‘Nutclough’ Circuit Board Design Is Stylishly Amplified

Though there is nothing wrong with the raw functionality of a plain rectangular PCB, boards that work an edge of aesthetic flare into their layout leave a lasting impression on those who see them. This is the philosophy of circuit artist [Saar Drimer] of Boldport, and the reason why he was commissioned by Calrec Audio to create the look for their anniversary edition amplifier kit. We’ve seen project’s by [Saar] before and this ‘Nutclough18’ amplifier is another great example of his artistic handy work.

nutclough2For the special occasion of their 50th anniversary, Calrec Audio contacted [Saar] requesting he create something a bit more enticing than their standard rectangular design from previous years. With their schematic as a starting point, [Saar] used cardboard to mock-up a few of his ideas in order to get a feel for the placement of the components. Several renditions later, [Saar] decided to implement the exact proportions of the company’s iconic Apollo desk into the heart of the design as an added nod back to the company itself. In the negative space between the lines of the Apollo desk there is a small perforated piece depicting the mill where the Calrec offices are located. The image of the mill makes use of different combinations of copper, silk and solder mask either absent or present to create shading and depth as the light passes through the board. This small piece that would have otherwise been removed as scrap can be snapped off from the body of the PCB and used as a commemorative keychain.

With the battery and speaker mounted behind the completed circuit board, [Saar’s] design succeeds in being a unique memento with a stylish appeal. There is a complete case study with detailed documentation on the Nutclough from cardboard to product on the Boldport website. Here you can also see some other examples of their gorgeous circuit art, or checkout their opensource software to help in designing your own alternative PCBs.

17 thoughts on “‘Nutclough’ Circuit Board Design Is Stylishly Amplified

      1. Wrong. The loop area is the area enclosed by the current path and its return area. That’s basic geometry. I don’t think you clearly understand the term.

        If the ground return path is kept at constant distance (e.g board thickness if microstrip and/or separation to ground), the loop area is proportional to the length of your tracks! By making the wiggle lines, you have intentionally increase the track lengths, hence the loop area.

        So this increases the parasitics on the circuits – more track inductance, more parasitic capacitance.

        1. BTW there are some disagreement of the comments, so your quote is not a support of your view nor do they apply to the same layout. I can quote the comment from that link too and that basically states what I have said.

          >kkazem: I’ve got to disagree with the SGT here. If you have a ground plane under the trace and zig-zag it, you are increasing both the trace inductance and capacitance to ground at the same time.

          The track in the picture does not fold back as they are mostly bends, so there is minimal mutual cancellation in the inductance. Now if there are significant lengths of it that runs in parallel in close proximity, then you would get a bit of cancellation. Look at OP’s trace again and there are no parallel “overlapping sections” of the track to itself. Note the ground fills in area between the bends.

          Anyway, the frequency of this audio circuit isn’t critical, so one can get away with that.

  1. I’m not a huge fan of the wavy traces with the still-just-plain-square-grid component layout, but I guess wavy traces aren’t really to my taste anyway. No harm.

    That said, I really liked the design of the keyring. It leaves off copper where the windows are so it lets light through… that was neat.

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