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Breaktru Forum  |  eCigarette Forum  |  Modding  |  Topic: PCB DNA20
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Author Topic: PCB DNA20  (Read 7557 times)

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Offline redwolfe

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PCB DNA20
« on: January 01, 2013, 06:14:56 PM »
Today I spent a few hours working on the PCB for my mod and I wanted some opinions on how it looked. I was using Fritzing and while the software is simple to use, I wasn't happy with the way it looked. I redid the drawing in Express PCB and am much happier with how it turned out. Anything in red is the top copper layer, blue is the silkscreen layer and green is the bottom copper layer. All traces, except those that run from the battery and to the atomizer connection are 0.030" The traces for the battery and atomizer are 0.045". I have the negative for the battery running in the bottom with the ground layer. I hope thats right. I found a few of my own errors from the first version I did of the PCB in Fritzing and fixed them in this one.

Offline CraigHB

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2013, 03:07:31 PM »
1 Oz copper clad is typical for circuit boards.  The thickness is only about 35 microns so a 1mm trace is like a 32 gauge copper wire, too fine.  You should use a minimum trace width of 5mm on the battery and 3mm on the atomizer.  I usually try to do 1mm per Amp trace width when possible.  A 5mm trace width on 1 oz copper is equal to a 24 gauge wire.

You should connect battery negative to the ground plane and make all connections to battery negative through that.  There's no sense having a ground plane if you're just going to float it.

The tabs on those LiPo cells are designed to be soldered.  Since you're using a PCB, you could put solder pads for the cell tabs on it.  It's not a problem to bend the tabs as required for that.

You should ditch the leaded PTC fuses.  The LoRho SMD ones that Littelfuse makes are much better.  They have much lower resistance so you'll get less voltage drop across them and less power wasted.  They also take up quite a bit less space.

Offline redwolfe

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 05:32:31 PM »
Thanks again Craig. I have been taking my time to get to know EagleCAD. Though it was a bit confusing at first it does seem to be the much better choice for PCB design out of the ones I have used so far. I've picked up on how to use the tools and some commands rather quickly just after one lesson. I will more than likely need to have my design double checked when I think it is finished before I send to have the boards made.


Offline CraigHB

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 08:05:01 PM »
Eagle is most popular for hobbyists, but the free version is pretty limited.  It outputs Gerber and Excellon plot files which is standard for most PCB fabs.  It takes some getting used to though.  It does things in a non-intuitive way, but once you get used to how it works, it's tolerable. 

The ExpressPCB software only allows you to use their service for fabrication which is rather expensive.  Still, you can use the software to print masks for making your own PCBs, but it can't mirror stuff on print so you have to draw it mirrored.  The software is really easy to use, but with the hassle of drawing your stuff mirrored, it's not worth it.

These guys are the cheapest PCB fab I've found.  You get a set of 3 two sided boards for $5 a square inch which is amazingly inexpensive.  The quality is top notch too.  I've been using this source for some time now.

Offline redwolfe

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 09:05:49 PM »
Yes I came across OshPark while reading here the other day. That is an awesome price for the PCBs. The turn around time being at 2-3 weeks is not too bad either. I definitely plan on going through them when I am ready.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 09:25:00 PM by redwolfe »

Offline redwolfe

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2013, 02:02:30 AM »
I spent the past few hours trying to get the board the way I wanted to this time completely changing the orientation of it. I did 4mm traces for the battery and 3 mm traces for everything else. I am having a hell of a time trying to get the negative to the battery and the ground connected to each other.

Offline CraigHB

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2013, 02:43:57 PM »
It's rather convoluted, but here is how I make signal planes (including ground planes) and connect pads or vias to them in Eagle.

To draw a signal plane, first click the Polygon button and draw the copper fill in the bottom or top layer as preferred.

Use the Name button to give it a signal name of GND (it can by anything, but GND for this example).

Add pads and vias to the component library that you want to connect to the ground plane.  You will treat these pads and vias as components.

Use the Signal button to connect the pads and vias placed from the component library.  The signal is shown as a fine yellow line.  Use the Name button to rename the signal to GND. 

When you click the Ratsnest button, the fill will become solid and it will connect to any vias with the same signal name.  The signal line will be gone.

Use the Route button to change signal lines to traces when connecting pads or vias that are not sitting in the plane.


« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 04:19:04 PM by CraigHB »

Offline CraigHB

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2013, 04:14:26 PM »
One thing that's really screwy with Eagle is there are two types of names, one is the device name and the other is the signal name.

For a copper fill, using the Name button always changes the signal name.  For a a pad that's whole or part of a component, using the Name button only changes the device name.  This is not at all evident and can be a big source of confusion.

To change the signal name for a component pad, you have to connect a signal line then use the Name button on the signal line.  It's exceedingly lame, but that's how it is.  You sometimes have to add a dummy pad or via via to facilitate this.  Once the signal has been renamed, the pad can be deleted.

To add a battery terminal pad, create it as a component in the library then connect it with a signal line to a via or pad you have placed from the library.  After a signal line has been inserted than routed, a dummy via can be deleted and the trace will remain.

Eagle is actually pretty much a piece of shit, has to be one of the most user unfriendly programs I've ever had the displeasure of using, but like I said, once you get used to its quirks, it's tolerable.   Though, of all the programs I've used, this one has gotten me closest to throwing my monitor through the window.

Online Breaktru

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2013, 04:42:34 PM »
Eagle is actually pretty much a piece of $#!+, has to be one of the most user unfriendly programs I've ever had the displeasure of using, but like I said, once you get used to its quirks, it's tolerable.   Though, of all the programs I've used, this one has gotten me closest to throwing my monitor through the window.

That cracked me up. I spit my coffee all over my keyboard... Being there myself with Eagle.

The problem with me is after learning something pretty well, like Eagle and then not using it for some time, It's like starting over as a newbie again. I'm regretting getting back to using it again on my next project.

I really like how easy and fast ExpressPCB is. As far as printing a Mirror Image, I save to Acrobat and Flip Horizontal. But most of my work was with Eagle

Offline CraigHB

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2013, 05:17:31 PM »
I have the same problem, like first in, last out.  Seems I can only retain my ability to use a program for a limited amount of time.  Fortunately, once I've mastered a program once, it doesn't take long to pick it up again, even something as convoluted to use as Eagle.  It does the job for me though.  As much of a bastard as it is to use, it's pretty flexible and does everything I want it to.  It's not all bad.

I think the only reason Eagle is so popular with hobbyists is because it's the only professional level PCB design software for Windows with a free version.  Though Linux users have access to PCB design software that is open source and fully capable, gEDA is one package.  I use Eagle only because OSH Park takes raw Eagle board files which is highly convenient.  They can take standard plot files as well though.

Offline redwolfe

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2013, 09:13:15 PM »
You know what would be great for Eagle to have as an option is if  you could import graphics images like .png, .jpeg, or .bmp so you could take a snapshot of the component from the datasheet PDF and just paste it onto the board silkscreen layer. Then place the vias EXACTLY where you want them on the board. It would be SO much easier to make your own libraries this way. Unless you can do this I just can't figure out how.

Offline redwolfe

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2013, 01:27:26 AM »
OK I think I'm finished with this.

Offline redwolfe

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Re: PCB DNA20
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2013, 03:03:36 AM »
I found this super cool way to view your finished PCB in 3D!!

Go here: http://www.instructables.com/id/View-Your-PCB-Design-in-3D-Online-for-Free/

I did it to mine and here's how it looks.

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