Never trust an autorouter
Autorouters Suck: Autorouter: 0. Baldengineer: 1

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

As Chris Gammell‘s T-Shirt Says, 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.

iCircuit’s circuit simulator goes from iOS to Desktop

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?), my favorite mobile circuit simulator, iCircuit, is available for OS X.

iCircuit with 555 Timer

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].

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Clean Ground Planes on DIY Boards

If you’re making your own PCB with the toner transfer method, you might find that getting nice clean ground planes is difficult. John on twitter (@johngineer) realized a simple, but effective method.

john_diy_pcb_tip

Use a hatch pattern for your planes and then fill in the squares with a Sharpie. Simple, but effective. The paper detaches easier and the etch comes out cleaner.

For help on creating ground planes in EAGLE, check out this video tutorial I put together.

Signal and Power Integrity Cover

Signal and Power Integrity – Simplified (2nd Edition) ( Prentice Hall, 2009)

Let me start by saying, this book is not for new comers, or (ugh) “newbies”, to electronics.  This book is intended for those who have a solid understanding of electrical engineering fundamentals, but want to expand to the next level.  Bogatin’s amount of detail is on-par with a textbook but writing style is more casual.

Understanding signal integrity use to be “Black Magic.”  It is taught in a language which resembles engineering speak, but sounds like randomly assembled terms purposefully meant to confuse people.  Personally, I remember hearing “signal integrity engineers talk” and wondered if they were speaking in code.

Review: 5 out of 5