Prototyping & Production

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Prototypes and PCB Production

Tools to Try Before You Solder: Simulation and 3D Modeling Tools That Can Be Used for Free

Do you have a brilliant circuit or product concept? Are you eager to test out some fundamental ideas before firing up the soldering iron or powering on the 3D printer? Nowadays, determining the feasibility of your ideas — and identifying those that might not work — is easier than ever. Just turn on your computer and dive in!

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Solutions for Rapid Prototyping and Stretchable Circuits

Circuit development can be time consuming, especially when you rely on external partners to deliver boards. Fortunately, you can use new tabletop tools to print and even pick and place your circuits, which can help to expedite the iterative design process. Here we chat with two rapid-prototyping experts: Evan Skelsey from the PCB printing business Voltera and Stephen Hawes, who developed Opulo's LumenPnP.

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Low-Volume Board Production: With and without Assembly

You've successfully designed and tested an electronic circuit board, and you're eager to produce it in small quantities. Yet, if you lack the financial capacity to order 10,000 pre-assembled boards and store them for future use, what alternatives are available to you? Saad Imtiaz (Senior Engineer, Elektor) offers some valuable suggestions. In addition to comparing a few notable PCB services, he covers component sourcing, touches on PCBA pooling, and offers tips for better PCB design.

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PCB Tips and Tricks

PCB and PCB design technology is always improving. But it still helps to learn about tips, tricks, and solutions from the past. In this article, long-time Elektor Burkhad Kainka shares some insights about producing your own PCBs. He covers helpful topics such as building a proto-PCB, wiring diagrams, PCB layout, ground planes, connectors, checking board layout, and more. As you’ll see, many of his strategies are particularly useful when designing simple circuit boards for experimental projects.

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Design and Simulation

Microcontroller Documentation Explained

Documentation, a necessary aspect of electronics engineering, is unavoidable. Microcontrollers, owing to their complexity compared to simpler semiconductor devices, come with extensive documentation. Through this series of articles, Elektor explores the world of microcontroller documentation, examining what the datasheet includes, what it omits, and how to uncover the information that seems to be missing.

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Circuit Simulation With Micro-Cap

A circuit simulator should be part of your toolbox, just like an oscilloscope and a multimeter. It can save you time when testing new ideas or defining components. Also, it can expedite the prototyping process. In this article, we look at Micro-Cap, a freeware simulator. The following topics are covered and more: drawing a circuit, simulation vs. reality, changing component values, stepping a parameter, transient analysis, and simulation resolution.

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KiCad 7: A Look at the Key Features

KiCad stands out as a widely used open-source software suite for electronic design automation (EDA), specializing in the development of printed circuit board (PCB) layouts. It offers capabilities for schematic capture, PCB layout design, and 3D visualization of the boards. Supporting numerous standard file formats, KiCad ensures compatibility with a variety of other EDA tools. Accessible on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems, KiCad is an excellent tool for crafting PCBs. Let’s look at KiCad 7.

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Simulate Circuits Online: Circuit Simulation Made Simple

Frequently, you might find yourself lacking the necessary components to bring a circuit concept to life. Alternatively, the circuit you're considering may involve high voltages and currents, posing a safety risk. In these situations, turning to a simulator to safely test your ideas is a prudent choice. Simulators, now widely accessible, include the Tinkercad Circuits platform, which can be used directly in your web browser. Beyond simulating circuits, Tinkercad also allows for the execution of Arduino code, demonstrating its versatility. This makes circuit simulation straightforward and accessible!

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Components and Soldering

Soldering – So What?

Soldering electronic components involves intricate thermal and chemical processes occurring within a tiny area. Yet, adhering to a few fundamental guidelines can prevent any difficulties. This article offers an overview of modern soldering technology. The offer covers everything from lead-free solder, soldering tips, and soldering iron temperature. 

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The Birth of the Microprocessor: The Intel 4004

The 4004 was the first commercially produced microprocessor, operating at a clock speed of up to 740 kHz, with single-word instructions requiring 10.8 µs and two-word instructions needing approximately 21.6 µs. Let's take a closer look at the work and dedication of Federico Faggin and the interesting history of the microprocessor.

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Tips & Tricks for Testing Components

It is important confirm a component's functionality before integrating it into a circuit. Several methods exist for testing components removed from boards or sourced from your spare parts box without the need for sophisticated or costly testing tools. This article covers the following and more: resistors, capacitors, inductors, transformers, diodes, transistors, MOSFETs, VDRs, Thyristors/SCRs/Triacs, polyfuses, DIP switches, ICs, quartz crystals, relays, and other tools.

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Component Identification

Mastering the skill of identifying components on a circuit board is crucial for pro engineers and makers alike. Enhancing your ability to recognize these parts not only aids in troubleshooting but also enables you to accumulate a collection of spare components for your future projects. Nonetheless, figuring out the specifics of each component can be challenging. Here are some useful tips.

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Pixel Pump - Pick-and-Place Machine for Manual SMT Assembly

Pixel Pump is an open source vacuum pump for manual SMT assembly. It comes with a comfortable pen, a foot pedal, RGB LED buttons, and a variety of features that make hand assembly a lot more fun.




Anycubic Photon Mono X - UV Resin SLA 3D Printer

The printer boasts a safe design, ensuring immediate shutdown if the top cover is removed, although this feature is deactivated by default. Additionally, the Anycubic Slicer Software includes new features such as support for up to 8x anti-aliasing, fast slicing, and text paste.




Digital Desoldering Station ZD-915

The ZD-915 is a digital desoldering station with ESD protection and digital display of both the actual and set value on an LCD screen. This desoldering station has high power in a compact and robust housing and makes desoldering easy, because it can be operated with one hand.




Sensepeek 4015 PCBite Kit incl. 2x SP100 (100 MHz handsfree Oscilloscope Probe)

This complete kit includes everything you need for hands-free measurements with your oscilloscope. Makes instant measurements or long triggering sessions a breeze.



December 2024 Webinar


Elektor Webinars

Interested in Prototyping & Production? So are we! Join Elektor’s engineers and editors for a webinar in December 2024. We are currently planning the topic and curriculum. Once we have more details, we will post all the information on the Elektor Webinars page. Stay tuned!