Merging arduino and shields in one pcb.

Hi, so the current project i'm working on for my third year at uni is pretty much done, and i've still got till the end of march to demonstrate it so obviously i still have alot of time. So i've been thinking of possible ways to improve the project (one that i'm working on at the moment is to use a rotary encoder to navigate the lcd menu). Another way i'm thinking to improve it is to ditch the ugly perfboard and somehow merge the arduino and the shields i'm using all in one pcb (guess which colour pcb i'm thinking of?) to make it look a bit professional. My project has the following components

Arduino DUE Arduino GSM Shield Arduino Wifi Shield DS1307 RTC Sparkfun 256kb external EEPROM Sparkfun 4-way 3.3v-5v level shifter Xbee S1 Module 4x20 LCD some buttons and leds.

How easy would it be to do this and are there any services that can do this specifically for arduino projects?

thanks

so obviously i still have alot of time.

You might be surprised at how quickly the time will go by.

guess which colour pcb i'm thinking of?

Pink with green polka dots and purple stripes.

How easy would it be to do this

Somewhere between "nearly impossible" and "a five minute job", depending on YOUR skills and knowledge. Guess what you forgot to tell us.

are there any services that can do this specifically for arduino projects?

Of course there are. How much are you willing to pay, and how long are you willing to wait? I'll bet that it isn't news to you that there is a direct relationship between the two answers.

As with any solution you can have it Good, Quick and Cheap. You have to pick two.

These bits are easy to integrate:

DS1307 RTC Sparkfun 256kb external EEPROM Sparkfun 4-way 3.3v-5v level shifter 4x20 LCD some buttons and leds.

These bits are hard:

Arduino DUE Arduino GSM Shield Arduino Wifi Shield Xbee S1 Module

unless you find pluggable modules and put headers on the board.

Either way, it is probably going to be a big board.

Integrating components onto a PCB for specific applications is basically what electronic engineers do, although some companies do outsource this type of thing. However, you can expect to pay at least 1 Arm + 1 Leg!

I would recommend getting a CAD package like Eagle installed and have a go at creating a layout for some of the easy stuff. Putting all the user interface items onto a board is useful to create a better look, the other stuff can at least be hidden inside a box.

PaulS: Pink with green polka dots and purple stripes.

close enough!

PaulS: Somewhere between "nearly impossible" and "a five minute job", depending on YOUR skills and knowledge. Guess what you forgot to tell us.

In terms of PCB design, the most complex pcb I've done was a two layer board for a micromouse project for my second year, but I've done quite allot of transistor layout and firmware for custom micro controllers at my placement year which helped gain quite a bit of knowledge about micro controller architecture. this project was the first time i have ever touched an Arduino, so experience with Arduino overall is about 3.5 months. I've been going over the SAM3X datasheet and the more I dig deeper the more convoluted the task seems like it's going to be.

PaulS: Of course there are. How much are you willing to pay, and how long are you willing to wait? I'll bet that it isn't news to you that there is a direct relationship between the two answers.

Yes, i was well aware of that which is why i've started to think about different solutions, i'm still doing the pcb and the uni is willing to pay up to £250 to help me get it made, which means i'll have to design the pcb myself to fit the budget as it's just about enough to cover manufacturing a few prototypes without assembly. I'm playing around with eagle at the moment exploring the option of just making a big board where the Due, Wifi, and GSM shield just simply plug into it and have all the connections in-between and with the other stuff done on the board. I can stack the WiFi shield on top of the Arduino just fine and use the standard libraries which will help me save space, but the GSM will have to sit next to the Due because i hacked that thing with the logic converter to use At commands to communicate with the DUE. The hardest part about this so far is trying to make the PCB as small as possible to fit the size requirements of the budget.

bobcousins: I would recommend getting a CAD package like Eagle installed and have a go at creating a layout for some of the easy stuff. Putting all the user interface items onto a board is useful to create a better look, the other stuff can at least be hidden inside a box.

That seems to be the current plan!

I understand you want to buy the PCB, not the design of it. Anyway, after you have designed your first PCB, the second will be much easier. I have used Itead http://imall.iteadstudio.com/open-pcb/pcb-prototyping/im120418003.html It is good and cheap, but mailing physical things around is either fast or cheap. 10*10cm board is about 20€ and postage.

LMI: I understand you want to buy the PCB, not the design of it. Anyway, after you have designed your first PCB, the second will be much easier. I have used Itead http://imall.iteadstudio.com/open-pcb/pcb-prototyping/im120418003.html It is good and cheap, but mailing physical things around is either fast or cheap. 10*10cm board is about 20€ and postage.

Well, designing the PCB itself isn't that difficult as all the eagle files are online, all i had to do was put them all together and move things around to minimise the size, maybe change the size of the components to something that can be soldered by hand. The problem is that i'm not sure what is required for me to get the SAM3X and the other micro controllers on the WiFi shield to get them to work with the arduino IDE so i can upload my sketch to it. All i could find online was guides that explain exactly what i want to do and how to do it but only for the Uno.

I think you mean the Bootloader sw. The Bootloader sw works with the IDE. If you buy a CPU from say Digikey, there is nothing in the CPU. To burn the Bootloader you need the AVRISP mkII or something similar. Even some Arduinos can be used to burn the Bootloader.

By the way, I envy Eagle users. I use Pads and I have to do everything from the beginning.

LMI: By the way, I envy Eagle users. I use Pads and I have to do everything from the beginning.

So why don't you use Eagle?

You can get started with Eagle easily. Free version allows 80x100mm double sided designs.
You can get a lot of components in that space.

CrossRoads: You can get started with Eagle easily. Free version allows 80x100mm double sided designs. You can get a lot of components in that space.

Thankfully one the guys i worked with at placement has an Eagle Professional 5 user Licence and he lets me use it, if i decided of making a pcb where the Aduino Due, and all the Shields, LCD, keypad and other components mount on it there's no way 80x100mm would be enough.

Just remember that you don't have to go all the way: you can do a hybrid approach.

BlackPCB: Arduino DUE Arduino GSM Shield Arduino Wifi Shield DS1307 RTC Sparkfun 256kb external EEPROM Sparkfun 4-way 3.3v-5v level shifter Xbee S1 Module 4x20 LCD some buttons and leds.

The GSM and WiFi shields have some complex parts on them, and the layout and build quality may affect the RF performance. Proper RF layout and construction is a bit of a black art: there can be more to it than there appears. Plus there are some specialized parts that may be hard to source.

To keep the project manageable, why not consider building a board with most of the conventional stuff on it, add the proper expansion headers, and then stack the WiFi and GSM shields on top of that?

And when you are working out your budget, leave enough time and money to make a second spin of the board: even with a bread-boarded prototype, it's so easy for errors to crop up in your board, be they wiring errors, wrong footprint errors, etc. This is especially likely with this being your first board. In fact, it's pretty much guaranteed!

When you build and test your first board, you will inevitably find errors and things you had wished you had done differently. Cut traces and add jumper wires as necessary on that first board, and take good notes of all of the changes. Then plan on making updates to your schematic and board layout, then make and build another board. It's all part of the learning process, and something that happens all too often in industry. Your teacher/advisor will understand it and appreciate the effort.