Autodesk released EAGLE 9. This new version continues the improvement that Autodesk has been providing since acquiring the infamous ECAD tool. There are three areas I look at in this AddOhms Livestream.
How I looked at EAGLE 9
In the beginning, I use an old training class I wrote about five years ago when I was using EAGLE daily. It shows how to design a 555 flashing circuit from schematic to PCB. A follow-on class taught how to mill the PCB on a Shopbot. I might update the course and release it if I have time. The exercise class helps me find some surprises with EAGLE’s incremental improvements.
After that, I check out three new features. I also looked at the “Design Blocks” stuff which is a way to incorporate completed schematics like the Adafruit PowerBoost circuit. I need to come back and look at that function again later. Also, I am not positive, but I think that feature was introduced before 9.
1. Quick Routing
The quick routing reminds of the old “follow me” option. You can select individual airwires, entire nets, or multiple signals to route interactively. Unlike the Autorouter, which routes the board as the whole. In the video, I build a simple 555-based PCB. I couldn’t try out routing multiple signals, like address and data for DDR memory. The value I see most from this feature is selectively routing your critical signals and then quick routing the remaining non-critical nets.
2. Device Manager
This informational window provides a clean break-down of many pieces of data. Need to know what layers a footprint use? How about the length of an entire net? In the video, I show that you can use this feature to verify all of your passive components have the same package style. The information is all there, Device Manager brings it to your attention.
Spoiler Alert: I really like the Breakout Feature. (For those that say I don’t smile in videos, I did this time.) Long story short, this is a shortcut to expand all of the pins for an IC. A great example is in the AddOhms Pyramiduino DIY PCB episode. In the beginning, you can see my time lapse as I break out each of the GPIO pins. That can happen in EAGLE now with a single click.
Check it out
Have you had a chance to check out EAGLE 9 yet? If so, what are your thoughts?
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.
Make sure you also check out the comments, some really great suggestions there too!
Continue Reading »
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).
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.
Your challenge, if you chose to accept it, is to determine why EAGLE is showing a ratsnet connection on the far left of the PCB layout. The pads shown with the yellow unrouted line are both GND. They are both surrounded by a ground plane, which is also connected to GND.
When you start creating your own parts in EAGLE, you’re going to want to store them somewhere. Here’s how to setup EAGLE to use custom directories and how to create your own Library, which gets stored in the custom directory. There are a number of steps involved, but once setup custom libraries give you a place to store components you create as well as the ability to copy other parts into your library.
Does it take a few seconds every time you click the “ADD PART” button on EAGLE? Tired of scrolling through an enormous list of parts just to find a capacitor? Here’s how you can reduce the parts listing without deleting a single library.
If you are anything like me, your copy of EAGLE has an extensive list of libraries. Most of them probably came with the installer, some which you have added. This, of course, leads to the problem of finding the parts you need when drawing your schematic. Here’s how to use the “Search” box to help.