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Circuit boards

  1. Jun 9, 2009 #1
    Hey guys, sorry if this is the wrong part of the site. I'm looking for advice on rigging up a custom electrical bongle. I would like to have a circuit board programmed to interact with multiple buttons and a led display. The problem is this...i know how to program, and i know how to wire and solder but I don't know how to program a circuit board! Where can I go to learn this or is there a book i can pick up on the subject?

    Granted its not an easy topic but i'd like to make it my next hobby and if you can spare me my indulgence on something that may be way outside my league, I just need a point in the right direction :)

    Thanks -Yportne
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2009 #2

    MATLABdude

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    Science Advisor

    That's 'custom electrical board'! (Unless you mean dongle?)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongle

    If you can make an electrical schematic, you can make a PCB (or at least begin to). Look up 'how to design a PCB' in Google, and one of the first hits you get is David L. Jones' tutorial:
    http://www.alternatezone.com/electronics/pcbdesign.htm

    If you need help making a schematic (that's the idealized drawing that you often see posted here, and not the actual board layout with routed tracks), I'd suggest a quick trip to Radioshack (I think these still exist, no?) and picking up one of the introductory electronics books (the very basic ones by Forest R. Mims are cheap and chock full of good stuff).

    The other possibility is using prototype board, and not making a PCB. These are great if you're only looking to make one or two of something (usually not terribly complicated) and are looking to do it quickly and cheaply. You should still get in the practice of making an electrical schematic to help design / debug your circuit (and yes, you'll probably screw up and end up reworking a little--no big deal).

    Lastly, there's a nice free (for non-commercial / educational use, and pretty inexpensive for commercial use) Schematic and PCB layout program called Eagle (go through the guided tour to get a schematic / PCB crash course):
    http://www.cadsoft.de/

    EDIT: And welcome to PhysicsForums!
     
  4. Jun 9, 2009 #3

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

  5. Jun 9, 2009 #4
    thanks for the reply guys, it's nice not to be reamed for being a newbie to something like most receptions i get when I start a new adventure :)

    Quick question, is there a simple answer to this q: even if you design a board...how does it think and process things? is there a list of components on a board and their functions that I can tinker with. I can understand switches and data storing concepts as I have programmed for years, but I just can grasp how you get an electric current to process and store itself bit by bit. Is there a part on the chip you load code/software onto so it can think or do you really have to engineer where each little pulse goes?
     
  6. Jun 9, 2009 #5
    Nevermind on the list of components, your link to the tutorial is fantastic matlab, thank you!
     
  7. Jun 9, 2009 #6

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    The component you are asking about is a microcontroller (uC):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcontroller

    That link has lots of good info, and links to many popular uC families.
     
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