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Your donation will go to my Robotics Fund, straight towards more sensors, actuators, books, and journeys. It takes a lot to continue building these robots, and I’m really thankful of everyone who helps encourage me along the way.



“A wise robot once said to me through Serial.println- that robots teach us about ourselves.”

Archive for January, 2012

Brrd Brain Board: More progress & less zigzags

Check out this week’s progress! The routing is done, updated the headers to R3 format, and there’s less zigzags!

It’s been a fun week to see this progress come along. Here’s a timelapse of all the action:

Watch on YouTube

This was the board at the point just before starting to fix everything up. I moved the analog lines to the screw terminals to between the proto area because since there is going to be PWM on the proto area, this would interfere with it. Thanks a bunch to dago for pointing this out!

Brrd Brain Board gEDA Progress Week 6

Decided to change the headers to R3 format. It was supposed to be a small task, instead it ended up being this confusing mess that changed into a 40 minute issue. For some reason the pin numbers of the footprint and symbol just weren’t cooperating. Very frustrating:

Brrd Brain Board gEDA Progress Week 6

This spot here will be filled in eventually. Can you guess what it would be for? You probably can, this is such a lame guessing game.

Brrd Brain Board gEDA Progress Week 6

Here is the before shot of the de-zigging:

Brrd Brain Board gEDA Progress Week 6

Here is the after shot of the de-zigging:

Brrd Brain Board gEDA Progress Week 6

Now since I am a noob at all of this making hardware stuff, I have some questions. It would be really nice if people familiar in this area could lend some answers! I really appreciate everyone’s help and everything :D

Brrd Brain Board gEDA Progress Week 6

(here are larger versions of this image)

1. Should there be a ground plane here? The ground route is actually quite short. If there was a fill, there would be many sides and edges, and wouldn’t be very big. Is there any advantage or disadvantage to this?

2. This is the 7805 for the servos, it’s going to be throwing off a lot of heat. Will this heat mess up any of the pads or the routes? What about the screw terminals and headers adjacent to it?

3. I use this V pattern to via together two of the wires. Is it better to use a V or a T? Why?

4. For joining the routes to these pads, it isn’t a straight line but rather one that angles in on both sides. Will this be okay, or is there not enough surface area on the route touching the pad?

5. Going horizontal are ALL of the power routes: Gnd, 5V (arduino) and 5V (servos). Going vertical are all of the digital inputs/outputs. These routes are on different sides. Will there be any effect on the digital inputs from the power? Why?

6. Will this work since there are going to be holes drilled in each of the pads? (Actually think I figured out this one, since the pads are conductive about their circumference, then it should work)

7. Do zigzags like these have a large effect on the signal from the pin? Is there any way to lessen the effect?

8. Is there any problem with having vertical and horizontal routes on different sides with different signals? Will there be noise? Also, is the spacing between the horizontal routes okay? It is 40 mil between the middle of the routes, and the routes are 15 mil.

9. Is this length of the ‘jump’ between this power route and this signal route okay? It is 70mil long, route is 15 mil. The power route is 20 mil. Just wondering if the length of this jump has any effect on the signal or anything.

10. Does having this power route come right through all the pin routes have any effect on the signal? It is on a different layer…

11. Do the routes close to the oscillator have any effect on the oscillator? Would this be bad?

12. Will these routes between the pins be okay, or will there be interference? The pads are 100 mil apart. The route is in the middle at 50 mil, and has a width of 15 mil. So the actual distance between the route and the pads is less than 10 mil. The distance between the digital and analog route is also less than 10 mil.

13. Do the 7805s for powering the Arduino generally get hot? Would it be better to have this laying down or standing up with a heatsink? Also if it is heating up, is it too close to the capacitors?

14. Are these jumps okay? The length is 80mil and they are going across a 25mil route.

15. Are these capacitors too close together? How close or far away should capacitors be?

16. Similar question to one previously, is it better to have a V or a T?

17. Are these vias big enough for the routes? I use the same size of via throughout the board on routes that are 15 mil, 20 mil, and 25 mil. The size of the via is:
Line width: 6 mil
Hole size: 11.81 mil
Ring size: 24.02 mil

18. What is the best way to go from one route size to another? For example here I’m going from 25 mil to 20 mil, but it leaves a weird sort of outline. Would this effect anything?

