I'm sure it's nothing new but I've been noticing alot of 3D renderings of printed circuit boards lately so I decided to find out if there's a way for me to do it with my Eagle PCB boards.  After a bit of searching I found a free ULP for Eagle that allows you to create pov files for a program called POV-Ray.  POV-Ray allows you to render 3D graphics with stunning quality and is free.  In about a half hour I was able to download and install the ULP's, POV-Ray, and create a top and bottom of one of my simple circuit boards. 

The board I rendered is a breakout board I created for my Teensy 3.0 microcontroller (which is pretty awesome by the way).  I needed a 16 channel multiplexer (MUX) for a project I was working on and needed to make it fairly quick so I decided to make it at home instead of using OSH Park.  I had some 74HC4067 IC's in the DIP24 package so I made up a schematic in Eagle, created a PCB then etched a board.  I also have a dual layer PCB version on OSH Park you can buy and assemble yourself.  If you use the optional pull-down resistor this breakout will allow you to multiplex 16 signals to 1, or 1 to 16.  The signals can be analog voltages or digital logic signals and the breakout can operate using a supply voltage between 2 and 6 volts.  The biggest advantage to this breakout is that it can give you the ability to have 16 inputs and use only 5 pins on your microcontroller!

 

Top side:

POV-Ray rendering of my 16 to 1 multiplexer breakout board dip version

 

Bottom Side:

3D POV-Ray rendering of 16 to 1 multiplexer breakout board circuit side.

 

And, here is the actual working prototype single layer board.  It's not as pretty as the 3D rendering but close.

 

 Actual prototype PCB of 16-1 multiplexer breakout board

Curcuit side of 1 to 16 multiplexer breakout board.

 

Finally, here is the dual layer board available on OSH Park.

 

I've finally gotten around to making a printed circuit board for the midi controller.  It took a fair amount of time because I had select and learn how to use both schematic and pcb design programs.  There are quite a few out there but I ended up using Cadsoft Eagle PCB.  It's free, pretty simple to use, has an autorouter, and it can generate either gerber or Eagle files.  I had the boards made at OSH Park which accept Eagle files directly which really makes it easy to upload once you are finished.  


When I created the board I hadn't yet learned how to manually route traces so I used the autorouter feature.  I later learned that alot of people don't like autorouters because of the inefficient way it might route your traces.  This is especially true if you want to do something like place decoupling caps next to your IC's.  The traces should run as direct to the power and ground pins as they can, but if you use the autorouter they might end up snaking their way all over the place.  Now that I know how to manually route traces I can at least do the important stuff first by hand, then use the autorouter to finish the rest and adjust any traces I need to when it's done.

OSH Park makes PCB fabrication very affordable.  They may not be the cheapest around but I had 3 boards made for about $33 bucks.  You have to buy them in lots of 3 so I figured in addition to the few signals I needed from the Teensy Microcontroller, I'd breakout the rest of the signals onto IDC header connectors so I could use the remaining boards for other projects.

So, here is the OSH Park Rendering. I just got word that it's been shipped so I'm eagerly awaiting it's arrival.

 Teensy Midi Controller

 

 

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