Beginner questions -- How to get a PCB shield manufactured


I am trying to learn how to get a basic Arduino shield manufactured. Some of my questions are about Cradsoft Eagle, and some are about the manufacturing step. I hope this is the correct forum for my questions.

(1) Cradsoft Eagle: I found the Arduino Shield Scaffold made by Garrett in 2008. It is designed for the Arduino Diecimila (it shows where the parts on the Diecimila board that extend higher than the female headers). Is there a newer scaffold designed for recent boards like the Uno?

(2) Cradsoft Eagle: How do I do a copper fill? I know that it’s possible to get an entire layer of a PCB filled with copper and then you just carve the tracks on top of that. I know that this is often used to make it easy to supply power or ground to components without having long tracks going in all directions. But I haven’t figured out how to do that in Eagle.

(3) Manufacturing: How do you actually get an Arduino board manufactured? I have learned how to produce Gerber files and how to submit them to a PCB manufacturer like Seeed Studio. But that’s just the PCB. You still need all the actual components that go on top. I guess to start, I would solder the bits myself, in which case I just need to figure out how to order components and get them delivered to my home (help?)

But if I ever wanted to make a bunch of shields and have a company make them for me, I would need to arrange for some company to have both the PCBs and the electronic bits and manufacture them for me. How would I make that happen?

I am happy to read tutorials to learn how these things work. I would welcome any help you can offer.


(0) There's no "r" in Cadsoft.

(1) I started with a Sparkfun shield design a few years ago and I've been modifying it since then. There's also an Eagle library available from Element14 that has footprints for variants like the Due, Micro and Nano. I have had to extensively modify this for myself as it actually has too many pins - you don't normally want a shield to connect to the all of the debug headers on the Due.

(2) Draw a "polygon" equal to or larger than your board outline. Draw one on the TOP layer and one on the BOTTOM. Name the polygons with the name command. Call them "GND" or whatever ground is in your design. Then it will automatically fill and connect all your ground pins.

If you have a big area that the fill doesn't reach into, you can drill vias into it to pick up the ground plane on the other side. The vias also need to be named "GND" with the name tool.

(3) OSHPark takes Eagle .BRD files directly. I find that the best way to visualise a completed design too. You order parts from either your local electronics shop or Mouser, Digikey, Element14 or there are a few more big ones but those are the biggest worldwide. Small-run assembly can be done by yourself - the frypan method is surprisingly good for SMD components so I try to design with as much SMD as I can. As you step up to bigger quantities like 100, there are a surprising number of small pick-and-place manufacturers that will do this for you. Normally they will have stock of standard resistors and capacitors so you need to design to what they have (eg 0603 size components might be their preference) and then you need to buy in the required quantity of special chips like sensors and processors that they don't stock.

As you step up to bigger quantities like 100, there are a surprising number of small pick-and-place manufacturers that will do this for you.

Would you have alist of some ?

So far I’ve been populating and soldering my High Power RGB LED shieled myself ( PID controlled toaster oven)

However I’d be really interested in learning about companies that provide assembly services are reasonable prices. Granted, there are a number of board houses that offer assembly as well but in my experiece the vast majority of these services are aimed at professional users that demand quick turnaround of prototypes. as such the prices are usually rather out of reach for a hobbyist.