Go, Robots, Go!

A project log for The ides of DEFCON: An Unofficial Electronic Badge

A wearable hardware badge, featuring blinky lights, sound, a sub-1Ghz radio, games, and more. Based on the Freescale KW01.

John AdamsJohn Adams 12/21/2016 at 19:510 Comments

Update: Thanks to Neil for correcting some of my (bad) assumptions about parts.

Update 2: It turns out that KiCad doesn't merge plated-through and non-plated-through hole drill files by default. I had to email the NPTH drill file to them separately. Next time, we will merge our drill files with KiCad or gerbmerge before sending.

Officially, our 'first spin' is underway!

Last night I managed to send off our prototype boards to Macrofab. Our estimated delivery date is January 17th.

I was torn between Macrofab and Tempo Automation, but ended up using Macrofab for the prototype because their bill-of-materials editor was far better. Macrofab's process walks you through the bill-of-materials. Tempo basically says "No, really, upload a CSV and we'll send you a quote."

Tempo was very, very nice to me on the phone, and I really want to support them because they're in SF, but I don't think their site is very easy to work with. The BOM search tool needs a lot of work. When they cannot locate a part in your uploaded BOM, they send you to a search page on on mouser or digikey, and after you find your part, you have to copy and paste that on Tempo's site.

Macrofab searches for you, in the same window, and allows you to easily click and select the part. This is a huge win.

What did we learn in this process?

Ideally, work your project in the following order:

General build notes / mistakes

I used KiCad. KiCad is buggy as hell, but I got through.

The library management is garbage and failed constantly. I had to resort to hand-editing files to get things done, especially when we would do a major change (like a component footprint) and then have to update the board.

Additionally, I had to get a same-day patch to stop the design-rules-check from crashing. Without the kicad nightly builds I wouldn't hve been able to build.

After all that, you'll get something like this:

if you want more information about Macrofab and KiCad, there's a nice video about some of this from the And!XOR guys here: