EagleUp pulls your PCBs into SketchUp

[Karl] wrote in to tell us about a software package called EagleUp that will import your Eagle CAD PCB designs into Google SketchUp. It bridges the gap between the two using the open source image processing software ImageMagick.

As you can see above, you’ll end up with a beautifully rendered 3D model of your hardware. This is a wonderful way to make sure that your enclosure designs are going to work without needing to wait for the PCBs to arrive from the fab house. It is available for Windows, OSX and Linux (although the last time we tried to run Sketchup under Wine nothing good came of it — perhaps it’s time to try again).

In [Karl's] case, he’s working on an Arduino compatible board based around the Xmega. He mentions that EagleUp is a great way to get an idea of how component placement will end up, and to see if the silk screen layer is going to turn out well or not. Here’s a link to one of his test designs.

CadSoft’s EAGLE 6 hits beta and packs goodies

Version 6 of the popular schematic and PCB layout software EAGLE is now in beta testing. The most notable change is the migration to XML file formats that we looked at last month.

[PT] didn’t waste any time getting his hands on the software and giving it a thorough test drive. The image seen above shows the files of a MintyBoost. It’s impossible to make out at this resolution, but it is indeed spitting out human-readable (well maybe) XML in the windows below instead of the ‘no trespassing’ binaries they used to use.

Earlier today when working on a feature we had to jump on a different computer that had EAGLE installed in order to look at a .SCH file. We wonder if someone will put out a rendering package that can parse the new format and spit out a quick PNG? At the very least, we expect to see some useful hacks for part replacement or pin swapping. It shouldn’t be too hard to poke around and figure out what happens when changing some of the stored values. Got anything in mind that you can do by editing these by hand?

Oh, we almost forgot! The biggest benefit you get from this is the increased version control compatiblity since programs like git will be able to perform diff functions on the files.

Video – Eagle CAD’s CAM processor

Here is the next installment in our series of Eagle CAD videos. In this video we skip ahead a bit and show off the CAM processor that you use to create the files necessary to have your circuit boards be manufactured. After watching this video, you will know how create a new CAM program, load a circuit board into the CAM processor, tell it where to save your files, and actually use it to create the files.

We’re skipping ahead today because of a screw up on our part. We meant to show the layout portion of the program today but edited the wrong video… We’ll show layout next week. After that, we will show the completed circuit board and solder the parts onto it.

If you are itching for some Eagle CAD layout info, you may be interested in some supplementary videos that we have uploaded to our Youtube channel. In those videos, we show how to use the most important features in the layout portion of the Eagle CAD.

Have you missed the previous videos? Here are some links to them:

Schematic and the beginning of a custom part: [click here]
More custom part stuff: [click here]

Video is after the break:
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Visualizing PCB revisions using a Gerber viewer

gerber_schematic_highlighting

We all know that Eagle has its share of shortcomings. Instructables user [westfw] was particularly annoyed by the fact that while Eagle keeps copies of up to 10 revisions of your board, it cannot open those files without resorting to manually renaming each one. Even more frustrating to him is the fact that you can’t use Eagle to view two files simultaneously in order to compare layouts. This made hunting down changes quite tedious, so he started looking for a better way to do things.

While using his favorite open-source gerber viewer gerbv, he noticed that the application let him load multiple copies of the same layer, XORing the PCBs’ colors together. Realizing that with some clever color selection, he could use gerbv to automatically highlight layout differences, he set off to automate the process.

The resulting script works on any flavor of *nix, and should play nice in Windows under cygwin as well. The script reads through Eagle backup files, renaming them and tweaking the colors so that when XORed, they show up as bright red areas in gerbv. It’s a simple yet handy tool to have on hand if you happen to do a lot of PCB design.

Give KiCAD a try. Here’s how

Up to this point we’ve used Eagle CAD as our exclusive PCB design and schematic layout tool. But [Brian] has inspired us to try something different thanks to his KiCAD tutorial.

KiCAD is an open source printed circuit board design tool. Since we like to rock the Linux here at Hackaday getting our hands on this was as easy as:

 sudo apt-get install kicad

The version in the Ubuntu 10.04 repositories is a bit older but seemed to work just fine. [Brian] jumps right in with one of our most dreaded tasks on Eagle, designing your own parts. He knows of a nice online tool for automatic KiCAD part generation and walks through the process of building a voltage regulator and importing it for use in your own personal library From there it’s off to layout a power supply schematic for a breadboard PSU. The lesson continues with board layer, as well as the process used for exporting data for PCB fab house. We think this tutorial works well if you’re already familiar with PCB layout using a different software package but it moves a bit fast if this is your first time.

KiCAD seems like a nice tool and we’ve heard from many advocates in the comments over the years. Look for our next PCB design to be on KiCAD as we just need to use it for a while before passing judgement.

Cadsoft Eagle migrating to XML

[PT] posted about an exciting development from Cadsoft, the migration to XML based parts, schematics, and board layouts. The adoption of this open standard goes hand-in-hand with the open hardware initiatives people like [PT] have been pushing for.

Cadsoft Eagle is our go-to schematic and PCB software. We even have a tutorial which guides you through preparing your files for PCB manufacture. But the files containing parts libraries, schematics, and board layouts have always been binaries. A transition to XML means a lot of things. They will be easier to edit, and much friendlier for tracking changes using version control systems like SVN, CVS, Mercurial SCM, Git, etc. But immediately on our minds is the accessibility for hacking. Think of how easy XML parsing is in programs like Python. It should be snap to write scripts on a whim that will manipulate the XML files in any way imaginable. This doesn’t discount the value of Eagle, it extends the usability far beyond what any team of engineers at Cadsoft could produce by themselves. And for that, we say Bravo.

Use a 3D mouse with Eagle CAD

[Sebastian] made a 3D mouse work with Eagle CAD. He was inspired after using a 3DConnexion device to manipulate the views in a copy of Solid Edge 3D CAD modeling software. The system uses the 3D mouse in one hand with the regular mouse in the other.

It turns out that 3DConnecxion offers a lot of tools to get their devices working with your software. [Sebastian] downloaded the .NET example and modified it to read in data from the device. With the use of hot-keys he manages to get zoom, pan, and centering to work (see for yourself after the break). The only drawback to his implementation is that he can’t pan while dragging parts. But that’s just a small issue waiting for you to find a solution.

[Read more...]

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