Forums

Circuit Pen?

Started by Daniel Pitts October 26, 2012
Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own 
circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd 
prefer to keep the total cost down.  Are they "good enough" to do full 
circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs?

Are there brands that are a better value than others? How well does 
soldering on them work?

Are they typically fine enough for SMD work, such as ATMega328 (0.8mm 
lead pitch)?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Sincerely,
Daniel.
Daniel Pitts wrote:
> > Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own > circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd > prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full > circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs?
I don't even like them for repairs.
On 10/26/2012 2:09 PM, Michael A. Terrell wrote:
> > Daniel Pitts wrote: >> >> Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own >> circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd >> prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full >> circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs? > > > I don't even like them for repairs. >
Me either.
On Fri, 26 Oct 2012 10:35:12 -0700, Daniel Pitts
<newsgroup.nospam@virtualinfinity.net> wrote:

>Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own >circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd >prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full >circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs? > >Are there brands that are a better value than others? How well does >soldering on them work? > >Are they typically fine enough for SMD work, such as ATMega328 (0.8mm >lead pitch)?
They *may* be useful for repairs (read some of the reviews over at Amazon for an example of the class) but they would be hell trying to use to make an original layout for anything with a fine pitch. <http://www.amazon.com/CircuitWriterTM-Precision-Pen-silver-based-grams/dp/B0002BBVQO> You'd be better off getting something like <http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?products_id=4753> that takes care of the housekeeping (power supply, I/O drivers, etc.) and offers a prototyping area as well as I/O headers or the simpler <http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?cPath=110_159_339&products_id=4429> that's just a "header board." With either, you can access the processor pins for digital I/O, ADC, PWM, or whatever from relatively robust headers out to your own circuitry. If you want to roll yer own, do it properly by starting with a schematic capture program that produces a "net list" to be used by a PCB layout program. That then makes the "Gerber" files and the drill file that a board house can use to make the real thing. Kicad is a free (libre and as in beer) integrated package for Windows and Linux that includes schematic capture and PCB layout. <http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/KiCad+EDA+Software+Suite> If you're on Linux, also look at gEDA <http://www.geda-project.org/> There are also "free" tools offered by various board houses but some (most? all?) of those generate a proprietary output, not standard Gerbers, so you're stuck with one vendor. While many people do still make boards in the kitchen, using techniques like Press'n'Peel Blue or photo-resist, the cost of manufactured boards has come way down. Especially when doing fine pitch and surface mount, you will appreciate having a proper finish on the pads and having a solder mask. Sparkfun and Seeed Studio (among others, these are the ones I'm familiar with) have very low cost batch proto board services. There are also traditional houses (e.g., Sunstone) that do inexpensive prototypes at a faster turn but there is some added cost associated with the speed, of course. <https://www.batchpcb.com/> associated with Sparkfun <http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/fusion-pcb-service-p-835.html?cPath=185> will do ten 2" x 2" boards for $10. A buck a board! <http://www.sunstone.com/> a more traditional board house that offers turns measured in days instead of weeks but also with more traditional pricing -- Rich Webb Norfolk, VA
On 10/26/12 11:50 AM, Rich Webb wrote:
> On Fri, 26 Oct 2012 10:35:12 -0700, Daniel Pitts > <newsgroup.nospam@virtualinfinity.net> wrote: > >> Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own >> circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd >> prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full >> circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs? >> >> Are there brands that are a better value than others? How well does >> soldering on them work? >> >> Are they typically fine enough for SMD work, such as ATMega328 (0.8mm >> lead pitch)? > > They *may* be useful for repairs (read some of the reviews over at > Amazon for an example of the class) but they would be hell trying to use > to make an original layout for anything with a fine pitch. > <http://www.amazon.com/CircuitWriterTM-Precision-Pen-silver-based-grams/dp/B0002BBVQO> > > You'd be better off getting something like > <http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?products_id=4753> > that takes care of the housekeeping (power supply, I/O drivers, etc.) > and offers a prototyping area as well as I/O headers or the simpler > <http://microcontrollershop.com/product_info.php?cPath=110_159_339&products_id=4429> > that's just a "header board." With either, you can access the processor > pins for digital I/O, ADC, PWM, or whatever from relatively robust > headers out to your own circuitry.
