May update is live

Hello Upverter community!

We are very excited to announce that the May update of Upverter is now live! This latest update represents a huge platform improvement, effectively re-architecting Upverter to enable us to bring greater development resources to deliver new features and capabilities but also to maintain Upverter to a higher standard.  Right out of the box, we have added a number of cool features to this first update, which will give you a sense of what to expect in future.

So, what’s included in this update?

PCB

  • New PCB Rendering Engine – Switching from HTML Canvas to WebGL allowed us to provide a much faster and smoother rendering experience. Open any board (the bigger the better!) and see it for yourself.
  • 3D – As part of the new rendering engine, we’ve also introduced a new geometrical model. This model holds the same primitives in 3D and 2D, which enables almost instantaneous switching between both in the PCB tool.
  • Altium Powered IPC Wizard – The new IPC footprint wizard in Upverter is powered by the Altium Engine. It’s the same engine we use in all of our Altium products. Just open up the part editor and press the “Generate a footprint” button on the toolbar.
  • New Polygon Pour Engine – This engine is faster and works properly even in the case of complex pours. In addition:
    • Pouring is now done on the server-side
    • Hatched pours use traces
  • As part of our efforts to bring Upverter and Circuitmaker together (read more about this here) we changed the following things:
    • PTH and padstack now have more options and support different shapes per layer.
    • A global keep out layer has been added

Projects Gallery

The Upverter Project Gallery has been reworked entirely. We started from scratch and besides some of the noticeable cosmetic changes, we’ve also added features like:

  • Projects Metrics – Views, likes, forks, and comments can now be used to further explore and engage with designs.
  • Comments – These are now supported for both projects and parts
  • Rich-text descriptions – You can now add rich-text descriptions to your parts and designs.
  • New dashboard – See not only your library and projects but your teams as well.
  • Unified Search – Simplifies the search process for projects and parts.

We hope you enjoy this update and benefit from what we’ve done. If you have any feedback, comments, or questions for us please reach out, we would love to hear from you!

Igor & The Upverter Team

The FR-1 Challenge[1]

Originally posted in the CircuitMaker blog.

Brought to you by Bantam Tools and Altium

We’re very excited to announce another awesome design competition, open the the whole CircuitMaker, Upverter and Altium design community.

 

Competition Details:

Imagine all the cool projects you could do with a Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Mill. This amazingly high quality prototyping CNC mill is ridiculously accurate – with a resolution that allows accurate milling down to 6 mil trace and space. What’s more, you’ll notice if you have been following my own Sausage Factory project that this mill is not just great for PCB prototyping, but also brass, aluminum, acrylic, wood, craft foam and a host of other materials that can nicely top off your designs.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be working on a few more blogs and articles showing how to do things like milling an aluminum front panel, or prototyping accurate microwave / RF PCB components. Just to whet your appetite!

The best news is that Bantam Tools have partnered with us to GIVE AWAY one of these to one of our users! And there’s more chances to get awesome runner-up prizes as well. Read on for details.

Grand Prize

Grand Prize: A brand-new Bantam Tools Desktop PCB milling machine valued at $3199 USD. We will ship it worldwide and cover all shipping, taxes and all other costs associated with you having this machine on your desk totally free of any charge for you.

First Runner-Up

One person will be selected for this prize, 50% off a Bantam Tools Desktop PCB mill in the Bantam Tools Online Store. (Valued at up to $1600).

Second Runner-Up

Five (5) people will be selected as second runners-up to the Grand Prize. Each of the five will receive $500 worth of Concierge component credits

Third Runner-Up

Ten (10) people will be selected as third runners-up to the Grand Prize. Each of the ten will be given coupons for PCB manufacturing services from one of our manufacturing partners: PCB:NG, OSH Park, OSH Stencils, CircuitHub, Seeed Fusion, PCBWay. The winner will choose which of these to issue credits for.

