Creating Gerber files

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
1,095
Look at an Arduino board. Better yet, look at the cheapest clone you can find. Notice that there are just a handful of components and the price to buy the board is a few bucks. An Arduino is based on a microcontroller.

Now look at a Raspberry Pi board. Notice it's packed with parts. Many times more than the Arduino. And note the price. Much more than the cost of an Arduino clone. The Pi is a microcomputer. Much more capable than an Arduino but much complex too. It's essentially a Linux computer on a board.

If what you're trying to do can be accomplished with an Arduino, and it sounds like a pretty simple task easily done on an Arduino, that's the way to go. A pcb with the microcontroller used in a Arduino, a relay, a RFID reader and so on can quickly be designed, fabricated and prototype boards assembled at low cost. And once the microcontroller is programmed, the code is locked inside. Nothing to maintain. No worries about it being hacked.

And since the component count is low, requiring little time to set up assembly equipment, you can have the boards built in small batches with little cost penalty.

The Raspberry Pi on the other hand is much more complex, with many proprietary components. Duplicating its functions on your own pcb would be an extremely long, complex design operation, and likely to require many prototype runs to perfect. And since it is a microcomputer, with an operating system, software design will be complex. And to be sure you will be able to build 500 units using proprietary chips, you'll need to source those components up front and the assembly setup will be costly, so small runs of boards will be impractical.


Your "PC guy" knows PC code so he'll recommend the Raspberry Pi because he understands how to code for it.

The "hardware guy" understands microcontrollers (presumably) and will provide the simplest, least complex solution.
 

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
1,095
The supply shortages just mean you have look at availability when choosing the micro.
That situation has changed quite a bit recently. A year ago, looking for 8 bit Microchip 18F-series microcontrollers was pretty grim, with no stock of many types. Looking recently, I didn't have any problems getting what I wanted.

This appears to be a pretty simple application, so if a rational choice of microcontroller is made, this shouldn't be the worry it was a year or two ago.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
31,078
The supply chain can be disrupted at any moment. The collapsed bridge in Baltimore is going to impact the supply chain in many areas.

If you want to bring an invention to market, you need to ask yourself, are you the product designer or are you the business owner? Who created the product and wrote the code? What happens when that person leaves the company? Who is going to maintain the product? The reason I bring this up front is that you do not want to be locked into one final solution. You have to be flexible. You have to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. Supply chain shortage is one of those risks that must be addressed ahead of production. In other words, make sure that you can port your code to other devices.
 

Thread Starter

The Opis

Joined Mar 27, 2024
23
The supply chain can be disrupted at any moment. The collapsed bridge in Baltimore is going to impact the supply chain in many areas.

If you want to bring an invention to market, you need to ask yourself, are you the product designer or are you the business owner? Who created the product and wrote the code? What happens when that person leaves the company? Who is going to maintain the product? The reason I bring this up front is that you do not want to be locked into one final solution. You have to be flexible. You have to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. Supply chain shortage is one of those risks that must be addressed ahead of production. In other words, make sure that you can port your code to other devices.
OK gonna try to answer everything.

I did talk to the engineer in length today. We have ironed out some details that were maybe not noted or just missed during our design meeting. I think we are back on track and I will get the desired result next week.

I am the designer, the owner, the funder, the installer, the sales person and the janitor. I do have some additional funders lined up if needed, but the market I am doing this for is the best its ever been and has been growing steady for many years.

Once the prototype is approved we will own all docs. related to the product which should include all plans, files and programming. Not that I might know what to do with it all, but if my current engineer goes away I should have the info to move on. The plan is to build a working sample, from that we will generate the list of parts, programs and everything needed for the gerber file then put into production.
 

Thread Starter

The Opis

Joined Mar 27, 2024
23
Ok so my brain just wont stop. If I were to build what I wanted using available individual components and got it to work the way I wanted it to. Could that then be sent to someone that would put all the components into one assembly? I know I will then need to get the housing made, but thinking 1 step at a time..........
 

ronsimpson

Joined Oct 7, 2019
3,204
I am using JLPCB Go to resources and then to PCB assembly. They order the parts. Now they can layout the PCB and make the files but I have not used that part. They also make 3D parts. I have used that many time. JLPCB has a large warehouse of parts. If you can use their parts the price and time is very good. I find that having the parts warehouse & board house & assembly all in the same block of town makes a big difference.

