Tag Archives: KiCad

SmartParallel: laying out the PCB

We’ve been here before, but now it feels like we’re finally getting somewhere. The long-running saga that is my SmartParallel serial-to-parallel dot matrix printer interface is nearing completion. Well, maybe. Having solved (I think) the back-powering problem, and with a prototype that I believe actually works, I’ve decided to call Rev 2.0 of the design schematic the final version. All… Read more »

SmartParallel: Centronics breakout board

Creating a full breadboard version of the SmartParallel board is turning out not to be a five-minute affair. It has to be done meticulously and methodically if it is to have any value as a prototype. Fitting it all on to a single breadboard is proving challenging too. And that got me thinking. What about replicating at least part of… Read more »

SmartParallel: fixing the PCB layout

Hmm, yes, clearly it wasn’t going to be as easy as all that. While creating the PCB layout for the SmartParallel serial to parallel printer interface, I shuffled a few of the pin assignments on the Atmel ATMEGA328PB microcontroller. The reason was simply to make routing a tad easier. But I had a nagging feeling that this might cause a… Read more »

DIY joystick for the BBC Micro – part 1

My recent PC build was undertaken partly to allow me to play Elite: Dangerous. There was no small amount of nostalgia involved in that decision: the original Elite was one of the few games I played back in the 8-bit days. But while I can now play the two incarnations of the game – separated by 30-odd years – side-by-side, there… Read more »

SmartParallel: refreshing the design

The SmartParallel, aka DottyMatrix, project has been languishing for a while now, but it’s time to get it restarted. SmartParallel is a serial-to-parallel interface that I embarked on because I wanted to be able to use my decades-old Epson MX-80 F/T III dot matrix printer with a number of platforms that don’t have parallel interfaces, such as the Raspberry Pi…. Read more »

Fixing an e-bike pedal sensor – part 2

Well, it looks as though this series of posts (of which this is the second and possibly last) could be badly mis-titled. For a start, it doesn’t look as though the pedal sensor of my malfunctioning e-bike is faulty. And it now appears unlikely that I’m going to fix anything – not in the near future, anyway. However, I had… Read more »

SMD soldering coda: KiCad, PCBs and pad sizes

In many ways this is Part 5 of my four-part series on SMD soldering because it addresses problems I had with reflow soldering and TSSOP ICs. I used two TSSOP chips – the TXB0104 and TXB0108 level shifters. Both have pin sizes of 0.3mm and a pin pitch – the distance from the centre of one pin to the centre… Read more »

PCB design: Eagle vs KiCad – the verdict

[Eagle vs KiCad part 11] Well here we are, the end of the road. Somehow I always knew this series would go to 11. I have, finally, made a decision which EDA – Eagle or KiCad – I’m going to use. It wasn’t an easy choice. Ground rules Let’s get a few things out of the way first, so you know… Read more »

PCB design: laying out the board in KiCad

[Eagle vs KiCad part 9] Once you’ve finished your schematic, creating a board in KiCad involves a number of steps. First, while still in Eeschema, you need to ensure all your components are ‘annotated’. When you drop a component in the schematic, it will be shown with an identifier plus question mark – for example, an IC might have the label… Read more »

PCB design: Eagle vs KiCad – a different direction

[Eagle vs KiCad part 8] So, as I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve decided to change direction slightly. Rather than continuing with the HexMonitor project to a completed and fabbed board, I’m going with a slightly simpler project. The reasons are two-fold: first, the HexMonitor board is sufficiently complex that I figured it had no chance of working, this being… Read more »

PCB design: first steps with KiCad

[Eagle vs KiCad part 5] Having got as far as a complete schematic for my HexMonitor project with Eagle, it’s time to try the same thing with KiCad. And just as I did with Eagle, my plan is to design my HexMonitor project that takes signals from one eight-bit and one 16-bit bus and display their values on a four-digit, seven-segment… Read more »

PCB design: first steps with Eagle

[Eagle vs KiCad part 2] Okay, so it’s time to start on the road of deciding whether I want to design PCBs in Eagle or KiCad. I’ve already talked about this a little, but here’s where I’m at. My natural inclination is towards KiCad. It’s open and it has none of the restrictions of the free version of Eagle (and… Read more »

Eagle vs KiCad: first thoughts

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[Eagle vs KiCad part 1] There’s a tough decision awaiting anyone who, like me, is about to get into designing their own printed circuit boards (PCBs) – what software to use. An Electronic Design Automation (EDA) package is pretty much essential for any serious PCB work, and quite a lot of non-serious work too (which is where I come in)…. Read more »