Tag Archives: PCB

Digi-Key launches a common parts library for the KiCad EDA Tool

Digi-Key Electronics has announced that it is in beta release of a library containing almost 1,000 common parts for the open-source KiCad schematic capture and PCB tool. By Ally Winning @ eenewsembedded.com:

The library will be hosted on the Digi-Key website. It was built after Digi-Key analyzed the top 1,000 parts that KiCad users would require. The library combines schematic symbols and PCB footprints into atomic elements and adds fields including part numbers and datasheet links. As the library has the same license as KiCad’s main library, it is freely available to all developers. The final release of the library is planned for early 2018.

Digi-Key launches a common parts library for the KiCad EDA Tool – [Link]

PCB Motor – A smaller and cheaper brushless motor.

by Carl Bugeja @ hackaday.io designed a brushless motor using a 3D printer and a 4-layer PCB. He writes:

The PCB motor is my solution for trying to design a smaller, cheaper and easier to assemble brushless motor.

The motor’s stator is a 6 spiral PCB coil in a star configuration. Although it has less torque compared to an iron core stator, it still suitable for high-speed applications.

The current prototype has a 3d printed rotor with a 16mm diameter.

PCB Motor – A smaller and cheaper brushless motor – [Link]

MetCal Connection Validation – The Next Generation of Soldering

Making solid connections between electrical components on a board is an important part of many hardware projects. A good solder joint forms an alloy at the surface of the PCB and the component lead. During soldering, a solder connection on a circuit board can quickly turn into a real nightmare if not caught immediately, ending up with a too thin or too thick solder joint.

Connection Validation is MetCal’s latest innovation in hand soldering. It allows you to precisely apply the solder to your components. MetCal Connection Validation is to complement or even replace the standard visual inspection during soldering, where now the soldering iron will do it instead.

MetCal Connection Validation (CV) evaluates the quality of the solder joint by calculating the intermetallic compound formation immediately after the soldering iron’s tip is placed on the joint to solder, and it provides closed loop feedback to the operator visually. Connection Validation provides feedback to the operator via the LED light ring integrated into the hand-piece. The Soldering Iron will light up green when the correct intermetallic thickness has formed, and a red light comes on if an error has occurred.

The following are some of the features and benefits of Connection Validation Soldering Station:

  • SmartHeat Power on Demand Technology
  • Patented Connection Validation IMC Formation Technology
  • 2.8” color touchscreen with bold graphics
  • Communications Port for process traceability data and firmware graphics
  • Precise tip temperature display
  • Integrated Net Power Meter and power graph
  • Patented Chip-in-Cartridge technology
  • Closed loop bi-directional communication
  • Stores and records cartridge attributes
  • Provides traceability information
  • Protects power supply from non-conforming cartridges
  • Backwards compatible with MX series power supplies
  • Password protection

Introduced at IPC APEX 2017, MetCal’s exciting patent technology was met enthusiastically by contract manufacturers and electronics assembly leaders worldwide.

Printed circuit board manufacturer – JLCPCB Review

Recently, I had the opportunity to test the printed circuit boards (PCB) offered by JLCPCB. These tests were made in two different boards of the brand and here I’ll report my impressions about them.

Due to the spread of the maker culture and the do-it-yourself (DIY) and easy access to components and a huge amount of technical information available on Internet, it has become much simpler to develop a solution to a problem or just have fun soldering some components.

However, taking the design out of a breadboard (or universal board) and turning it into a PCB stills a big challenge, mainly due to the costs involved.

And  exactly at this point the services offered by JLCPCB make the difference, offering a high level service of PCB manufacturing with an  extremely competitive cost.

Requesting the production of PCBs is quite simple and there are two basic ways to do it. If you are developing within EasyEDA just click on “Gerber Output” and your gerber file will be generated and transferred directly to the JLCPCB system.

(more…)

Researchers Develop New Technique To Print Flexible Self-healing Circuits For Wearable Devices

The researchers of North Carolina State University in the US, lead by Jingyan Dong, have developed a new technique for directly printing flexible, stretchable metal circuits. The innovative technique can be used with multiple metals and alloys. It is also compatible with existing manufacturing systems which can integrate this new printing technology effortlessly.

Flexible PCB designed by the researchers
Flexible PCB designed by the researchers

The technique uses the well known electrohydrodynamic printing technology. This popular technology is already used in many manufacturing processes that use functional inks. But instead of using conventional functional ink, Jingyan Dong’s team uses molten alloys having melting point as low as 60 degrees Celsius. This new technique was demonstrated using three different alloys, printing on different substrates such as glass, paper, and two types of stretchable polymers. Jingyan Dong added,

Our approach should reduce cost and offer an efficient means of producing circuits with high resolution, making them viable for integrating into commercial devices.

The researchers tested the flexibility of the circuits on a polymer substrate and found that the circuit’s conductivity was uninterrupted even after being flexed 1,000 times. The circuits were still electrically firm even when stretched to 70 percent of tensile strain. The above figures are surprising enough, especially when printing flexible wearables is the main target.

Even more interesting, the circuits can heal themselves if they are broken by being bent or stretched beyond their limitations. On the other hand, because of the low melting point, one can simply heat the affected area up to around 70 degrees Celsius and make the metal flow back together, repairing the related damage with ease.

