Thanks for all the comments on my first post. Your feedback has been a big help in figuring out what features should be included in a new controller. Keep the ideas coming!
There's much more to talk about on the controller design topic but for this post, I'm going to give you a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes of controller design work.
Back when the first S-COM controllers were designed, laying out circuit boards was done using manual techniques. In the 80's, schematics were drawn on paper using stencils and mechanical pencils.
Circuit boards were laid out on clear mylar sheet film with special tape of various widths. You can imagine that that can take a while.
As computers became more powerful and capable, graphics tools were developed to generate the information that the circuit board fabricators required to manufacture quality boards. But the tools became very expensive for small companies and individuals to own.
During this time, open source software became popular. KiCad, an open source tool suite for circuit board design, first released in 1992, has just released its sixth major version. I've developed some small test boards and 7330 accessories using KiCad. Now I'm ready to tackle the larger, more complex boards we need for a shipping controller.
I was recently asked to come up with a short presentation for a local club's annual "Nerdfest". The annual "Nerdfest" is a collection of short presentations on what members have been working on. See the full list of this year's topics at the following link, including the streamed video of the event:
For my presentation, I created a slideset titled KiCad Quickstart. This slideset introduces the tools of KiCad and walks thru the steps to implement a simple example project. With these slides, you should be able to complete the project and have manufactured your first circuit board. You too can order 5 boards and have them on your doorstep in a week for less than $5 a board.
My slideset is available here:
And here's a version with Speaker Notes that can help with implementing the example project:
And here's the video:
Let me know if you have questions.
Stay tuned for more as I make progress here at JHK Labs...