Draft PCB design... a work in progress Fritzing Advanced Arduino PCB Workshop Quick GPS and Barometer mockup

Working on a draft PCB design to be printed by the good Fritzing Fab people in Berlin. It’s been an eye-opener to use the Fritzing software properly: so much detail, so convenient and the learning curve is really not bad at all. The downside of the quick learning curve is you get frustrated when you dig into the detail: so it is fair to say I agree when it says on the tin that the software is still in “Beta”.

Otherwise, got a couple of components like the Locosys GPS unit and the barometer unit straight from Watterott, rather than buy in the US and pay just as much in P&P as for the units themselves. Ordered a couple of days ago, and hey presto DHL was on the doorstep!

The Fritzing advanced PCB workshop last week was great to put things in perspective, get my designs looked over and the opportunity to bounce ideas off like-minded people. My first serious contact with SMD components as well: the traditional through-hole 220-Ohm resistors look positively huge now in comparison to a resistor in a tiny 0805 package which is basically a 2mmx1mm box you can only manipulate with tweezers! Haven’t got round to soldering these but the time will come once the PCB is produced.

I do admit it is difficult to edit even the most basic of components in Fritzing (the old Parts Editor is buggy yes, but really not ideal) and when you switch between views sometimes you get these ghost connections breadboard-side that you have to double-click (?) to make go away. Or how you have to save the file to make rulers go away - that you’ve already deleted. Other things that caught me out today: if you copy-paste one component to create another identical item, it might come up in breadboard but not in the schematic/PCB views. Which is annoying when that piece is not available in the parts library and you’re trying to make do with “mystery parts” instead of the real thing. But hey, it works. After a few days at it (which includes soaking up the sun and street parties during the three-day Karneval of Cultures in Kreuzberg), I had a first draft… more than can be said about other PCB software I’ve tried!