There are a number of places that do this. I just know these people. Every assembly house has good and bad things. I can't afford local assembly.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
9,264
Ok so my brain just wont stop. If I were to build what I wanted using available individual components and got it to work the way I wanted it to. Could that then be sent to someone that would put all the components into one assembly? I know I will then need to get the housing made, but thinking 1 step at a time..........
Yes, i think that is in the right track now. Build a prototype using the parts the final project will use. If the parts count is low and through hole versions are available, you can build one on strip board, then switch to SMT and a PCB for the product for cost savings and ease of assembly.
 

Thread Starter

The Opis

Joined Mar 27, 2024
23
On it. Just ordered everything to get me started. Either gonna make something work or burn down the shop. We'll see what the engineer comes up with too. Kinda hoping I fail and he surprises me, otherwise:eek:
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
31,078
You are using the bottom-up approach. Start with an idea, build a prototype board, build a box for it, bring it to market.
I prefer to use a top down approach. Find the market first.
Write the User Manual. Build a mock-up. Advertise it. See if it will sell. The guts will come later. Copy how they do it with crowd funding projects.
 

Thread Starter

The Opis

Joined Mar 27, 2024
23
You are using the bottom-up approach. Start with an idea, build a prototype board, build a box for it, bring it to market.
I prefer to use a top down approach. Find the market first.
Write the User Manual. Build a mock-up. Advertise it. See if it will sell. The guts will come later. Copy how they do it with crowd funding projects.
The market is there! I have been in this industry for 10+ years as a business owner. Ultimate plan is build a prototype and then release it, yes. Counting on presales to fund the first batch. Been messing around for the last 6 weeks or so, hurrying up and waiting we have 8 months left to file final paperwork on the patent so its time to get off the pot.

Not trying to be so secretive about what the product is, I just dont want too much out there until I have something ready. I know there are ways around the patent pending status and dont want to have to fight that battle too
 

ericgibbs

Joined Jan 29, 2010
19,091
Ultimate plan is build a prototype and then release it
Hi Opis
You are missing a vital step, it should be:
Ultimate plan is build a prototype, then manufacture 6 pre-production models, prove them and then release it.

E
 

eetech00

Joined Jun 8, 2013
4,045
Ultimate plan is build a prototype and then release it, yes. Counting on presales to fund the first batch. Been messing around for the last 6 weeks or so, hurrying up and waiting we have 8 months left to file final paperwork on the patent so its time to get off the pot.
wait....what?:confused:
You're selling something that doesn't exist?
 

Thread Starter

The Opis

Joined Mar 27, 2024
23
wait....what?:confused:
You're selling something that doesn't exist?
Yes I left out the testing of the prototype. I will have 3. 1 for me which will be light use, 1 for a commercial customer that will be heavy use but not very abusive, and 1 for an industrial customer which is heavy use and abusive.
I have several customers that are interested in being dealers for the product almost anyone in my industry that I have talked to wants it! Gotta get the prototype up and going for demo purposes . So actually yes I am already selling a product that doesn’t exist, well actually it does just not the way I have designed it to work.
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
2,871
there are many ready products on the market. some are really low cost:
rfid reader
microcontroller board
relay board

which should allow quick test of the idea.

once you get things working to your satisfaction you can think of a way to commercialize it.
making custom board requires gerber files.
to make gerber files you need some sort of EDA software (Altium, KiCad, Eagle, Diptrace,...)
 

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
1,095
One has to wonder how you price a product that does not yet exist, with multiple approaches with very differing costs.

It's apparent that you don't know how to achieve your project. Getting advice from someone who has done microcontroller product development (which may be the hardware guy) and trusting their knowledge may save you considerable lost time and money.
 

Thread Starter

The Opis

Joined Mar 27, 2024
23
One has to wonder how you price a product that does not yet exist, with multiple approaches with very differing costs.

It's apparent that you don't know how to achieve your project. Getting advice from someone who has done microcontroller product development (which may be the hardware guy) and trusting their knowledge may save you considerable lost time and money.
Pretty sure I have everything coming to build my own sample. There is only one component I am unsure about, that’s the control board. I have something on the way if it doesn’t work the way it is I will need to go with the arduino or some type of processor.
This really is a super simple design really the only hang up is I need a relay to turn on and stay on with a momentary switch.
 
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