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Testing the waters--Who's interested?

Discussion in 'Buy, Sell and Trade' started by DerStrom8, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Hello everyone,

    In my spare time I threw together a third revision of my ProtoPIC board. This device is designed to make prototyping with a PIC on a breadboard much simpler for the average user, combining the ICSP, the power supply, and the microcontroller all on one small 28-pin board, while arranging the I/O pins in neat rows.

    The board is designed around the PIC18F1330--A very versatile little chip that's great for learning, prototyping, and practicing with the PIC microcontroller family. Below you will find images of the design, as well as an Altium 3-D rendering and a photo of the actual board (unpopulated so far):

    2 - PCB_Top.png 3 - PCB_Bottom.png 4 - PCB_Composite.png 5 - PCB_3D_Top.png 6 - PCB_3D_Side.png 7 - PCB_3D_Angle.png 10428485_976966252315273_181745044245019007_n.jpg

    I am wondering if anyone might be interested in purchasing one ($25 fully-assembled or $20 as a kit). I need to sell two in order to buy all of the components, so I'm really just testing the waters to see if there will be enough interest. If you would like to be a guinea pig and test out one of these boards, and offer objective criticism on the design, please feel free to PM me. If I can get enough orders then I will go ahead and start assembling them. I only have 10 boards available, so first come first serve!

    Thanks everyone!
    Regards,
    Matt
     
  2. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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  3. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Hi Nigel, thanks for pointing out the Nano. If I were to put this thing into mass production and get price breaks on the components, I could definitely reduce the cost. The most expensive component right now would be the microcontroller which itself costs $3.74 ( £2.54 ) in small quantities (1-25).

    Depending on how many people are interested I may be able to lower the cost even more, but again, at these small quantities certain components will be rather pricey.

    I used Altium Designer 15 to design the board. I used to always use Eagle but ever since I acquired an Altium license through work I have used it exclusively. FAR more powerful!

    Thanks for the info,
    Matt
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Even the PCB itself would be a lot cheaper, made in bulk in China :D

    Thanks for that, it looks really great.

    I'm currently playing with PCBWizard, which is a very low-spec (but easy to use) option :D
     
  6. blueroomelectronics

    blueroomelectronics Well-Known Member

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    The 18F1330 comes in an 18 pin DIP package, easily breadboardable and is 5V compatible. I'm not sure I see a market for your adapter. Perhaps a schematic might offer some insight.

    If I was aiming at the student market I'd just make a PIC to Arduino sheild.
     
  7. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Hi Bill,

    This is actually my third revision of the board. The original version (Rev 1) used an 18-pin DIP (socketed). However, it was bulky and difficult to use. It wouldn't fit straddling the DIP channel in a breadboard, so both ports were lined up side-by-side to plug in on the edge of the breadboard. This one's strength was that after programming and testing, you could remove the PIC from the board and could insert it into a more permanent target circuit. Its shortcomings however, as I mentioned, were that it was very large, bulky, and the board didn't have much support (it would hang off the side of the breadboard).

    Rev 2 used a SSOP package soldered directly to the PCB, but because of the size of the chip I had to split the headers down the middle, making it much longer (about the size of a 40-pin DIP). Its main goal was to test code, rather than to test hardware, which is why I used a SMD PIC instead of a socketed DIP. This allowed it to be inserted anywhere on a breadboard, straddling the center channel.

    Rev 3 (this version) basically just shrinks Rev 2 to the size of a 28-pin DIP. Again, its main goal is to test code rather than to test hardware. It combines the ICSP and power supply circuitry onto a single board and lines up the pins in straight, neat rows to make it easier to use on a breadboard. If you used a standard through-hole DIP microcontroller, you would have wires all over the place connecting to the ICSP header and the voltage regulator. This way you don't.

    Schematic is very simple and is shown here:

    1 - Schematic.png

    I wasn't very sure about the market myself which is why I wanted to put this out here. If anyone knew, it'd be you guys :D

    I just started doing PCB design professionally, so I don't have much experience in the market itself.

    Thanks very much!
    Matt
     
  8. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    The Arduino Nano does the same, presumably for the same reason, and interestingly the processor is rotated 45 degrees as well, presumably to make routing easier?. It also has the USB chip mounted under the board.
     
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  9. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Very interesting. I had considered rotating the chip 45 degrees but decided against it as it would make the whole board wider (even if just by a little bit). I also remember from tying to design this board in Eagle some time ago that with the PIC, it is harder to route with the chip rotated 45 degrees because it blocks some tracks from going the opposite direction (if that makes any sense at all).

    I like the idea of having a USB chip though. I have plenty of room on the bottom of the board, perhaps I'll do that in the future. Then again, I don't want to mimic the Nano (though now that I see it, I realize I accidentally did anyway).

    Thanks,
    Matt
     
  10. Ian Rogers

    Ian Rogers Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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  11. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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  12. Ian Rogers

    Ian Rogers Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    They are brilliant!! I have MikroC for pic32.. Once you get the hardware profile setup, you can put pretty much anything on it..

