Step 3: Technical Design

After it works, it needs to be translated into something that can be produced.  We used the Eagle CAD program to build our circuit and lay out our board.  It’s free for personal and educational use, so long as you don’t sell your work product.  There’s a bit of a learning curve, but there are also great tutorials out there. Once you’ve got an idea of the circuit, you create that circuit in the schematic view in Eagle.  Moving to the board view, it takes the schematic and drops those components into a space where you can move everything around to get the placement you want, and then draw the traces, or electrical connections, between all of the components.  Eagle contains a number of great troubleshooting tools that will tell you if your design violates rules that the board fabrication facility might have, and it will let you know if your finished product might not work as expected because things you don’t anticipate touching might accidentally touch.

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