all day if you had enough interesting things to X-ray.

Are you as eager to have the van come to your place for a demo as we are?  Check out the X-ray van map and schedule here, and request your visit. ‘Look forward to seeing (through) you soon!

 

Transcript:

David Kruidhof:
Welcome back to another fireside chat with the experts. It’s good to be back. I missed the last one. I was out on a break and Megan covered for me then, and as you can see, we don’t have Dr. Bill Cardosa with us today. Megan is joining us again. She’s our social media manager. So it’s good to have you here, Megan. Welcome.

Megan Bergsma:
Thank you.

David Kruidhof:
So today we’re having a special fireside chat. We have with us today, Luke Balona, one of our field application engineers. So as you can see, he’s got the X-ray van behind him. So we’re going to be talking about this today. We’ve gotten it back on the road for the last few months, and we get a lot of questions about it because it is pretty unique. So we just want to go through those today. Luke will answer these commonly asked questions and get these answered for the people.

David Kruidhof:
So Luke, why don’t you give us a quick background on yourself and what you do for Creative Electron.

Luke Balona:
So, yeah. As David said, I’m a Shield Applications Engineer. I’ve been with Creative Electrons for about almost two years now, actually. So my primary job right now is driving and operating this van, driving all around Southern California and across the US preforming demos to customers and X-raying parts for them. This is a project that we started pre COVID. We started, we drove out to Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso. We went all the way to Dallas and then I think it was March 14th and then everything got flipped upside down. Ended up having to drive home. No one wanted to see us for the fear of COVID, but we’re back now and really excited to bring this van and this experience back to customers though. We got a lot of good feedback from our first go and we’re really eager to get out there again and start showing our products and start X-raying products for our customers.

Megan Bergsma:
All right. Awesome. I do want to get a little feedback about the history of the van.

Luke Balona:
Yeah, I mean, so if you can see, there’s actually two machines in here. So we have the TruView™ Prime is one of our systems and then behind it, you would see our TruView™ parts counter is more towards the front. Two very different machines. Our Prime is for, it’s kind of like our workhorse. One of our most popular systems. It can X-ray almost anything for most applications. And so it’s what we choose to show customers to really get a good look into X-ray.

Megan Bergsma:
Awesome. So how does the van, or does the van needs power from clients or can it be self-sufficient?

Luke Balona:
Yeah, so the van is fully a self-contained. We don’t need power hookups at all. We’re just running off the battery and an inverter,. as you can see here, I’ll show you, we’re just out in front of Creative Electron right here. No hookups. This is typically how we’ll set up for a demo, wherever there’s a decent parking spot, you can park in there and we can start X-raying parts.

David Kruidhof:
Nice. So you can just pull up pretty much anywhere. I mean, that’s not a semi you’ve got there. A little bit long, but you can fit in a standard parking lot, right?

Luke Balona:
Yeah, absolutely. We fit into standard parking lots and sometimes even in they’ll just allow us to pull into their shipping and receiving center and then we’ll just do it out of there. So really anywhere. There’s no limitations on that.

David Kruidhof:
Awesome. How long does it take to set up once you get there? Is it 15 minutes? I mean, what kind of time do you have for setting things up once you’re at the site?

Luke Balona:
So with how the van is set up now, like I was saying from last year, we’ve made a lot of improvements and one of those is our time to set up. Before it was maybe five minutes, but now it’s almost instant. Basically this monitor is on a swivel. It’s a tie-down and we just unhook it from the bungee, turn on the computer and it’s basically, as long as it takes the computer to boot up, is how fast we can get going. So it’s pretty fast.

David Kruidhof:
Nice. That’s pretty awesome. It looks like everything’s outside, right, so everyone would just stand around where you are right now, right?

Luke Balona:
Exactly. Yeah. So we’re in open air. We have a 27 inch monitor, so it’s a decent size so we can see… So basically everyone can see. We are out in the elements. So depends like shade is always welcome. Rain and stuff, it’s nice to get covered, but for the most part, we haven’t had any issues with that.

