You know how when you get hooked on something new, it’s all you can think about? Like drawing schematics and routing traces on a circuit board? For the past week that’s almost the only thing in my head.
When I close my eyes I see a maze of red and blue lines, green dots, and skinny beige criss-cross lines. For those who aren’t familiar, that’s basically the default colours in Eagle for top traces, bottom traces, vias, and unrouted connections.
The freaky thing is, routing traces is fun! Like solving maze puzzles. You need to get this signal from here to over here. But you can’t cross any of the two dozen lines in between. And you can’t go outside the borders. And you can’t touch any lines – you can’t even get too close to any other lines.
So you snake up and down and left and right in between the lines, and when you’re completely blocked you dive down to the underside and weave around the lines on the bottom, then you pop back up again when the bottom is blocked, and finally you get to where you need to be!
And then you do that a hundred more times! And each time is harder than the last, because each time you route a trace, that’s one more trace that the next one has to avoid, and less overall space remaining available on the board.
So when the game finally ended, I had routed all my required signals, then I routed some extra pins, then I routed every last available pin on the microcontroller – even the ones that I had thought were totally trapped, I was able to find ways to break them out too.
This was all done by Tuesday – at that point there was nothing left to route, nothing left to tweak. So I spent another couple days just looking at it – admiring the patterns, and trying to find any flaws or mistakes.
Last night I finally submitted the designs for fabrication – using OSH Park’s service. They even gave me a rendering of what the board’s expected to look like:
The lower part of the board with the buttons and battery connector is designed to be cut off – so it’s really two boards in one. This allows me to test it all in one-piece on the workbench, then separate the two parts for mounting on the leather bracer.
The Mark II version of the ISEB6 will have a whole lotta upgrades by the way… totally different uC, more sensors, more functions and features. It’s going to be awesome. So awesome that the PCB will be purple.
Yeah, that’s how awesome it will be!