This project's funding goal was not reached on July 21, 2013.
About this project
The campaign is ending, but you can buy now at:
Just build a board to get an instant price, no waiting until December!
Automatic Circuit Design
HackEDA gives you the ability to automatically design complete, manufacturable circuits. No kidding. Just what you need, and just for you. And we want to build your next circuit board.
What is it?
At its core, it's a collection of reusable-sized pieces of electronic designs, along with the knowledge necessary to reuse them in new designs. The library is available to browse online, you can download the individual bits, as well as create custom circuits by simply selecting the features your project needs.
Think of it as a mashup tool for electronics. Now the next time inspiration strikes, there's that much less between you and the hardware you need to make it a reality.
What is it not?
It's not a tool for completely original design.
However, it can recreate things that others have done before and arrange them in original ways. Most electronics projects pull from some fairly standard base circuits (how many boards have you seen without a power source?). So even if your project requires something that hasn't been done before, we aim to build a library that lets you get the tedious bits out of the way first.
Everyone agrees reinventing the wheel is bad, and this is about avoiding that. It's also about giving wheels to people who might have trouble making their own (or, to strech the metaphore a bit further, to those who don't have the funds to pay others to reinvent the wheel for them).
There are many circuit designs already on the internet, but they can be difficult to use for a host of reasons. It can be hard to find what you need. They come in varying file formats, some more reusable than others (.pdf, anyone...? ...no? ...bmp?). Many are incomplete, leaving out part numbers, using components that aren't available any more, or don't include good documentation. There may not be a way to give feedback or directly edit the design for the benefit of others. And even if all that weren't the case, hooking a bunch of circuits together is still an error prone process that can take a while to get right.
So here we are. That's what we want to fix.
How does it work?
It all starts with a library of designs. Cool stuff like wireless radios, sensors, and motor drivers. Then our smart software knows how to make it all work together. Next, integrate with manufacturing to seamlessly transfer the designs to reality.
Designs are made from 3 ingredients, a Processor, a Power Supply, and up to 6 Peripherals. Creating a design is as easy as going to HackEDA, dragging a few circuits onto a target board, and letting us take care of the rest:
(UPDATE: we're adding the ability to make custom shields. This means instead of choosing a processor/power supply combination, you can add peripherals to an Arduino Uno form factor shield. Other shields to follow, use the comments to let us know what you want. Shield substitution is available for any of the current pledge levels.)
The Processor: It's the brain of the system, and it ties everything together. For the Kickstarter project we will be using the Arduino compatible Atmega328. Other processors will easily work with the system, but because we want to test every board 100% we are keeping it simple to start out.
The Power Supply: Provides electrical power to the system. It could come from a battery, a USB cable, a barrel jack...
Peripherals: Everything else. Sensors, wireless modules, motor drivers. You can choose up to 6. When you make your selections you'll get immediate feedback on whether the design is possible.
Why is this such a big deal?
Things can be so much greater than the sum of their parts.
One reason software is so powerful is code reuse. Software can be packaged nicely into libraries, which makes it easy to reuse work others have done. Arduino is a great example of this. But reuse has always been harder for electronics design because there is no way to specify how your widget needs to be connected to something else. Short of doing it all yourself, there isn't a way to get the different bits you need together and talking to each other. But now it's possible with HackEDA, and it opens a whole new range of possibilities.
Hackeda stores knowledge about the software and circuit design requirements in the design itself, instead of in the designer's head, so now you don't have to worry about getting someone else's sketch to work for your design, swapping power and ground pins, figuring out how sensor A is supposed to connect to microprocessor B, tracking down chips with compatible voltage levels, or finding replacements for parts that have gone obsolete.
If you're working on a project, chances are you want as little standing between you and a working result as possible. Even if you know how, designing a voltage regulator similar to one others have done hundreds of times before is a waste of time. It would be much better if you could concentrate on the parts of your project that make it yours. The stuff no one has done before. The parts that need your creative input.
