Creating a promo board with Arduino
We love electronics. The fascination for electronics spilled over the whole CELUS team by now and we want to share this passion with everyone. Thereby, we decided to create a fun promo board that we can hand out on events – of course, developed with our software. And here is how it went.
Using Arduino as a basis
We decided to make use of the Arduino open-source electronics platform. This is a very convenient method as our device should be an educational board that is easy and fun. The Arduino platform is fantastic, especially for hobbyist developers. One can develop almost any idea they have in mind. However, depending on the purpose, components, modules or external devices have to be added to bring an idea into reality.
This is where our Engineering Platform comes into action. With CELUS, we can not only reuse all the existing Arduino modules but we can also add further modules to be able to shape our ideas on a single PCB – like for our promo board. It is based on the design of the Arduino Nano board, but we wanted to give it a fun touch so that our board is functional as soon as we connect it to a USB power supply.
The promo board is in the style of the popular game “Simon Says”, in which one has to imitate the exact same movement the game master “Simon” did. To enable this functionality, it is equipped with the typical elements of an Arduino Nano board and additionally 4 push buttons and 4 LEDs of different colors. This could all be achieved within a few minutes during the design phase by using the CELUS Engineering Platform.
First step – creating and adding the Cubos
The first step to being able to use CELUS is to divide the Arduino Nano schematic design into small functional pieces. This is necessary as the Platform works with Cubos in its database. Cubos are small functional packages that contain every information to enable electronics engineers as well as the automation algorithms to work with them.
Once the functional pieces are extracted and redefined, the Cubos can be created in the software. An AI-based wizard facilitates this process so that it takes only 5 to 30 minutes to create one Cubo. This step is only necessary until the database provides enough possibilities to work with – depending on your personal progress in filling up your database. However, the time is very well invested: If you have all information in place with Cubos, no engineer will ever have to investigate documentation or previously developed modules again. It is all in the database at their fingertips. Learn more about Orbit.
Second step – Creating a block diagram including Arduino
Next, the actual design can be developed in CELUS Supernova. First of all, a new project has to be created. The design canvas shows a checkered field and some design blocks on the left-hand side. These can be added easily via drag and drop to create a clear block diagram step by step.
As a start on the design canvas, a microcontroller with the specification of an AVR processor and an FTDI interface are added. Also, for the power supply a Micro USB port in order to get the 5V from an external supply. To enable the board to give out light signals, there are in total 6 LEDs in different colors added. Then, the two Arduino Headers come in place to give the board the possibility to be used in other projects. Finally, push buttons and a trimpot were dragged and dropped into the design to enable analogue input.
Third step – adding connections
After these final steps, the connecting starts by just clicking on a connection point and pulling the line to the block to be connected. There are several GPIO connections between the left Arduino Header and the microcontroller as well as connections to the power supply, LEDs and buttons.
The right Arduino Header is also connected to the microcontroller and then we get access to 6 ADC, 1 GPIO and the AREF connection. Finally, the USB signals have to be connected to the FTDI interface.
Fourth step – create files
After revising all blocks, connections and specifications again, one can continue with the BOM Canvas. Here, the electronics engineer can check all proposed components including the manufacturer name and part number. Finally, the Floorplanning, BOM and schematics can be downloaded in a CAD format of your choice.
Automating the time-consuming step of choosing Cubos is a great relief for the electronics industry for many reasons. Firstly, it boosts productivity by saving lots of time. Secondly, the engineers can focus on true values like top-notch quality and innovation instead of wasting their time with dull tasks. Thirdly, the standardized database that is required will facilitate collaboration and design reuse as it offers a well-structured and up-to-date database in the cloud.
All in all, the design process itself was done within a few minutes with CELUS Supernova using an Arduino module. By simply dragging and dropping the Design Blocks into the Design Canvas, CELUS Supernova searches the database for the fitting components. It not only finds all necessary elements but also connects them together to provide the files ready to be imported into a CAD-tool. We are looking forward to seeing this piece of work physically and handing it out at the next live event!