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Garcia-Lasheras
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It's the economy stu#%&d!
Garcia-Lasheras   2/13/2014 12:18:44 PM
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I think Mark is really pointing in the right way when talking about the problem of building your own custom PCB when there is not a huge production involved.

When the number of units to be built is low, not only you cannot justify the manufacturing costs, but also the R&D and testing process too.

But, of course, we are talking about open-hardware designs. In this way, if the production volume increases to a high enough level, you can always take the design files and build your own PCBs.

alwaysalearner
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Steampunk exhibit
alwaysalearner   2/13/2014 12:22:16 PM
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I just finished up your blog article, Using Arduinos for Real-World Embedded Applications. Great article and thank you for including the tip about the Steampunk Springfield exhibit. I have to admit I don’t know much about Steampunk but my motto is life is about continuous learning. I’m always on the lookout for cool and different exhibits and I’ll have to try to coordinate a day trip to Springfield.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: It's the economy stu#%&d!
Max The Magnificent   2/13/2014 12:40:17 PM
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@Garcia: ...we are talking about open-hardware designs. In this way, if the production volume increases to a high enough level, you can always take the design files and build your own PCBs.

That's a really good point -- I'd forgotten that all of the Arduino hardware was open-source.

paul.dillien
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"...or do you think they belong only in hobby projects?" Don't denigrate hobbyist
paul.dillien   2/13/2014 3:36:37 PM
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How many readers of these pages started out playing with electronics as a hobby and then went on to "catch the bug" and are now professional engineers?

David Ashton
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Arduinos et al
David Ashton   2/13/2014 4:18:19 PM
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I used to think that a lot of the fun had gone out of electronics because it had gone so far beyond taking (eg) a 555 and a handful of components and making them do something good on a PCB or veroboard.  But really, things like the Arduino are today's 555s.  They're a component in themselves and if you treat them as such you can have just as much, if not more, fun.  And as pointed out above, their universality and the heaps of code written for them makes them just as good for professional applications.

Duane Benson
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Transition
Duane Benson   2/13/2014 4:27:20 PM
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I'm enjoying watching the transition from exclusively hobby to a mix of hobby and commercial application. I wonder if the Arduino folks ever thought their education board would become a viable commercial embedded platform.

It's not totally totally there yet, but it's getting closer.

MikeCasale
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Re: Transition
MikeCasale   2/14/2014 9:44:39 PM
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I am working on a commercial application and using the Arduino to make a breadboard. To-date it is working great. I assumed I needed to design and manufacture my own Arduino-based PCB. I have worked as a Development Engineer for MANY years. I know designing a custom board can be VERY expensive.

If I don't do my own board, how do I make a reliable hardware product? I need to add a bunch of specialized electronics around the MPU. Do I design what they call "a shield"? Interconnections can be the downfall of a good design. Thanks for any help.

Adam-Taylor
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Re inventing the wheel
Adam-Taylor   2/15/2014 7:38:16 AM
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Max engineers sometimes get carried away and want to do everything from scratch as it is what interests them.

To many engineers forget that they need to get the product to market quickly and cheaply as possible while ensuring it has maintained quality and performance. I have seen several systems and test systems which have utilised off the shelf demo boards and evaluation kits as part of the system to reduce the timescales, cost and project risk. This then allows more focus and time on the critical areas

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Max The Magnificent
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Re: Transition
Max The Magnificent   2/16/2014 4:02:04 PM
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@MikeCasale: I am working on a commercial application and using the Arduino to make a breadboard. To-date it is working great. I assumed I needed to design and manufacture my own Arduino-based PCB. I have worked as a Development Engineer for MANY years. I know designing a custom board can be VERY expensive.

If I don't do my own board, how do I make a reliable hardware product? I need to add a bunch of specialized electronics around the MPU. Do I design what they call "a shield"? Interconnections can be the downfall of a good design. Thanks for any help.

As you say, you can take the Arduino board open source files and use these as part of a larger custom board design -- making your own custom board isn't all that expensive -- you should talk to Duane about this.

The alternative is as you say to make your own shield that plugs on top of the Arduino -- you can get proto-shields from Adafruit.com for Unos (will also work with Leonardos) and Megas (will also work with Dues) -- but Duane and I opted to design our own (click here to see my blog on this).

Duane has also made a custom Arduino-based sensor board for his robot project -- he'll be blogging about that sometime in the next week or so.

MikeCasale
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Re: Transition
MikeCasale   2/16/2014 4:59:43 PM
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Max, thanks for the info. Who is Duane? My experience designing instrumentation with SMT is that it can get expensive, but maybe that's just the kinds of products we did (big boards & lots of parts).

I already have a schematic and layout done in Eagle. The size of the board is fairly small (5" by 6").

I know a [fairly] local PCB shop that does good work. I think I'll ask them which approach is best.

Thanks again.

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