28 August 2022

Summer 2022 PCB Collection

In order to reduce the impact of returning home from holidays, this year I prepared a small present that would make me want to get back: not one, but three PCBs!

In July I designed the PCB for a secret project (it will be a birthday present). Then I added a board to simulate the spin of the WE6167 dekatron. And at the last minute I designed a board that would modulate either an HB100 or a CDM324 radar transceiver.

Each design is packed separately.
Each design is packed separately.

All the design was done in KiCAD 6 and each board had some challenges to learn something new: proper Net spacings for HV, new component footprint that includes a large "hole", adding an ICSP connector.

I chose JLCPCB as fabhouse, but I needed to slow them down so that the packet would arrive once I am already back at home, not before.

First of all, I chose three different colors for the three designs, and these colors take two extra days for production.

I submitted the order on a European Saturday afternoon and it went in production almost immediately: I didn't check that JLCPCB respects business hours, but they are open 7 days a week! Little mistake on my side, I lost one day, but otherwise I would be tempted to make more changes to the boards.

Then I paid for the slowest shipping option.

Why all this trouble? I didn't bring a computer with me on holidays, so I had to submit my order before departing.

Who came home first? PCBs, of course! They beat me for 2 days, shipping was too fast.

The secret project has passed the hardware smoke test and is now in the hands of the firmware development team (it's always me).

Three designs, three colors.
Three designs, three colors.

26 August 2022

A request to my German (speaking) readers

At Friedrichshafen fair last June 2022 I bought some stuff from the seller at table A012 (https://youtu.be/BH29tY4Sjyc?t=154 and next 30"). I would like to get in touch with him to ask if the has more (not complain about something broken! HI).

Is there a German forum where I could ask if someone knows him? If you asked me for the Italian scene, I would answer "ARI Fidenza forum".

Please let me know with a comment or via email to ik1zyw@yahoo.com .


05 August 2022

Using KiCAD on dual screen on Ubuntu

When I tried ordering a PCB from a manufacturer in 2017 my choice for generating the Gerber files was KiCAD, version 4 back then. All home computers run Ubuntu (no young boys that need Windows for videogames), so it was KiCAD on Ubuntu. With a couple of good tutorials and memories from OrCAD for DOS at high school (past century), the experiment was successful.

Fast forward past pandemic, I need again PCBs. This time I swapped the work PC on the remote working table with the lab laptop that runs KiCAD gaining an external monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Now, THAT IS a productive way to design PCBs!!

KiCAD 6 on Ubuntu on two screens. Unfinished circuit.
KiCAD 6 on Ubuntu on two screens. Unfinished circuit.

Schematic diagram on one screen, PCB on the other, with KiCAD (now version 6) you can make changes on the fly on either side and reflect it on the counterpart with a keypress. I needed to change quite a few pin assignments on the microcontroller to have a simpler routing once the general layout was done, and the dual screen was the way to reach the goal without endlessly swapping windows. And if you memorize keyboard shortcuts, it's even faster.