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1 Jan 2013
Before tRestrict

normal ground fill using polugon on Eagle PCB

Our dear friend Vassilis notes an easy way to trim ground fills on EAGLE PCBs. This tip is really helpful if you would like to prevent ground to be filled on small areas without having to add a new polygon.

Normally, if we like to add a ground plane on a PCB we use a polygon named GND and then empty space is filled with copper attached to GND net (keepout distance from traces, pads etc can be adjusted). In most cases you will notice that copper is filled in areas that we would not like to be filled. A solution to this is to add a polygon on tRestrict layer to prevent copper to be added on that area. This solution works nice for relative large areas of board.

Another way to prevent ground to fill a small area is to use a wire on tRestrict layer placed in such a way to “cut” the ground filling path. Using such wires on the above PCB give us better results as you can see on the screen below.

After tRestrict

ground fill trimmed using wires on tRestrict layer

20 Dec 2012


Jianyi Liu wrote a tutorial on PCB fabrication at home. He states: [via]

A few years ago, I started experimenting with homemade prototype PCBs as an alternative to professionally fabricated PCBs from board manufacturing company. My company was flexible enough to give me some resources and time to explore the subject matter. What I discovered was that with a small initial investment, you can make reasonably high quality two sided boards. In addition, all the equipment needed was easily accessible. I’ve decided to put my findings into this guide. Hopefully some of my fellow hobbyists will find the information useful

DIY PCB tutorial - [Link]

19 Dec 2012


This project is “NanoUtils Xtal” – a crystal oscillator breakout board. The board is designed to be interfaced with microcontrollers that have their oscillator pins next to a ground pin. [via]

This board is a breakout containing a SMD crystal, two caps and a resistor meant to be used in breadboards when building something with an Atmel ATmega or a Microchip PIC that have the two crystal pins next to a GND pin. For instance the atmega328 or pic18f2550.

Crystal oscillator breakout - [Link]

16 Dec 2012


Plastic housings Tek-Berry series provide a professional look and a mechanical protection to your applications with well-known Raspberry-Pi microcomputers.

Company Teko launched on the market several versions of housings directly designed for Raspberry-Pi. It is unusual to have a possibility to buy a housing directly designed for a given PCB.

Tek-Berry housings represent such an optimized solution for a concrete type of a product, thus providing an ideal solution with minimal dimensions. Probably the biggest advantage is that all openings are already made. There is no need of laborious drilling or milling. TekBerry housings even contain a light-guide for better visibility of light from indication LEDs.

Tek-Berry housings can be found in our store in a transparent, grey and black version. Upon order, we´re able to provide you other versions too. Detailed information can be found in the Tek-Berry datasheet and the Tek-Berry press release. In case of interest, please contact us at  info@soselectronic.com.

Tek-Berry will make a coat for your Rasberry-Pi - [Link]

30 Nov 2012

photo credit: angrycamel.com

bobstarr.net has revised the default Eagle libraries to suit his electronics design work and facilitate the work flow. These library files are designed to completely replace the default Eagle library set and are updated frequently.

Cadsoft Eagle replacement Libraries - [Link]

28 Nov 2012

photo credit: myropcb.com

I decided to order a prototype PCB for my latest project in a professional fabrication company but i could’ t decide if i should order it in a company in Europe or Asia. I am located in Europe and I wanted fast and quality service so it seemed that ordering from Europe will be the best choice. But i also was curious about the quality of the cheaper Asia manufacturers. So i concluded ordering the same PCB on both an Europian and an Asian PCB manufacturer. I choose the following PCB manufactures :

Eurocircuits.com – offers a great user experience when ordering a PCB. You place your PCB in shopping basket, you choose PCB details and you get an instant quote for your order (including shipping, excluding VAT). After placing your PCB in shopping cart you are able to review you PCB in PCB Visualizer. PCB Visualizer is a great tool to test you PCB for manufacturability online. My PCB prototype (2 layers, 1.55mm FR4, 1oz copper, green soldermask, white silkscreen, Lead free HASL, 100% E-test, .. more details here) costs calculated at 85 EUR for 2 pieces including UPS shipping.

Iteadstudio.com -  offers a pretty simple billing scheme, you choose from 5 sub-categories based on your max PCB dimensions. Quantity offered for each category is 5-10 pieces and prices are reasonable. I choose the 10x10cm batch offering 10 pieces (2 layers, 1.6mm FR4, 1oz copper, green soldermask, white silkscreen, Lead free HASL, 100% E-test, .. more details here) for a price of 24.90 USD + 25 DHL shipping = 49.90 USD final value.

Order on both manufactures done the same day. Both PCBs come to our door in 10 days. What we got:

  • Eurocircuits – we received 3 PCBs in 10 days for 85 EUR. PCB quality is great, plating is more thick on bottom than top layer, pcb cut-offs from panel are visible, soldermask has a faded green color, there are marks from E-testing. Packaged on plastic bag (vacuum). Cost per PCB = 28,3 EUR

  • Iteadstudio – we received 10 PCBs in 10 days for 49.90 USD. PCB quality is great, plating is more thick on bottom than top layer, pcb cut-offs from panel aren’t visible, soldermask is shiny vivid green color, there are marks of E-testing. Packaged on plastic bag (vacuum) + silica gel.  Cost per PCB = 4,99 USD 

I can’ t figure out any significant quality details between the two PBCs. To me IteadStudio PCBs seems more beautiful and worth the money. So i give +1 to IteadStudio for quality, quantity and processing time!

24 Nov 2012

Our friend Vassilis decided to build his own manual Pick & Place machine to facilitate his work with 0402 SMD and other fine pitch parts. He used plywood, a pen microscope and a vacuum pump to build this dirty cheap Pick and Place manual machine:

If you are dealing with tiny SMD parts (e.g. 0402 resistors and capacitors), a manual pick and place machine is a helpful piece of equipment for prototyping and small-batch manufacturing. On the other side, traditional SMD placement using precision tweezers not only requires an ultra-steady hand but also becomes a tiresome drill, especially when working long hours upon fine-pitch PCB footprints.

Low Budget Manual Pick & Place - [Link]

4 Nov 2012

A great online PCB verification service for free…

For added peace of mind now you can verify your PCB data prior to placing your order. PCB Visualizer is an automatic tool for data input and manufacturability analysis. Clear graphic presentation pinpoints any issues found. You can then fix them up front, helping to avoid delays to your time-critical deliveries. Upload your Extended Gerber (RS274X) or CadSoft EAGLE V6 files and let us surprise you.

pcbvisualizer.com – Free online PCB data verification service - [Link]

29 Oct 2012

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]

29 Oct 2012

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]





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