The first thing you probably asked yourself when learning how to lay out PCBs was “can’t the computer do this?” which inevitably led to the phrase “never trust the autorouter!”. Even if it hooks up a few traces the result will probably be strange to human eyes; not a design you’d want to use.
But what if the autorouter was better? What if it was so far removed from the autorouter you know that it was something else? That’s the technology that JITX provides. JITX is a company that has developed new tools that can translate a coarse textual specification of a board to KiCAD outputs autonomously.
How do you use JITX? At this point the company provides a front end to their tools; you use their website contact form to talk to a human (we assume) about what you want to make and how. But watching their demo videos (see the bottom of this post) gives a hint about how the tooling actually works. In brief; it takes a specification in a domain specific language that describes the components to use, then compiles (synthesizes?) that into KiCAD files that can be sent to fab.
For anyone out there who has ever struggled finding a part for Eagle or KiCad, there are some who would say you’re doing it wrong. You’re supposed to make your own parts if you can’t find them in the libraries you already have. This is really the only way; PCB design tools are tools, and so the story goes you’ll never be a master unless you can make your own parts.
That said, making schematic parts and footprints is a pain, and if there’s a tool to automate the process, we’d be happy to use it. That’s exactly what uConfig does. It automatically extracts pinout information from a PDF datasheet and turns it into a schematic symbol.
Advice from the Intelligent Toasters blog on how to do tented vias in DesignSpark PCB software:
Tented Vias – who’d have thought they play such an essential role? If you have no idea what tented vias are, then you’re not alone and I’m here to enlighten you.
While most PCBs can be simple rectangles, sometimes the design requires more complex geometry. EDA tools don’t always make this simple, so we will go over a few KiCad tips to make it easier. In this talk you will learn how to import unique board shapes from Fusion 360, create arbitrary fill zones using images, and embed high-frequency RF filters. We will use multiple software packages to enhance KiCad’s performance beyond its obvious use.
For this week’s Hack Chat, we’re talking about trusting the autorouter. The autorouter is just a tool, and like any tool, it will do exactly what you tell it. The problem, therefore, is being smart enough to use the autorouter.
Our guest for this week’s Hack Chat is Ben Jordan, Director of Community Tools and Content at Altium. Ben is a Computer Systems engineer, with 25 years experience in board-level hardware and embedded systems design. He picked up a soldering iron at 8, and wrote some assembly at 12. He’s also an expert at using an autorouter successfully.
Friday, January 5, 2018 12:00 pm PST
- What new features are on the roadmap for 2018?
- What new features were developed since we chatted in January 2017?
- Under the hood- how KiCad development works
- How can a developer get started helping out?
Designing pcbs for assembly is easy, right? We just squirt all the footprints onto a board layout, connect all the traces, send out the gerbers and position files, and we’re done–right? Whoa, hold the phone, there, young rogue! Just like we can hack together some working source code with variables named after our best friends, we can also…