So you’re pretty fond of your Arduino. You make blinking lights, and beeping noises. You’ve made a robot that was pretty cool. Or maybe you didn’t. Who cares, You’re ready for the next step. You want to extend it. Although you can just plug in wires, there’s something very appealing about making a shield. Instead of a rats-nest of wires piled about and plugged into your prototyping breadboard, you can have a nice clean shield with labeled connections and a smaller footprint. So here I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to make a schematic and PCB layout, and get a beautiful shield that will plug into the top of your Arduino.
There are a couple of things you should know going into this. First, I’m not going to teach you everything about EAGLE. EAGLE is a complex program, and it’s pretty awesome. There’s no way I could cover it all. Second, this tutorial came about as a way of trying to get more people into my local PCB order. We try to fill up our panels so we can get one out every 2-4 weeks, and we recently had to switch production houses. As a result, this tutorial doesn’t have any info on etching your own PCB, just on getting the Gerber files out. So come check out our PCB order, because it’s awesome. Lastly, for the sake of simplification, we’re going to make a board that uses only parts in the SparkFun Library. This is because I don’t want to try to teach you how to make parts on top of everything else we’re going to be doing. It’ll just be easier this way, I promise. Okay, one more thing: I assume you know how to use your computer. This isn’t going to be a “how to use your mouse” tutorial. I’m gonna go with some things that are EAGLE specific, but you need to know basics. At this point, I’d be surprised to find someone who’s unfamiliar with computing, but has a strong enough interest in electronics to be to the point of designing their own PCB.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
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