Custom Module Creation

I’ve been wanting to create some custom gadgeteer modules.

Is there a resource/tutorial that goes over what resources are available, and a typical workflow that includes finding the sources for individual parts, finding a company to make a prototype, and how to get a driver integrated into visual studio so it appears in the designer?

I want to start with something very simple, a analog sensor that only needs 3 wires, power, ground, and an analog voltage line that I want to trigger an interrupt when it goes “low”.

Creating Gadgeteer module for the first time requires a lot of work. And to do it right requires even more work :wink:

Question is - are you going to do this for personal usage or with intent to sell and earn some profit. If latter is the case, think twice before starting this process.

As @ Gary like to say (and me as well), if the price is right - you will find someone who can do prototyping or anything else you want. If it is something simple I guess the best place to look for some help is this forum.

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@ mtylerjr - I’m not sure if there’s an end-to-end tutorial available for module creation.

You’ll definitely want to check out the Gadgeteer Module Builders Guide:

http://gadgeteer.codeplex.com/downloads/get/665907

That doc provides good backgrounds that will be helpful as you start thinking about your module design.

In the meantime, have you breadboarded the circuit yet? Starting with a breadboard is the first step, if you’re not there yet. :slight_smile:

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@ mtylerjr - @ iamin makes an important point… If you’re looking to make money, at least more than what would help subsidize your hobby, module development it’s probably a hard way to go about it. :slight_smile:

But it IS very satisfying, when you get one working.

Can you tell us what it is? Aslong as you say dibs first, we cant steal it

@ mtylerjr - I would start with tutorials on one of the free tools for PCB design. For example Eagle. Lots of materials available.

@ mtylerjr - If you decide to go with Eagle, just be aware that the licensing is a bit of a task to understand:

http://www.cadsoftusa.com/shop/pricing/

They have a Hobbyist license, with quite good functionality for a reasonable price, but it is only for non-commercial use. So if you plan to sell your modules, you would probably not fit that description.

I’m using the Light version of Eagle. It’s quite limited in functionality, in that it maxes out at 80mm x 100mm routed area, and only 1 schematic, and 2 signal layers, but for what you want to do, that should be plenty. Importantly, it’s cheap, and it doesn’t carry the non-commercial restriction that the Hobbyist version does.

Personally, I find Eagle painful to use, as many of its features are completely non-standard compared to how Windows programs usually operate. But for the price, it’s hard to beat, and most fab places I’ve dealt with will either work with Eagle files directly, or have good instructions for generating Gerbers from your board file(s).

One important thing to remember with Eagle is to start with the schematic first. I neglected to do that on my last board, and ended up re-doing a bunch of work on the board once I realized my mistake.

I will throw this comment out there.

Most non-professional EEs and CAD package users don’t get paid to learn new tools. That usually means being frugal with your learning time, and most likely picking one tool for the job. You then learn how to achieve what you need using that tool, and love it or hate it you never get over it but put up as the cost in your time to un-learn that tool, and learn a new one, is hard to justify. So this leads to my tip:

Pick the tool you want to learn wisely :slight_smile:

For me, I learnt Eagle. Quirky, but the process made sense after a while. When I learnt Eagle, there were lots of videos around showing me the basics that I could latch onto and make progress. There were not many, if any, that had equivalent content on diptrace or any of the others, and KiCAD was especially scarce. Since then, there’s much more activity in the KiCAD camp, both from a product development side as well as training material, and if nothing else Contextual Electronics released a bucketload of content for free access. KiCAD has none of the limitations Eagle does, so is really worth your effort to look at. If I hadn’t already learnt the “Eagle way” (which is probably diametrically opposite to KiCAD’s) I would choose KiCAD now; same if I was smarter and could retrain my brain quicker, I would move.

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@ mtylerjr - you might want to start by reading this blog post by Pete Brown.

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An excellent tutorial.

Thanks for re-surfacing that. I’d forgotten Pete did such a thorough write-up.

Gives you a good understanding what’s required.

I remember using this tutorial not long after I got my first Gadgeteer board to build a module using a multi button module from an Arduino. To my amazement at the time it worked and showed me how easy the Gadgeteer was really was!!