Tag Archives: PCB

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 »

SMD soldering setup – just add air

It was time to get serious about SMD soldering. And I have to say, I’m really pleased how well this has worked out so far. Now that I’m getting into, and hugely enjoying, PCB design and getting boards fabbed, I can’t escape tackling SMD (or SMT if you prefer) components. And this is a good thing. For a start, an… Read more »

First PCB and more mistakes

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Okay, so I’ve already fessed up to some errors I made with my first-ever PCB. Now I’ve discovered another, and it’s a doozy. It’s also a valuable lesson. I’m waiting for a few bits of kit in order to do surface mount soldering. I’ll be writing more about this when it’s all installed (but as a teaser, it’s a hot… Read more »

A PCB virgin no longer

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Well, it’s happened. My first PCBs have arrived. Now it’s just a matter of summoning the courage to solder on the parts and see if it works. This is the board I designed as part of my Eagle vs KiCad series. It breaks out a Centronics-compatible DB25 socket, with the data lines being driven by a shift register. There’s a… Read more »

PCB design: laying out the board with Eagle

[Eagle vs KiCad part 10] This is going to be a fairly short post because most of what I have to say can be summed up with: Eagle’s board layout program works very well and I had very few problems. It also offered very few features I wanted that KiCad didn’t. To create a board that will sync with your schematic… 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: connecting with Eagle

[Eagle vs KiCad part 4] In the last post in my Eagle vs KiCad series I’d got as far as using Eagle to place all the components for the HexMonitor project in a schematic. Now it’s time to join them together. Even before I begin, something tells me that perhaps this is too ambitious a project for my very first PCB…. Read more »

PCB design: modifying a part with Eagle

[Eagle vs KiCad part 3] In the last post, I’d got as far as putting all the parts for my HexMonitor project into the schematic, albeit without actually connecting them. There was a good reason for that: while I (somewhat surprisingly) found the connector part I needed in Eagle’s default libraries, it wasn’t labelled the way I wanted. This was… 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 »