The good news is that after I received my new boards, I was able to put one together and everything pretty much worked reasonably well. Well enough to use as demo units. So I have at least one more demo unit that I’ll be completing within the next month or so.
The not-entirely-bad news is that I did find some aspects of the board that I evaluated to be sub-optimal, so I’ve made a handful of changes and have submitted the design for manufacturing. I’m hoping to see those boards by the middle of next week.
This was my first ever project using Eagle cad, and I’m feeling pretty good about it. The learning curve was ok for me. I don’t have any professional experience doing this stuff, so I guess Eagle is easy enough. It’s a little tough at the beginning, but once you get into the groove of getting your parts created in a library, you’re good to go.
I pretty much took it as a given that I’d have some kind of critical bug or wiring error that I’d have to eat the costs of. The errors I found weren’t wiring problems, they were problems with drill sizes. All of the wiring was 100% accurate and functional. I ponied up for the autorouter, and I’m glad I did. I was able to move some things around on the layout, adjust some of the my fail-over pins and pads, re-run the autorouter, and was back to being in the fabrication queue with my board house within a couple of hours. Some people just don’t like eagle’s autorouter, but for me it’s awesome. I have something like 500 holes on my board and the autorouter did the job in about 2 minutes. Easily worth the cost. so I’m feeling like I can go ahead and work on the manufacturing optimizations I’ve been thinking about for pre-assembled units without having to worry about give up all of the hard work I put into the last functional layout.
So, some highlights on this round of boards:
- the board is now properly branded with the beatseqr logotype. Woo.
- I took a risk on putting holes on the board for the support legs on my faders, and they work great.
- I took a risk on putting offset pads on the board in order to use surface-mount board headers to interface with the arduino mega.. and they work pretty well!
- silk screening on two sides worked as I figured it would. I thought it through and reversed all the text on the b-place layer, and that was a good guess. I missed a bunch of stuff on the t-place layer that should have gone on the b-place layer, so that’s corrected in version 4.51. Lesson learned: change the color of the b-place layer… that will make it easier to see what’s on that layer.
- I put some holes on the board to line up with the mounting holes on the arduino mega, and they lined up perfectly
- Totally surprised, pleasantly, that my boards came back routed to my irregular shape, exactly as specified in my design. that’s a major post-production step that I just don’t have to worry about. I’m very happy about that.
- mounting holes for the project case lined up perfectly. This bullet and the one above are epic, because when I was using my board house’s own PCB layout program, I couldn’t specify the irregular board outline I need, and it wouldn’t let me put my mounting holes as close to the edge as I needed them. Both problems solved by going to eagle cad. Plus I can get silkscreening on the bottom layer at no additional cost, so heck yeah.
- all of the drill sizes that I ported over from my other design worked very well.
So … after a a few months of cooling the jets and learning eagle, I’m back to full speed ahead again.