Ruby v1.0a

I got my boards back from Laen @ dorkbotpdx. He offers an amazing service. Not only is he very helpful, but the price and turnaround is amazing. Check him out.

The board in this picture is my first attempt at an Arduino clone with built-in RF12B. There are some very Jeenodesque parts to this board (Thank you JCW for the inspirations!). For instance, the four Jeenode ports. I am not sure if I’m going to keep these or not. As the boards get more custom, then having generic ports makes less sense. Also, the 0.1″ header pins take up a ton of space on the board.

Why make this?

We’ll first, because I wanted to try to make a board in Eagle. Did that. Still lots to learn, but super fun to get a working PCB back.

I wanted to get something that fits into a case. For another project, I had cases from new age enclosures. They make relatively cheap enclosures that are not that ugly boxes that most make. The ones I chose has 3″, 4″ and 5″ versions. The board will fit into any of these so there is lots of space for extra circuitry, batteries, etc…

I also wanted to see how well the RF12B would perform with a real antenna as opposed to a relatively precise piece of wire. It also makes the system look that much more professional. I bought a bunch of 915MHZ antennas  off of Ebay for super cheap. The swivel antennas wold be nice as I could also fold them down the side of the enclosure.

Lastly, I wanted to try my hand at SMD soldering. I’m mainly using 0603 components. So far so good. It isn’t fun if you need to do a bunch of reworking the boards, but relatively easy to do once you get the hang of it. Google for tutorials. There are lots of good ones out there.

Here is the board with the components on it.

As you can see, there is some rework on there. I made the most basic of mistakes connecting TX-TX and RX-RX when I needed TX-RX and RX-TX on the FTDI connector. Easy fix, luckily. Also had a wrong trace to the reset on the ICSP connector. Otherwise worked well. The small chip to the upper-left of the ATMEGA128P is a DS18B20U+ chip. The three 0.1″ headers to the left of that chip is if you want to hang more 1-wire devices off that pin. I currently have 5 more DS18B20s coming off that pin on one of these boards.

On the other side, I wired in a micro-USB connector to provide an easy power connection. I also added a blue-LED that I will use as a status light.

Here is the board in its case:

As you can see, the board actually sits in the case upside down. I wanted to put most of the components on the bottom of the board so they don’t interfere with other circuits that might be on the top or batteries etc…

For a first stab at it, I’m thrilled. Works as expected. I’ve sent out a version 1.0b as well as one that goes into a NEMA rated outdoor enclosure. More on that soon.