Importing PCB layout into Google Sketchup

If you’ve been spending hours with the digital calipers while designing enclosures for your circuit boards there may be a better way. [Phil] tipped us off about a new software package that will let you import PCB layout files into Google Sketchup. This way you can start working on the enclosure in CAD before you’ve populated your first board. Of course this adds to the pain of realizing there’s an error in your layout, but what are you going to do?

The free software was developed by RS Components, a European component distributor. It takes IDF files, which can be exported from most PCB design software, and converts them to a format compatible with Sketchup, Google’s 3D design software. For those who enjoy a very dry demonstration video you won’t want to skip seeing what we’ve embedded after the jump.

We’re kind of surprised that this hasn’t already been done. If it has, leave a link in the comments.

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External text display for Nexus One

Nexus One External Display

[follower] prototyped a 2-line external display for his Nexus One using an Arduino with a USB Host Shield, and the Android Open Accessory Protocol. There are two basic software pieces at work: an Arduino sketch that handles displaying data sent from the phone, and a lightweight android app to detect the presence of the external screen and send data to it. As shown here, it diplays the time and the beginning of the most recently received SMS message.

This project coalesced from several other things [follower] had been working on with regards to USB accessories, background services, interfacing with the Arduino and handling SMS messages, so it’s modular and open-source.  If you’re interested in mashing up microcontroller projects and your android phone, there’s plenty of stuff in this project to help you get off the ground.

As hacks go, this is very much a “because you can” sort of deal that’s designed to tie a bunch of cool things together. You’re unlikely to catch us carrying an LCD and breadboard around in our pockets any time soon, but it paves the way for some potentially fun phone accessories.

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