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HackEDA: Automatic circuit design


Today we want to draw your attention to a groovy new Kickstarter from FOS (friend of SparkFun) Ben Wilson, called HackEDA. HackEDA is an easy tool that can automatically design complete manufacturable circuits - you can browse their library of electronics designs, download individual bits (power source, processor and peripherals), and use their drag-and-drop interface to design custom circuits. Once the design is ready, you can generate an Eagle schematic for immediate download, or purchase a complete design package, a pcb, or a fully-assembled and tested circuit board (currently available through Kickstarter).

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Think of it as a mashup tool for electronics - you can’t use it to create completely new designs, but you can take pre-existing tools and arrange them in your own configurations so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. We like HackEDA because it gives wider access for non-engineers to cool, customizable electronics and manufacturing, so you can see your ideas come to fruition faster. Ch-check it out - and good luck Ben!

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Comments 19 comments

  • Magic, it picked an ATMEGA328. Or not, because it doesn’t do anything else. So let’s see, who has a lot of ATMEGA328’s? Yeah, guess who.

    • So, as it turns out, magic involves a fair amount of testing to get right. That’s what the Kickstarter is about, and in order to keep the complexity at a manageable level the Atmega328 is where it will start. If you go to the site (www.hackeda.com), you’ll see that there are already 4 processors you can choose from if all you need is a free schematic that hasn’t been verified in hardware yet. Later the other processors will also be available for general use, but not yet, and not through Kickstarter.

      -Ben (HackEDA)

  • Where’s the coin-cell power supply block?

    • Check back, it’s there now.

      • What about a 5V regulator too? Please.

        • For now there aren’t any because there isn’t a filter based on system voltage in the build tool, which you’d need in order to avoid hooking up peripherals to the wrong voltage.

          A temporary workaround would be to select one of the LM317 based regulators (like this one: http://hackeda.com/circuits/3-3v-regulated-supply-jst/), swap the 390 Ohm resistor for a 680 Ohm, and make sure all the peripherals you select will work at 5V.

  • Thanks for sharing! Exactly what I needed to start designing stuff… :-)

  • This is cool! This opens up custom circuits to people that might not have the design chops to do it themselves just yet. Sure, they’re encouraged to add “Learn Eagle” to their bucket list, but this eases the learning curve a bit. Let’s face it, people just starting in this hobby are facing down a LOT of learning curves all at once.

    I notice all the boards seem to have the modules laid out in the same basic order, will you be adding a more selectable layout ability? For example, the ability to rotate and attach to any edge a module that has connectors that go on the edge of the board?

    An obvious step here would be to have all of Sparkfun’s breakout boards as modules. I use them all the time, having a rapid prototype system where I can just plug them in and order a board would be fairly attractive.

    • I think one of the best ways to learn circuit design (or anything else) is to start by modifying an example that’s relevant to your interests. My hope is people will use HackEDA that way.

      Right now the circuit selections are added side-by-side-by-side until the design is finished. Any design in the library is only allowed connectors on one edge, and as the design is built that edge is aligned to the edge of the board. There are many (MANY) improvements I want to make, and matching the board layout with what you see on the web page is pretty high on the list.

      Actually, almost all of the current designs in the library are based on boards by SparkFun (thanks SparkFun!). One thing I think is very important is to make ordering components as straightforward and painless as possible. Because of that, so far I’ve limited everything to only designs that can be sourced completely through Digikey. It’s a pretty big pain on my end, but I think it’s important to avoid multiple vendors, non-existent or volume-restricted parts. There are too many designs like that out there already.

      BUT… if HackEDA starts getting traction and SparkFun wanted to load their designs into the library and sell the associated parts kits I’d be all for it.

  • I think this shall be quite useful as the database of schematics increases. I think if this were to also include some sort of “Automatic” net routing for any device, such as power nets, RX/TX, TWI pins, and such ‘'simple’‘ traces, the awesomeness would be increased substantially.

    • You may want to have a second look, I think the awesomeness you’re talking about is already there. :)

      Free right now on the site: Choose the circuits you’d like included in a schematic, HackEDA will merge them into one file and automatically figure out the right way to connect the nets (names and labels are used to do this, so at first glance it may not look like the individual circuits are connected). All circuits come from known good designs, but the net connections between them need to be tested a bit more before they are trusted 100%.

      Through Kickstarter: All that, plus a fully routed layout, bare pcb, or fully assembled pcb are available. All you have to do is pick what you want to go on it.

      • Whoa, sorry for judging a book by the product post. I guess I just skimmed a bit too fast. I didn’t realize that there were so many designs already, and could be user submitted. Looking at the kickstarter, your prices are also extremely good, better than some manufacturers for unpopulated boards.

  • Oh I hope he adds the thermocouple input on the list of “designs we’re considering”!!! I have wanted to make a BBQ controller or brew controller for many years.

  • Will this include lower spec processors like the 16F’s for example?

    • Eventually… It’s actually possible to upload your own design right now, but the upload process is a little convoluted. And before it can be used it has to be tested by making real circuits with it. I’ll be working to make this process easier as things move along.

      That said, if you have a breakout board for your favorite processor already designed and want to make it happen, we could get it in there right now, it just won’t be available for anything but schematic generation for a while (either until I have time to test it, or I find people willing to test boards in exchange for keeping them).

  • I think this is a pretty cool idea. It’s like a physical equivalent of IP blocks for FPGAs.

  • This is a great idea. I added my pledge. I’m hoping that they add a DAC component (MCP4822 or MCP4922). For audio products (or CV synthesizer control) a DAC is way better than PWM. If they add a DAC, this will be really useful to the musical instrument / synth DIY crowd (like myself!).

  • This is way cool! It will be really awesome once lots of components are in there, and also perhaps a way to add your own stuff. I like the fact of being able to get a fully populated circuit board. I was fighting like hell to get FTDI working with an ATMEGA1284P. Being able to get a board that had that already set up the way it’s supposed to be, and with SMD chips would great (although, it’s possible my problem is also with my boot loader, seeing that I can get serial inpout/output just fine).


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