Electronics are inside nearly every consumer hardware device you buy today. They are the brains and guts that make our devices interesting. If you’ re building a hardware startup, chances are good that you’ ll need to design and produce your own custom electronics. If you have an electrical engineer on your team, chances are they know how this process works. If not, then this guide is for you.
PCB Assembly 101 - [Link]
Super Simple SMT: Stencil8 – [via]
Over the years, I’ve soldered a fair number of boards. I’ve also seen how professional factories produce their boards. This is my technique for doing it myself, and I hope it works as well for you as it does for me. Note: the files needed to make the fixture, custom pcb setup, and stencil are on Github – Stencil8. This whole project is OSHW.
Super Simple SMT: Stencil8 - [Link]
Unit is based on Arduino Atmega328P MCU, with over 430 UV LEDs. The PCB board is made using Toner transfer method and isn’t perfect. It was just too big and I was too lazy to do it again. However, marker here, scratch it there and it it good enough.
The unit itself is on single sided copper clad board, no additional cables, no narrow paths (except for one for power on the MCU). Design is straight forward. It’s designed to be powered from 12V source (computer) and take around 2,7Amps @ full power which means around 30Watts.
DIY UV Exposure Unit with LED and Arduino - [Link]
With this free viewer, you can upload your Gerber files and have a 360 degree view of your PCB design. Launch the viewer to load your own design or view one of the example boards. So simple yet so effective! Worth a donate.
3D Gerber Viewer in your browser - [Link]
Etching is the process of eating away a pattern on a target material by using an etchant liquid that attacks the target material.
The most common target materials are copper and brass. The most common etchant liquids are ferric chloride, ammonium persulphate and cupric chloride
On a hobby scale it is common to submerge the target into a container filled with the etchant. This can be very slow and is often sped up by either mechanical agitation or using an aquarium / fish-tank bubbler. Even with the speed up from sloshing the container around this process can take 10-15 minutes for a PCB or over an hour for a thick brass plate.
The spray etching method uses the same etchant liquid as the submersion method, but instead sprays the liquid onto the target. This can speed up the process by an order of magnitude.
The Etchinator – low cost spray etcher - [Link]
Manufacture pcb using vinyl sticker and laser printer. Faster, easier and cheaper then ever.
Manufacture PCB using Vinyl Sticker and Laser Printer - [Link]
While sometimes quick and dirty works fine for footprints, if you ever have to deal with enclosures or particularly dense boards, you’ll soon find out that accurate footprints can make your life much easier.
There are some really nice, detailed and accurate footprints in the default Eagle libraries, but there aren’t a lot of resources out there on how to create them. This guide will hopefully serve that purpose, highlighting what works for me making connectors and similar types of footprints.
Creating Accurate Footprints in Eagle - [Link]
Florin made a head to head comparison of Seeed and ITead’s inexpensive PCB services. He made the orders with the same design files, on the same day. While the Seeed order came in after 4 weeks, ITead’s came just 15 days after the order was made. The author however suspects it might have been a fluke, since all his earlier orders from ITead took around 4 weeks to complete too.
Seeed Studio vs ITead Studio PCB service head to head - [Link]
PCB design toolkit – PCB Via Current | PCB Trace Width | Differential Pair Calculator | PCB Impedance – [via]
The Saturn PCB Toolkit is the best resource for PCB related calculations you can find. It incorporates many features that PCB designers and engineers are in regular need of like current capacity of a PCB trace, via current, differential pairs and much more. Please download our PCB Toolkit today for free and enjoy!
PCB design toolkit – PCB Via Current | PCB Trace Width | Differential Pair Calculator | PCB Impedance - [Link]
Ian @ dangerousprototypes.com
In Eagle polygons are used to make big copper areas on a PCB that aren’t necessarily traces. We use them all the time to fill blank space on a PCB with copper connected to ground. Less frequently we use them to make large power traces such as with the ATX Breakout Board. Here’s some notes on how to use and customize polygons in Cadsoft Eagle.
Polygons and ground fills for PCBs in Eagle - [Link]