Continuing the DIY Arduino tutorial series, this AddOhms episode shows how to create a PCB in KiCad. I make a joke that the original design was a rectangle, which I found boring and pointless. So instead, I designed a triangle to give the board 3 points. Get it? Puns! I am calling it the Pryamiduino. To be honest, I found not having a constraint to be a problem. By forcing a specific board size and shape, many decisions were more manageable.

boring rectangular arduino nano clone
First design – Boring!

In the end, the video ended up more edited than I planned. KiCad is just so finicky and crashy that I could not make a coherent start to finish tutorial. At least, I could not work with a board at this level of complexity. Something simple like a 555 flasher would be easier to show from start to finish. I am planning some immediate follow-ups with quick tips on using KiCad. It is a frustrating suite of applications, but the results can be quite nice.

AddOhms Pyramiduino Show Notes

Changes from Episode #23

If you are following the series, just a quick note about changes in the original schematic.

  1. In the video, I selected a 4-pad normally-closed button. At the very end, I replaced it with a normally-open. As a final replacement, I used a 2-pad schematic symbol.
  2. I changed the crystal’s symbol and added a 16 MHz value. The new symbol had ground connections, which are also available on the component I am using.
  3. There was confusion on whether DTR or RTS was the right signal. Historically I connected DTR. However, on my FTDI board it has RTS broken out, so let’s stick with that name.
  4. I simplified the capacitors for cost reasons.

In this video, I then created a modified schematic where I removed the barrel jack. I changed to a 3.3 volt regulator, which is different from the original NCP1117. (I have these other ones laying around.) As shot, the schematic was missing a power LED for most of the video. It wasn’t until the sixth version I re-added the LED. And I decided to hang it off the 3.3 volt rail. This choice lets me know that both 5.0 volt and 3.3 volt rails are up.

pryamdiuino r1 and apple remote

Lastly, the most obvious change, I broke out ALL of the I/O pins you’d find on a Nano. (Originally I only had five digital and five analog pins.) These extra pins give the board its characteristic look.

Behind the scenes of Pryamiduino

I thought this video was going to be a quick one to shoot. Do some voice over, say some things on camera, and screen capture the design. In the video I say I built the board five times, that is not an exaggeration. By the end of the video’s recording, I re-drew the schematic at least three times and re-drew the PCB 6 times. (Once more after I show the on-camera stuff.) However, I am happy with the results.

Adobe Premiere, and After Effects pushed my computer to its limits. I rebooted my computer more times this past week than I have the past year. In the future, I hope I learn a better workflow because something I am doing irritated After Effects. (All of the green screens rendered in real-time during editing. I should have made an intermediate render.)

That said, I am quite proud of this video. Doing a “PCB design video” is not easy. Making a “PCB design video” remotely interesting to watch is difficult. Almost as tricky as watching it. While not a tutorial, I sincerely hope there are enough tips and process ideas to help someone trying to draw a PCB in KiCad.

That said, if you did not catch my after credits message, I have two versions of the PCB on the Github project. One is complete and (nearly) identical to the R4 board I sent to OSHPark. I also included an “exercise” version which has two airwires, or rats or unconnected nets, left. Can you find them?


Fan of making things beep, blink and fly. Created AddOhms. Writer for News. Freelance electronics content creator for hire! KN6FGY and, of course, bald.

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