Monday, November 23, 2009

Project Schematic

I'm working on a project using the Telit GE864 chip, and have been having a hard time learning PCB design software so I can make the schematic for my circuit.

I went back and forth between PCB123, ExpressPCB, and CadSoft Eagle. Although PCB123 and ExpressPCB seem like fine products, I eventually settled on Eagle because the others are proprietary. If I designed my schematic and board with their software, I had to buy from them (I think one of them has a free pizza offer when you order a board, which was tempting, but didn't quite seal the deal). And, from what I understand, Eagle is used in industry, so I figured it would be good to get familiar with it anyway.

My trouble was, I had never designed a schematic around a chip before. The only experience I had was designing simple circuits in MicroCap with simple components (resistors, capacitors, diodes, power/ current sources, etc), but nothing with an actual chip.

I recognize "the cloud" as an invaluable resource for engineering/ programming help. I registered for the forums on Sparkfun. Within 30 minutes, I had a reply. Within an hour, I had my solution. Someone pointed me in the direction of the Sparkfun tutorials, which are immensely helpful. This one, in particular, described how to create a breakout board in Eagle. . . . which is EXACTLY what I needed to do.

I found that instead of creating the library for the chip I want to use, I could just download the one the geniuses at Sparkfun had already created. While this simplifies my task greatly, it still leaves a great deal to be learned, which I completely appreciate!

Now I'm researching more on the chip and deciding what type of power supply I want to use. I may just design schematics for all of the suggested supply circuits in the GE864's instruction manual, for more experience with Eagle.

I'm very excited right now!