Gertboard


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by hastklass » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:52 am
A fantastic resource for control technology. When teaching programming a powerful motivator is for the children to be able to control external devices. The Gertboard will be an invaluable extra - what will it cost?
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by Gert van Loo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:29 pm
I did an estimate over the weekend for the components. I found, as with all things electronic, that it differs a lot if you buy for one board or if you buy for 100. My estimate for 1-up is about £40 ($60) which drops to half that for 100-up. Then a lot of people want it ready-made so you have to add assembly.
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by dpawson » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:39 pm
Gert, could you give some sort of guess as to what level of skill is required to build it from a kit of parts please? Any guess, worded any way you want? How about on a scale of schoolchild to pro wireman?

I'm wondering how we might resource buying at 100+ prices and selling on? Any entrepreneurs listening? Low risk, as a kit of parts, $30'ish plus postage, high risk assembly (support/warranty etc).

Sort of 'venture' a sixth form college could get into, given capital.

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by Gert van Loo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:06 pm
Only the maxim chip is a 'challenge'. Then I assume whoever builds them should have some solder experience. The rest is plain sailing. All components are relative 'big'. The board has solder mask so you have to screw up really, really bad to short anything out. The response thus far is good enough that I will have a talk with Eben about making a batch of 500. Eben is too busy so I might take that on personally with some help from him.
p.s. I did rev-2 this weekend, now I am only waiting for the real Pi-Boards to test the prototypes,
which will not be until next year.
Also did a mains-power board but I have second thoughts about that. You can read about it under 'Controlling a mains power socket switch? (home automation)'
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by dpawson » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:19 pm
Great. Glad to see it has such support Gert?

For me, seeing lights flashing from 'my' program, it's the realisation that I did that
and such a boost to programming confidence.

If you need community support for any aspect, please ask, I'm sure you'd get it?

Seasons greetings.

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by KeithSloan » Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:25 pm
Gert If you have any time free after GertBoard is there any chance that you could also do a board to support Matrix Multimedia E-Blocks. Basically they connect hardware via a 9 pin D-shell i.e. 8 pins for the controlling port, 0v and power if needed to via a separate wire see http://www.matrixmultimedia.co.....oards.php?. It would be great to reuse E-Blocks with Raspberry Pi. I have also commented about Raspberry Pi in their forum. They are also UK company that are involved with Education of electronics.

Thanks Keith

P.S. I am sure it would be a small step to go from Gertboard to one supporting E-Blocks. Do you plan to make GertBoard open source? i.e. Publish schematic and board via something like Eagle.
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by Gert van Loo » Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:24 pm
I am not yet sure what comes after the Gertboard. There are the two usual factors: Time and Money.

I am not sure how much time I will have. I started the Gertboard as a small project but the response is so much bigger then anticipated that I feel oblidged to put a lot more work in they I originally planned. I though I had finished rev-2 but in the last few days come to the conclusion that it is not good enough. I really must add a RJ11 socket to connect the PIC to the standard PIC debuggers. There is no space so I plan to elongate the board another 10 mm. I also still am working on the assembly manual and have not started writing some drivers to test the various interfaces (GPIO is trivial but I also need test drivers for SPI and PWM)

Then there is the cost. Most boards require two spins which is ~£400. I pay the development myself.

Other candidates for the post-Gertboard are:

- Arduino interface board

- Tiny board with Real-Time-clock & Audio codec.

And yes the Gertboard will be fully open source schematic + board (Gerbers).
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by KeithSloan » Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:22 pm
Please let me know when and where you publish the schematic and board for Gerboard?

As I might have a go myself to modify it for Matrix Multimedia E-Blocks.

Out of interest what PCB design software are you using? Eagle? DipTrace? Other?
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by jwatte » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:04 pm

Gert said:




have a talk with Eben about making a batch of 500. Eben is




You can have 200 made for $120 (plus shipping from China):

http://iteadstudio.com/store/i.....cts_id=509

(This is 50x50mm — if it's bigger, price goes up)

After reading some more, I notice that there seems to be a somewhat geographically discriminating tone on the manufacturing side, so take this for what it's meant as: A suggestion for how to meet the goal of hooking up stuff as cheaply as possible. If you have other goals, like attempting to fight geo-politics, I can't help you there :-)
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by Piw32 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:22 am
Nice find, jwatte !

from their website :


Software can reuse and eliminates the trouble of re-development, why hardware not?
We will provide many open source hardware PCBs for anyone who maybe need them.
If you want to open source your project, you will have the opportunity to get free prototyping PCBs.

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by jwatte » Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:16 am
That's right -- if you buy their 8pc or 10pc proto boards (10pc 50mm x 50mm 2-layer for $10 plus shipping) you can pay an additional $0.10, open source your files, and get an additional two boards (so, 12 boards total.)

But if you have something against China for some reason, or don't want to wait for the mail, then those are possible draw-backs to that place... Also, I haven't used them yet; I just got the reference from someone else who had.
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by meltwater » Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:56 pm
Gert,

Thanks for the update on the board, excellent to hear that it is progressing.

To help with your time limits, perhaps consider seeing if others on here are able to donate time.  Manuals and drivers could be done by others if required, to let you focus on the design.

With regards to money, would there be a problem with setting up a paypal account to receive donations to cover your beta board costs/or supplement them at least?  You could always freeze it when you've reached the required amount (to avoid it building up to silly money) until there is something substantial being produced.

Also, since they are two sided boards, there are huge number of places which should be able to produce the PCBs for testing, I expect if you contacted a university they would be happy to produce them, perhaps even get a few interested students involved to document/build/test for you.