Thanks to anyone who answers any of these questions. You don’t have to answer any or all of them, but I do appreciate whatever answers there are because I’m still trying to wrap my head around this all :D I’ll also try to do my own researching for the answers too!

After editing some things based on the answers above, there are a few more things to do:
- mounting holes
- silkscreen labels
- silkscreen imagery (svg into gEDA), really looking forward to this :D
- change the arduino 5V pads in the proto area to squares to make it easier to understand
- use gerbv and stuff (have to research this more)
- get a few printed up at dorkbot pdx :D
- order parts for a few at local electronics store (ABRA)

I am kind of wondering how this attribution for the hardware will work. I used EMSL’s Diavolino a lot for reference, and the proto area on the side was obviously inspired by the Adafruit perma protos. Do I include a reference to these two things on the board, or can I do it on the schematic, pcb, and website files?

At least now that I have the dimensions of how big the board is, I can begin sketching out ideas for the shell. We are moving along, WOOHOO!

Also does anyone have any recommendation for testing equipment stuff? All I have right now is a multimeter, will that be adequate to debug this board when the time comes, or should I order something more complex, like perhaps a DSO nano or something? How do you test your boards?

For week 7 the goal is to get this board ordered, and to have some preliminary dimensional drawings done.

Route the board!

Yay! I am waiting on tonight’s Robot Party videos to be rendered, so figured I would write a little progress blog post that has been sitting in the journal for a few days.

The funny part about this post is that you as a reader will think that the board is a long time from being finished, but as a writer I can clearly see how it is beginning to wrap up! Not because I traveled in time, but because after I finished on Sunday (the 15th), I began working more on the routing and improved so many things. I guess this is kind of funny timing for a week 5 progress post when week 6 began half of a week ago, AND the board looks totally different. It will be a good surprise for the end of week 6 then! ^_^

Here was a video I uploaded to YouTube of the routing timelapses of week 5 (good reason to subscribe to my robotgrrl91 youtube channel- you will be alerted of video uploads even when I don’t post them here :D )

Watch the video on YouTube.

So here is the board half way through this progress… that headphone jack took tons of time to create the footprint for! There are two versions, one with an accurate silkscreen for the dimensions, and one with a silkscreen that is a little pushed out. This part will be added to my github repo of parts eventually- I may have a few more parts to add by the end of week 6!

Screen Shot 2012-01-15 at 2.58.46 PM

And here is the final screenshot of this progress.

Screen Shot 2012-01-15 at 9.42.42 PM

The progress done in week 5 really set up for the good progress so far in week 6. I’m so excited to share more of the progress of week 6, but it isn’t even finished yet! I do drop some hints on twitter sometimes though ;)

Also, the FIRST Robotics Competition build season has started again! I’m mentoring team #296 again this year, helping with the vision code. We are using LabView this year!


Not sure about your robots, but my robots love to dance along to Domo Arigoto by the Styx. They also enjoy watching movies like WALL-E! However there is a problem on planet EARTH that would hinder the innovation on the web by humans, and hinder robots from enjoying elements of the human culture.

The problem is that some humans have created two things… SOPA and PIPA. Could you imagine a Robot Party without Domo Arigoto? And if I posted a picture of WALL-E on here, there would be no more! It’s completely insane!

From the EFF:

The Internet blacklist legislation—known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers innovation on the Web. Urge your members of Congress to reject this Internet blacklist campaign in both its forms!

From Google:

Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.
Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

From Wikipedia:

Imagine a World
Without Free Knowledge
For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.

As you can tell this is a very annoying issue that is taking time away from making our robots take over the world. If SOPA & PIPA were to come true, then it would further frustrate the robots more and they would revolt as is (with all their bugs). I can assure you that such a case would be very, very bad *sinister look*.

Here are three things you can do to avoid the SOPA & PIPA avalanche:
1. Sign the forms on Google & EFF, links above
2. Help spread the word about this in a creative way so that we can make sure that everyone is informed

(okay, maybe #3 is a little excessive)

Note: Yes we are hosted at GoDaddy BUT we are in the middle of figuring out how to switch. We don’t know anything about domains, DNS’, hosting, and whatever, so it is making it a very confusing process.