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General suggestions or questions about the SparkFun Electronics website
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By Ross Robotics
#160633
Read on some threads that members would like to have a dedicated forum for sharing Schematics and PCB Board designs. If we had a dedicated forum, it would be easier to search and find a board that we needed and already did the hard work.

I for one would contribute some custom designed boards. And I know many others will too. Especially since BatchPCB was closed. There is no where really to share. Now that I am thinking of it, I may design my own if you guys don't want to. Something similar to ThingiVerse.

Even if Sparkfun doesn't want to add a PCB share portion or even a simple forum, let's toss some idea out there as what would be some good features to have.

List:
3D PCB boards (Probably would be up to the uploader)
Full preview of schematics and board (2D)
BOM (PDF)
By Frotz
#160669
Let's see, there's Eagle3D, which emits raytrace data for POVRay. There are a few online 3D renderers that use Gerbers. I guess most people are using Eagle around here? Does anyone know of a 3D rendering solution for gerbers that runs locally and on Linux?
By uChip
#160697
I would also contribute board designs.

I don't think this requires a large amount of automation or work on Sparkfun's part. In fact I don't think it requires anything as a minimum (perhaps tolerance). A forum section to organize contributions would be nice. Here is a sample of what I'm thinking.

===========================================================
Relay Breakout Board
Converts IM21TS relay pinout to standard Breadboard format. PCB design files in EagleCAD format.

Image Image

Link to files (GitHub Repository): https://github.com/uChip/IM21TS_Relay_Breakout

The design has been tested functional.

License: OSHW
===========================================================

Boards would be contributed thru a link (recommended; a link to a github which fosters collaboration). This lacks the order button that BatchPCB had, but perhaps there's a way to script that or something.

For 2D I was thinking of copying the renderings from OSH Park. There is really no difference for 3D once you have a rendering. The problem with picts is that you need to post the picture somewhere else and then link to that from the Sparkfun posting. That's an awkward step. It would be nice to be able to just paste the picture into the Sparkfun posting, but that would probably take a significant change to Sparkfun's forum software and a commitment to the storage burden.

I don't think it would be to Sparkfun's advantage to render images from CAD files. People want to design using their favorite tool and supporting multiple CAD software packages or chasing this year's favorite CAD software is not really how I want Sparkfun to spend their time/income. Gerber files are a least common denominator but are a PITA to work with. One of the things I like about OSH Park is that I don't have to fiddle with the Gerber files to get a good board.

So bottom line, I think we have most of what we need to be productive. If there is an investment to be made it's for 1) a separate place to post (trivial; repurpose the now-defunct BatchPCB section) and 2) an easier way to deal with pictures (not so trivial). Number 3 would be a template for posting to help folks include all the right info. What I did above is really off the cuff. Please help buff it up to what we would want a real posting to look like. BTW, I'm willing to make this [trivial] design public domain so party on. I used OSHW in the text as a more typical example.

Thanks Codlink for raising this!
Chip
By Frotz
#160700
uChip: I'm not sure i you propose to list boards in a forum format chronologically. That's good for discussions, but not for things. I'm thinking of having x subforums / directories for boards of a particular kind and then have them all searchable by keyword, date, creator, and so on. If we can convince Laen to hack his software to allow non-logged-in people to visit an url for a particular project, then all we need on this end is to create a post/entry describing the board, add keywords, and so on. This would also allow us to pull renders from Laen's side with a bit of scripting. Laen's side would only know or care about the url.

Just some random thinking. Take it what you will.
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By Ross Robotics
#160721
Interesting site. Looks like a Wiki that links to off-site schematics and boards..? Didn't start digging though..

What I was thinking of was a little more aesthetically pleasing. Like http://www.thingiverse.com/. This way, you could physically see the board before you download it as well as the schematics. Every PCB/schematic would be open source, open hardware.

On another note, I sent Laen an email about if was going to open up his store to include member designs. I have not heard anything as of yet.
By uChip
#160746
codlink: Thingiverse is cool.

