USB – programmer and debug adapter


One problem designers have always faced is the ability to program various microcontrollers especially when each runs and requires different software and interfaces to program them, meaning that you need to have various adaptors and software knowledge for each of them …..

Until now, a programming adapter was just an interface between the microcontroller and the matching flash- or debug software. The USBprog already contains these softwares which can be accessed via a network and a web service using a browser. A first time user will gain easy access to program or debug the microcontroller using any operating system and any computing device.

Buy it from the Eurocircuits online shop.

The USBprog 5.0 OpenOCD is a programming- and debug adapter that can be managed from a Windows, Mac or Linux PC without the need to install additional software. In the simplest case you can operate it via a web browser. If the programmer should be triggered by a batch- or make file, there is a simple command tool available.

 

-ARM JTAG / SWD debugger and programmer
-AVR ISP programmer for flashing standard processors
-Level converter (Adjustable 1.8V, 3.3V and 5.0V)
-Browser interface for easy operation
-Manual for integration into the Atmel AVR Studio 6
-Web service interface for a command line tool
-Connection Via USB network interface (RNDIS)
-Firmware archive to import a software easy in to production repeatedly

The USBprog 5.0 combines many programmers in a single device. Operated via a browser, there is no need for configuring the device. The USBprog 5.0 works with Windows 7 and 8, MacOS and Linux.

To start: plugin the device, setup a network connection and connect via browser http://10.0.0.1 Programming and debugging has never been so easy.

Further information you will find here: Embedded Projects Website

The difference between Production and Prototype quality and how to bridge the gap?


Historically electronic designs have a clear evolution. A design is made and created on breadboard to check functionality and then a board layout is created and put to production.

We have obviously made light year leaps since those days of single and 2 layer boards and now 4 and 6 layer boards are the norm with greater and greater density and smaller and smaller components being used to constantly stay competitive in this micro world.

Once the design is proven and goes to mass production then hundreds of thousands of these circuits can be produced at high speed and precise accuracy, which is perfect.

But… when you want to prove your concept and design before mass production, what then? This first stage of designing and manufacturing these concept prototypes, who will build your boards? Most production companies cannot offer cost effective solutions for producing 1 -10 prototypes. The work alone to break down and setup for a quantity of 1 or 1000 is the same and very labour intensive.

The solution is to build up your prototype in-house, in your lab where build up is cost effective and timely and if design changes should be required, they can be made “on the fly”.

This seems logical, but we still have the problem of the size of the components and the density of the board layout being prohibitive for manual assembly. In the past, accurate and controlled equipment has been reserved for EMS/OEM companies with expensive solder paste printers, costly paste stencils, automatic Pick and Place machines, chip shooters, reflow ovens, etc…

So how do you manufacture your prototypes without the space or budget for this large production equipment and the skills to setup all these different machines? This is where a huge gap appears keeping the designer in the dark ages limiting construction to the basic tools like a soldering iron, magnifying glass and tweezers.

But there is hope for these engineering superheroes! Eurocircuits noticed that nobody considered the difficulties faced by engineers and specifically designed and developed equipment to allow prototype designers manufacture to high end specification of accuracy and quality of production equipment.

Desktop solder paste printer (eC-stencil-mate) offering a small machine footprint, a high accuracy and a simple set-up – no more need for expensive paste stencils:

Manual pick and place machine (eC-placer) providing high accuracy placement of small SMD and fine pitch components – no more eye strain, employing camera assisted placement.

Benchtop reflow oven (eC-reflow-mate) with precise temperature profile control and surface temperature monitoring – ensuring that components are no longer destroyed with thermal shock.

So to conclude, there is equipment available for engineers so even prototypes can look and perform like a professional production board.

eC-test-mateeC-reflow-mate V4 3 is a handheld test system for functional testing of assembled PCBs without the need for complex tooling. Simply integrate eC-test-mate footprints into your PCB-layout, write your test programs, place the eC-test-mate test head(s) on your board and run the tests. No connectors, no test jigs, just easy footprints. eC-test-mate is a cost-effective solution for testing small series of assembled PCBs.

How can Eurocircuits offer a competitive prototype service?

The European engineers are a very inventive and enterprising group, this has led to a huge industry of innovation and prototypes.

Manufacturing of these prototypes for customers can be costly and labour intensive and quoting is inhibitive because of the setup and material costs. Setup of a production line for 1 board or 10,000 boards costs the same, so where can cost saving be made without compromising on quality?

PCB’s

Your PCB supplier offers a great deal on large batch quantities of boards, this is because it is easy then to dilute the tooling charges across 1,000’s of PCBs but cannot offer a good price for a small quantity because the tooling charges are a constant.

The answer is order pooling, sharing the cost of tooling with multiple customers where 1 board costs significantly less than just the tooling charges from a conventional PCB fabricator. Eurocircuits have created a system where we process over 400 orders per day, so sharing the production panel space is never a problem.

Stencils

Stencils are a large and unavoidable cost for manufacturing PCB’s, this is because stencils for large industrial stencil printers are licenced to manufacture and the size is a constant to fit the machine frames, with a typical cost of €200 to €300, again this makes Prototypes impractical, but again the solution is a system whereby the stencil is based on the size of the individual board and not a fixed constant. Eurocircuits have developed a registration system – eC-registration – for perfect board and stencil alignment and utilise the same principles of Pooling to offer stencil from as little as €35.

Board and stencil registration

How to setup these stencils to the PCB is now a matter of minutes without any expertise needed, the answer is to use the eC-registration together with the Eurocircuits desktop stencil printer (eC-stencil-mate) offering small machine footprint, high accuracy and simple set-up – no more expensive paste stencils.

Note

Read our BLOG on inhouse PCB assembly

IMS pool PCB forms the basis of the “vlak” ambient light.

During the Dutch Design Week 2015, Gregor van Egdom launched his Vlak 1 desk light. The “vlak” ambient light consists of a single IMS board (Insulated Metal Substrate) produced using Eurocircuits’ IMS pool service. On the foot of the light for aesthetic reasons some components are kept visible. Using the PCB as an integral part of the product structure, allows the lamp to be 1.6mm thin and avoids any visible wires.

Turning the power knob transforms the emitted light from cozy warm to day-light bright. LEDs with different colours define this wide colour palet thus using modern technology to simulate the natural light of the old-fashioned light bulb.

Vlak 1 is a European product manufactured in Europe. Development, prototyping and testing was done in Holland and the prime component, the IMS PCB is produced in Eurocircuits factory in Hungary. All at the Dutch Design Week pre-ordered products were assembled and packed in Europe.

Vlak 1 can be ordered via its website.

A few days back, Elektor wrote a nice review on IMS pool which forms a perfect addiction to the subject here.

For any interest in the Eurocircuits IMS pool service, click here.

Eurocircuits Technical Update: eC-equipment deal – eC-Xmas tree

The Eurocircuits team wish you a merry Christmas with good health and every success in 2016.

eC-equipment new products winter discount deal

Order an eC-placer or
eC-test-mate
either combined in a single order with each other or with an eC-stencil-mate, an
eC-reflow-mate, an
eC-preheater or an eC-fume-extractor
, and we will give a 10% discount on these and any other “Off the shelf” items that are checked out at the same time (as one order). Place your order online and the total price on a qualifying order will automatically reflect the discount.

To get the winter discount you must place your order by 31 January 2016.

eC-equipment new products discount deal

We have added new functionality to the
PCB-Solver Outline Editor
tool launched in November. The same powerful editing tools are now available for internal milling. So if the data for internal slots and cut-outs is incorrect or incomplete, you can now correct it on-screen without delaying your delivery. To mark the new functionality, we have renamed the tool the Outline/Milling Editor.

Christmas closure dates

Our office, factories and logistics will close on 23 December 2015 and re-open on 4 January 2016.

These dates are already included in our price calculator menus.

eC-Xmas tree for 2015 uses 20 RGB LEDs

There is still time to order this year’s Eurocircuits eC-X-mas tree.

Create your own exclusive Christmas experience using the 20 RGB LEDs of the Eurocircuits eC-Xmas-tree and your imagination.

  • Assemble the tree – no soldering needed.
  • Download free animations from the Eurocircuits website, or create your own online using the simple animations editor.
  • Publish your best animations and invite family and friends to view and like them. We will show the animations that receive the most likes on our website for others to download onto their own eC-Xmas-trees and spread your Christmas cheer far and wide.

eC-Xmas-tree can be ordered from the Off the Shelf eC-spare-parts menu.

See the 2015 eC-Xmas-tree in action with assembly and programming guides here.

Technical blogs

Some recent highlights:

If you would like us to produce a blog or white paper on a particular aspect of PCB manufacturing technology, PCB soldering or EAGLE CAD, email us at euro@eurocircuits.com.

Meet us

The best way to share ideas and knowledge is face to face. Come and meet us at:

Eurocircuits Technical Update: eC-placer camera-assisted manual pick and place machine

eC-placer – camera-assisted manual pick and place machine

The new eC-placer provides a precision PCB assembly solution at a price suited to prototypes and small series.

Users of our eC-stencil-mate solder-paste printer and eC-reflow-mate reflow oven report significant savings in time and cost. eC-placer boosts these savings to give yet more help to designers in bringing their projects to market on time and on budget.

eC-placer delivers fast precision placement:

  • Robust construction for accuracy, repeatability and long life
  • Ergonomic operation to maximize productivity and minimize operator fatigue
  • Fast set-up with up to 23 adjustable feeders for component tapes and sticks
  • High-definition USB camera
  • Vacuum pick-up head with interchangeable nozzles and built-in vacuum pump
  • Four functional modes for speed and accuracy
    • Free mode: head can move freely over the whole table
    • Lock mode: locks the head at desired location avoiding accidental movement when lowering or rotating the component
    • Array mode: limits one axis to place a row of components quickly and precisely
    • Copy-paste mode: uses the printer stencil as a template to place accurately BGAs and other components difficult to place by sight.

See eC-placer in action in the video in our BLOG

See the full eC-placer specification here

eC-equipment new products discount deal

Order an eC-placer or eC-test-mate either combined in a single order with each other or with an eC-stencil-mate, an eC-reflow-mate, an eC-preheater or an eC-fume-cube and we will give a 10% discount on these and any other “Off-the-shelf” items that are checked out at the same time (as one order). Place your order online and the total price on a qualifying order will automatically reflect the discount.

The discount scheme will remain active from 1-12-2015 till 31-01-2016.

eC-Xmas tree for 2015 uses 20 RGB LEDs

It has become a Christmas tradition that Eurocircuits design a programmable tree to brighten up the darker days of the year end. For 2015 we have gone multi-colour. Create your own exclusive Christmas experience using the 20 RGB LEDs of the Eurocircuits eC-Xmas-tree and your imagination.

  • Assemble the tree – no soldering needed.
  • Download free animations from the Eurocircuits website, or create your own online using the simple animations editor.
  • Publish your best animations and invite family and friends to view and like them. We will show the animations that receive the most likes on our website for others to download onto their own eC-Xmas-trees and spread your Christmas cheer far and wide.

Order your eC-Xmas-tree here.

See the 2015 eC-Xmas-tree in action with assembly and programming guides here.

Technical blogs

Some recent highlights:

If you would like us to produce a blog or white paper on a particular aspect of PCB manufacturing technology, PCB soldering or EAGLE CAD, email us at euro@eurocircuits.com.

Meet us

The best way to share ideas and knowledge is face to face. Come and meet us at:

eC-placer

eC-placer is a camera-assisted manual pick and place machine designed and priced for assembling prototype and small batch PCBs. It forms the final link in Eurocircuits” prototype assembly solution, from the eC-stencil-mate solder-paste printer, through the eC-reflow-mate reflow soldering oven to the eC-test-mate fixtureless test system. Users already report that reflow soldering using the eC-stencil-mate printer and eC-reflow-mate oven is three times faster than hand soldering and 60% – 70% cheaper and faster than sub-contracting. The camera-assisted eC-placer gives a further boost to these savings, helping designers bring time/cost sensitive projects to market on schedule and on budget.

Set-up and operation are straightforward.

The eC-placer is built around a precision-engineered XY table. Its robust construction ensures long term accuracy and repeatability delivering an optimum return on investment.

Components are picked up from the feeders and placed on the solder-pasted PCB using a vacuum head controlled by a simple foot-switch. eC-placer comes with four quick-change nozzles for different sized components as well as 23 adjustable feeders for component tapes and sticks. As the machine is ESD-safe, larger components can be placed in boxes on the bed of the machine. The vacuum pump is built-into the machine.

eC-placet_XY-table.jpg
eC-placer
Placement head with vacuum pick-up and camera
Placement head with vacuum pick-up and camera
Feeders
Feeders
Camera view: red cross marks component location
Camera view: red cross marks component location

The operator has a clear view of the component, the feeder and the location on the PCB via the high-definition camera linked to a USB-port on his PC. As there may be differences in height between the component in the feeder and the top surface of the PCB, the camera system includes parallax compensation to ensure fast and accurate placement.

The eC-placer work table has a matrix of registration holes on a 10 mm pitch. This is the same pitch as the eC-registration system so that PCBs can be securely located on the bed with the registration pins provided. The X- and Y-axis sliders move between programmable stops which can be set using a second foot-switch.

eC-placer has four functional modes to give the best combination of speed and accuracy across the range of components. The modes are selected using an LED switch.

eC-placer in copy-paste mode
eC-placer in copy-paste mode

  • Free mode. The vacuum head, camera and LED light can move freely to any location on the PCB.
  • Lock mode. Locks the head at the desired location to avoid accidental movement when lowering or rotating the component.
  • Array mode. Used for fast, accurate placing of a row of components. The user sets the X-axis stop on the row of components. He then needs to concentrate only on the Y-axis to populate the array.
  • Copy-paste mode. Used for BGAs and other larger components which are difficult to place by eye. The copy-paste mode uses the printer stencil as a template. BGAs, FPGAs and similar components centre automatically in the stencil openings. The axes are then locked so that the user needs only a single movement to place the component accurately over the correct location on the PCB.

eC-placer”s combination of a clear display, robust ergonomic construction with a solid hand rest on the placement head, and guided location for component arrays and complex components makes for increased productivity and less operator fatigue, getting prototypes assembled faster and safer.

Click here for a full specification.

New outline repair tool – healthier soldering – sponsoring student projects

Outline Editor – new PCB Solver repair tool

PCB Solver is a range of online repair tools to help you fix the most common production data issues before you place your order. Use the PCB Solver repair tools before ordering to

  • avoid delivery delays
  • help reduce board costs
  • save valuable design time – and designer frustration.

The first tool launched was the auto-repair of annular rings running in PCB Checker.

The second tool is the Outline Editor in PCB Configurator. Repair the board outline (profile) on screen when

  • Profile data is missing, incomplete, or incorrect
  • PCB Visualizer finds two valid outlines

To use the Outline Editor, upload your data into your Shopping basket, allow 3 -4 minutes for PCB Visualizer to run its analysis and then check the PCB Visualizer column. If you find a blue warning or a red flag open PCB Visualizer. Any outline issues will be shown in the Remarks pane of PCB Configurator.

How to use Outline Editor

More PCB Solver repair tools will be released during the coming months.

Healthier soldering

Soldering fumes are unpleasant and can be hazardous to health. Best practice requires a good fume extraction system.

We tested a number of third party systems for efficiency, quiet operation, and value for money. The Fume-cube from Purex came out best in the trials and for more than a year we have used it with all in-house soldering operations. It is now available to our users as the eC-fume-cube.

Why install eC-fume-cube?.

  • Healthier, more comfortable and more productive working environment
  • Compliance with local and national Health and Safety regulations
  • Internal filtration system needs no ducting to outside air
  • Fully mobile. eC-fume cube can be can be stood next to the soldering process and is readily moved when needed
  • Stainless steel construction ensures long machine life despite corrosive fumes

The eC-fume-cube is suitable for both hand-soldering and machine soldering.

  • For hand soldering, add the eC-arm-kit. This includes a 38 mm stainless steel flexible arm to bring extraction to the point of soldering.

  • For machine soldering with the eC-reflow-mate oven V3 add the eC-reflow-mate-hood. This clips onto the oven and ducts away soldering fumes when the oven door opens after reflow.

Sponsoring student projects

Eurocircuits is an active sponsor of student projects across Europe. We have provided PCBs for projects as diverse as rocketry, robotics and Formula Student race cars. If you would like your student project to be considered for sponsorship, please contact Eurocircuits at euro@eurocircuits.com.

Technical blogs

Some recent highlights:

If you would like us to produce a blog or white paper on a particular aspect of PCB manufacturing technology, PCB soldering or EAGLE CAD, email us at euro@eurocircuits.com.

Meet us

The best way to share ideas and knowledge is face to face. Come and meet us at:

Outline/Milling Editor – PCB Solver tool updated

Outline/Milling Editor.

The Outline Editor, the second tool in the PCB Solver range, was launched in November 2015.  In December 2015 it has been updated to handle internal slots and cutouts as well as board outline (profiles).  It has been renamed the Outline/Milling Editor.  The updated version has the same powerful functionality as Version 1 with some new go-faster features for outline editing.

PCB Solver gives you the tools to fix common data issues before you place your order.  You avoid delays to your delivery and can often reduce board costs.  More tools will be released during 2016.

Use the Outline/Milling Editor to correct the board outline where the outline (profile) data is missing, incomplete, incorrect or duplicated (two outlines found).  When this happens PCB Visualizer gives you a clear warning.  In most cases you can fix the outline directly on screen, avoiding the disruption and delays involved if you have to go back to the CAD system.

Use the Outline/Milling Editor for internal slots and cutouts to

  • check slot and cutout data in a mechanical layer is correct and repair it if not
  • clearly identify slots and cutouts if they are not defined in a mechanical layer

Note: PCB Visualizer is an automatic pre-production Gerber and drill data analyzer.  Gerber is a pure vector format, so unless attributes are used, PCB Visualizer cannot recognize slots and cutouts.  For advice on defining slots and cutouts, see here.

There’s a full description with the latest features here.

      outline-editor.jpg
Outline/Milling Editor – the next PCB Solver tool 

PCB Solver.

PCB Solver is the third component in the PCB Visualizer user interface. PCB Visualizer itself is the core of our pre-order data verification process. As soon as you upload your data into your Shopping basket, PCB Visualizer generates a detailed analysis of the PCB dataset and compares it to the specifications of the proposed order and of the chosen PCB service. PCB Configurator then provides a detailed report of the board status. PCB Checker pinpoints any DRC or DFM issues found in the data. PCB Solver provides the tools to fix them, either automatically or interactively.

The Outline & Milling Editor and the automatic repair of annular rings running in PCB Checker are the first two of a series of repair tools planned to fix the data issues which our customers have told us frustrate them the most.

PCB Visualizer’s pre-order data verification is a key part of our optimized PCB design workflow. By spending a few minutes checking the board data prior to ordering you avoid delivery delays of 24 hours or more while our engineers come back with questions (“exceptions”). In many cases you can also cut the board costs. That way you can order confident that you will get the right board, on the right day, at the right price.

PCB Solver has been made possible by a major change in PCB Visualizer’s core structure. This is now vector-based rather than image-based. It is structured around real objects (pads, tracks, drills …). This allows us to extend to users the benefits of procedures already field-proven in our front-end data-preparation process. It has the added benefit of smaller internal data-sets and so faster processing.

How to use the Outline & Milling Editor: go to technical description or watch our video

Eurocircuits Technical Update New Auto-repair functionality more online support

Auto-repair in PCB Visualizer – more robust PCBs faster

Why use PCB Visualizer?

Before you order we recommend that you upload your data-set and allow a few minutes for PCB Visualizer to analyse your data and report back any issues (missing files, data not matching the design-rule specifications of your chosen service, etc.).

That way you can resolve any issues before you order, and place your order confident that it will proceed without delays.

New Auto-repair function

Today PCB Visualizer contains the first of our planned Auto-repair functions. These will fix common design-rule issues automatically, delivering a more robust end-product without the need for designer intervention.

Long-term reliability requires a minimum ring of copper around each plated hole, the annular ring. The new Auto-repair function analyses the annular rings, flags the errors, and repairs via hole violations, where possible, by reducing the size of the via hole. The parameters of the process are fully controlled by the user. The results are displayed under the PCB Checker tab for the designer to evaluate.

Result:

  • Issue fixed.
  • More robust PCB.
  • No designer time lost.

See BLOG for a detailed description how Auto-repair can work for you.

Get more out of our online tools – new User Guides

PCB Checker, the first User Guide for our design-optimisation, data-checking and order preparation tools is now available online here.

This step by step guide includes a detailed description of the annular ring Auto-repair function.

All new User Guides will be available online, but if you would like to receive an email with a link to each as it is released, opt in for the mailing here.

Your questions answered – new FAQ section

Online support is an essential part of an online PCB service. We have analysed many hundreds of user questions as the basis of the new FAQ section on our home page. Support must be dynamic and we will be updating the FAQ regularly.

EAGLE CAD – discounted upgrades still available

Discounted upgrades from EAGLE V. 5 & V.6 to version 7.4 are still available. Calculate the cost for your upgrade here or see the details in our BLOG.

Technical blogs

Some recent highlights:

If you would like us to produce a blog or white paper on a particular aspect of PCB manufacturing technology, PCB soldering or EAGLE CAD, email us at euro@eurocircuits.com.

Meet us

The best way to share ideas and knowledge is face to face. Come and meet us at: