• Pretty pcbs - from brainstorm to boards

    Angela Sheehan10/22/2018 at 03:53 0 comments

    One of the main goals of this project has been to create boards that can be appreciated as design objects. We spent quite a bit of time prototyping and brainstorming what shapes, sizes, and configurations would lend themselves best to a jewelry-inspired but flexible hardware system for wearables.

    After lots of conversations we landed on some key features:

    Board shapes that offer flexible configurations

    One of our shared frustrations in creating our own wearable tech projects is that we are constantly hacking, customizing, and making compromises on hardware to fit our vision. Here was an opportunity to custom create something for our needs! We settled on a hexagon controller board with geometric shapes that relate to each other and nest nicely. Moving the pieces around to brainstorm a project has a very tangram-like feel to it. The board shapes also lend themselves to stacking -  after our first round of prototypes we consolidated two separate sensor boards into one hexagon board that could stack on the  controller board.

    Pre-wired for prototyping

    Inspired by the great user experience of the ProtoSnap boards in the LilyPad sewable electronics line, we wanted our workshop attendees to get started prototyping their projects fast. In piecing together how to create the pre-wired base module, Mary came up with a diamond-like design which we both loved.

    PCBs as design objects

    We are both big fans of the explosion of PCB art in the badge life community and boutique kits (like BoldPort).  This inspired the rest of the labeling and silk design, which was done in Illustrator and imported to Eagle using SparkX's Buzzard utility

    Brainstorming some potential project configurations using laser cut plastic representations of our boards. While PCBs were being made, we continued to design and develop using paper and plastic prototypes.

    This week prototypes for our Supercon workshop arrived, and they are stunning! We had them created through OSH Park and are so pleased with how they came out.

    Top of the diamond board.

    Bottom of the diamond board.

    This prototype consists of seven individual boars in a diamond layout:

    • Hexagon shaped SAMD21 controller board
    • 2 chevron boards with 3 WS2812 LEDs
    • Hexagon shaped 'sensor board' with APDS-9960 Digital Proximity, Ambient Light, RGB and Gesture Sensor and microphone
    • 3 triangle white LED boards