How to make panelized PCB with Upverter by Sitt Hein

Hi Upverter community, my name is Sitt Hein and today I want to share some of my PCB fabrication experience with you. I have been using Upverter to manufacture PCBs for some of my personal projects. Before Upverter, I used Eagle software but switched to Upverter for its simple interface and easy component creation. The schematic part of Upverter is straightforward; however, PCB layout can be tricky if you are designing non-rectangular panelized boards. Since there are not many tutorials about it online, I decided to share my experience about panelization with Upverter. Hope this will be helpful with your PCB manufacturing.

Layout.png

My PCB layout in Upverter

Fabricated PCB.jpeg

Fabricated PCB board

 

It is easier to manufacture each design separately but sometimes, you will have various reasons to panelize different boards into one large PCB. If you are doing so, you’ll have to stick with your manufacturer’s panelization guidelines. Here is panelization rule from Seeed studio and I chose them because they have great board quality, simple online quotation and affordable price. You can reach their website here if you are planning to make PCBs in future.

multiple boards panalized together.png

Example of multiple boards panelized together (Image: Seeedstudio)

 

To panelize, you will need shape of child boards in slots with bridges like above. This is to keep them connected during manufacturing process but still can be separated easily with a snap when necessary. First of all, create individual parts for all the boards including parent board like below so that their shapes can be modified, organized and moved easily. Another advantage of drawing boards in part level is that Line function can be utilized which is a necessary tool to draw slots and bridges. And just one component can be reused for repeating designs as well.

Left to right: Symbol of a sensor board and its footprint outlined with slot tool path

 

For board outlines, we cannot use standard rectangle or circle because they are only available for continuous shape. As mentioned before, Line function in “Mechanical” layer will be used instead to create connecting bridges. The way I get coordinates is by drawing PCB outlines in CAD software, Fusion 360 in my case and manually input every single point. One factor to consider is the offset for tool path. I choose 1mm drill and so you will see offset of 0.5mm in below GIF to get actual board size. The black dots are meant to mark coordinates for Upverter. With all the trials and errors, it took me about few days to complete.

Plotting coordinates in Fusion 360.gif

Plotting coordinates in Fusion 360

Drawing PCB milling slots in Upverter .gif

Drawing PCB milling slots in Upverter

 

For those who are familiar with Upverter, you will know that any shape in Mechanical layer must be drawn in closed-loop shape in order to comply with design constraint. Since my project has a large number of boards, it is very time consuming to draw every single slots and making them closed-loop shape. To finish it faster, I took shortcut by leaving them open like left and top side of below picture and this reduced half of the points.

open vs closed slots

Open slots on left and top Vs. Closed slots on right and bottom

 

However, this gave me design rule error as expected and I couldn’t load the project. This is because Upverter is requesting all the outlines in Mechanical layer to be closed but I purposely left them open. In the event of browser cannot load your project due to design rule error like mine, you can solve it by adding ,skip_constraints=true to the end of your project number in URL. For example, https://upverter.com/eda/#tool=pcb,designId=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx,skip_constraints=true should skip rule checking and will solve the issue. If not, you will need to contact Upverter support team. Thus, I don’t recommend to leave outlines open unless you really need to save a large number of coordinates. And I hope Upverter team can take a look into this design rule checking and make improvement for panelization in future updates.

 

So, this is how you design panelized boards with Upverter and thanks for reading. If you think my sharing is useful, please spread this to your Upverter friends or do share with me if there is a better way to panelize PCB. Cheers!

Feature: Enlightli, Winners of the #HackTO Hardware Hackathon.

At Upverter, we absolutely love seeing teamwork in motion. Nothing quite encapsulates this like a Hackathon! This past weekend, the PCH Toronto Hardware Hackathon took over the MaRS Discovery District. From March 6th to the 9th, makers, designers, hardware, and software developers converged to build a product from scratch with complete strangers. The tagline being “54 hours to go from idea to product.

”The Hackathon opened with a panel by well known members of the popular Canadian tech news site Betakit; where the editors discussed trends in the hardware industry, primarily in wearables. Following their discussion, Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics took the stage as keynote speaker, lending some insight on trends in hardware through a Q&A session. A recurring theme was aesthetic.  Echoing the sentiment of Apple’s Head of Design, Jony Ive, Chris stated to a full room of Hackathon attendees, “Don’t release a product unless it’s beautiful!”.

The pitches were a hodgepodge of the brazen to the brilliant: An anti-drone cannon, a telepresence robot who brings you beer, a smart-cane with fall recognition for the elderly, a shoe that uses your steps to charge a USB device, a water-bottle shaped bike lock that uses city wifi to locate your bike, and plenty more. There were some great ideas, but only one team could walk away with the gold.

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That team was Enlightli – A bicycle helmet with built-in LEDs to keep you visible at night, powered by your natural body heat.

