This is the first in a series of five articles that will provide an overview of an electronics system design process, using the example of a solar oven controller. The process described here works for both simple and complex designs. Complex designs usually merit more iterations and more layers of optimization, but the steps are about the same.
Topics: Electrical Engineering
Every week, Adafruit masterminds Limor Fried and Phil Torrone host a live on-air Show-and-Tell, where folks can join in and share the details of specific projects they're working on. Last week, Adafruit community member Dan shared his hard-learned tips and tricks for milling small wood pieces on an Othermill.
In January of 2016, University of California San Diego opened the doors to their nearly 3,000-square-foot makerspace classroom called the EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio. Fully stocked with a wide variety of design, fabrication, and prototyping tools, EnVision is housed in UC San Diego’s Structural & Materials Engineering building.
A TEAM THAT SHIPS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER
As of today, we are finally caught up with our backlog and shipping Othermill Pro orders when they are placed. It seems like a small shift, but this is huge for us. Each time you make a new version and put it out into the world, it is just like launching a totally new product. Here are some cold hard facts about how long each iteration took.
We recently heard from one of our intrepid community members, Dave Cox, who reached out to share a guide he's written about using the Othermill and Otherplan to make mechanical prototypes using Altium. Dave is an engineer at SeeScan, a company that specializes in designing, manufacturing, and supporting diagnostic and utility-locating equipment.
After we put the finishing touches on each lovingly handmade Othermill in our Berkeley factory, we send it off to its new home, knowing it'll be making amazing things in the hands of our brilliant community members. The fun part for us is seeing what our Othermills have been up to since they flew the nest. You all inspire us!
OMC community member Duncan Haldane has built the world’s greatest jumping robot. No, seriously. Haldane’s bot is named Salto (short for “saltatorial locomotion on terrain obstacles”), weighs 100 grams, is 26 centimeters tall when fully extended, and can jump to 1.007 meters. Impressive, to say the least.
Here at OMC, we love seeing our community’s brilliance at work, particularly when it comes to fabricating solutions to everyday problems. We recently heard from Rundong (Kevin) Tian, a grad student at UC Berkeley who is involved with the powerful work produced at the Hybrid Ecologies Lab. Tian’s work has been previously mentioned in our case study on UC Berkeley’s CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) and its Invention Lab, where Tian first began working with the Othermill.
In Otherplan 1.0, we’ve made some adjustments that cause the 30º Engraving Bit to mill a bit differently than it did in previous releases. Because this update will affect the precision and accuracy of milled PCBs, we wanted to share a little bit of background on why we’re making these changes, and how they might affect you.
During in-house testing, we’ve seen results with our 30º engraving bits that don’t quite match our expectations. In particular, we’ve noticed that on PCBs milled with the 30º engraving bit, the traces seem to be narrower than they should be, and the spacing between traces seem to be wider than they should be. This is especially noticeable on boards with small trace pitch. Because even one thousandth of an inch can affect the success or failure of a board, we searched for the cause.
After looking into a number of potential issues, we realized that the issue was actually in software. The tool definition – the part of Otherplan that describes the exact shape and size of the tool – is slightly incorrect for the 30º engraving bits that we offer in our store. Essentially, Otherplan thinks that the 30º engraving bit is thinner than it actually is, at the depth it’s milling. Even though milling with wider parts of the bit will usually result in functional prototypes, the prototypes will not be as accurate as the designer intended.
In order to address these issues, we’ve made a few changes in Otherplan 1.0:
An updated definition for the standard 30º engraving bit: We’ve changed the tool definition in Otherplan 1.0 to reflect the true dimensions of the 30º engraving bits we provide in our store. You will likely notice few changes, if any. But if you are milling boards with very fine traces, you may find that some of the traces will no longer be able to be milled with the bit. (See below for details on what to do in this situation.)
New high-precision 30º engraving bit in Otherplan and in the OMC Store: For folks who do need accurate traces down to 6 mil, we’ve begun stocking a new 30º engraving bit that is the right tool for the job. This new high-precision 30º engraving bit has a tip diameter of 0.003 in, compared to the standard bit with a 0.005 inch tip diameter.
Yes, it’s true: Otherplan 1.0 is out!
In one of the biggest updates to Otherplan ever, Otherplan 1.0 has three new major features: support for .svg files, the ability to mill multiple plans, and custom speeds and feeds settings for your tool library. Details are below, but why wait? Download it now: