Adding Images to EAGLE PCB Layouts

Over at Instructables, I created a tutorial on how to add custom graphics to EAGLE PCB layouts. EAGLE is a very popular layout tool for electronic circuit boards known as PCBs. The tool is powerful but some things are not obvious. We were working on a PCB layout and wanted to add our logo to the design. After spending the afternoon searching around, I finally decided to brute-force the process. I figured it out and now I can replicate the process of adding images to EAGLE. I thought that  I would share what I’ve learned so it will be easier for you.

For this instructable you will need an installed copy of EAGLE and a PCB Layout that you want to add some graphics to. I am using SparkFun’s FT232RL USB-to-Serial Breakout PCB (EAGLE Files) for example purposes.

Adding Custom Graphics to EAGLE PCB LayoutsMore DIY How To Projects

Mini Vox Robot Hacking

Yes, I went to Radio Shack today. And, yes, I will still call it Radio Shack. And, yes, sometimes you need a quick electronics fix. I get most of my stuff online these days.

Radio Shack had the Erector Spykee Mini Vox robot on sale for $10. The Mini Vox takes voice commands and makes the robot move, talk, dance, and even fire a “laser.” The box says, “Ages 7+” – I fit that category. The box also says, “Some assembly required.” It should have said, “Some de-assembly required.”

Mini Vox Voice Controlled Robot

While playing with the demo model at the store, I realized that I could reuse the voice commands to set inputs on a microcontroller.

The voice commands go something like this:

“Mini Vox”

Robot beeps

“Forward”

Robot moves forward

Here are all of the commands and their response:

  1. “Forward”DC motors get positive voltage
  2. “Backup”DC motors get negative voltage
  3. “Turn Left”One DC motor gets positive voltage and the other negative
  4. “Turn Right”One DC motor gets positive voltage and the other negative
  5. “Laser War”LEDs flash and RGB LED flashes different colors
  6. “Yo Man”Says “Yo Man” back at you and RGB LED flashes different colors
  7. “Electro Dance” – Makes sounds, LEDs flash, RGB LED flashes different colors, and DC motors pulse on and off
  8. “Destroy Target”Says, “This is my favorite,” makes sounds, flashes LEDs, and RGB LED flashes colors

When I got Mini Vox home, I ripped it apart. I was quite surprised how responsive the voice commands are and how many parts are inside this little robot. Most of the parts are reusable.

Here’s what you get for your $10 investment:

  • Orange LED (x2)
  • RGB LED
  • DC Motor (x2)
  • Motor Driver Circuit Boards (x2)
  • 8 ohm Speaker
  • Microphone
  • Slider Switch
  • Momentary Push Button
  • Lots of screws

Mini Vox Guts

The forward and the back up voice commands are the easiest to tap into. You can disconnect the DC motors and connect them to a digital input of a microcontroller and now you can use voice commands to set the state of 2 digital inputs and act on them.

If I come up with something clever, I will let you know. But, the first piece of my Iron Man suit has fallen into place.

New Battery or New Cell Phone?

I have a phone that’s three years old. Yes, I admit it, the phone is not smart, no “i”, or no Andriod as of yet. My mobile is a clam shell with no QWERTY keypad, so texting “I love you, too” is “444#55566688833#99966688#8666666” while near-hitting a bridge abutment. The phone still works, makes calls, and fits into my pocket with my Moleskin.

Over the last few weeks, the battery holds a charge for 10-15 minutes. I found myself pouring over new phones, visiting the local shops, and reading about the G1 and the new Blackberry touch. I was wiling to switch carriers, since my phone was as good as dead. I had it in my mind that I was going to get a new phone. I was looking for a reason and the battery dying was the proverbial straw.

After forgetting about the battery condition for a day or two, I came back to my senses and searched eBay for a new battery. I found a vendor from NYC that had non-OEM batteries for my make and model. I am sure they were stolen, refurbed, or a fire hazard, but the battery was $6 with free shipping. I got the battery last week in a plain white envelope (now the free shipping makes sense). I popped the “hot” battery in and it held a charge for 3 full days. Three days is more than 15 minutes, so my concerns with possibly feeding the black market all of a sudden went away. I left a positive feedback and my desires for a new phone also vanished.

I am not sure what the moral of the story is, but I am sure there is a life lesson here. Maybe there are many solutions to problems in life, maybe I should save my money instead of buying new stuff, etc. Regardless, a new cell phone is pretty sweet.

New Computer

I finally ordered a new computer. In the PC clone line of computers, my first computer was a 286 with MS-DOS. It was not a productivity machine, but I did play a stock market game and Duke Nukem quite a bit. I have upgraded a few times since then and my desktop now is a P4/1GB/Vista/Ubuntu modded several times starting in 2002. It served me well as I made a living off the system by writing software and technical books. And yes, Doom was played heavily to mom’s chagrin. Vista was not a good upgrade for this aging system. Even in its most optimized state, the lag in video playback, game response, and DHTML processing made it a pain to use for day to day entertainment purposes. AGP video cards and Vista don’t mix, so it’s time to look at SATA, more RAM, and PCI Express/SLI video.

On a tip from Darth Kevin, Shadowlord’s nemesis in the real-world, I purchased a custom SLI machine from CyberPower. I was able to build a system that will fit my needs (gaming, AJAX development, updating online dating profiles, using Google, watching the Matrix, etc.) and fall into my budget of $2000.

The first system I configured was absurd – 2TB of storage, 4GB of RAM, dual SLI video cards, Quad processor, and floppy drive. I have trimmed off some excess and now looking at a solid configuration. When I settle into the machine, I will let you know how it stacks up.

Case and Power Supply

Apevia X-Juniper Jr. (S Type Metallic Gray)
Apevia ATX-LCD650W Quartz

Motherboard and Processor

Asus P5N-E nForce 650i SLI
Intel Quad Core 2.4GHz/64bit/8MB

Internal Drive

500GB SATA-II

Sound and Video

3D Wave On-board Sound Card
GeForce 8800GTS (XFX Extreme Edition) 320MB/16X PCI Express Video Card

External Drives

LITE-ON LH-20A1H – 20X, Double Layer, DVD burner and player
12in1 Flash Media R/W
Floppy Drive

OS

Vista Ultimate

Connectivity

10/100/1000 On-board LAN Card

Peripheral

Logitech G15 Keyboard
Logitech MX Revolution Mouse
Dual Samsung SyncMaster 204B 20" Monitors