It can also be really convenient. Designing a pcb by hand is a tedious process.
So you're a fan of Arduino? So are we. All the boards made through Kickstarter are Arduino compatible.
Our library is your library
All of the designs in the library are freely available for download. And if something is missing, you can upload it! The HackEDA library is possible because of great open source designs, and we'd especially like to thank SparkFun for doing such a good job of posting their stuff.
Where we're at
We've built a web tool that can be used to instantly design complete circuits and we've built and tested a number of boards (check out the example projects).
There are 35 designs in the available for the Kickstarter project, including the Atmega328, 5 power supplies, and 29 peripherals. We'll be adding 10 more designs, and for every $10000 over our $15k goal we'll add another design.Power Supplies:
- 24.5mm Coin Cell
- 3.3V Regulated Supply - Barrel Jack
- JST connector
- 3.3V Regulated Supply - JST
- Regulated Li-Po with Charger
- Analog MUX
- FTDI - USB to UART
- DS3234 Real Time Clock - SPI
- XBee socket (allows use of existing Bluetooth, Wifi, and other radio modules with UART output)
- Dual 1A motor driver - PWM
- Compass HMC6352 - I2C
- Light Sensor TEMT6000 - Analog
- Temperature Sensor - I2C
- 3 Axis Gyro - SPI
- Barometric Pressure MPL115A1 - SPI
- SX1509 IO Expander
- 74HC595 Shift Register
- Window Comparator
- N Channel MOSFET
- SMLW56 Quad RGB
- HIH6130 Humidity Sensor
- ADXL362 3 Axis Accel
- SN74HC65 Input Shift Register
- TLC5940 16 bit PWM Expander
- VCNL4000 Infrared Proximity Sensor
- MCP23017 IO-Expander
- Prototyping Area
- OPA344 Op Amp
- ADMP401 MEMS Microphone
- 16x2 LCD
- A3967 Stepper Driver
- ILD213T Output Optoisolator
Some designs we're considering adding (backers get to help choose!):
- more powerful motor drivers
- encoder input
- keypad input
- motion sensor
- Bluetooth 4.0
- ISM band wireless
- graphic display
- solar power
- thermocouple input
- infrared emitter/detectors
- motion sensor
- servo controller
- bump sensor
- 7 segment displays
- joystick input
- voltage and current measurement
- RS-232/RS-485/CAN bus
- all sorts of I2C and SPI sensors
To be clear, the process will be: go to www.hackeda.com, select the stuff you want on your board, hit submit, then some number of days later a fully custom board shows up in the mail. It's all automatic.
The board layout is done automatically, so you can't specify the size, shape or mounting holes, or place components yourself.
You can't optimize routing to save space (boards can be somewhat large compared to a hand-routed board, but still roughly equivalent to a system built from breakout boards).
Everything is 2 layer right now, and it works best for low speed digital and analog circuits that can tolerate some noise (and don't emit much).
Peripheral selections are limited to the system voltage. There is no auto-level shift available, so if you want a bunch of 3.3V sensors you'll need to pick a 3.3V system voltage.
Certain things we want to do aren't implemented yet, like setting the system voltage (everything is 3.3V right now, but we'll add a selector for 5V) and currently if a circuit needs things like hardware interrupts or a comparator it won't work with the system (eventually it will, but this may not happen until after the project).
Notes on Rewards and Schedule
Many of our rewards involve choosing designs from the library to make a custom circuit, and we'll be adding more designs after the project ends. Currently there are 5 peripheral designs that have passed initial testing, and 24 more ready to be tested. After a successful campaign we will add at least 10 more, and the plan is to test, on average, 3 designs every 2 weeks and add them to the system. Designs will be marked to indicate if they are unverified, passed initial testing, or have been used successfully in multiple projects.
Adding up the circuits and testing times puts everything in the library (not counting any additional circuits added if we go over the goal) around the end of November, which is why we have December delivery listed on most of the reward levels.