Obviously once you have beta boards you are happy with, I've heard ebay is quite good at raising money for larger runs (apparently)...all you need is Gert John Hancock on it.
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by TonyD » Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:34 pm
Piw32 said:


Nice find, jwatte !

from their website :


Software can reuse and eliminates the trouble of re-development, why hardware not?
We will provide many open source hardware PCBs for anyone who maybe need them.
If you want to open source your project, you will have the opportunity to get free prototyping PCBs.




http://www.seeedstudio.com offer a similar service. In fact both iteadstudio and Seeedstudio use the same PCB fab company.
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by reiuyi » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:02 am
Reading this thread makes me feel like the Gertboard is far from being released, unlike what the frontpage suggested a couple of weeks ago. I'd hate to see the Gertboard never getting finished, or ending up being stupidly expensive (for example, $100+ would be out of reach for most of the raspi target group). Though, it's also good to see Gert is quite devoted at getting the most out of his board!
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by Tomo2k » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:55 pm
The post on the front page was the "first prototype", and Gert did say at the time that there were several errata that would need fixing before a production run could be considered.

The "cheap turnaround" from the place I order prototype PCBs from takes anywhere between 3 and 6 weeks to arrive – though I can pay more to get them faster.

So I doubt it will be this month.

To some extent it doesn't actually matter if Gertboard is ever finished, as I expect there will be several 3rd party expansion boards made quite quickly once the RPi goes on sale.

- If only because people who make one for their own use are quite likely to publish the details, so anybody can go make one if they want.
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by Gert van Loo » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:17 am
Gertboard update.

For those of you who follow this thread: I have just finished a major change to the Gertboard rev-2. A lot of feedback was that people wanted to play with sensors and I have not seen anybody who was waiting for lots of I/O. So I decided to remove the Maxim chip and replace it with two chips: An AD converter (2 channels 10 bits 72ksps) and a DA converter (also 2 channel 8,10 or 12 bits). The converters are 8-pin DIP so this also removed the tiny SMD footprints. That should alleviate your solder worries. I have made several other changes, some of which I already mentioned: I added two push buttons. I also added a RJ12 which should connect straight to the PIC debuggers. (I had to stretch the board a bit to fit that). The surface-mount solder jumpers at the bottom have been replaced with normal jumpers at the top. The text shows more clearly what are signal pins and what are ground pins. I also moved all signal pins to the outer row of the connectors. All 2-pin connectors are now aligned on a 0.1" grid so you can solder whole rows in, instead of 2 and 2 and 2 and...

On Tuesday I found a major connection bug where I connected the wrong PIC pins to the debugger port. (I blame old age and bad eyesight).

There were many who wanted a ready-made board. The board was not suited for that. So I have made some special footprints which are dual function: SMD and through hole. This means that the LED's and transistors can be assembled with through hole (manually) or SMD types (automated assembly). I don't know yet if boards will be made, but at least it is more suited for automated assembly.

The plan is to test rev-1 in the next week and if nothing major shows up, get the rev-2 prototypes out by mid January. With a bit of luck the rev-2 boards are working by the end of this month.

-- Gert
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by mightygoose » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:36 am
that is great news gert, hell while much of me would love a pre assembled board, part of me wants to get down and dirty and assemble the thing myself so however it comes, i'll bite. keep up the great work.
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by Gert van Loo » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:03 am
A lot of users forget that the raspberry-Pi boards come default without connector.

So you can not use the Gertboard without picking up a soldering iron even if it is ready made.
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by Jongoleur » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:08 am
Gert said:


A lot of users forget that the raspberry-Pi boards come default without connector.

So you can not use the Gertboard without picking up a soldering iron even if it is ready made.


But header pins are nice and big - fairly easy to solder.....  :-)

Good practice for building the GertBoard too!

(and he scores a solid 4+6!)
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by meltwater » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:15 am
Wow, sounds like some excellent progress and love the idea that it may be surface mount or through hole (will help out both camps hugely).  Depending on price I could swing either way, although nothing more satisfying than getting the old iron out...

I take it that the DA and ADC chips are [able to be] linked directly to the R-Pi GPIO, so you could by pass the whole PIC section if that was all you needed to start with?

Great to hear it is progressing, the gertboard will be the essential R-Pi developers piece of kit.
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by Gert van Loo » Fri Jan 06, 2012 9:26 am

I take it that the DA and ADC chips are [able to be] linked directly to the R-Pi GPIO, so you could by pass the whole PIC section if that was all you needed to start with?


Yes the AD & DA have an SPI interface. Which gives a slight challenge if you want all three SPI devices as default there are two ISP chip selects. So you need to use a standard GPIO as third chip select if you want PIC + DA + AD. Before people start asking: they are just two simple AD and DA again for educational purposes. Not suited for an quality audio. I was in a hurry to get the board out so I just went to the Microchip website and selected two which were in a DIP8 package and could run of 3V3: MCP3002 and MCP4802.

Edited: A picture says more then a thousand words.

PCB-rev2
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by Gert van Loo » Sun Jan 08, 2012 6:19 pm
Youtube shows working Gertboard.

feature=youtu.be
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by liz » Sun Jan 08, 2012 6:26 pm
I've also put this video up on the front page - thanks *very* much, Gert. Looking good!

I am of a mind to buy a new garage door (the one I have at the moment is hung from the side, like a regular door) so I can automate it.
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by Jongoleur » Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:08 pm
liz said:


I am of a mind to buy a new garage door (the one I have at the moment is hung from the side, like a regular door) so I can automate it.



Then you could text your garage door to be open by time you get home!

:-)

Modern technology, eh?
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by SeanD » Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:12 pm
Gert, you know how when you get to the end of a Youtube it show you recommendations?  How come this one for a Zomie Killing Slingshot is connected to the Gertboard?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....240YgsA_rs
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