RGB lightsaber

What are you developing?
racemaniac
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by racemaniac » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:02 pm

Some progress to mention: after experimenting with my 411 board a bit, i took the leap to learn KiCad and design my own pcb :). I've sent it now to dirtypcb to have it made, lets see if by some miracle my first pcb ever will work :p.
it's a little custom pcb with an stm32f411, a motion sensor, an I2s DAC, a micro sd card holder, and some usefull pins broken out (the SWD header, one of the usarts, some pins for whatever else i need).

I'm wondering how this will turn out :)

And for now, i'm really liking KiCad. When first looking into pcb's i gave eaglecad a try, but didn't quite like it. with the recent thing with their licenses my motivation for learning eaglecad shrunk even further >_<. so i decided to give KiCad a try, and i'm really liking it :). already made my own footprints and everything, and i really like working with it :).

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BennehBoy
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by BennehBoy » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:50 pm

I think I need to invest some time into kicad too. Fingers crossed for you here!

What sort of cost & turnaround time were the prototype boards?
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racemaniac
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by racemaniac » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:10 pm

BennehBoy wrote:I think I need to invest some time into kicad too. Fingers crossed for you here!

What sort of cost & turnaround time were the prototype boards?
i just submitted them, i hope it'll be about a month
the cost was 15€

And for KiCad, i started with this tutorial: http://teholabs.com/knowledge/kicad.html , really liked that one :)

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BennehBoy
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by BennehBoy » Sun Feb 12, 2017 5:38 pm

Cheers.
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RogerClark
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by RogerClark » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:59 pm

I use dirtypcb and normally pay for their expedited shipping, and get the boards back in between 2 and 3 weeks.

My last board was done in KiCad, which felt a bit strange after using Eagle for several years.

The main difference is symbols dont have automatic linkage between schematic representation and PCB footprint, and to start with, I thought this was a retrograde step.
But after a while it started to make sense to only link the footprint when in the PCB design program

I don't know if they added it in the last couple of months, since I last used KiCad, curved tracks were not possible, but that was the only feature I used in Eagle that was not in KiCad

racemaniac
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by racemaniac » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:35 am

RogerClark wrote:I use dirtypcb and normally pay for their expedited shipping, and get the boards back in between 2 and 3 weeks.

My last board was done in KiCad, which felt a bit strange after using Eagle for several years.

The main difference is symbols dont have automatic linkage between schematic representation and PCB footprint, and to start with, I thought this was a retrograde step.
But after a while it started to make sense to only link the footprint when in the PCB design program

I don't know if they added it in the last couple of months, since I last used KiCad, curved tracks were not possible, but that was the only feature I used in Eagle that was not in KiCad
from what i can see, indeed no curved tracks yet (but can't say i miss that :p)
and i like the disconnect between footprint and schematic :). maybe it's because i don't know any different, but for me it makes perfect sense XD.

And they recently did a create pcb tutorial series on hackaday, at the end of kicad they called it a typical open source product with a difficult interface... it's maybe not the easiest interface, but trying to learn both, kicad went a lot easier for me than the mess that eagle felt like for me >_<.
maybe i just found a bad eagle tutorial, and a good kicad one, don't know. But as a newbie, i'm really liking it so far :).

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RogerClark
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by RogerClark » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:56 am

I never found the UI on Eagle that good

KiCad is no worse. But perhaps some of the expensive packages like Altium are better and thats what they could be comparing it with (though it seems unlikely)

racemaniac
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by racemaniac » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:30 pm

well, it's off to a quick start ^^
submitted the files yesterday, today got an update that the pcb is in production ^^
RogerClark wrote:I never found the UI on Eagle that good

KiCad is no worse. But perhaps some of the expensive packages like Altium are better and thats what they could be comparing it with (though it seems unlikely)
I hear indeed great thigns about altium, but on hackaday i think they were more comparing the likes of eaglecad and other affordable options :).
I think i also read that eaglecad protects you far less against errors (that you can accidentally end up with a trace that goes right across pads if you're not careful), and that the drc part is very important there.
after working with KiCad which enforces everything immediately, i can't imagine working like that >_<. in kicad if a trace is placed you know it's respecting all rules set to it (it'll only make contacts as specified in your schema, will respect all clearances etc...). While making my pcb i even noticed something went wrong in my schema, and 2 pins that should have been connected to ground weren't registered as such. So i had to fix it in my schema and update it in the pcb tool (which was really painless XD), and only then i could connect those pins to ground :).
when i was done the first time, and ran the drc, the only thing it could say was that the corner pads of my qfn footprints were too close together. that was it.

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RogerClark
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by RogerClark » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:08 pm

Yes... Running the DCR on Eagle is essential

I suppose Eagle has an Autorouter, but I found it was only useful, if I first did some of the tricky routing myself, and it still ends up spraying the board with vias etc

So manually routing my last board ( a home project) using KiCad was not a problem, as it would have been impossible to use the Aurorouter in Eagle! as I had 5mm wide mains power tracks that needed to be routed on the too and the bottom of the board in parallel, as it needed to carry a lot of current, and I also had to ensure the mains isolation spacing between the tracks as well etc etc


One of the other reasons I moved to KiCad was the limited board size on Eagle, on the Free and the basic Commercial version.

I paid for the basic commercial version ( around $100), but you are still limited to the same board size as the free version.

If you want to make a board bigger than 100mm in width or length, you need to shell out $1000 or more for the next level up.
This is still the case even now Eagle has been bought by Autodesk ( I checked a few weeks ago)

So I cant make a long thing board with Eagle.

Hence I jumped ship, so I can make boards 110mm by 50mm etc in KiCad if I want to ;-)

racemaniac
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Re: RGB lightsaber

Post by racemaniac » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:02 pm

My pcb's finally arrived this week, spent the day assembling a pcb with tiny smd components for the first time in my life XD.
After a lot of struggling (and having made the stupid mistake assuming the tab on the ams1117 is connected to ground, it's not :p), i've got one of the boards blinking its led using the stm32f411 that's on it XD.
i'll still have a lot of work getting this little thing completely up and running, but it's a good start XD. i'm already amazed that besides the stupid voltage regulator error (which was easily solved using some heatshrink around the tab, and we'll see how it does with heat, it's a low power board, so maybe it'll manage like that :p ), i haven't encountered any other mistakes so far :). i've found some possible improvements, but it's a good start so far XD.
on to the next adventures with this little board XD.

i've got the impression it's currently running a bit too fast, so that's the first thing i've got to investigate (it's using a 24Mhz crystal)
*edit* fixed :)
found where in the cubemx code where it was still thinking i had an 8 mhz crystal :)
now the led is blinking as expected, and this little board is slowly becoming usable :)

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