Project submission requirements

Only open source projects created in  Altium CircuitMaker,  CircuitStudio,  Upverter and Designer/Nexus can participate. There is no requirement for the design to be a brand-new project, it can be one you started earlier but needed to finish. Designs that are imported from other PCB design software are not allowed. Designs that are recreations of existing open source projects are not allowed either. Be creative, make something new and share it with others!

To “submit” your design, you must:

  • Create a project page for it with complete documentation about the project at:
  • If your project was created and shared on Upverter or done using CircuitStudio or Altium Designer, you must create the project write-up (documentation explaining what it does, why you created it etc.) and include links to the original source files. Using Upverter you can even embed the design in an iframe if you wish. The write-up can be on your own blog site or Instructables, Hackaday, Hackster or Github in this case.
  • Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with the hashtag #FR1Challenge

That’s it! Make something, write about it, catch us on social. We’ll automatically enter you with the email address on file with your login.

Judging Criteria

Each design will be judged based on 4 simple criteria, sames as last time. Each criteria has certain weight allocated as explained below.

Idea 20%

Collaboration 5%

Sharing 50%

Delivery 25%

Idea

The community has its own voice. 20% of the pie.

Members of the community can cast votes and express their opinion about the design idea behind the project. As a community member you can follow particular design, comment on it, fork it, share it on facebook or Instagramtweet about it so people can come and visit your project page and we can see number of views. Remember to use the hashtag #FR1Challenge! We will look at all those metrics for each project and will compare them to other designs. The more people engage with your project, the more we think this is a good idea!

Collaboration

Let’s make together! 5% of the pie.

Open Source Hardware design is not only about being locked in a garage and making things on your own. It’s also about collaborating with others and solving problems and making stuff together! Create a team and work on the design together. To gain points in this category you will have to demonstrate that your team was using collaboration features in CircuitMaker, Upverter etc., with comments showing how you approached design issues and how you collaborated to solve them. Also you can use the project page to engage with others or the CircuitMaker forums if you need help with something. For example, if your project involves a microcontroller, invite a friend to work on software. Do you need enclosure? Invite a friend to work with the step output for designing the enclosure. Maybe you have a friend that can do a 3D model for some component that you use in your project? He/she’s your team member as well. Just keep in mind that there’s a single machine for the prize that will go to the project owner or team. Maybe you should win it for your school 🙂

Sharing

Show how you made this project and explain how it works. 50% of the pie.

The project write-up. It’s that simple. As you go with your design, document your progress with photos, videos, and explanation of problems you are going through and the solutions you came up with. Share the knowledge and experience with others. Share how you make things and how things work so others can learn from you and innovate on their own! Go into details and become an educator. Explain everything, leave nothing behind! A good write-up and demo videos embedded will go a long way here. As I mentioned above, we love write-ups to be done in CircuitMaker project pages, but if you’re using Upverter, CircuitStudio, or Altium Designer, feel free to use Hackaday, Hackster, Instructables, Github or your own web page or blog for the write-up. Just make 100% certain that we have the links so we can read all about it and see the goodness!

Delivery

The PCB Design project quality. 25% of the pie.

This is the PCB project in CircuitMaker, Upverter, CircuitStudio or Altium Designer. Here are guidelines on how we would like to see things done:

  1. As much as possible, components are linked to Octopart (this is mostly automatic in Upverter and CircuitMaker).
  2. Components are real and easy to get via standard online suppliers. Since we may build the top 3 designs, we need to be able to source those components online. Hence they need to be linked to Octopart correctly so we can use the Octopart BOM tool.
  3. All components have 3D bodies so we can look at it in 3D view. We may want to 3D print them or do enclosure designs.
  4. Schematics are easy to read. Group components based on functionality. Make it dead easy to understand what is going on there. Leave notes, important calculations etc.
  5. Project compiles / passes design rule checks, with Design Rules enabled.
  6. Project is released and public (you are free to use any open source hardware license).
  7. PCB document includes an outline layer with proper board outline. Everything else has to go onto their own dedicated layers – yes 3D bodies as well.
  8. PCB document includes the keep-out layer.
  9. All designators and artwork on the silkscreen (Top Overlay) are easy to read, meaningful and not overlapping with pads.

