Written 8-23-19

I absolutely loved this class because it introduced me to an excellent piece of PCB design software: KiCad. I used EAGLE in the past, but found that the learning curve was steep and finding footprints and schematic symbols was a pain. Well that was like 4 years ago so things have definitely improved since then. Then I tried EasyEDA. Since I was still basically a beginner, it proved the perfect learning ground to teach me the ins and outs of PCB design. Eventually though, I wanted something more.

After a slight learning curve, I was enamored with KiCad. It took the best parts from EasyEDA and EAGLE. It’s also open source. Honestly, I should’ve started learning KiCad instead of EAGLE all those years ago. It’s no wonder that KiCad is the software of choice for CalSol. Eventually though, I will probably need to use other EDA software for the features they may provide, but as a general purpose software, I’m sticking with KiCad.

During the class, we learned all about making a PCB from scratch. Covering topics from schematic design to BOMs to routing traces, it was a very well taught class. Funnily enough, I actually used my Macbook’s trackpad to do most of my design work even if mice are supposedly better. Nowadays I do switch between both.

For our final project, we were given the flexibility of designing our own project. Still wanting to make another lightsaber, I decided to design a board for just that. It was also the perfect opportunity to dive a little deeper into ARM, so I picked out the cheapest STM32 chip I could find that had every feature I needed and continued from there.