First Round of PCBs

A project log for Mr. Gibbs

A powerful, inexpensive, and extensible tactical sailing computer

brook-pattenBrook Patten 04/21/2016 at 03:570 Comments

The first prototype breakout with the Pi Zero has been reasonably successful, but really put my soldering skills and patience to the test. After resolving issues with shorts and durability, I finally decided it was time to consider having a PCB (printed circuit board) made rather than to mess with wire-wrapping and soldering as I have been doing.

Disclaimer, I'm a software guy, I have never designed a PCB before, and I have no idea what I'm doing.

That being said, it seems like the tools are really good these days. My first draft of the Mr. Gibbs board was done infritzing, and is being fabricated by OSH Park.

There's nothing particular novel or interesting about this board. It simply connects power to everything, uart to the gps, and i2c to the compass and accelerometer. I added a header for power input, a 4 pin header for an external i2c device (TBD), a switch to turn power on/off, and a momentary push button tied to a GPIO which will probably be used to trigger bluetooth pairing.

I also started working on a design for the Crows Nest (BLE wind sensor) which will go on the mast.

This board is designed to be used with the blend micro, an MPU-6050 accelerometer, and a peet bros anemometer. There are 2 pulldown resistors for the anemometer reed switches, LEDs to show bluetooth status and anemometer switch closures, and a power header.

I posted all the files on github with the source. They have been sent to fab at OSH Park but I haven't gotten them back yet so they have not been tested. The Crows Nest isn't even ready for fab yet, but I should finish it up soon.

So far fritzing has been meeting my needs, though I definitely feel like I should spend the time to learn to use kicad or eagle. I'm sure I will in time.