Basically, follow good design practices. If you’re not sure, and you are working on something then jump on the forums and ask for help – there are plenty of knowledgeable users there and we will also jump in and help as much as we are able.

Altium staff and their family members are not allowed to participate in this competition.


 

[1]Why “FR1 Challenge”? Because the Bantam Tools mill ships with a bunch of FR-1 pre-clad PCB sheets! What is FR-1? FR-1 stands for “Flame Retardant 1” and is the original mass-produced PCB material made with copper foil,  paper sheets and phenolic resin. It is practically interchangeable with FR-4 which is now the most common PCB material, but has no glass fibers and therefore much safer for milling when making prototypes.

Bantam Tools, the BantamTools Desktop PCB Mill and their associated logos are all trademarks or registered trademarks of OMC2 LLC.

Sausage Factory Finale – Milling a Hammond Stomp Box Enclosure

Hi everyone!

With the holiday season behind us it’s time I give you the last installment regarding my Sausage Factory overdrive/distortion project.  I’m from Australia originally, so I grew up with Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays in the sweltering heat of summertime. For most of the readers of this blog, you’re in the Northern Hemisphere so just imagine having Christmas or Hanukkah in July, trying to stay cool in 35 to 40°C (95 – 104°F) in high humidity. Oddly enough we had Christmas trees and watched American Christmas movies wondering what it must be like to have all that soft powdery snow!

These days I live in America, and I’ve come to love the holidays when it’s cold outside. Why? More time for staying indoors doing electronics projects of course!

So these few days out of the office have given me a chance to get some stuff finished with the Sausage Factory project. And thanks to our friends at Bantam Tools, I’ve been able to do some neat things with the Bantam Tools Desktop PCB Mill. In this final project blog for the Sausage Factory I want to show you how to use the PCB mill for something every project needs – a good quality enclosure to mount it in.

A variation of this blog with more machine setup details will be shared from the Bantam Tools site soon – so be sure to subscribe to their blog as well. I’ll come back here and provide the link when it’s ready.

I can’t thank Bantam Tools’ pro’s Zach and Kim enough for their help and guidance – I found little to no information on the web about how to mill a metal or plastic project box with this device, and I know very little about CAM, so this was a first for me and probably will be for many electronics engineers and hobbyists out there.

I broke a couple of bits while getting this right, so read this so you won’t have to!

Here goes…

Designing the PCB for a Hammond 1590BB metal box enclosure

From the start I planned to use a Hammond 1590BB aluminium (that’s Aussie for “aluminum”) project enclosure. These boxes are probably the most popular on the planet when it comes to guitar effects building – even many commercial pedal manufacturers use these because they’re very strong, have a great finish, are available pre-painted, and can easily withstand being stepped on by brutal guitar players.

I chose the 1590BB which is about a double-width of the more frequently used 1590B because I’m essentially putting two stomp-boxes (an overdrive and a graphic EQ) into a single unit:

20181023_145551

Here’s the datasheet: https://www.hammfg.com/files/parts/pdf/1590BB.pdf

Hammond documentation is really good – their data sheets even have a spinning 3D model of the enclosure and lid alongside the 2D dimension drawings. I used those drawing dimensions to set the size of the PCB outline in the Upverter “Mechanical Details” layer, using the dimension tool to make sure I got it right. Most users of course would normally have a DXF/DWG file from 2D CAD as a PCB outline drawing, but I am starting in the PCB and deriving all my data for construction from that.

Since this project was done in Upverter it was quick and easy enough just to draw it based on the datasheet dimensions, but next time I’ll download the DXF from Hammond (they make those available too!)

2019-01-14 14_08_45-SausageFactory (public design) - Opera.png

What you see here is a screenshot from Upverter with just the Mechanical Details, Top Package Outline, and Holes layers enabled. All the slider pots when I created the footprints in Upverter I used the Top Package Outline to accurately place the necessary rectangular slots and 2mm holes for the development of just such a drawing, and slot pattern for CAM in any panels they may be mounted to.

Just a not about the jack portion and room for the footswitches: you can see in the image above, that I placed slots in the PCB between the main circuitry (to the left) and the audio and power jacks (to the right). The design intent was to be able to test the board after initial assembly (which I did in my sound test video in the last blog) and then separate the jack board with a Dremel and connect it with wires for final mounting in the box – there are photos of this below, so read on.

I used the 3D model with the component detail layers exported from Upverter, and those in turn allowed me to make a 2D dimensioning drawing in MCAD:

2019-01-14 14_25_52-Sausage Factory 3D Model from Upverter - Alibre Design Expert.png

I use a few different MCAD tools at different times, but since all the Bantam Tools help blogs and documentation centers around Fusion 360, and since Fusion 360 also includes CAM tools for generating the gcode for CNC milling, I caved in a decided to use it for this project. The tool is nice with a modern UI but doesn’t follow paradigms I’m more familiar with from my experience with Solidworks or Alibre, so it was a bit of a learning curve, but before too long I had imported the STEP model of the 1590BB enclosure, and generated an extrusion for milling the top of the box. Later on I added the larger holes as well for the footswitches. Here’s the screenshot of the enclosure model ready for generating CAM toolpaths for the Bantam Tools Desktop CNC Mill:

2019-01-14 15_24_27-Autodesk Fusion 360 (Startup License).png

Not be glib – I’ll elaborate in a future post as a guest on the Bantam Tools site as to the process, but to summarize, here’s how I made this model:

  • Imported the 1590BB STEP model, downloaded from Hammond Manufacturing’s website.
  • Created three sketches, aligned with the plane of the box surface:
    • One for the slots and potentiometer holes, drawn from my 2D dimensions diagram (above) – this method is very precise because the positions come directly from the PCb components.
    • Another for the footswitch mounting holes (they are not PCB mounted, so these are positioned aligned with box centerline).
    • And the last for the text.
  • Extruded all the holes and slots through the box surface (the top of the actual stompbox pedal is actually considered the “bottom” of the mechanical model for some reason, so I had to re-orient it by flipping the assembly in Fusion 360).
  • Extruded all the text to a shallow depth (1mm or so) from the surface – this is for using the CNC mill to engrave the text into the box surface.

After creating the model, I switched Fusion 360 into CAM mode, and created three separate tool paths for milling.

  • The larger holes are all milled with a 1/8” flat end-mill, to save time. This is setup as a 2D Adaptive cut with the spindle at 16,500 RPM and 150mm/min plunge rate – because we’re using a larger bit we can be a little more aggressive to speed things up.
  • The slots are very fine, as are the 2mm holes for the sliders, so these needed to be done with a 1/16” flat end-mill, using a 2D Contour cut. At first pass I used the 1/32” end mill which was working great and making a very precise rectangle – until it got to the 2mm hole breakthrough and the excess material left in the center of the hole broke the bit! Moving to the 1/16” tool saved that problem because the tool path overlapped enough to not leave any loose materials in the holes or slots. Similar feeds and speeds were used.
  • The text was hard to figure out in Fusion 360. Somehow I figured a 1/32” flat end mill would be able to make nice 3D engraved markings on the box, but no matter what I did it refused to generate a tool path. Then after many attempts and trying different cut types, I used a 2D Contour cut with the engraving bit, and it successfully generated a tool path for the text. This still needs some tweaking – on the first non-painted 150BB box, the tool path was too deep. The text is legible, but looks a bit rough. But by setting the depth of cut shallower by about 0.5mm and milling the pre-painted enclosure, the engraving bit follows the letter outlines and it looks very nice.

Here’s a screenshot of the text engraving toolpath in Fusion 360:

2019-01-14 15_44_11-Autodesk Fusion 360 (Startup License).png

Then, it’s just a matter of post-processing the tool paths into GCODE files for the mill. I mounted the box including it’s base attached with the four screws, using the double stick tape that came with the Bantam Tools setup, to the front-left (lower left) corner of the spoilboard. Aligning this was easy, because the machine is highly accurate and zeros itself whenever you power up.