The researchers demonstrated the functionality of the printing technique by creating a high-density touch sensor, packing a 400-pixel assemblage into one square centimeter. The researchers have demonstrated the flexibility and functionality of their approach. Now, they are planning to work with the industry sector to implement the technique in manufacturing wearable sensors or other electronic devices.

The days of truly flexible, self-healing wearable smart gadgets are not so far because of the hard work of these researchers.

The Factors That Determine PCB Assembly Pricing

This is a sponsored post discussing about PCB assembly costs factors on Bittele Electronics.

Bittele Electronics has developed its pricing schedule based on various factors that determine PCB assembly costs. Some of our customers call us to better understand the factors involved assembly pricing. In general, the factors that cause pricing differences include PCB dimensions, part types and quantities, soldering methodology, type of inspections, etc.

Pricing changes often depend upon the quantity of parts to be assembled on a PCB as well as the type of parts. Component types and the technology selected by the customer also determine our final pricing. Other things that impact pricing include, through-hole components, SMDs, and fine pitch, leadless or BGA devices.

There are substantial price increases if you specify double-sided assembly. This is because the assembly process will need to be repeated to place parts on both sides of the board. The double-sided assembly process also includes extra solder stencil production, SMT equipment programming, etc., which can add costs to the average assembly charge. Nonetheless, Bittele attempts to charge reasonable prices along with lead-free assembly by considering all these factors in our prices.

Bittele offers lead-free assembly based upon the customer’s specifications. We possess two additional production lines dedicated to lead-free assembly. We employ RoHS-compliant, state-of-the-art soldering methods. Lead-free assembly may result in prices changes, however. You can obtain the actual costs by contacting one of our sales representatives.

The type and size of parts that you select will also determine the final PCB assembly cost. Charges may also change if you specify lead-less parts, such as BGA, QFN, etc. In addition, costs may vary with package sizes (e.g., 0201, 1206, etc.) as well as the inspection methods you specify.

Bittele has a variety of inspection methods, including in-circuit and functional tests, available to ensure high quality PCBs. We are capable of the following tests: visual inspection for basic quality verifications, x-ray testing for lead-less devices and blank PCBs, AOI inspections to test solder paste applications, missing components, and polarity. Our inspections are completed without additional charges.

PCBite 2.0 – Hands-free & steady solution for your measurements

SensePeek launched a kickstarter campaign about their PCBite 2.0, a hands free assistance for your electronic measurements. The campaign has 17 days to go, with pledges starting from 30 USD.

 Last year we created the flexible and rock solid PCB holder – the end to wobbly circuit boards on your workbench. TODAY we proudly present the perfection of a measurement tool.  A steady but yet flexible precision probe made for instant measurements or total hands-free operations. PCBite precision probe has a flexible metal arm and a powerful magnet in the base .The measuring tip comes with a thread interface for several mounting options.

PCBite 2.0 – Hands-free & steady solution for your measurements – [Link]

REFLO – Compact, open, and smart PCB reflow oven

REFLO is a stylish, portable reflow oven for creators and makers to easily, quickly, and professionally prototype their IoT device, wearable, small robot, etc.

REFLO’s features:

  • Portable at only 6” x 6” x 2” – it’s the worlds smallest reflow oven
  • Efficient as it requires only 300 W
  • Operable from a mobile device
  • Open source hardware & software
  • Compatible with the Arduino IDE
  • Low cost

REFLO – Compact, open, and smart PCB reflow oven – [Link]

PcbDraw – KiCAD board into a nice looking 2D drawing

Convert your KiCAD boards into nice looking 2D drawings suitable for pinout diagrams. Never draw them manually again! [via]

Jan Mrázek created a Python script that takes a KiCAD board (.kicad_pcb file) and produces a 2D nice looking drawing of the board as an SVG file.

This small Python script takes a KiCAD board (.kicad_pcb file) and produces a 2D nice looking drawing of the board as an SVG file. This allows you to quickly and automatically create awesome pinout diagrams for your project. These diagrams are much easier to read than a labeled photo of a physical board or an actual KiCAD design.

PcbDraw – KiCAD board into a nice looking 2D drawing – [Link]

SnapEDA launches InstaBuild, helping PCB designers build free parts in minutes

SAN FRANCISCO  – September 28, 2017 – Today, SnapEDA – the Internet’s first parts library for circuit board design – is launching InstaBuild, the first free automated part builder.

InstaBuild uses powerful computer vision technology to enable PCB designers to make schematic symbols in mere minutes.

Using a datasheet as the input, it automatically extracts symbol pinouts, understands whether a pin is an input, output or power pin, and auto-arranges the symbols based on SnapEDA’s published symbol standards.

“InstaBuild is based on the underlying technology we use internally at SnapEDA to create parts quickly,” said Natasha Baker, CEO & Founder of SnapEDA.  “We’re opening up access so that hardware designers around the world can benefit from this technology.”

The symbols are automatically mapped to verified IPC-compliant footprints. The designer can then download the ready-to-use symbol and footprint for their desired PCB design software.

Supported formats include Altium, Autodesk Eagle, Mentor PADS & DXDesigner, Cadence OrCad and Allegro, KiCad, and PCB123. For most parts, the process takes less than 5 minutes.

If a part is already available in SnapEDA’s vast component library, then the part can simply be downloaded free from the SnapEDA website instantly, or from within Altium, Eagle, or PCB123 using one of the SnapEDA plugins.

InstaBuild is free, and can be accessed from supported part pages on SnapEDA. To learn more visit www.snapeda.com/instabuild.