David Kruidhof:
Nice.

Megan Bergsma:
All right. So how long are demo visits usually?

Luke Balona:
That’s a really good question and really kind of depends. We kind of accommodate to whatever the customer needs, right? If someone just wants a quick 30 minute demo, we can kind of do an abridged version where we just go over the basics and get some pictures for them, but it really just kind of depends. We’ve had some really interesting demos that have lasted for like over two hours and that’s kind of going into all the details of everything and spending more time with the pictures, running more samples. So it really just depends on what your schedule is and how much time you want to spend out here.

David Kruidhof:
Nice. You mentioned taking pictures. Can the customers meeting with you, take those pictures with them or are they stuck in the machine? Are those exportable? How available are those?

Luke Balona:
Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. A lot of people will ask about that. So the whole time we’re doing your presentation, we’ll be taking pictures of their parts of their own samples that they bring. And if you have a USB on you or you bring one out to us, we can just transfer those pictures right directly to you. If not, we can email them but yeah, it’s really easy to just send the standard image files. You don’t need our software to access them. So pretty easy.

David Kruidhof:
And I would assume if someone brings out something they don’t want, you just save any pictures on your computer for intellectual property reasons or whatever, that’s not an issue, right?

Luke Balona:
No, it’s not an issue.

David Kruidhof:
It’s automatically recording things. You have to actually, yeah.

Luke Balona:
Yeah. It’s everything in the van stays in the van.

Megan Bergsma:
That type of situation. I’m going to skip around here and ask what kind of products can you X-ray in the van or what do customers need to bring into the demo for that?

Luke Balona:
Yeah, it really just depends. I like to do everything. We encourage you to bring anything out. We do a lot of circuit boards, looking at solder joints, circuit boards and things like that, or really, it kind of depends. Like I have two samples here. So it’s a standard circuit board here. And then here we have like a medical device as well. Any of these can be equally as beneficial. I kind of actually like going away from the circuit board sometimes just because I like X-raying cool stuff. So we’ve had some pretty interesting things, so it’s really, nothing is off limits. You can do whatever you want, as long as you want to look inside of it with X-ray, really.

Megan Bergsma:
Can I look at my mascara products?

Luke Balona:
You could. It would probably be a pretty boring demonstration, but you can do that.

Megan Bergsma:
Can I X-ray this speaker?

Luke Balona:
You could, you definitely could. You’d be able to see everything that’s going on in there. The circuitry, the speakers, the wiring, it would be actually pretty interesting.

Megan Bergsma:
Cool. Go for it, David.

David Kruidhof:
So if, when you pull up, does the customer need to have any experience with anything? Are there any experience concerns or safety concerns for them that they need to be aware of?

Luke Balona:
Yeah, that’s a good question. So the customer doesn’t need to have any prior experience with X-ray. I’ve dealt with it all. People that have zero experience and people are very well versed and are asking me very technical questions, but it doesn’t really matter. As far as the radiation goes and if it’s safe, the cabinet x-ray system, everything is enclosed into cabinet. The radiation is enclosed in the cabinet. None of it reaches the user. We have regulations on how we make our systems to be compliant, to make sure that is possible.

David Kruidhof:
Nice.

Megan Bergsma:
Nice.

David Kruidhof:
Not like those cool a shoe X-ray machines we have in our museum where they just have wood shielding.

Luke Balona:
I would not recommend using one of those in the van at all.

David Kruidhof:
So we won’t put that in there.

Luke Balona:
There’s better ways now.

Megan Bergsma:
So you don’t get a gnarly foot in a different way.

Luke Balona:
Yeah.

Megan Bergsma:
So how far really can the X-ray van travel?

Luke Balona:
Anywhere where there’s not a body of water in the US. So we can go everywhere. Right now, we are at 18,000 miles in the van. So it’s roughly back and forth five times in the US, so it’s pretty exciting. We do have a tentative road trip plans. If you want more details, you can visit our website to see where we’re going, but really just sent us an email, give us a call, no matter where you are, we can try to make it work. You’d be surprised at how far we’re going and what cities are going to. So, yeah, feel free to reach out.

