04-23-2012 11:34 PM - edited 04-23-2012 11:38 PM
For our university lab I have created carriers for Nexys and Atlys boards that eases handling in a lab environment.
While these can still be improved some major goals are acheived.
- easy storage, stackable design
- boards/chips are visible to the student
- I/Os are accessible, Jumpers are protected
- basic protection against dust and other stuff that might stain or damage the board
Have a look for yourself, here are the pics:
These pics are low resolution due to the limitations of the forum, but foe a little better viewing experience I add some files that can be used to view these pics in 3D (e.g on a Nintendo 3DS, or some software that can deal with these files).
04-24-2012 08:10 AM
Looks beautiful! The only thing I'd want is some additional space and mounting posts for VHDCI expansion boards (I'm not sure if the Digilent ones have common mounting hole patterns), but perhaps you're not using those in the lab, and you can always use a short VHDCI cable if you have to.
I must admit that I've always been envious of the nice perspex cover on some the Terasic development boards.
04-24-2012 10:23 PM
thanks for the comment.
You are right, in our lab we use the boards mainly for teaching digital basics and VHDL, so there was no need for the VHDCI connector. But the placement of the board on the base plate is choosen so that for the Nexus3 some PMODs can be attached within the base plate area. PMODs (purchased or self build) are sufficcient for most teaching purposes.
If for some more advanced project (e.g. some master thesis) the VHDCI connector would be needed a new expanded base plate can be drawn and manufactured very easily, since it's just a simple rectangle with some holes in it. The covers are the difficult part.
04-25-2012 05:15 PM
Are those plastic handles cheap and easy to obtain, or did you manufacture those? Knocking up a bunch of these for my ever-growing collection of naked FPGA development boards currently stacked in a cardboard box sounds like a fun rainy day project once my jury duty is over! :)
04-26-2012 12:18 AM
PLASTIC?!?! No way...
Well, but you can't know it from just viewing the pictures. :-)
These handles are made from finest anodized aluminium.
Price is a bout 7€ per handle. Should be available from many distributors (e.g. Farnell, Distrelec).
No cheap stuff, but therefore almost unbreakable if the board drops on the floor or some student tries to do a handstand on it.
If you could touch it, you would know it's worth the extra money. ;-)
04-30-2012 12:04 AM
manufacturing and selling these myself is not an option, since time effort and revenue would not match.
But thanks for the hint about ponoko. Didn't know that such a thing exists. I'm going to read about how this works and if it's an option to spread the plans with connected manufacturing I would even do some necessary rework on some shortcomings (e.g. reducing the radiuses of the curved cutouts. Our workshop couldn't do better.).
About the VmodMIB:
That one is interesting and quite versatile, since it offers standardized high speed connectors.
As said earlier, changing the baseplate is easy. VmodMIB also has mounting holes, BUT...
The only thing that's annoying about digilent is that they are not providing mechanical data of their boards.
(Outlines and mounting hole positions would be sufficient for most purposes.)
While they were so kind to send me some information about the Atlys board on request, I got nothing about the Nexys board. So without actually having a board and doing accurate measuring (which takes some time) it's not possible to place the mounting holes. One could do without and just have an expanded baseplate and standoffs on the Vmod board but that's a very fragile solution. (Would not meet my quality demands.)
Besides, does anyone know of some transparent material that meets ESD-requirements?
Plexiglas/lexan/etc. are quite dangerous when mounting the boards.
04-30-2012 07:03 AM
As a PCB guy, I always like really cool carriers like that. It reminds me of Altium's example boards: http://dangerousprototypes.com/wp-content/media/20
this space intentionally left blank