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Looking back: Making a Boldport Club Project

MAKING A BOLDPORT CLUB PROJECT

Via Ben on the Boldport blog:

As we prepare to ship the last ‘monthly’ Club project (see announcement), I thought that it would be interesting to write about the first board I designed at Boldport. As it happens it’s also the most interesting of my projects to talk about too. Ananas is made of a simple circuit that’s repeated and built into a complex three dimensional two-PCB construction. It is a bit of a puzzle, involving some craft but rewards the builder at the end with some slow fading ‘blinky’ lights and, of course, it looks like a pineapple!

Boldport’s designs are unique in the Maker world, why is that?

This PCB design was possible because of Boldport’s unique software called PCBmodE. The organic-like shapes you see on the board are directly worked on as part of the board layout rather than an after-the-fact separate graphic import (as is done with other circuit design tools). All components, shapes, and traces are drawn in SVG format using Inkscape, organized using JSON files and then compiled into Gerber format for manufacture. PCBmodE, however, is missing the ‘luxuries’ of DRC and schematic capture but there is far fewer restrictions on the shapes and traces. It is almost like a virtual equivalent to freehand PCB layout, like in the ‘old days’.

The design was mocked up in cardboard and designed as a 3D project (another Boldport innovation rarely seen elsewhere).

Making a model is important as it is very hard to mentally keep track of where the sides meet. Here, there are four surfaces to think of and I don’t think that I could have worked this out otherwise.

See the entire process on the Boldport blog. We’ll miss the Club projects but look forward to your future work!!


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