David Kruidhof:
Yeah. We’re planning a trip across, trying to go everywhere. Obviously with one van, can’t be everywhere at once. But yeah, x-rayvan.com is going to have the schedule on there. And yeah, if any of our listeners want us to go change our route to see them or stop by when we’re driving by, just let us know. And we’ll be happy to add them onto the trip. That’s the fun of this, right? Is it’s not a trade show that’s being set up in one convention center and everyone’s got to go to it. And we are driving around with bringing the trade show to people.

Megan Bergsma:
All right.

David Kruidhof:
Pretty exciting.

Megan Bergsma:
Yes.

Luke Balona:
I’m sorry. What was that?

Megan Bergsma:
Go for it, Luke.

Luke Balona:
Well, they set up, I would say like one of our funniest demos were the people kind of just called us and they’re like, “Oh, can you guys stop by last minute. Everyone’s super excited to see everything.” And it’s always pretty fun. So yeah. There’s really no request we can’t do. Just give us a call if you want to come check it out.

Megan Bergsma:
Nice. So this is a question mainly for David. Besides visiting a variety of businesses, where can the X-ray van be used for?

David Kruidhof:
Yeah, we’ve had some, again pre COVID, before we stopped gathering together so much, there were some different science fairs around San Diego County that we actually got to bring the van to. I think we did a fall festival at a elementary school, helped them out with their fundraiser, different things like that. So as Luke said, these are very safe machines. So we’ve had a lot of fun just bringing people through, you don’t get to play with extra machines, right? You go to the doctor’s office, they’re dealing with very different type of X-ray. They’re not contained radiation and they certainly don’t want you there playing with it anyways. So it’s fun to go to science fairs, science museums, those kinds of things. So yeah, and if any of our listeners work at one of those or volunteer at one and interested in us stopping by, we’re certainly open to the conversation.

David Kruidhof:
We’ve done it before and had a lot of fun. It’s really cool to watch kids just get really excited, looking at things and adults too, right? People pull stuff out of their pockets. Hey, X-ray this, X-ray this. Can you look at my phone? Look at my keys. Look at my… We had somebody who had a water bottle, the top of it, I think like shined UV light to clean the water, right. To kill the bacteria and stuff. And so they wanted to look inside. So, water bottle top turned out to be very interesting to look at. The circuitry involved with lights and stuff like that. LEDs. So yeah. We’re always looking for fun things to do, right, Luke?

Luke Balona:
Yeah. Like last year we were X-raying some fun stuff. We’re doing like we X-rayed a bag of dates. X-rayed like a geode. We’ve done a lot of just things. I mean, at the end of the day, X-ray is still fun. We still want to see inside of things like just because we deal with it every day, it doesn’t make it any less fun. And it’s always, we’re always looking just to see what things look like inside. Really?

David Kruidhof:
Yeah.

Megan Bergsma:
So, one last question. And I think you mentioned it before. I just wanted to mention it again. How do you book an appointment with the X-ray van?

Luke Balona:
Yeah. Good question. You can just visit us at x-rayvan.com. You’d find our phone number on Google, but x-rayvan.com is probably the best way. Go check it out there. All the information will be there. There, you can see our roadmap, see where we’re going and you can just fill out an email and let us know.

Megan Bergsma:
Awesome. Very simple.

David Kruidhof:
All right, Luke, thank you very much for your time. Appreciate it. It has been very helpful and I think a lot of people will find it very helpful. So these are definitely questions we get a lot. So I appreciate you taking the time to answer them for us and Megan, wonderful to have you on.

Megan Bergsma:
Likewise.

David Kruidhof:
And we will see you all again soon in a couple of weeks.

Luke Balona:
All right. Thank you, guys.

Megan Bergsma:
All right. Thank you.

David Kruidhof:
Bye.

Megan Bergsma:
Bye.

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