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Hi,

I´m new to the forum, this is the first post of many i hope.

I have one very large question which is related with hardware/PCB board production.
But first i´m going to give you the context....

I work in a software firm, right now we are trying to develop some hardware for measurement based on the Arduino.
I choose de Arduino, because its a closed platform, you just plug the modules and close them in the arduino box  smiley
So this allows you to have a closed product.

The problem is that i think that this won´t be enough in the long run. I think that we will have to grab some arduino shields and put them in the same shield.
For example, SD CARD shield and GPRS shield, because right now is not possible to pile up more then one shield ...

Now comes the part where i need help...

I wanted to design this boards, and have them produced and assembled "somewhere", and still have interesting prices like the ones on arduino shields.
The part of designing hardware is not the problem, the production and assembling process is.
Can someone help me with the process of production/assembling. I would be interested in understanding by who and how Arduino boards are produced.

Best regards
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Have you ever designed PCBs before?

If you're thinking about the answer, I'll give it to you. NO, you did not do any PCBs before. It's not easy, it may look easy, but doing it is a different thing altogether. Also, you'd need someone to review the drawing.

There is a company in Portugal (which I assume you're from) that does the PCB and assembling, or just assembling. It's in Agueda I think. But I can't think of the name or what is their production prices. I know they are very competitive for a somewhat big output of boards, but they also make small batches... however, it is more expensive as it is everywhere. So the question is really the number of boards you'll need.

Bear in mind that you may sell them, say you need 10 custom made shields... you can make 100 of them, write libraries for it (or adapt the existing ones) and sell the 90 surplus. smiley

But again, designing PCBs is not simple... and if you haven't done it before, it's best left to someone with experience.

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Nota também que eu não me responsabilizo por parvoíces escritas neste espaço pelo que se vais seguir algo dito por mim, entende que o farás por tua conta e risco.

Dito isto, mensagens pessoais só se forem pessoais, ou seja, se já interagimos de alguma forma no passado ou se me pretendes convidar para uma churrascada com cerveja (paga por ti, obviamente).

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I know you can ask Seeed Studio for a quote to make a product based on your design, they take care of my USnooBie kit (see my signature), and I know Dangerous Prototypes gets all of their products made with help from Seeed Studio. You don't have to sell your stuff on their site, you can ask them to make a bunch and ship them directly to you.

The Arduino is not cheap. Arduino shields are not cheap. You are much better off just creating a ATmega based design of your own.
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because right now is not possible to pile up more then one shield ...
That depends on the shields involved. A properly designed shield should allow other shields to stack on top of it. Obviously, some shields, like a XBee shield with XBee with antenna, need to be on top. The SD card shield I have (from Sparkfun) allows another shield to stack on top of it.
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Hi you all,

Thank you for the inputs guys!

My background is not intensive hardware development, but i have designed some boards (Altium designer and Protel) with mixed electronics (analog and digital) mainly for biomedical data acquisition and wireless data transmission. In one of the designs wee needed smaller boards, so i ended up designing 4 layer boards.

The problem is that i only designed prototypes (all the HW assembling, debugging and software was done by me to). I underline prototypes, because that is the real problem in this case, i have no experience with production problems and companys that do assembling etc.

For my market application the arduino and arduino shields already present very good pricing. And i´m very happy with the new arduino board from freetronics that is coming out in April, which already brings Ethernet and mini SD card included smiley
I want to avoid assembling anything, in reality i just want the work of piling them up, program and closing them in one of the arduino boxs (And ready to go !!).

Basically my plan is to develop and test in the arduino platform.
Probably i will use:
  • Arduino Board (maybe the freetronics version)
  • Ethernet Shield
  • SDcard Shield
  • GPRS Shield
  • Relay/screwing sockets shields for AI/O and DI/O
  • Something Shield so i can add RS485 and 1-Wire support smiley

After doing the upper part, maybe it will be mandatory to redraw small things. So i will do that using has much parts of the usual arduino shields as i can, to avoid as much  problems as i can. Then it comes my nightmare, where and how to manage some small production of PCB´s and respective assembling.
So rigth now what i wanted is opinions and solutions on how i could implement this plan with the minimum costs and work.

Maybe some company that already produces for arduino project and does good prices etc... i don´t really know smiley

I will be awaiting for you feedback!! and ingineous solutions

Best regards

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Have you checked - http://shieldlist.org - for your "something shield"
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Hey robtillaart

Very nice the Shield list!
I browsed a little bit, very interesting stuff, but i think it won´t be enough i will need more.
Anyway is a very good reference and maybe later i will post a shield to smiley

But my question still remains, from the previous post.
If someone can give me more feedback and ideas it would be nice.