I created a new mill plan in the Bantam Tools software (formerly known as “OtherPlan”), and set the material to “generic” with the material dimensions just big enough to exactly fit the space of the box plus the mounting tape. Each GCODE pass was loaded into the plan and the tools specified to run them one at a time. Here’s a video I put together to show the process once I had the GCODE ready to go:

The end result looks like a professional, boutique guitar pedal which, well, hey that’s precisely what it is!

 

Happy Holiday Contest

It is cold outside, at least up here in Canada, Hanukkah is underway and Christmas is just around the corner!  So we want to manufacture (for you) some of the most fun or interesting holiday designs that are made in Upverter!  We will share the winning designs in a couple of weeks.

What are we looking for?  Anything that is holiday or winter related! Something in the shape of a snowflake (thanks Zak), Christmas trees, menorahs, or anything else that gets you into the spirit.  Here is Zak’s amazing snowflake design, I can practically feel the winter breeze.

Snowflake pcb layout

Special Snowflake Design link

How do you participate and win?

  1. Design a holiday themed design in Upverter.
  2. Make the design Public (you should give it a good description too).
  3. Send support@upverter.com an email with a link to the project and what it is. No later than Friday December 14th.
    • Bonus points for design notes on how you designed it, and why you picked your components!
  4. We will pick some number of amazing winners, get those designs manufactured and send the winners their design, manufactured.

I can’t wait to see the designs!

Happy holidays and have fun designing!

Michael

High-End Electro-Mechanical Watch PCB Design using Upverter

I have been designing circuits for the last 20 years. As a hobbyist, employee, consultant and independent designer under the brand name Division Furtive. For various reasons, I was often forced to shift from one EDA tool to another. At the end of the day, I think being a good circuit designer mean being able to do the job with any tool available. This context trained me to always be on the lookout for the best EDA tool available. For Division Furtive’s fourth watch, Type 77, I decided to try Upverter because:
– it was free
– I really liked the idea of an online tool with the design residing on the server*
– it is made by a fellow Canadian start-up
*Having to return to old software, either uninstalled or delicensed, is a massive pain. For a project I went as far as storing a laptop with project files and software in case I needed to do edit in the future. Only needing a browser to work on a circuit is a new paradigm for me and I really like it.
The design objective was to make an electro-mechanical watch (moving minute disc inside back-lit hour ring). It would have customizable RGB color (to match your clothing or other things such as your motorcycle) using a built-in optical color sensor at the press of a button. The three GIFs below highlight the watch’s biggest features. The complete promo video (including 3 side-kick devices) can be viewed here.
Being a footprint-freak, I really enjoy investing time early on in the project to devise a good looking and consistent library. Upverter’s built-in libraries and concierge service made this even more enjoyable.
Doing the schematic, I was impressed by the responsiveness and robustness of the user interface. Having used various tools in the past, I mostly fear netlist errors introduced by the tool itself (e.g.: moving a part that end up having distinct nets tied together). Very rapidly I was up and running with a very high level of confidence in the tool.
Layout work was also very reassuring. The user interface is well done, and it is incredible how Upverter is ultra responsive considering it is an online tool (I usually use an average speed internet connection). It works beautifully. Something I guess you only get with new software written from scratch. Most older (and more expensive) software is plagued with annoying bugs that you just learn to live with (the sum of decades of patches). My level of tool-oriented frustration dropped to an all-time low using Upverter and being happy while working really sold me to the tool. By itself, the fact that changes done in schematic are automatically updated in layout without having to manually export a netlist improved my design experience drastically.
Type77-Layout.jpg
Going to production was seamless. Gerber files export and supporting files creation is simple. As a sanity check, I always visualize the gerber files with an independent file viewer just to make sure to avoid sending nonsense to the factory. I used MyRO PCB for manufacturing and hand assembled the first boards as I always do. For the record, the Type 77 PCB did not need any edit and the first board ended up being the working prototype!
Type77-PCBs.jpg
In the end, I was having so much fun designing the Type 77 watch with Upverter that I did not invest nearly as much time as I should have in marketing (while trying to fly solo without Kickstarter at the same time). Even if this was the sleekest Division Furtive watch ever designed, the higher price point made it a tough sale to my current customer base. I ended putting the old saying “quit while you are ahead” in practice and decided it was wiser to simply go back to consulting. At this regard, if you even need design assistance (I also do 3D modeling), you can find me at www.design-game.com

