Making PCBs

There is a first time for everything and this time it’s about drawing a PCB and using a board house to manufacture it.

I drew a even smaller breakout board for the MPU-6050 with Eagle and sent the files to Seeedstudio’s “Fusion PCB service”. Now we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of it. (Btw, Seeedstudio has also a stencil service.) Eagle’s freeware version is limited to 100 x 80 mm 2-layer boards and non-profit applications. I chose Eagle over open source KiCAD, because Seeedstudio had downloadable design rules and a gerber generator that plug straight into Eagle. (One note: even though it says on the Seeedstudio site, that “the Gerber file must be RS-274x format”, the drill file generated by the gerber generator is not of that format by default. And from my very very limited experience that seems to be correct and no changes are needed.) Anyway, if these boards turn out OK, I’m likely to use this service again. It’s almost too easy and the price seems quite affordable 🙂

A couple of great tutorials have also helped me: Jeremy Blum‘s Eagle tutorials on youtube and, because he hasn’t made the 3rd part yet, this article from Dangerous Prototypes. Also there was some Spanish tutorial on youtube about the CAM stuff and Gerber generation, but I didn’t bookmark the link.. ah, well. Then there is SparkFun’s tutorial, which is something I definitely should have read before sending the files 🙂

EDIT: Sparkfun also posted this and this video recently.

EDIT #2: Ben Heck also published an Eagle tutorial. (Note: Eagle has now close ties with Farnell/Element14, but you are forced to use their services (not yet, anyway) when using Eagle.)

One of the advantages of using Eagle is the option to use nice and simple part libraries from both Adafruit and SparkFun. The latter has even a schematic and layout for the MPU-6050 breakout board linked to in the product description. They include the most common components and you won’t have to go through the whole parts jungle. If you can’t find the part you’re looking for, there’s a tutorial to create your own.

That about covers this topic for now, but as a note to self, here are some “loose ends” I’ve gathered: