Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Today the Arduino shield PCB arrived. I ordered it as part of a group buy organised through the monome.org forum. Unsped created this design for his Vanome project.
In case this isn't making much sense to you: an Arduino shield is a specially designed PCB that slots ontop of an Arduino via pins that are aligned with the Arduino's sockets.
Using a correctly designed PCB means that you don't need to deal with a tangle of wires (the way my breadboard looks at the moment) because the wiring is translated to neat little copper traces on the surfaces of the board. This means that soldering is easier, that there are fewer joints that can go wrong, and that the whole thing takes up less space and can be housed in a smaller enclosure.
Eagle is a software for designing PCBs like this one. There's is a free version that can be used to design boards of limited size. There are a few good tutorials on line for getting started with Eagle. I used the free version of Eagle to create the schematics that I published in this blog. Schematics created in Eagle can be exported as specially formatted files (Gerber files) that a PCB manufacturing company can use to create small runs of circuit boards for your projects. This board was manufactured by 4pcb.com.
Update: I removed the 'break off' strip of this PCB, but with hindsight I shouldn't have!