I spoke with Chantal Jandard, designer of the team to get her thoughts.

1: What was your role in the team, and how did your team delegate responsibility in such a short time?

I was the designer; I worked on the branding, presentation and contributed to the product ideation and validation.

We delegated pretty organically; some of us had directly applicable skills (like electrical engineering) that lent themselves quite clearly to specific tasks. Others (like the software engineers and the business folk) found ways to make their skills useful and fill gaps. Our team had great initiative; people self-assigned themselves to tasks and found opportunities for themselves to add value.

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Chantal poses with the helmet while Dhru gives the final 3-minute pitch. (source)

2: How much did the product, or idea change over the weekend?

The core concepts stayed the same: we could generate electricity from body heat and this was nifty, especially to developing nations. Beyond that however, it was a pivot-a-thon: we went from a cell phone charger for the hipster-traveler-type to a self-heating sleeping bag to the bicycle helmet. Although it was a bit stressful to keep dropping and picking up angles, we were stronger for the thrash, because in the end we had a product backed up with customer conversations and research.

Having won the Hackathon’s 1st prize, the team has a solid head start in validating their product. They’ll receive $4000 in cash, incorporation by LaBarge Weinstein, and over $4000 worth of additional services by the burgeoning startup community here in Toronto. In addition to all of this, they’ll take center stage on March 19th to pitch once more at the Tech in Motion Event at the MaRS Discovery District.

What will be next for Enlightli? Three of the team members have taken on the project full time, so we’ll keep you posted. Until then – Keep the innovation coming!

Special thanks to PCH International for hosting the Hackathon, all teams, and all volunteers for participating. A full list of tweets about the event can be found using #HackTO.

Open Source Universal Remote on Upverter

Open Source Universal Remote

In an effort to teach himself a bit about embedded microcontrollers and electronics, Upverter user and generally-a-software-guy Alex Bain set out to start the Open Source Universal Remote project, a web-enabled device to control all your infrared devices. He has carefully chronicled every step of the process, outlining his learnings from every iteration of the design while building the electronics on Upverter (it’s one of our most forked open designs!).

Today, Alex is looking to get a boost from the open source community. He’s looking for contributors to help out with improving and expanding the scope of the project, including a 3D printable enclosure and bolstering the web interface and API.

If you’re interested in building your own universal remote, or to simply get started on hardware with a cool project, click here to fork a copy of the design on Upverter. Be sure to check out Alex’s blog and Open Source Universal Remote for more info on how you can get involved!

http://upverter.com/eda/embed/#designId=f24516375cfae8b9,actionId=

We built an Open Source RF Transceiver Module

Open Source RF Transceiver Module

Here at Upverter, it’s no secret that we’re big believers in the Open Source movement, especially in hardware. We believe in the power of accessible design and the importance of keeping things iterative to encourage innovation and adaptability.

That’s why we’ve designed and built an RF Transceiver Module on Upverter! And we want to see what you can do with it.

The module uses Texas Instrument’s CC110L chip and is tuned to work at 433 MHz with a frequency range between 300 and 928MHz. The schematic and layout design were completely built on Upverter, making inter-office collaboration a breeze (if you check out the project activity feed, you can see that even Zak hopped on to contribute!). From the gerber files, we got a few printed circuit boards manufactured which our tireless hardware engineering intern Willian hand-assembled (!) using a make-shift soldering station.

You can find the design files completely up-to-date and instantly forkeable on Upverter (Bigger PCB version).

Workspace
For tips on how to set up your own make-shift lab, click here for our guide!

Soldering

Design on Upverter

http://upverter.com/eda/embed/#designId=e250adee54bfc539,actionId=

See what kind of projects our customers are building with Upverter!

We were excited about a lot of things when we set out to build the best tool for creating hardware. We were excited to see the application in action, learn from our mistakes, and fine-tune our platform; we were thrilled to drive forward the Hardware Renaissance and contribute in a big way; and we were dying to see what our users could come up with when equipped with Upverter.

Needless to say, we love our customers. They build some incredible things on our platform everyday and it’s been a big source of motivation for us to improve our tool all the time.

Click the image below to browse through some of these projects and to find out how Upverter has helped make it happen!

Customer Stories

Crowdrooster Interview

Crowdrooster Interview

Crowdrooster Interview

 

1. To begin, what is Crowdrooster? Who are you guys?


Crowdrooster

 is the new social store for post-crowdfunding hardware. When hardware startups finish their crowdfunding campaign they can switch their product immediately to our site. They can continue to take orders and at the same time keep that hard-won fan base engaged with our social functions.

Often, startups do two things post crowdfunding: set up their own e-commerce site, and set up a forum for fan feedback. No need anymore, Crowdrooster has both covered.

Since all these post-crowdfunding products will create a buzzing marketplace with all the freshest tech, we’re gonna be a great place for tech shoppers and early adopters to hang out. Shoppers on our store will get all the best connected tech all in one place but more than that, we want to involve them in iterating the products by creating a culture of collaboration.

Crowdrooster is all about keeping that spirit of swarm innovation alive from a great campaign. We really want early adopters to stay involved and help evolve the products they buy on our site.

2. What’s your business model?

First and foremost our business model is built around an awesome marketplace to showcase all the great connected hardware coming out. We will take a very reasonable slice on each transactions from the marketplace. Clean and simple.

3. What’s the biggest problem that Crowdrooster solves?

We solve the problem of hardware startups not getting any traction after crowdfunding. Yes, you could take orders on your own site but you’ll need more than technology; you’ll need a new audience and to keep your old audience involved. That’s where Crowdrooster comes in.

4. What’s your approval process in getting a product to your platform?

Products need to match our simple criteria: They must be connected or wearable hardware. We like to see a successful crowdfunding campaign behind products but it isn’t necessary.

5. How do you see Crowdrooster playing a part in the hardware revolution? What’s the big vision?

This is the age of the indie hardware renaissance. New startups and products are springing up everywhere. Where once only giants dared, it is now suddenly possible for indie hardware to get to market. Still the question has to be how and why? The answer is there is this new production path for hardware. Crowdfunding, rapid prototyping, access to manufacturing and the exploding potential of have come together to create a new route to market. Currently there is a gaping hole in this new hardware production funnel. Once a product crowdfunds itself there is no suitable platform to immediately switch to. Crowdrooster fills that gap. Our mission is to provide life after crowdfunding, giving hardware a new online home to continue taking orders and collaborating with their fans on their way to scale.

 


Want to contact Crowdrooster?

Crowdrooster is in beta right now but they’d love to hear from you. If you’re a startup with a product to list, write to 

francesco.gatti@crowdrooster.com

. Sign up to the 

Crowdrooster Newsletter

 or follow on Twitter to keep up-to-date.

5 Open Source projects that will save us all

5 Open Source projects that will save us all

Since its wide implementation in software, Open Source has made its benefits obvious in a number of ways. We see a community of like-minded, curious people sharing resources and knowledge for the sole betterment of the product. It’s selfless. Everything becomes accessible, customizable, and flexible wheh the development and application of a project becomes open to the entire world. Innovation happens at a rapid pace with ideas evolving on a huge and communal scale.

When Open Source translates over to hardware, the results are profound. We see tools and solutions being born from a real need in the world. It’s being reproduced and distributed where it is most needed. Here at Upverter, we’re big believers in the power of Open Hardware. Here’s our list of the 5 most important (and downright inspiring) Open Source projects we’ve come across.


1. Robohand

Richard Van As, a carpenter from Johannesburg, created Robohand after he lost four of his right-hand fingers in a work-related accident. After having his idea of making a mechanical hand repeatedly turned down by others, he looked towards 3D printing to work out a solution himself.

Today, Robohand has enabled more than 200 people with its open source design including children born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, a disorder which stops the growth of extremities – often fingers and toes – during fetal development. Click here to watch the video by MakerBot on Robohand’s story.


2. Cooking Hacks: e-Health Sensor Platform

Cooking Hacks has launched an Arduino and Raspberry Pi-compatible biometric shield that opens up a wide spectrum of monitoring devices for medical purposes. The platform uses 10 different sensors to gather real time data for medical diagnosis, including blood oxygen level, galvanic skin response, body temperature, and airflow. Read more on the project here.


3. The Tricorder Project: Open Source CT scanner

In many cases, diagnosing a patient with just external symptoms is simply not possible. CT scanners allow doctors to look inside the body, providing crucial information on the source of the problem. But they are wildly expensive and often not a viable option for poorer regions.

The Tricorder Project has created an inexpensive, Open Source CT scanner made almost entirely out of laser-cut parts. As the project matures and develops with the help of the community, it could serve as a much needed medical machine for developing countries.


4. Open Source Beehives

You might have recently heard of Colony Collapse Disorder. The population of worker bees has been taking a huge, unexplained hit in numbers. In some parts of the world, it has plummeted to a point where beekeepers can no longer produce honey. It’s currently scaling up to an economic issue with many agricultural crops relying on bees for pollination.

The Open Source Beehives is a crowdfunded project which aims to solve this problem. Designed with sensors which gather much-needed data on the bees, the army of printed hives may find the root cause of CCB before it’s too late.


5. Open Source Ecology

Founded in 2003, Open Source Ecology collaboratively develops blueprints for 50 of the most important machines needed for modern life to exist. The collection, named Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), includes designs for a tractor, oven, wind turbine, and even a 3D printer. The group’s vision is for the set to serve as a kernel for building modern infrastructures around the world.