 

BROWSER BASED PCB DESIGN

As you take on or create projects, some will be easy and some will be difficult. Some will be one-offs and others will need to be made at scale. In this write-up, we will be exploring my biggest project to date, Distributed Symphony, and how the microcontroller at its core was built in a browser.

Header image

Step 1: The Opportunity

The Distributed Symphony is the largest and most complex project I have pulled off. Once a year I have the unique opportunity to bring a fun experience to a corporate offsite for an audience of 600 executives. For the past few installments, the “fun” has been packaged as a design challenge. The prompt for the first iteration was to build a ball machine that sends a ball on its path for exactly two seconds. Each successive year had an increasing complexity and technical presence. This year I decided it was time to architect an experience that was awe inspiring.

Opprotunity

 

Step 2: Distributed Symphony

The project consisted of one hundred and twenty kits containing all the ingredients needed for a team of five to create a percussive instrument. Each kit included the following items.

  • Connected Micro-controller
  • Solenoid Ball Dropper
  • Instrumented resonator from a Glockenspiel Trigger button
  • Ten Wooden Balls
  • Building materials
  • Artistic elements

Central to this project was the micro-controller. Adding logic and cloud connectivity was intended to enhance the experience and not get in the way. The controller board had considerable functionality exposed in the simplest way possible. Resistor values, power concerns, diodes and capacitors were baked into the board design so that the participants were free to focus on the challenge and not the technology.

 

Step 3: Take Chances

This project presented the opportunity to build a swarm of custom SMT microcontroller boards. This was new to me but seemed like something worth learning and a major challenge. To design the boards I used Upverter. It is a very cool browser based end to end solution for PCB design and production. Once you get used to finding components in their library, it is easy to use. The boards were based around the very capable ESP32 micro controller. The boards were designed to outlast this project as they were marked for donation to help children learn to code and design hardware. Each board has the following features:

  • ESP32 Micro Controller – Wifi and Bluetooth Capable Two PWM Solenoid/Motor headers
  • Four Grounded 3.3V GPIO headers
  • Two Neopixel Strip Drivers
  • Two Capacitive Touch Pads and Optional Headers Onboard LCD Display
  • Onboard Single Neopixel
  • Onboard USB to UART Programmer –
  • 5V Power Bus 3V power Bus

The project only used a single Solenoid Driver, the LCD Display, onboard Neopixel and three of the GPIO headers. The additional functionality has since been used as part of hands on teaching workshops for kids.

Take Chances

 

Step 4: Plan It Out

The first step in making your custom PCBs is to plan it out. When it comes to hardware design, that means creating your schematic. I used my breadboard to design each section of the total project. As each circuit started working, I carefully translated it into the Upverter Schematic tool. After that I cleared the breadboard and got to work on the next section until the controller board was logically complete.

 

Step 5: Lay It Out

The next step in hardware production is the PCB layout. This was way more fun than I thought it was going to be, it was like playing SimCity with electricity. The Upverter layout tool is pretty cool and fun to use. The more I worked with it, the more I polished the design and went for style points wherever possible. It is your job to add wires between on the components. There are green lines that highlight connections not traced with copper. The most exciting part of PCB layout is the ability skip ground traces. All they have to do is touch the bottom layer and they are grounded, easy! While we are talking about the bottom layer, that is another thing of beauty. If you have a lot of traces getting getting in the way, all you need to do is drop to the bottom layer, go around the traffic and pop back up on the other side.