Cheers!
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Have you ever designed PCBs before?

If you're thinking about the answer, I'll give it to you. NO, you did not do any PCBs before. It's not easy, it may look easy, but doing it is a different thing altogether. Also, you'd need someone to review the drawing.
...
But again, designing PCBs is not simple... and if you haven't done it before, it's best left to someone with experience.

@bubulindo, I think you're being a bit harsh.  It's not impossible for someone to learn how to design PCBs.  Everyone had to start somewhere.  It takes time and hard work, but it's possible.  Two years ago, I knew nothing of electronics or PCB design, but now have several successful products that I designed myself.  And I think I did a pretty good job on the PCBs, so I would encourage LuisSoares to pursue his ideas, but be prepared to learn a lot and work hard.
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Have you ever designed PCBs before?

If you're thinking about the answer, I'll give it to you. NO, you did not do any PCBs before. It's not easy, it may look easy, but doing it is a different thing altogether. Also, you'd need someone to review the drawing.
...
But again, designing PCBs is not simple... and if you haven't done it before, it's best left to someone with experience.

@bubulindo, I think you're being a bit harsh.  It's not impossible for someone to learn how to design PCBs.  Everyone had to start somewhere.  It takes time and hard work, but it's possible.  Two years ago, I knew nothing of electronics or PCB design, but now have several successful products that I designed myself.  And I think I did a pretty good job on the PCBs, so I would encourage LuisSoares to pursue his ideas, but be prepared to learn a lot and work hard.


True... sorry if I sounded harsh. My point was that if you haven't designed a PCB before, designing one to be produced in large scale without anyone experienced to revise it is a recipe for disaster. This is my experience talking.

Now, designing one to produce about 4 boards to test is good (it serves as experience and to prove the design), however, such a small production is quite costly. Unless you strike a deal with the manufacturer to get a few prototypes before deciding a high volume production. But even then, you'll need to have a high volume. Which doesn't seem to be the case.

However, like I said previously, this can be overcome if the company decides to sell the shield. Chances are that there are people interested in that particular combination, and providing the libraries to use it, will most likely make it a success (after some publicity, of course).

I actually find the design quite interesting... having more components cooked in the board is always good.

I'll try to get the name of that company in Portugal that makes and assembles boards.
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Eu não sou o teu criado. Se respondo no fórum é para ajudar todos mediante a minha disponibilidade e disposição. Responder por mensagem pessoal iria contra o propósito do fórum e por isso evito-o.
Se realmente pretendes que eu te ajude por mensagem pessoal, então podemos chegar a um acordo e contrato onde me pagas pela ajuda que eu fornecer e poderás então definir os termos de confidencialidade do meu serviço. De forma contrária toda e qualquer ajuda que eu der tem de ser visível a todos os participantes do fórum (será boa ideia, veres o significado da palavra fórum).
Nota também que eu não me responsabilizo por parvoíces escritas neste espaço pelo que se vais seguir algo dito por mim, entende que o farás por tua conta e risco.

Dito isto, mensagens pessoais só se forem pessoais, ou seja, se já interagimos de alguma forma no passado ou se me pretendes convidar para uma churrascada com cerveja (paga por ti, obviamente).

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Hi Guys,

I forgot to mention in my previous posts that although my daily task is not intensive hardware design, i have some previous experience.
Being that i´m a MsC in Electronics and computer Science and adding to that i had some experience as R&D student and PhD student in the field (didn´t finished it... smiley ).

My major problem as i sated before relates with the operational part, more a management (pricing, closed product, market opposition etc) then technical problem.

Right now i am in the following situation in what it refers to my problem.
Have done some research and found some companies that take care of the all process which includes:
  • PCB production
  • Electrical testing
  • Parts procurement through BOM
  • PCB Assembly

Asked for some quotes based on specific project that resembles what i intend to do, and received some good answers.
The prices fall in a range which i find very interesting and appealing in terms of business.
I think this way i want have to use the fusion service from seedstudio, which seems very good anyway.

I´m going to keep on pushing this direction and later i will see what it comes out of it... smiley Hope i do good.

If you want i can keep you updated...
Thank you for the feedbacks

Cheers
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Please do.
Also, and I speak for myself, if you could let us know what designs for shields or boards, we (as in me) could be interested in buying one or two of them.