    I have one with a small mono touch screen 128x64, set up as a datalogger with Fat32 and HID communication..
    I have another with a colour TFT touch, which I am making into my newest RCI... ( Rated Capacity Indicator ).

    I have bought their Visual TFT software and It works seamlessly with their C compiler!! Getting there... Just need the website up again..
     
  13. Overclocked

    Overclocked Member

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    Im always on the look out for Dev boards for the 8 bit series, mostly because I use swordfish still (OddlyI still havent given Micro Basic a chance). Personally though, I would have gone with the K-series of that chip (eg 18F13K22) . The only thing Ive created thats close to what you have is a small data logger.

    You also have the whole underside of the board not used. You should be able to fit in a FTDI chip, or make provisions for those cheap USB to UART adapters on Ebay.
     
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  14. NorthGuy

    NorthGuy Well-Known Member

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    I would also add a provision for crystals. I always do on mine.

    I made few of such boards over the years, some even home-made. Recently ordered a big chunk of them for my PIC testing - 14 of different ones covering all shapes and flavors of PICs.

    They all use ZIF sokets. With my eyes it's hard to put a chip into a breadboard, but ZIF sockets are easy. For big PICs (e.g. 64 or 100 pin), of course, sockets are really expensive. The 100-pin socket together with the board order costs well over $200. I wonder if I would be better off soldering individual PICs on some sort of intermediary board.

    I design them so that they're centered over a power strip with two pins going into the power strip to get power, and the side pins going into the very edge of the breadboard row (so that the pin takes only one hole and other 4 holes are available aside of the module). I actually cannot make them 700mil thin without sacrificing convenience, so they spread over some breadboard space fully covering one or even two rows, which makes them either 1500 or 2200mil wide. Surprisingly, I feel fine about such a waste of breadboard space.

    Never thought about selling these things.
     
  15. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Because of how the board is designed you can still use an external crystal - simply plug it in the breadboard and connect to the corresponding pins.
     
  16. Overclocked

    Overclocked Member

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    So, I did a quick search on tindie (Not tinder!), and not much came up for PIC micro stuff. I cant tell if theres no demand for us PIC users, or if theres a high demand. There are very little products, so its hard to tell.
     
  17. Mosaic

    Mosaic Well-Known Member

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    This might be pertinent. It's a simple DIY devboard good for DIPs up to 40 pins. It can run more than one smaller processor or glue logic or even side by side with opamps etc.
    It's got all the basics onboard, 7 segment, prec. Vref, I2C EPROM, Bicolor and single color LEds,ICSP hookup, 3.3 & 5V supplies,.
    What's useful to me is that it plugs the 40 pin header into a common breadboard for doing bigger projects. The header is double sided for easy logic and O'scope , clip on probe, monitoring.
    http://hackaday.io/project/4401-gen-uc-dev-protoboard-4-x-6
     
  18. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    That was actually why I designed it. There weren't really very many PIC-based ones on the market. I originally was planning on being the only one to use it. I despise the Arduino, namely the IDE and the libraries. They are slow, bulky, and are horribly inaccurate. I wanted a small board that I could program using an IDE that's actually useful to an engineer (unlike the Arduino IDE) and easy to use for prototyping. However, I had to get a minimum of 10 boards, and I was sure I would only need a maximum of 3 or 4. I honestly had no idea how much it would be worth, so I threw out a number (obviously I was WAY off :p ). However, I do know how much it costs to manufacture one board, so if someone wanted to buy one I would have to make sure I wasn't going to lose money.

    Thanks again for the input everyone. I like the idea of adding a USB interface for Rev. 4 :)

    Cheers,
    Matt
     
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  19. Overclocked

    Overclocked Member

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    DerStrom8 ^ This, Totally this. On one hand, you have a crappy system thats inefficient, on the other, you have a pletera of people becoming interested in electronics because of it, and as such, things like TFT's have libraries. Sooner or later these get ported over for us PIC users. Also, I have a lack of time to do porting myself, and I have been tempted to go to things like a chipkit. /jackingthread.

    10 PCBs? Im guessing you must be ordering from dirty PCB. Why not go with OSHpark and sell the first 3 (or give them away for free)? Get some feedback from people who will use them.

    On another note, a long time ago I made my own "dev" board for a 28 Pin PIC with just perf board and just brought out the ICSP pins to the front. Ive been wanting to replace it (I Use a 18F2410 as my dev pic).
     
  20. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Woops, I was thinking of another board house I was pricing out. I did use OSHpark, minimum was 3 boards. But they were so cheap that I got 12 total for under $20. Couldn't resist :D
     
  21. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    I was reading the other day that the Arduino was supposed to be PIC based - but MicroChip were unwilling to provide a full compiler for free, so the AVR was chosen instead as a free compiler was available.

    I've only played with the Arduino VERY briefly (because I've become busy developing a PIC product since they came), but the interface is certainly pretty crude :D

    However, for the cost you can't really go wrong.
     
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