Lay It Out

Step 6: Make It Real

Once you go to production, things get real and really expensive. Find a production house you feel comfortable with or one that someone you know has used before. You will be sending them files to create your boards and optionally doing the full assembly. The bulk of the cost is in buying the parts and assembly. Since this project required many units as well as using a surface mount components, I opted for the production house to do the assembly.

Upverter has download section where you can generate the files you need to handoff to production. To help save some back and forth, here is the list of files I exported:

  • Gerber Files
  • NC Drill (Excellon)
  • XYRS (Pick and Place)
  • Bill of Materials

Be ready to do one or two smaller test runs before sending out your big order. My design went to two small production runs each with errors before the big one hundred and thirty piece order. I padded the order by ten just incase some of the boards were produced with errors. As you can see in the second image, I had to use green jumper wires to fix the boards from one of the earlier production runs. That’s it, you are now the proud owner of 5 to 50,000 custom controller boards.

 

Step 7: The Reveal

This was the bittersweet ending to a long long road. The kits were distributed and prompt was given. The teams set out to build a percussive instrument that could reliably drop a ball onto the resonator with each button press. As the build went on, we revealed that the projects were cloud connected and had corresponding mobile dashboards. The teams used the mobile dashboard to play patterns into their devices. “Save and a Haircut” was now the goal. Once the bulk of the teams were able to play “Shave an a Haircut”, we were ready for the recital.

Everyone loaded their ball hoppers and stepped back. We used our administrative console to calculate individual machine offsets and play Guns and Roses as well as some Bach across all the machines. The room filled with music and it was a success.

Keep building and don’t let custom PCB projects get in your way. They are totally doable and there is a whole world of support out there.

 

DS – SweetC by Phando

 

DS – Bach by Phando

Sausage Factory – Sound check

Hi everyone,

It’s been a few weeks with a lot going on, not the least of which are some neat Halloween electronics projects.

But as many know I’ve been working on my own start-to-finish build of a high gain overdrive guitar pedal with a graphic EQ section called “sausage factory”. Some folks have told me I should probably call it something different, but for the record the idea did come to me while enjoying a bratwurst with sauerkraut, and it occurred to me a high gain pedal is a bit like a meat grinder… hence the name.

Anyway, a few friends emailed me after my first blog about the project and requested a sound demo. I didn’t have the actual boards from the fab at the time, let alone the assembled prototypes, but now thanks to Altium’s corporate management I have a small lab space, and I’ve been able to get together the parts and do this!

In my last blog post I showed part of the assembly process – using a laser cut solder paste stencil and hand pick-and-place actually didn’t take too long.

In the process however I discovered I had one incorrect footprint – so I did have to cut a couple of traces around the 9V DC input jack and rewire those.

I also found one design flaw (a very minor but nonethelese important one) in the EQ circuit which I have since been able to easily fix with the addition of a single resistor.

In this process I discovered the neat “Notes and Issues” feature in Upverter (CircuitMaker has something very similar called “Comments”) where I can basically highlight a part of the schematic or PCB and write a task, assigned to a specific user, with a description of the change needed. These all go into the issues list and as I address those for the final design revision I check them off:

This was developed for team collaboration on designs, but it is equally useful for an individual designer like me, just to keep a list of changes I need to make when I have time to get back to the next rev. Also, this is useful because I’ll keep the notes and the design as-is while assembling the first 5 prototypes, which I’ll hand modify like the first so as not to waste the PCBs and paste stencil. Once those are together I’ll go ahead and modify the design and check off the issues as done.

Watch this video for the initial sound test, and discovery of the EQ section bug.

Please subscribe, like, share and comment on this video! I need your support to make this better and make more project and technical walk-throughs like this.

I’d like to even do this with you! If you have a cool design and want to share and do a video interview, please email me and we’ll arrange it!

ben dot jordan at altium dot com.

And final PostScript: Here’s a track I was working on after a few more small mods to the Sausage Factory – my take on a classic 80’s pop song: