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Circuit Pen?

D

Daniel Pitts

Jan 1, 1970
0
Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own
circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd
prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full
circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs?

Are there brands that are a better value than others? How well does
soldering on them work?

Are they typically fine enough for SMD work, such as ATMega328 (0.8mm
lead pitch)?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Sincerely,
Daniel.
 
R

Rich Webb

Jan 1, 1970
0
Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own
circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd
prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full
circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs?

Are there brands that are a better value than others? How well does
soldering on them work?

Are they typically fine enough for SMD work, such as ATMega328 (0.8mm
lead pitch)?

They *may* be useful for repairs (read some of the reviews over at
Amazon for an example of the class) but they would be hell trying to use
to make an original layout for anything with a fine pitch.
<http://www.amazon.com/CircuitWriterTM-Precision-Pen-silver-based-grams/dp/B0002BBVQO>

You'd be better off getting something like
<http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?products_id=4753>
that takes care of the housekeeping (power supply, I/O drivers, etc.)
and offers a prototyping area as well as I/O headers or the simpler
<http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?cPath=110_159_339&products_id=4429>
that's just a "header board." With either, you can access the processor
pins for digital I/O, ADC, PWM, or whatever from relatively robust
headers out to your own circuitry.

If you want to roll yer own, do it properly by starting with a schematic
capture program that produces a "net list" to be used by a PCB layout
program. That then makes the "Gerber" files and the drill file that a
board house can use to make the real thing.

Kicad is a free (libre and as in beer) integrated package for Windows
and Linux that includes schematic capture and PCB layout.
<http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/KiCad+EDA+Software+Suite>
If you're on Linux, also look at gEDA <http://www.geda-project.org/>
There are also "free" tools offered by various board houses but some
(most? all?) of those generate a proprietary output, not standard
Gerbers, so you're stuck with one vendor.

While many people do still make boards in the kitchen, using techniques
like Press'n'Peel Blue or photo-resist, the cost of manufactured boards
has come way down. Especially when doing fine pitch and surface mount,
you will appreciate having a proper finish on the pads and having a
solder mask. Sparkfun and Seeed Studio (among others, these are the ones
I'm familiar with) have very low cost batch proto board services. There
are also traditional houses (e.g., Sunstone) that do inexpensive
prototypes at a faster turn but there is some added cost associated with
the speed, of course.

<https://www.batchpcb.com/> associated with Sparkfun

<http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/fusion-pcb-service-p-835.html?cPath=185>
will do ten 2" x 2" boards for $10. A buck a board!

<http://www.sunstone.com/> a more traditional board house that offers
turns measured in days instead of weeks but also with more traditional
pricing
 
D

Daniel Pitts

Jan 1, 1970
0
They *may* be useful for repairs (read some of the reviews over at
Amazon for an example of the class) but they would be hell trying to use
to make an original layout for anything with a fine pitch.
<http://www.amazon.com/CircuitWriterTM-Precision-Pen-silver-based-grams/dp/B0002BBVQO>

You'd be better off getting something like
<http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?products_id=4753>
that takes care of the housekeeping (power supply, I/O drivers, etc.)
and offers a prototyping area as well as I/O headers or the simpler
<http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?cPath=110_159_339&products_id=4429>
that's just a "header board." With either, you can access the processor
pins for digital I/O, ADC, PWM, or whatever from relatively robust
headers out to your own circuitry.
Yeah, I was hoping to have more control over the form-factor, for
specific projects. I don't *need* all of those extra stuff. They will
just get in the way.
If you want to roll yer own, do it properly by starting with a schematic
capture program that produces a "net list" to be used by a PCB layout
program. That then makes the "Gerber" files and the drill file that a
board house can use to make the real thing.
I have the free version of Eagle. I haven't really used it yet, the
learning curve is a bit high, but I'll get over it eventually. I've also
been pointed at http://www.circuits.io/ recently.
Kicad is a free (libre and as in beer) integrated package for Windows
and Linux that includes schematic capture and PCB layout.
<http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/KiCad+EDA+Software+Suite>
If you're on Linux, also look at gEDA <http://www.geda-project.org/>
There are also "free" tools offered by various board houses but some
(most? all?) of those generate a proprietary output, not standard
Gerbers, so you're stuck with one vendor. I'm actually on a Mac.

While many people do still make boards in the kitchen, using techniques
like Press'n'Peel Blue or photo-resist, the cost of manufactured boards
has come way down. Especially when doing fine pitch and surface mount,
you will appreciate having a proper finish on the pads and having a
solder mask. Sparkfun and Seeed Studio (among others, these are the ones
I'm familiar with) have very low cost batch proto board services. There
are also traditional houses (e.g., Sunstone) that do inexpensive
prototypes at a faster turn but there is some added cost associated with
the speed, of course.

<https://www.batchpcb.com/> associated with Sparkfun
This is what I was considering going with. It's the start-up cost that
gets me though. It would cost me $20 for my design, and I think I could
do it myself for much cheaper (even if it takes more man-power). Of
course, if I design something worth selling to the masses, I could order
in bulk and save a lot of money.
Hmm, This one looks good. I'll have to look into it further. Thanks.
<http://www.sunstone.com/> a more traditional board house that offers
turns measured in days instead of weeks but also with more traditional
pricing
Yeah, I'm not so concerned with turn-around time at the moment. Not at
the trade in cost at least.

Thanks for the advice.
 
G

George Herold

Jan 1, 1970
0
Ditto.  You can't solder to the ink, for a start.  I'd strongly suggest
getting the free version of Cadsoft Eagle and sending the boards out to
be fabbed.  There are some really cheap places, e.g. BatchPCB.com, which
charges $2.50 per square inch or thereabouts.

Cheers

Phil Hobbs

--
Dr Philip C D Hobbs
Principal Consultant
ElectroOptical Innovations LLC
Optics, Electro-optics, Photonics, Analog Electronics

160 North State Road #203
Briarcliff Manor NY 10510

hobbs at electrooptical dot nethttp://electrooptical.net

Yup, learn how to solder, you don't need no CAD or PCB places to get
started. You can do a lot with pref board and air wire.

George H.
 
C

Cydrome Leader

Jan 1, 1970
0
Daniel Pitts said:
Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own
circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd
prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full
circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs?

Are there brands that are a better value than others? How well does
soldering on them work?

Are they typically fine enough for SMD work, such as ATMega328 (0.8mm
lead pitch)?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Sincerely,
Daniel.

short story- they tend to suck.

like any paint type marker, it's a toss up if the thing will be dried out
by the time you get it, or if it does work, will it dump out the entire
contents at once.

I'd say just get a pcb etching kit, but that will be pushing it for stuff
with fine traces unless you can print the resist somehow.
 
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