Recently I’ve been expanding my retro game collection to include game cartridges imported from Japan. The problem is that I don’t have Japanese game systems (yet). So I’m creating an open source adapter to convert Famicom carts to the NES. Before I submit the PCB to OSH Park, I’m going to run through this PCB Checklist to make sure I don’t forget something silly.
This PCB checklist is something I’ve built over my years of creating boards. If you’ve got tips from your own list, don’t forget to leave a comment letting us know.
PCB Production Checklist
The concepts on this list will apply to almost any PCB software. The tips I give relate to EAGLE, since that is what I use most often. Feel free to comment to add tips for other design software like upverter.com or KiCad.
I am not a fan of relying on the Autorouter in EAGLE — or any PCB CAD software for that matter. When laying out a board, I’ll use the autorouter to get an idea if the part placement is going to work or not. In this case, I was reminded how much autorouters suck! Even after running for while, the autorouter could only route up 50% of the nets (signals).
Never Trust The Autorouter
It only took me about 20 minutes to start over and finish the manual layout. I still want to clean it up a little, but over all, I beat the Autorouter.
What is the board anyway?
In January I visited Tokyo on my annual work trip. While there, I ran over to Akihabara to check out a used media store called Traders. The multi-level store (like all those in Tokyo) sold used video games and movies. Each floor featured different platforms. My favorite was the 2nd floor which was all retro 8, 16, and 32 bit systems. Piles of Famicoms (NES), Super Famicoms (SNES), Mega Drives (Genesis), and other systems were all around. In the middle of the floor were racks of cartridges.
While there I picked up a couple of Rockman (Mega Man) carts, Super Mario brothers, and even Adventure island.
A US-based NES can play Famicom games since the basic hardware is the same. However, the pin outs are slightly different. Also, US-based NES systems look for a lock-out ship (CIC) that Famicoms don’t have. Fortunately I ran across a project that uses the ATtiny (AVRCICZZ) to emulate the lockout chip. So armed with that and some pinouts, I’ve created an adapter.
Keep subscribed, after a few more touches, I’ll post the EAGLE files as an Open Source Hardware (OSH) project.
When I was in elementary school, I remember Ms. Coker telling us we needed to memorize our multiplication tables because we wouldn’t always have a calculator. Years later in college I was told, “learn to use the library, it’s not like you can carry the internet in your pocket.”
Seems strange that I always carry 3 devices on me that do both.
Today a generation of people are growing up with the mass of all human knowledge available to them from birth. No formal education is necessary. And the only need is a modern device with WiFi.
However. Not all accessible information is equal. Which is why I created the AddOhms Electronics Tutorial Video series. Instead of teaching Electrical Engineering as an engineer to other engineers, I’ve created a series that uses simple language to explain electronics to anyone. And now the growing YouTube series, is available for sale on DVD!
(P.S. The first batch on Tindie were hand made and include a special thank you…)
Karl and Corey run The Spark Gap Podcast which is focused on embedded electronics. On Episode 25 they interview me about Capacitors. We covered all the major types of caps, plus some application bits. Check out their show notes for an impressive array of links on the subject.
Also, my favorite episode of theirs so far is episode 18. The guys talk about different serial protocols like SPI, I2C, CAN, etc. Really good stuff.
|Date:||January 28, 2015|
|Appearance:||Capacitor Questions Answered on The Spark Gap Podcast|
|Outlet:||The Spark Gap Podcast|
When it comes to schematic capture and circuit simulation on a mobile device, iCircuit for iOS got it right from the start. iCloud integration, intuitive touch controls, and fast application performance. Now (or Finally?), iCircuit is available for OS X.
iCircuit is based on the Falstad Circuit Simulator, which sadly, is a Java-based web app. For years I’ve installed the App on my iPhone and iPad almost immediately after turning on iCloud [for Android users, that’s basically the first step of activating an iOS device].
Jan 15, 2015
Understanding what X2 or Y1 capacitors actually are and are not is important when designing them into an AC-mains connected power supply. Recently Electronic Products Magazine ran an article I wrote on the proper role of X and Y safety rated EMI Capacitors.
The X2 capacitor rating means different things to different people–except for UL. When I wrote this article to discuss some common misconceptions around what X2 Rated Capacitors are, and how they can be properly used.
In case the PDF reader doesn’t load, it’s on Page 20 of the November 2014 issue.
You can see the full article with the EP Reader, by clicking here.
|Date:||November 1, 2014|
|Appearance:||Role of EMI X1, X2, Y1, Y2 Capacitors Ratings|
|Outlet:||Electronic Products Management|
The Gecko Zero EFM32 Weather Station Evaluation Board from Silicon Labs is intended to show off the low-energy or energy harvesting capabilities of the EFM32 Zero. The ARM-based board has physical and cap sensitive buttons along with the LCD.
It comes pre-loaded with a demo program, which is the classic Space Invaders.
If you’re interested in more about the board, I wrote a road test of Gecko EFM32 on element 14. (Spoilers: I wasn’t impressed. Not a bad board, but rough development environment.)