We'll be making circuits in batches, starting in August. Earlier backers will have priority to get their project into the current batch. August batches should be considered highly experimental, and you should expect issues at first. We will keep you updated on the status of all the designs, any problems they are having, and leave it up to you to decide when you'd like to jump in using the currently available selections or wait for new designs to come online. Other good reasons to wait might be to take advantage of improvements in the build software, and let us work any bugs out of the designs that weren't caught in initial testing.
Additionally, there may be occasional delays on particular circuits as parts are temporarily unavailable. Depending on how many backers we have, we'll probably stock the more common components, but many things will be ordered only as needed.
- 2 layers, 0.062"/1.6mm thick, 1oz copper plating
- HASL finish
- Green soldermask, white silkscreen
We Need Your Help
Help us turn this idea into a ton of custom circuit boards, and great projects!
We think this is an incredibly powerful idea, and we love the thought of enabling so many people to create awesome new projects. We REALLY want to turn this into something great, and with your help we can!
Your backing will be used to:
- Continue building and testing all the designs in the library.
- Add and test new designs chosen by you.
- Document all the designs within an inch of their life, including pinouts and code examples for each design.
- Add feedback features to the site so you can see how popular each design is, if there are any common problems, and cool projects it got used in.
- Develop automated test equipment and procedures to get you the best, most reliable boards possible.
- Make the build tool at www.hackeda.com more capable.
- Fund production of your boards.
Test boards for us, write example software, and keep the board. If you have an oscilloscope, the chops to debug circuitry, and want to write example code, it would be a great way to get a free board while giving a little bit to everyone in the community.
We don't have anything set in stone yet, but some things we might add are:
- Working code examples for each custom design: Pin-correct, load and run example code for the exact board you designed. How awesome would it be to have your own custom design and working software examples (this is a big one).
- Build-your-own-CNC mode: design a CNC controller with the number of axes you need, the right current rating for your motors, your preferred connector type, inputs and outputs for your limit switch type/arrangement and other accessories you might want, like heated beds, spindle drives, coolant, etc.
- Autopilot/RC controller mode: gyros, radio, GPS, video... pick your poison
- Shield mode: make a board in one of the Arduino shield form factors. (UPDATE: added Uno shields, more to follow)
- Easily upload your own designs to the library: Currently you can upload designs, but it's a bit of a convoluted process, and there's not a good way to verify manufacturability, or that the design even works. We could add a formal process for getting user-submitted designs vetted and into board production. This means if you need something that isn't in the system, not only can you add it and get a board made from it, but your work will benefit everyone else who needs to use that circuit in a design.
- SAM3X8E support: Add the new 32 bit processor from the Arduino Due to the available processors
- Your favorite dev board: Instead of a built-in processor, add a socket so you can plug in your favorite dev board. Maybe an mbed, an Arduino Pro Mini, a Teensy, or a Spark Core.
This project wouldn't have been started without SparkFun, Cadsoft Eagle's open XML format, or professor Ed Carryer at Stanford University.
Additionally, I'd also like to thank Bay Area Circuits, Nathan at SparkFun, Nick over at HardwareBreakout.com, Eric at SeeedStudio, and the mbed guys at ARM for their help getting this thing going, bouncing ideas off of, and great advice.
Risks and challenges
Shipping on time is an issue for just about every hardware project on Kickstarter. We don't claim any special immunity to this, but we have successfully built and tested multiple circuits using the site (see the examples). I (Ben) have also produced products previously (anyone riding around on a set of Revolights?), and I'm aware of a lot of the pitfalls that are involved in manufacturing. This is a pretty ambitious project, and while we don't have any injection molds or complicated product design to slow us down, there are quite a few designs to manage, getting a testing system in place for this will not be trivial, and the software side of things will move at its own pace, which will probably be slower than any of us want. :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
- (31 days)