I always start out thinking I'll make a project perfectly neatly. I trim everything to length, I lay out everything perfect, and then when I blink, it all comes undone. A spaghetti mess lies in front of me each time and I'm helpless to stop its arrival.
Your board is indeed a masterpiece. Coming from Southern Africa where wiring in the house is (or rather was) inside a conduit, looking at wiring inside a North American house was a real shock (pun unintended).
I remember watching a telephone technician installing a switchboard and he took forever. Every wire had to be level and at right angles even though the walls weren't. He had been trained at British Telecom (I am talking 30+ years here) and he said the inspector would come in after the job with a spirit level.
More recently I was working on a project for hammer mills (those barrel type things that smash up yard waste into smithereens so that it can be used as compost) and the guy who built the panels apparnetly had a doctorate from some Beijing university. I don't know what the doctorate was in but the beauty of his wiring (and this was in production) was something that was on a par with yours. I wish I had taken some photos.
As for me, I start out with good intentions, but by the third wire it is a bird's nest.
I will select the one that best matches, complements, or contrasts the other components on the board. Am I the only one who does this, or is this common practice?
From what I have seen in the industry you are in a definite minority. Come and join us on the dark side!
@Antedeluvian: I remember watching a telephone technician installing a switchboard and he took forever. Every wire had to be level and at right angles even though the walls weren't. He had been trained at British Telecom (I am talking 30+ years here) and he said the inspector would come in after the job with a spirit level.
That's the sort of attention to detail I love -- but you rarely see it anymore...
I tend to go from a rats nest to refined. As I confirm that I have indeed gotten things wired out correctly and that I am not likely to make any changes to that section, I then start nailing things down a bit better. This is somewhat the way that I do my PCB work as well. Everything is a bit of a mess, but then I play and refine till I get what I am looking for. I hate leaving things as a rats nest. Even messy computer wires on the back of a computer bother me. I usually end up bundling them up into nice wire bundles.
Sometimes rats nests aren't all bad. Many years ago I wire wrapped a dynamic memeory board for a prototype. It didn't work properlly due to capacitivecoupling between the wires. The wires were all laid out in neat rows together. The cure was ro rip out the wiring and go point to point resulting a real rat's nest. The board worked just fine after that.
That photo of the Bob Pease breadboard reminds me of the BYTE Magazine cover from the early days, a picture of a hand-wired microprocessor (might have been all TTL, no 8080 or anything) that a hobbyist made. His cat knocked over the part of it shown on the cover but the computer still ran. It was a rat's nest! (Maybe that's why the cat knocked it over)
I try, as much as possible, to put symmetry in my PCBs. I try to keep trace spacing the same and even put parts consistently oriented. It's not always possible, but I always seem to at least try to do it that way. It is kind of an obsession.
Max - In aviation, they used to say that an airplane had to look good to fly well. I'm aware that it's not necessarily true, but I pretty much have that same attitude about PCBs.
But now, I'm sad. I have no idea how I missed it, but the top pin on my ICSP header on the right side of the board image is 0.1" lower than the I2C header on the left. That's going to bother me, like forever, I think.
@Duane: I have no idea how I missed it, but the top pin on my ICSP header on the right side of the board image is 0.1" lower than the I2C header on the left. That's going to bother me, like forever, I think.
I wasn't going to mention that :-) Maybe you can gome up with a reason to re-spin the board :-)
In high school an early project was to 'bread board' an entire AM/FM transistor radio kit. (1971)
I hammered in the nails for every connection node to exactly the same height and perfectly perpendicular. Every component lead was trimmed and soldered to those nail heads with a clean and shiny dome. The radio powered up and worked the first time. It was beautiful.
Then I learned the error of my ways. The teacher expropriated the project and put it in the school display case for the next 2 years. Meanwhile I got squat.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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