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SumnerBoy

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#157119 20-Nov-2014 14:09
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I am in the process of building a DIY version of my solar hot water controller using an Arduino and a number of temperature sensors. I would like to make it as robust as possible so I am thinking about designing my own PCB, perhaps in an Arduino shield form factor, and add various screw connectors/plug sockets to make it as easy to install and mod as possible.

Where do you guys get your custom PCBs made? I presume you have to go offshore, or is there somewhere local that provide this service (would prefer to go local if possible)?

Also, what layout tools/packages are you using to design your PCBs? It has almost been 20yrs since my Electrical Engineering days at UoC and just as long since I did any PCB design... 

Cheers,
Ben

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sir1963
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  #1180266 20-Nov-2014 18:36
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Look at Fritzing or Dip Trace.

I use Dip Trace, the free version does everything I need, although it is Windows software they put it into a Wine Warapper so it runs really well on my Mac.

Make my own PCBs , with care in design and manufacture I do double sided PCBs too, just need to make sure you can solder top/bottom on all pins.

geocom
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  #1180284 20-Nov-2014 18:50
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Take a look at this page.

http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumId=73&topicId=150297

The ones in the link above are still my current PCB supplier preferences.

As for Software. I use Eagle CAD as there are lots of footprint libraries available for Eagle. Afafruit and Sparkfun both provide very good libraries including layouts for Arduino shields




Geoff E


 
 
 
 


SumnerBoy

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  #1180324 20-Nov-2014 20:42
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Cheers guys - appreciate the feedback - I will check those out. 

@Geoff - do you have a paid version of Eagle? Not that keen to shell out for one design - is the eval version usable?

geocom
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  #1180390 20-Nov-2014 21:13
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SumnerBoy: Cheers guys - appreciate the feedback - I will check those out. 

@Geoff - do you have a paid version of Eagle? Not that keen to shell out for one design - is the eval version usable?


I do have a paid version but it has most of the same limits as the free version, my one just allows for commercial use.

 

  • The useable board area is limited to 100 x 80 mm (4 x 3.2 inches).
  • Only two signal layers can be used (Top and Bottom).

http://www.cadsoftusa.com/download-eagle/freeware/?language=en

That will allow you to design Arduino Shields and Arduino mega Shields(1mm length ways will not be able to have any parts on it)




Geoff E


SumnerBoy

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  #1180395 20-Nov-2014 21:18
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Sweet - I will have a look - thanks Geoff.

graemeh
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  #1180407 20-Nov-2014 22:04
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The good things about Eagle are that it is widely used and the free version will do reasonable sized PCBs.  The bad thing is that it is a pig, the user interface is rubbish.

I get my boards made at www.oshpark.com and also www.elecrow.com

O
shpark is great for smaller boards as they charge US$5 per square inch and for that you get three boards with free postage and the boards are made in USA.  Elecrow is going to be better price wise for an Arduino Shield sized board and the boards are made in China.

You can get boards made in NZ but the only places I could find seemed to be charging NZ$100 plus for boards where for US$20 I can get ten boards of 10cm by 5cm delivered from Elecrow.

I have just tried www.dirtypcbs.com but the boards haven't arrived yet so I can't comment on the quality.

The quality of the boards from Oshpark and Elecrow have been excellent.

I started out using an Arduino Uno but more recently I've been using Arduino Pro Mini from Sparkfun (US$9.95 https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11113) and Larduino Mini from Elecrow (US$4.95 from http://www.elecrow.com/larduino-mini-the-most-costeffective-arduino-p-1059.html)  You will also need also need a separate FTDI or USB board to use these modules, this is part of how they reduce the cost of the boards.

The good thing about both of these boards is they are cheaper and smaller.

SumnerBoy

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  #1180542 21-Nov-2014 08:28
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@gramen - yeah I have used oshpark once before and the quality seemed good. I was hoping there was someone local I could use, always like to support local businesses if possible. I think I will start with the free version of Eagle. My design will be pretty basic to start with so I should be fine to get something knocked up. I am building an ethernet connected device so it just seems easier to use an Uno with a cheap ethernet shield on top. I have got a number of RF sensors around the place which are battery powered, and for those I am using Moteinos (http://lowpowerlab.com/moteino/). They are pretty cheap (around $US20), have RF built in, and are Uno compatible. They have proved very good for my purposes so far!

 
 
 
 


SumnerBoy

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  #1180562 21-Nov-2014 09:01
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Awesome - up and running with Eagle, and have found the Arduino shield template (from Adafruit). Gonna have me some fun with this!

Thanks for the tips guys - much appreciated.

geocom
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  #1180601 21-Nov-2014 09:45
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There is one change that I made to Eagle that made things so much easier is.

Go into Options -> Assign

And add the following keys

Ctrl(Depending on your OS)+B
display -top -tPlace -tOrigins -tNames -tValues -tKeepout -tRestrict -tDocu


Ctrl(Depending on your OS)+G
display bottom bPlace bOrigins bNames bValues bKeepout bRestrict top tPlace tOrigins tNames tValues tKeepout tRestrict tDocu bDocu


Ctrl(Depending on your OS)+T
display -bottom -bPlace -bOrigins -bNames -bValues -bKeepout -bRestrict -bDocu


This will allow you to view just the top(Ctrl+T) Both Layers(Ctrl+G) or bottom(Ctrl+B). Saves a ton of time and makes it far easier to see the different layers on a 2 layer board.





Geoff E


graemeh
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  #1180619 21-Nov-2014 10:32
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geocom: There is one change that I made to Eagle that made things so much easier is.


That is a great suggestion, I'm going to set it up right now.

SumnerBoy

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  #1180620 21-Nov-2014 10:33
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Yep - I just tried it - very cool - thanks!

graemeh
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  #1180692 21-Nov-2014 12:12
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My PCBs from DirtyPCBs arrived today.  The Elecrow ones have slightly nicer edges as they are completely flat, the DirtyPCB ones have a bump on one edge.

All three options take about 3 weeks to arrive from when you order.  Elecrow and DirtyPCB have courier options that can reduce that by just over one week.

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