posts tagged with the keyword ‘pcb’

2016.11.27

ATtinyNoisy

I needed some small boards to put an ATtiny85 on, so I drew up a simple board in Fritzing and had them made up at OSH Park.

ATtinyNoisy

Here’s the breadboard view in Fritzing. Whenever I need “holes” to solder random components into I just use screw terminals. I’m sure there’s another/better way, but I’ve not found it yet, so I keep doing it this way.

ATtinyNoisy

Once the breadboard view is done, I go to the PCB view and move things around, make all the connections, and then export the files in Gerber format. Once you have a folder of Gerber files, you can ZIP it up and then upload to OSH Park for fabrication. (I covered this process in a previous post.)

MCN Gerber Viewer

I did find this Mac OS X application called MCN Gerber Viewer which allows you to view Gerber files. You can view the different “layers” and turn them on and off to check your board before fabrication. OSH Park shows you what your board will look like when you upload it, so you can easily check for issues, but MCN Gerber Viewer is still handy to have around to check files before you upload them.

You can download ATtinyNoisy, which includes the Fritzing file and the Gerber files, or just order it from OSH Park.

2016.06.14

Name Tag

I woke up early on Sunday and had an idea for a project, and since I had a bunch of copper boards laying around, and just got some Liquid Tin, I made a super-simple name tag PCB.

Design filled

I started by designing in Inkscape with a canvas slightly larger than what I needed, and a cutting guide the exact size of my copper board.

Design outlined

Here’s the outline of the design, which I exported as a DXF file. The outer line was useful in making a (near) perfect alignment when I put the vinyl on the copper board.

Silhouette

I then imported the DXF file into the Silhouette Studio software so I could cut some vinyl to use as a resist for etching. (As mentioned previously, my etching solution is hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and a bit of salt.)

Liquid Tin

Etching took over 75 minutes, but after it was done and cleaned off I dropped it into the Liquid Tin. It started getting bright and shiny immediately! (Sorry, no photos of the bare copper because I was working fast.)

LED & resistor

I soldered a blinking LED and a resistor in place, and since I still don’t have a tiny drill at home I went with surface mount of through-hole components, which works fine.

Battery

I also needed power, so I added a CR2032 battery and a binder clip along with a wire. The bottom of the battery (positive) goes against the PCB while the top (negative) gets a wire held against it with the binder clip. (Pretty much just borrowing heavily from the Learn to Solder Kit.)

Name Tag

I did end up drilling and filing a slot for the name tag clip thing, which I stole from my Milwaukee Makerspace badge.

Name Tag

Blink Blink! Maybe I’ll wear it to the National Maker Faire! I’ve got a few more ideas to build circuits that are one part electronics and one part art, so stay tuned!

2016.06.11

Copper versus Tin

When I created the PCBs for my Learn to Solder kit I was going for quick and dirty and cheap, and I achieved those goals, but for better PCBs it would make sense to tin them. Tinning the boards puts a thin layer of tin over the copper, which helps prevent oxidation, which can make soldering more difficult.

For a Learn to Solder kit the last thing you want is something that’s difficult to solder. (Or maybe you do want that, so it’s a challenge!) Anyway, for the PCBs I made I was able to easily scrub them with some steel wool before using, and didn’t really see much oxidation when we used them, but take a look at the photo above and you’ll see the condition of the copper just a few weeks after I made some of the boards. The one in the middle is the exception, because it has been tinned.

Liquid Tin

Just like etching, there are a number of ways to tin a PCB, and since I haven’t done it before I chose to go with the easy/expensive option. MG Chemicals has something called 421 Liquid Tin in a 125 ml Bottle. At $15 a pop it’s more expensive than other methods, but doesn’t involve heating chemical solutions, or mixing up a bunch of chemical. Don’t worry though, this stuff is still pretty dangerous, as the label on the back of the bottle will warn you.

Copper versus Tin

Warnings aside, it was dead simple to use. I just put some in a plastic container with my PCB and a few minutes later it was all tinned!

This isn’t something I would have done to all of the PCBs in my Learn to Solder kit, mainly because one of the goals was to make the kits as cheaply as possible. I will be exploring the use of tinned PCBs for some future projects, some of which are more at the intersection of art and electronics, where aesthetics and how the final piece looks really matter.

2016.05.23

PCBs

I’m almost set for the Zoom Milwaukee Symposium this week. I’ll be in the Maker Plaza teaching people how to solder with the DIY kit I’ve been working on for the last few weeks. (Check out Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV if you haven’t seen them yet.)

PCBs

It doesn’t look like a lot, but there’s over 100 PCBs that were made at home. I cut all the vinyl, etched them, drilled them, cut them apart, and sanded the edges.

LEDs

There are a few options for LEDs, ranging from plain green and blue to flashing red and flickering orange. (There’s probably over 400 LEDs here.)

Resistors

The resistor you use will depend on the LED you choose. I’ll be able to talk about limiting current and how it is calculated for different LEDs.

Batteries

And of course there are batteries. I’ve got 100 CR2032 cells, which came in just under $18 for all of them thanks to ebay.

Binder Clips

There are 144 binder clips to hold the batteries to the PCBs. Again the cheapest I could find, thanks to Amazon.

Wire & Solder

A few spools of solid core wire and some solder. (I’ve got more solder than this, not that we’ll need a lot, but multiple rolls are helpful.)

Magnets

I also went crazy and got some Neodymium magnets in case people want to attach their PCB to other things. (I tried to arrange the magnets a bit more orderly for the photo but it was impossible!)

Zoom PCB

Here’s the back of the PCB. You can see how the board has been etched to leave just the copper traces to complete the circuit. (The ring around the edge is just a guide for the cutting and sanding.)

Zoom PCB

Here’s the front of the PCB. You can see the LED, resistor, and the wire that leads to the back through the hole which serves as the battery connector. And of course the binder clip holds the battery in place.

Zoom PCB

You can remove the arms of the binder clip if you want to stand the PCB up, attach it to something, or just be more streamlined.

Zoom PCB

Zoom PCB

PCB Wearable

And hey, with the addition of the magnet you can even turn it into a wearable! Be the envy of the Zoom After Party (wait, is there one?) with your flickering, flashing, or constantly lit LED PCB!

This is just one post in a series, check out the other posts as well:

2016.05.16

Teensy LC BOB v1.3

Update: If you’d like one of these boards, there’s a newer version of this board, and you can purchase it on Tindie.

Good News, Everyone! The new Teensy LC break-out board is ready! Yes, we’re now at version 1.3 of the Teensy LC BOB.

Preview

I’ve made a few changes since version 1.2. I moved the traces from the top to the bottom (how did I miss that!?) and I added an extra ground line so that you can connect a bunch of screw terminals to the ground row even if you don’t solder in header pins at the end of the board and only do the sides. (This also comes in handy if using the Teensy Audio Adaptor Board.)

I’ve also lengthened the board a bit, and added a fifth hole, and here’s why…

Installed

For a recent project I discovered that the USB cable was able to rip the USB connector right off the Teensy if hit, twisted, or yanked in the wrong direction. The fifth hole is for adding a piece (wood? plastic?) by screwing it into the bottom and then looping a zip tie around the USB cable for strain relief.

USB mock-up

I scanned in a Micro USB cable and placed it over an image of the board to figure out spacing. It should work. I may end up 3D modeling the piece that holds the USB cable in place.

As I use the boards more I may find other improvements along the way. Also, I’m now able to load in custom images and graphics onto the PCB, so I’m already scheming for my next OSH Park project.

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