Music Player Network
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
Platinum Member
OP Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
So if you are not interested in soldering, or designing your own small gear this thread isn't for you.

The last 4 or 5 years I have started to design my own printed circuit boards making small midi interfaces and C64 cartridges.

In the past I would BREADBOARD these things with PCB PERFBOARD OR "breadboards" , but since it is so inexpensive to get PCBs manufactured in China now, I don't work with breadboards any more.
I design my PCBs now with DIPTRACE software and send my GERBER files online to China for manufacturing.

Just to give you an idea how inexpensive it is, my Diptrace software cost me $70 USD and for that price I can make a pcb with devices up to 300 pins ...and how cheap are the PCBs from China?

I CAN MAKE 10 double sided PCBs for 5$ plus 8$ postage up to 100mm X 100mm in size....so for13 BUCKs I get 10 custom printed circuit boards!

The thing is if you make any small changes like changing the colour of the circuit board, the price goes up exponentially so I stick with their default template. (my interface could use a THICKER PCB but I don't want to pay 4X the price)

I know, with all the bad things I say about China, but you have to admit that they are MASTERS of production. How they could do this so cheap is beyond me. Their automation must be phenomenal.

I made a small change to one of my boards today, as a matter of fact, and sent it out for manufacturing.

I have finished 4 or 5 different PCBs with this company and they all have worked !!

I'm sure that there will be more than one of these companies with these kind of prices.

I'll give their name to Craig if he wants to pass it on.

Hopefully this will save many of you some trouble, but Diptrace or Eagle are a bit of another learning curve.

I could also put some pics up here and tutorials if there is any interest.

Dan

Attached Images
pcb.png
Last edited by techristian; 01/05/21 04:41 AM.
Sound, Studio, and Stage Island
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 3,653
Likes: 327
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 3,653
Likes: 327
Very cool!
I doubt I'll ever get to that, it's not my field of expertise but I think it's awesome that you are doing it.

As a random, odd aside, did you know that Randall Smith (founder of Mesa Engineering and creator of the Mesa Boogie amps) hand draws his PC boards and used to silk screen them? Some kind of protective ink and an acid bath I think.

What do your circuits do? Cheers, Kuru


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 288
Likes: 6
Senior Member
Offline
Senior Member
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 288
Likes: 6
I remember many years ago while still in electronics school, I designed a circuit board and then etched and hand drilled a few of my own. For me breadboarding was just for circuit design and when you were sure you had something that worked you'd design a circuit board. We never actually created circuit boards at school but we wire wrapped some projects. Electronics is a fun hobby I'd like to get back to someday but not until after I'm done doing it for a living, retire and get moved.

Last edited by Greg Mein; 01/05/21 05:05 AM.
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 195
Likes: 27
Senior Member
Offline
Senior Member
Joined: Dec 2014
Posts: 195
Likes: 27
Originally Posted by techristian
I CAN MAKE 10 double sided PCBs for 5$ plus 8$ postage up to 100mm X 100mm in size....so for13 BUCKs I get 10 custom printed circuit boards!
That's great. I fell back into electronics during the 2020 lockdowns, been building MIDI controllers on proto-boards. Your post is timely, since I'm almost to the point where I'm ready to start making PCBs. Good to know they're inexpensive.

Since this is a DIY hobby for me, I'm using free software: Fritzing https://fritzing.org and kiCad https://kicad.org

My goal is to build a road-worthy 61-key MIDI controller with a decent key action. Oddly enough the electronics turned out to be relatively easy. It's the mechanical key action that's proving to be the challenge.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
Platinum Member
OP Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
Originally Posted by Groove On
That's great. I fell back into electronics during the 2020 lockdowns, been building MIDI controllers on proto-boards. Your post is timely, since I'm almost to the point where I'm ready to start making PCBs. Good to know they're inexpensive.

Since this is a DIY hobby for me, I'm using free software: Fritzing https://fritzing.org and kiCad https://kicad.org

My goal is to build a road-worthy 61-key MIDI controller with a decent key action. Oddly enough the electronics turned out to be relatively easy. It's the mechanical key action that's proving to be the challenge.


I'm not sure about Fritzing or kiCad, but Eagle is also "free". It depends on what you do with it. If it is strictly only for you , Eagle is fine with that, but when I read the fine print for Eagle it mentioned "for private non-commercial use only". Since I plan on selling these, small quantities nonetheless , I had to find an inexpensive alternative.

Dan

Last edited by techristian; 01/05/21 03:42 PM.
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 788
Likes: 27
MPN Advisory Board
Gold Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
Gold Member
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 788
Likes: 27
In my second job out of college, I worked for a very small electronics company whose business plan was to see what the Government wanted and we'd bid on it. It was mostly small items, mostly related to what the company owner used to work with in his former job, which was telemetry recording. He hired me because I knew tape recorders (this was 1967 or so) and one of the products we made was a wow and flutter meter. Another was an analog delay with a rotating magnetic drum and tape head.

Part of my job there, in addition to design and test, was to make PC layout drawings and prototype boards. I got pretty good with tape on mylar, and etched boards in the office bathroom.

I don't do that sort of work any more. In fact, I encouraged the owner to hire a real drafstman to do the layouts, as they were getting more complicated and I didn't have the patience, and when he told me how good of a job I was doing, I started looking around and went to work for the Government for the next 35 years. I was still doing some design work and prototyping (until I wanted to get paid more) but everything I designed and built was one-off so no compelling reason for using real circuit boards. This was for the Navy Oceanographic Office, and a lot of the stuff we made sank and was never retrieved anyway. wink

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 6,429
Likes: 98
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 6,429
Likes: 98
I etched a PC board for a class project in college but nothing since. The last few years I had been sitting on the fence waiting to dip my toes in. Now I may try some prototyping, thanks for the tips.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
Platinum Member
OP Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
Before I started to send my designs out, I bought 50 double sided copper blank boards. I was all ready to use LASER PRINTER etching. That is when you print a mirror image of the traces and then use a hot iron to PRESS the TONER on the circuit board before the acid. Wayyyyy back about 35 years ago or more I tried the acid. It was very tricky. Not long enough and not enough copper was gone....too long and too much copper was gone. It has to be just right, long enough for the drill holes to show up.

Dan

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
Platinum Member
OP Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
Here is a bit of breadboarding experiments to create a clock divider. BUT THAT IS ALL. I'm designing the rest of the circuit with Diptrace. The breadboard is TOO MESSY.

I already have a 20 mhz crystal on the board for the PIC chip but I also need 4 mhz for the synth chip and I want them to be synchronized .



Dan

Attached Images
bread.jpeg
Last edited by techristian; 01/13/21 05:54 PM. Reason: add attachment
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
Platinum Member
OP Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,330
Likes: 1
So as I make my move to separate myself from the C64, creating a fully contained synthesizer in a box, there may be one more Fastfingers spinoff with the C64 in the picture. I need to do this to familiarize myself with the YM2149. It only takes a few days to draw up these PCBs. The REAL work is the software that will drive this.

Dan


Moderated by  Anderton 

Link Copied to Clipboard
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5