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Posts tagged: circuit board

Fab Academy Week 5 - Electronics Production

Installing Firmware

The next few steps involved installing and running specific software on my computer from the command line. Fortunately the instructions worked exactly as they were supposed to and there were no hiccups.

To install the firmware, I had to connect a second device to my computer, which would in turn be connected to the Fab ISP. The device I used was a black box with a 6 pin connector called a “USBtiny programmer”. 

From there, it was just another series of steps involving typing various codes into the command line on my computer. This was supposed to allow a program called “make” to install firmware on the FabISP. Everything worked fine up unitl the last step, when I received an error message.

Well, it turns out my matching of colors and shapes didn’t serve me all the way through this project after all. Remember earlier when I mentioned the solder bridges? They are used to load the firmware, and then once the firmware is loaded, they are removed from the boards  Well, since all of the example boards are *finished* boards, they of course do not have the solder bridges on them anymore, which meant that when I replicated them in the apelike fashion that is my wont, the board I built did not have solder bridges. Which in turn meant that my board in its initial form could not be loaded with the firmware, which in its own turn lead to the error message I received.

So: FINE. I’ll READ.

Fab Academy Week 5 - Electronics Production

Part 1 - CNC Milling

The first step to making this board was to mill out the actual circuit pattern using a CNC milling machine. The material we used consisted of a layer of copper laminated onto a layer of nonconductive material (plastic I think). The CNC milling machine is a small rotary bit toolhead which can move on the x, y, and z axis. The unmilled laminate board is mounted in the bed of the machine using double-sided tape. To make the circuit pattern,  you download the design from the Fab Academy website, load it into the machine, and run the machine. The small spinning mill bit cuts through the copper layer and into the inert material below, carving channels in the board and eventually leaving only a series of interconnected lines of copper on the surface. These lines of copper will conduct current between the various elements on the board.

I’ve sped up the video of CNC milling and also applied the “Sci-Fi” filter in iMovie to make it seem more futuristic.