Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dragonboard Update!

Dragonboard V1.0.5 is 99% ready to be sent off to the Fab shop. I just have to resolve an issue with OSH Park, and I'll get it ordered. I have selected and compiled a parts list and am ready to make the big order from Mouser and Digikey. I checked and verified a few things with viewing Gerbers to see that the board looks good, and I learned a few things worth mentioning here.

For those who use GerbV, listen up. Dont panic if you open GerbV and dont see your imported bitmaps. GerbV has a bug which doesn't allow it to show features imported with Eagle2BMP.exe, since the default DPI is 10k, and the viewer can only handle about 300DPI. The way to get around this is to use import-bmp.ulp, and manually enter in a DPI value. Its a bit time consuming, but it works. 

And FYI, if you have your Eagle library in the Eagle lbr folder (which is where Eagle is installed or me), you wont be able to generate the bmp.scr for your imported image. So be sure to import your images into a library that isnt in your Program Files, and then import the individual parts across from that library to the library you use regularly. Problem solved. 

However, I found a great work around to even needing a Gerber viewer. I can render 3D CAD files directly from my Eagle Board Layout, and save whatever view I want into PNG format. This is how it works: A clever combination of Google Sketchup, ImageMagick and EagleUp. Follow the tutorial at the link, and you'll be up and running viewing your 3D Boards in no time. This way you can view your Board Layout, and not only verify the parts layouts, but also the board view in 3D space. How exciting! If you're planning to use OSH Park to Fab your boards, I went with these two colors for the EagleUp.ulp script: Board color is 0x462f5b and Trace color is 0x663a93. Thats it! 

If you want a quick way to view your Gerbers, you can always use the online viewer at Circuitpeople.com.

For those interested in exporting a Bill of Materials List, without the hassle of doing it manually, theres an easy way through a script in Eagle, called BOM.ulp. This script gives you the option to group by name or by value. I usually group by value to make the BOM easier to read.
Heres a teaser of the Dragonboard:

I hope everyone has a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finding Components in Eagle Schematic Design

I came across a good tip for Eagle and thought it would be nice to share with everybody. If you've just designed a rather complex circuit, with many parts (and possible many pages), sometimes Eagle will name things with odd naming schemes, and you're left wondering wheres the odd number left out of the number order. Ive run into this several times, and its quite annoying. So I discovered a unique solution, that the folks at Eagle already thought about.

Find.ulp will locate a part in your schematic based on an inputted reference designator or part number. Not only will it give you exact X and Y coordinates on your schematic, but it will zoom in on that part and highlight it. 

If you want to add a shortcut, as 'Control + F' to find components in your schematic, you can type in the Eagle Command Line:

ASSIGN C+F 'RUN find.ulp'; 
Additionally, you can modify the Eagle.scr file to add a button on the Eagle toolbar. This is well documented in the EAGLE HELP: Editor Commands > MENU.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dragonboard V1.0.0

I havent had an update in awhile, so I figured I'd give a status update. The last few months have been hectic, but Ive managed to cram a lot of time towards my project, and am almost ready to finally get my first legit prototype board off to the fab shop. Ive christened it as the Dragonboard. 

Its a multiple-use microcontroller board meant for operating RFID modules and gas sensor modules (of which are in the design phase right now). Its a pretty nifty little device that only has a dimension of 3.25 x 2", with an on-board RTC, a 9-16V DC/AC power supply, a 3-Axis accelerometer, an EMI suppression circuit for USB programming, an XBee, and all supporting hardware for the circuits. It also allows for on-board programming of the XBee.

Once I get it back from the shop, I'll post some updates about programming it, operation and whether or not it passes my tests for operation. Im crossing my fingers that this thing works out like Ive planned. Anyways, thats about all I wanted to say about it for now.