Eagle is a great cross-platform, free-for-non-commercial-use tool for many of us designing own own circuit boards. But it has a pretty glaring omission: the ability to import vector artwork to use as board outlines, logos, etc. You can import bitmaps via the finicky “import_bmp.ulp” ULP add-on, but bitmaps can’t work for board outlines. So we struggle with Eagle’s rudimentary vector drawing tools or have boring rectangular or circular boards. I think I’ve found a way to robustly transfer vector artwork from Illustrator to Eagle.
Adding Vector Graphics to Eagle PCB – [Link]
I make a lot of breakout boards that I usually use in my hobby projects. Most are input/output devices but some are microcontroller breakout boards.
Breakout Board Collection - [Link]
Simple and cheap, with quick results.
DIY PCB etching container with bubbles – [Link]
I’ve been etching my own prototype boards for many years in a glass tray, using a griddle to heat the solution. The large horizontal area of the solution resulted in lots of fumes that were hard to avoid breathing. The boards etched unevenly (due to hotspots of the griddle) and required a lot of hand agitation (and breathing the awful acid fumes).
Vertical Etching Tank for DIY PCB etching – [Link]
One of the most useful types of PCB’s in the world of electronics is the breakout board. Breakout boards offer prototypers easy access to all pins on an IC that normally has tiny leads in SOP/TSSOP/QFN/BGA type packages. If you’re trying to prototype on a breadboard a breakout board will be your savior, especially if paired with standard 0.1″ SIPs.
DIY Breakout Board PCB – [Link]
Brad Lyuster of Louisville’s LVL1 hackerspace wrote an excellent guide to etching your own PCBs. [via]
A few months ago, the spoiled electrical engineer that I am, I never would have considered making my own PCBs. Any project worth taking off the breadboard was worth sending to China to get made “right.”
Of course, there isn’t always time and money to send something to China. Today’s installment is the Sumo-bot board I’m trying to put together for the Hive13 sumobot competition. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like poor Snoopy bot will make it to the ring, but the board making process itself is worth talking about.
Toner Transfer and Muriatic Acid Etchant: Making PCBs at LVL1 – [Link]
Kelvin writes: [via]
I was designing PCB using Kicad recently. For slightly more complex board, I was lazy to route them and instead use the in-built autoroute feature. Kicad autoroute feature seems inadequate. This is when I found the free autorouting tool at FreeRouting.net
To use the tool, one needs to export the PCB design to standard Specctra DSN interface. Kicad can do that. Critical traces can be hand routed first, and the tool respects design rules imposed by designer. Once that is done, you can go for a coffee break, while the autorouter does the crunching. For the board that I tired out, I am impressed with the result.
Online PCB routing software – [Link]
This application note gives PCB design tips for reducing EMI in automotive environments. A lot of the advise can be applied to any PCB layout. [via]
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing is an important part of design verification for serializer/deserializer (SerDes) devices in automotive applications. EMI and EMC must be considered early in the design cycle to prevent needless design revisions. The following application note details helpful, basic concepts and guidelines on how to prepare your SerDes system for EMI/EMC testing.
Designing PCBs for automotive applications – [Link]
Vinegar – Distilled White Vinegar – diluted with water to 5% acidity (Meijer)
Peroxide – 3% solution (Meijer)
Salt – to taste. (Just keep adding it until the “fizzing” continues all by itself).
Hydrogen peroxide is what we call an oxidizing agent (a mild one), meaning that it easily accepts electrons from other species to form H2O (hydrogen peroxide itself is electron deficient). What happens when it “dissolves” copper metal is that a neutral copper metal atom releases two electrons, to form a Cu2+ ion in solution. All metals tend to release electrons to form positively charged species….we refer to anything that DONATES electrons as a reducing agents. The strength of metals as reducing agents varies and copper is a fairly weak reducing agent.
Hydrogen Peroxide, Distilled White Vinegar and Salt as a PCB Etching Solution – [Link]