8×8 RGB Matrix V3 + KICAD + SMD — part 1

Now that I’ve started to work with KICAD, I’ve made the transistion to SMD parts and finally got my switch back. I hade to remove it in V2 as the DIP parts took too much space. The quartz is back also, 16MHz is better than 8 :-)

I’ve sent the Gerber files to Seeedstudio and will be receiving my 5 shiny white PCBs in a few weeks I think. This will be some big adventure, soldering tiny SMD chips. The 74HC595 shift registers are SO-16 and not too bad, but I’m afraid of the TQFP-32 package of the ATmega chip. I’ll also not do this with lead-free solder as I haven’t managed it’s intricacies yet. That would need a new soldering station with more power too. I’ll post the files when I know this thing works.

For now just some pictures:

Part list:

– 1x ATmega168-20AU, TQFP32 7×7
– 4x 74HC595, SO16
– 1x LEDSEE.COM 8×8 RGB Matrix
– 1x LED
– 1x 1 k
– 1x 10 k
– 2x Switch:  Schurter LPH, 1301.9302
– 1x Quartz, 16 MHz, HC49U-S package (low profile)
– 2x Ceramic capacitor, 22 pF
– 1x Capacitor, 100 nF
– 1x Capacitor, 47 µF
– 2x 10pin female headers, SIL-10
– 1x 6pin male headers, SIL-6
– 2x 16pin female headers, SIL-16
– 2x 2x3pin male headers
– 24x Resistor, 1/4W, 270 Ohm

Update 1: 04.03.2009:

I just received a bunch of ATmega168 SMD chips.  I definitely need a decent magnifying lamp to solder these!


Update 2: 14.03.2009:

The PCBs were shipped from Shenzhen 2 weeks ago and I’m still waiting – Grrrrr. This has happened before with a delivery from the UK. It was delayed for ages by German customs at Frankfurt airport. This time I won’t have to pay any fees thoug, just VAT which is bad enough :-) Last year the threshold for free imports was raised from 22€ to 150€.

As soon as I get the boards I’ll write the 2nd part on this and show lots of pictures and videos on how to assemble and use it. Currently there is no auto-reset feature, but it can be hacked of course. As the ATmega’s PORTC and PORTD are accessible with headers on the backside you can build shields for it and stack them. The I²C lines are on these ports, so it will be possible to control more than one these gadgets at a time.

Once I’ve built the first prototype and confirmed it works as expected (or fixed some bugs and upgraded the KICAD files. Maybe I’ll add an autoreset capacitor with a jumper too), the boards should be available at Seeedstudio. This is for those of you not wanting the trouble of home PCB fabrication and helps Seeedstudio earn some money and continue selling cool geeky and nerdy gadgets to the Arduino community.

What’s also nice is that a few other Arduino users have started RGB matrix projects that should be code compatible with this one and can be used as a shield for the Diecimila or Duemilanove boards. Here’s the related thread.

Update 3: 23.03.2009:


My order from seeedstudio was shipped on March 12th from Hongkong. Today I called DHL to check where the f… my order was and they told me it has been confiscated by German customs! Why don’t those loonies send me any form of notification about that ? This has happened before. A few years ago I had some DVD shipped to me from the UK and it was delayed for 4 weeks at least. I reordered because I thought it was lost and the second time it got to me within just a few days. I understand that they need to check for counterfeit products and so on, but why not employ more staff to speed it up. TWO FULL WEEKS!!! ARGH !!

Update 4: 31.03.2009:

German Postal Service: I HATE YOU!

Today I got the “last notification” from our local customs office and picked up my shipment from seeedstudio. Next week they would have thrown it away. It turns out that it was sitting in said office since March 18th and I never got no notification! I immediately filed a complaint with DHL. By the local representative I was told that the delivery guy himself should have put a notification into my post box. I was collecting all the paper rubbish for the last 3 weeks and piled it in my appartment, just to make sure I didn’t miss the card. I re-scanned the pile today and no card was in there, so someone somehow “forgot” to write a notification!

Two full weeks wasted…

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