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What have I done??

12 likes
Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
Well, I've spent the last few days and a good deal of cash on designing and laying out a new STM32F405 based NETMF board for an industrial control project I'm working on.

Just ordered all the parts, the PCBs (Hope DF Robot can make sense of them) and a shiny new IR reflow oven from eBay. It has cost a small fortune to get started, but the experience and functionality the board will offer, not the mention to savings on the next one will make the effort worth while. Thanks to my very understanding and patient mentor @Justin, for his endless enthusiasm and insight; wouldn't have wanted to do it without him.

Should have the boards back in 5 days (plus shipping) and then the fun will really start. Getting the firmware onto the STM, programming the BLE, playing with I2C LCB displays and EEPROM devices, oh and then there's the actual industrial stuff to do as well. Added to all that, a simple WP8 or WinRT app to interface to the BLE and we'll be good to go.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Wish me luck. Shocked
2 likes
Reply #1 — Posted 4yr ago
by Dave McLaughlin | Legend | 58,471 exp
Reply #1 — Posted 4yr ago
by Dave McLaughlin | Legend | 58,471 exp
Nice work Jason. Looks like you get to play with Altium Designer too?

Did you opt for a 2 or 4 layer board?

I am working on a NETMF design myself based on the same processor and going for 4 layer. Our friendly neighbourhood NETMF Guru Justin also suggested I go with NETMF after he explained how easy it was to get NETMF on the processor.

There are 2 boards in my design. The second one will be 2 layer as it only handles relays and a small power supply. I chose 4 for the CPU board as it is easier to get a cleaner EMC design as this will be installed on a truck. Last time I did a 2 layer board and it was noisy on the radio. Changed that same design and layout to use 4 layer and the noise went away. Smiley
Reply #2 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
Reply #2 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
@Dave McLaughlin - Just a 2-layer to cut my teeth on. Routed by hand too Whistling

As I get more comfortable I can see a need to go to 4-layers and I really want to get either some WiFi or Ethernet onto a design soon too.
Reply #3 — Posted 4yr ago
by hagster | Hero | 18,264 exp
Reply #3 — Posted 4yr ago
by hagster | Hero | 18,264 exp
I agree that 4 layers is often better EMC-wise. That top power plane is pretty badly chopped up and doesn't look to be particularly well stitched to anything. Everyone's a critic I suppose ;-)

Looks good though. Fingers crossed it will 'just work'.
Reply #4 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
Reply #4 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
You know you've spend too long in one programme when you start to use it's shortcut keys in another. Banging Head

It's a shame not everything shows full zoom with a V - F shortcut!
Reply #5 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
Reply #5 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
@hagster - For my first design I didn't really want the additional cost. Assuming that I got everything right and there is nothing missing Embarrassed or no additional functionality I decide I want Thinking to incorporate then migrating to a multi-layer would be the way I'd go too.

The prices from DF Robot are amazing, even for a 4-layer, but I can get this one wrong a time or two and still be less than the cost of a 4.

Let's hope the thing works; I'll worry about the rest next time.
1 like
Reply #6 — Posted 4yr ago
by Dave McLaughlin | Legend | 58,471 exp
Reply #6 — Posted 4yr ago
by Dave McLaughlin | Legend | 58,471 exp
Jason says:

@Dave McLaughlin - Just a 2-layer to cut my teeth on. Routed by hand too Whistling

I've not used the auto router on Altium since the Protel 99 days. It makes such a mess that it is not worth it. What I normally do is place all the parts, run the auto router to check it can do the complete board, which sort of gives you an idea of the layout being good and then un-route and do it manually. Smiley

I've found that the latest tools make manual routing a pleasure these days.


You know you've spend too long in one programme when you start to use it's shortcut keys in another. Banging Head

Ha ha. Been there, done that and have the medal to prove it. Smiley

It gets worse when programming. Wish they would all use the same F keys for the place breakpoint, start, single step etc. Goodness knows how many times I've done a rebuild when all wanted to do was single step the code. Smiley
4 likes
Reply #7 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
Reply #7 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
Well, DHL have just delivered my new PCBs from DF Robot. Now all I have to do is find enough to keep me busy until the end of the day so I can go home and get one built. I'll post my progress (with pics) later.
4 likes
Reply #8 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
Reply #8 — Posted 4yr ago
by Jason | Hero | 14,143 exp
It took a while to get organised, but they're finally in the reflow cooking. I've built two, one without BLE. I've got 6 minutes to wait and then begin the job of checking for shorts and solder bridges and then PROGRAMMING... Not sure if I'm 98% scared, 2% excited, or 2% scared, 98% excited. I guess I'll know soon enough.

Here's some progress shots to whet your appetites'...

Oh, and 0603 is SMALL!!!
Reply #9 — Posted 4yr ago
by .Peter. | King | 27,509 exp
Reply #9 — Posted 4yr ago
by .Peter. | King | 27,509 exp
Cool, envy, green, but still cool ... Cool

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