Frotz: I agree with most of your comments. I especially like your suggestion about adding keywords and other data to enable search. Until there are more than just a few dozen boards organization is not as critical, but as they say, "plan for success".

Perhaps I am taking a unique position, but I don't want OSH Park or Sparkfun to spend a lot of energy on this. I believe they should each focus on their core strengths. For Laen I see that as efficient board turn operations. For Sparkfun I see it as designing and supporting innovative electronic products. The service we are proposing does not directly contribute to either of those, though I can see that it would contribute to both tangentially.

Setting up and managing a site with different software is a fair amount of effort. Support for that effort has to come from somewhere. If there was a way to make it pay for itself that would be better. If support has to drain time/money from the rest of the business then it will likely go the way of BatchPCB.

My idea was to get 90% of Thingiverse with no incremental investment. GitHub provides free project management and collaboration support that we can link to. With the addition of keywords, the forum supports organization through the search function. Pictures support is the one point I'm stuck on. I'm not even sure how important it is, but I know that I perused the BatchPCB designs based mostly on their visual appearance.

Chip
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By Ross Robotics
#160762
uChip wrote:Perhaps I am taking a unique position, but I don't want OSH Park or Sparkfun to spend a lot of energy on this. I believe they should each focus on their core strengths. For Laen I see that as efficient board turn operations. For Sparkfun I see it as designing and supporting innovative electronic products. The service we are proposing does not directly contribute to either of those, though I can see that it would contribute to both tangentially.
I completely agree. This is why I proposed to design and build the website.
Setting up and managing a site with different software is a fair amount of effort. Support for that effort has to come from somewhere. If there was a way to make it pay for itself that would be better. If support has to drain time/money from the rest of the business then it will likely go the way of BatchPCB.
I agree again. It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to own a website, but it does take quite a bit of time. I wish I didn't have so any projects on my plate right now or I would have already started.

My idea would be to just rely on donations at first, then if the member count rises seek other revenues. I will say that I hate ads worse than any other person on the net. I would do anything to generate operating costs but place ads on a site.
My idea was to get 90% of Thingiverse with no incremental investment. GitHub provides free project management and collaboration support that we can link to. With the addition of keywords, the forum supports organization through the search function. Pictures support is the one point I'm stuck on. I'm not even sure how important it is, but I know that I perused the BatchPCB designs based mostly on their visual appearance.
I agree, I believe that having a graphical interface would be top priority in my vision.

I hate spending hours on a board, then finding out just days later that the same design is freely available. Why not have centralized location to host PCB and schematic sharing.
By uChip
#160800
BTW, I've learned that this forum DOES support image upload. It's not quite copy/paste but not too bad. Of course, allowing upload of images for a lot of boards is still a matter of decision on Sparkfun's part.

Here is my board posting again. The main difference is that pictures are on the Sparkfun site instead of pulled from my DropBox share.

- Chip

==========================================================

Relay Breakout Board
Converts IM21TS relay pinout to standard Breadboard format. PCB design files in EagleCAD format.

Keywords: Breakout Board, Breadboard, Relay, IM21TS

Components: Digi-Key part #PB1167-ND
RelayBreakout-top.png
RelayBreakout-bottom.png
Link to files (GitHub Repository): https://github.com/uChip/IM21TS_Relay_Breakout

The design has been tested functional. Relay can be driven directly from Arduino board or Atmel368 micro controller (5V supply). Wire relay as you would an LED. That is, include a series resistor (~200 Ohm) to limit current.

License: OSHW

To order boards: Copy .brd file from GitHub repository to a local file. Log on to OSHPark.com and submit .brd file.
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By Ross Robotics
#160827
It seems my plan for building a site for PCB sharing as come to a halt before I even get started. I am no expert when it comes to scripting and I have yet to find any relevant info about viewing gerbers on a website. If any one has any advise, please speak up. I may email Laen over at OSH Park to see if he'll share his viewing script..