When you’ve been driving a car for a few years, it’s difficult to remember how difficult it was at first. All those pedals, the indicators, the gear shift and to top it all you’ve got to steer the car and not hit anything else whilst doing so!
Trying to teach someone to drive is quite a skill. What is obvious to you is most certainly not obvious to a beginner. Even the most basic of concepts such as getting the clutch to bite (required for non-automatic cars, 99% of all cars in the UK are manual) is a huge challenge all in itself. I blamed the kangaroo petrol my dad used, but, as we all know, it was my inexperience in clutch control that made the car leap about like a startled frog.
So when PCBWay (my current video sponsor) invited me to do an unboxing of their PCB products to show off the quality of manufacture and silk screening I suggested that I submit a simple PCB design so that I could talk from 1st hand experience rather than just advertise something I’ve never used. They agreed and thought it a great idea.
Imagine my frustration (tinged with excitement, anticipation and creativity) when I loaded up Autodesk Eagle (Version 9.2.2 © 2018 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved) with the intention of “knocking up a quick design”.
Basically, I was the new car learner driver without a clue. Key? Ignition? Huh?
After some frustrating attempts at creating something without reading the instruction manual (note to self: if all else fails read the instructions), I followed a couple of YouTube videos just to get me going. In some ways, I succeeded in getting a 2-layer PCB board designed, duly submitted to PCBWay via their easy-to-use website and today I received the finished product.
If I had to mark my own work, I’d give it 2 out of 10. It’s amateurish in the extreme, the PCB tracks are the wrong width, the placement of the components “leaves something to be desired”, some of the text ended up on the copper layer instead of the silkscreen layer, there’s a missing track… you get the picture.
But does it work?
Well, you’ll have to watch the video for that story but even then it’s not the full story. Since I submitted this I decided to design another board and have already increased my Eagle knowledge. So now I can start the car, put it in gear and pull off with just a little kangarooing. I don’t know how to change gear yet and when I try to do so I take my eyes off the road and the car veers sharply to the left. Then we crash.
All this has reminded me very sharply that what some of us take in our stride in the Arduino world is probably very confusing to a beginner. All those buttons! Ports? What are they? C++! Why doesn’t it “just work”?
My channel is ostensibly aimed primarily at beginners, although I realise that some of the subject matter I cover is more suited those with a few driving lessons under their belt. But I must not abandon the noobs, of which I am one now, albeit in the Eagle world!
How many of you are comfortable (and possibly skilful) in designing PCBs. What CAD program do you use? Is Eagle the best choice? Let me know!