Yeah, I was hoping to have more control over the form-factor, for specific projects. I don't *need* all of those extra stuff. They will just get in the way.
> > If you want to roll yer own, do it properly by starting with a schematic > capture program that produces a "net list" to be used by a PCB layout > program. That then makes the "Gerber" files and the drill file that a > board house can use to make the real thing.
I have the free version of Eagle. I haven't really used it yet, the learning curve is a bit high, but I'll get over it eventually. I've also been pointed at http://www.circuits.io/ recently.
> > Kicad is a free (libre and as in beer) integrated package for Windows > and Linux that includes schematic capture and PCB layout. > <http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/KiCad+EDA+Software+Suite> > If you're on Linux, also look at gEDA <http://www.geda-project.org/> > There are also "free" tools offered by various board houses but some > (most? all?) of those generate a proprietary output, not standard > Gerbers, so you're stuck with one vendor.
I'm actually on a Mac.
> > While many people do still make boards in the kitchen, using techniques > like Press'n'Peel Blue or photo-resist, the cost of manufactured boards > has come way down. Especially when doing fine pitch and surface mount, > you will appreciate having a proper finish on the pads and having a > solder mask. Sparkfun and Seeed Studio (among others, these are the ones > I'm familiar with) have very low cost batch proto board services. There > are also traditional houses (e.g., Sunstone) that do inexpensive > prototypes at a faster turn but there is some added cost associated with > the speed, of course. > > <https://www.batchpcb.com/> associated with Sparkfun
This is what I was considering going with. It's the start-up cost that gets me though. It would cost me $20 for my design, and I think I could do it myself for much cheaper (even if it takes more man-power). Of course, if I design something worth selling to the masses, I could order in bulk and save a lot of money.
> > <http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/fusion-pcb-service-p-835.html?cPath=185> > will do ten 2" x 2" boards for $10. A buck a board!
Hmm, This one looks good. I'll have to look into it further. Thanks.
> > <http://www.sunstone.com/> a more traditional board house that offers > turns measured in days instead of weeks but also with more traditional > pricing >
Yeah, I'm not so concerned with turn-around time at the moment. Not at the trade in cost at least. Thanks for the advice.
On 10/26/2012 02:21 PM, Tom Biasi wrote:
> On 10/26/2012 2:09 PM, Michael A. Terrell wrote: >> >> Daniel Pitts wrote: >>> >>> Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own >>> circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd >>> prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full >>> circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs? >> >> >> I don't even like them for repairs. >> > Me either.
Ditto. You can't solder to the ink, for a start. I'd strongly suggest getting the free version of Cadsoft Eagle and sending the boards out to be fabbed. There are some really cheap places, e.g. BatchPCB.com, which charges $2.50 per square inch or thereabouts. Cheers Phil Hobbs -- Dr Philip C D Hobbs Principal Consultant ElectroOptical Innovations LLC Optics, Electro-optics, Photonics, Analog Electronics 160 North State Road #203 Briarcliff Manor NY 10510 hobbs at electrooptical dot net http://electrooptical.net
On Oct 26, 4:11=A0pm, Phil Hobbs
<pcdhSpamMeSensel...@electrooptical.net> wrote:
> On 10/26/2012 02:21 PM, Tom Biasi wrote: > > > On 10/26/2012 2:09 PM, Michael A. Terrell wrote: > > >> Daniel Pitts wrote: > > >>> Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own > >>> circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd > >>> prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full > >>> circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs? > > >> I don't even like them for repairs. > > > Me either. > > Ditto. =A0You can't solder to the ink, for a start. =A0I'd strongly sugge=
st
> getting the free version of Cadsoft Eagle and sending the boards out to > be fabbed. =A0There are some really cheap places, e.g. BatchPCB.com, whic=
h
> charges $2.50 per square inch or thereabouts. > > Cheers > > Phil Hobbs > > -- > Dr Philip C D Hobbs > Principal Consultant > ElectroOptical Innovations LLC > Optics, Electro-optics, Photonics, Analog Electronics > > 160 North State Road #203 > Briarcliff Manor NY 10510 > > hobbs at electrooptical dot nethttp://electrooptical.net
Yup, learn how to solder, you don't need no CAD or PCB places to get started. You can do a lot with pref board and air wire. George H.
Daniel Pitts <newsgroup.nospam@virtualinfinity.net> wrote:
> Are Circuit Pen's as useful as they sound? I'd like to create my own > circuit boards. Since I'm just learning and only doing one-offs, I'd > prefer to keep the total cost down. Are they "good enough" to do full > circuit boards, or are they mostly for repairs? > > Are there brands that are a better value than others? How well does > soldering on them work? > > Are they typically fine enough for SMD work, such as ATMega328 (0.8mm > lead pitch)? > > Thanks in advance for any advice. > > Sincerely, > Daniel.
short story- they tend to suck. like any paint type marker, it's a toss up if the thing will be dried out by the time you get it, or if it does work, will it dump out the entire contents at once. I'd say just get a pcb etching kit, but that will be pushing it for stuff with fine traces unless you can print the resist somehow.