I'm in the middle of designing a board with a ATmega2560 compatible chip with USB and Ethernet (Wiznet through memory addressing) onboard and if your company provided a similar solution, I'd opt to buy it instead of re-inventing the wheel by myself. smiley That board will also have a connector for an Xbee on one of the UARTs. smiley

Let us know what you got. smiley
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Eu não sou o teu criado. Se respondo no fórum é para ajudar todos mediante a minha disponibilidade e disposição. Responder por mensagem pessoal iria contra o propósito do fórum e por isso evito-o.
Se realmente pretendes que eu te ajude por mensagem pessoal, então podemos chegar a um acordo e contrato onde me pagas pela ajuda que eu fornecer e poderás então definir os termos de confidencialidade do meu serviço. De forma contrária toda e qualquer ajuda que eu der tem de ser visível a todos os participantes do fórum (será boa ideia, veres o significado da palavra fórum).
Nota também que eu não me responsabilizo por parvoíces escritas neste espaço pelo que se vais seguir algo dito por mim, entende que o farás por tua conta e risco.

Dito isto, mensagens pessoais só se forem pessoais, ou seja, se já interagimos de alguma forma no passado ou se me pretendes convidar para uma churrascada com cerveja (paga por ti, obviamente).

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Hi Bubulindo,

Relatively to the project you mentioned, have you seen this board from freetronics?
It´s a new design that includes Ethernet out of the box, maybe this will interest you http://www.freetronics.com/products/etherten...

In terms of what i´m planning to do, will be something like developping a board or several (still don´t know) with the following capabilities:
  • Arduino based with ethernet and SD card ( like the one from freetronics, thank you freetronis!!  smiley-lol
  • 1-Wire (HW and SW support) and Modbus TCP (and RTU) / RS-485 (HW and SW support)
  • GPRS support, i would prefer 3G/UMTS but this is to expensive at least from what i have seen
  • Some more circuitry for Analog data acquisition, still studying

As the doubts come i will write in the forum.

Cheers!
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Hey Luis, thanks for your comments about the EtherTen! The first 800 have now been fabricated and they're being tested and packed right at this moment, so it's getting close now.

I'm really interested to hear about your dilemma of going from idea to production, because for a while now we've been toying with the idea of applying a book publishing business model to open hardware design:

www.freetronics.com/ideas

Unfortunately I've personally been very busy over the last 6 months so I haven't had much time to pursue it, but perhaps that approach would solve your problem?
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Arduino Shield List: www.shieldlist.org
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Yes, I have checked Etherten and it is where no man as gone before, but not quite where I want it to be.

The board I want uses the external memory interface (those A8..15 and AD0..7 pins) to communicate with the Wiznet chip. This will of course make the Arduino Ethernet library (almost) useless, but makes the use of the Wiznet chip faster and a lot more versatile. Instead of sending a bit at a time, we can send a byte in half time (since we multiplex address and data).

Plus, with a little outside logic, using the external memory bus allows you to map all sorts of devices. From the top of my mind I can think of:

ADC
DAC
HD44780 compatible LCDs
memory... the memory seems to be the problem as the bus works too fast for smaller (and older) memories, and other memory chips are too big to use with the 15 line bus. However, Graynomad is developing a board with external memory based on the external memory bus, but using memory pages... There's a post about that in the forum.

By the way, for the signal acquisition board/shield, forget the microcontroller ADs and go for something external using SPI or I2C. The reason for this is that this way the signal can have a really small path up to the AD and then it's just the digital signal going through the wires.So there's less interference, and a few more bits of precision to use. The way I see it, getting a 16 bit AD is, in terms of communication, the same as a 10 bit one.
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Eu não sou o teu criado. Se respondo no fórum é para ajudar todos mediante a minha disponibilidade e disposição. Responder por mensagem pessoal iria contra o propósito do fórum e por isso evito-o.
Se realmente pretendes que eu te ajude por mensagem pessoal, então podemos chegar a um acordo e contrato onde me pagas pela ajuda que eu fornecer e poderás então definir os termos de confidencialidade do meu serviço. De forma contrária toda e qualquer ajuda que eu der tem de ser visível a todos os participantes do fórum (será boa ideia, veres o significado da palavra fórum).
Nota também que eu não me responsabilizo por parvoíces escritas neste espaço pelo que se vais seguir algo dito por mim, entende que o farás por tua conta e risco.

Dito isto, mensagens pessoais só se forem pessoais, ou seja, se já interagimos de alguma forma no passado ou se me pretendes convidar para uma churrascada com cerveja (paga por ti, obviamente).

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Graynomad is developing a board with external memory based on the external memory bus,
Schematics finalized and PCB 30% complete (version 2 that is, version 1 was 80% but I decided to rip up and re do) but project shelved for the time being, I can't afford to build the bloody thing smiley and can't get any interest in manufacturing them.

______
Rob
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