[bouLED] Done with the PCBs

We finished the PCB design this week (they are currently being reviewed by Alexis). The voltage regulator placed in the center of the triangular PCB had a few constraints, but routing the LEDs was simple enough so I could use the autorouting and just make a few modifications to it, like shortening the VCC paths and widening these traces.

The voltage regulator

We placed a few mounting holes, to screw the triangles on folded metal sheets keeping the icosahedron together.

The triangular PCB

By the time the PCBs are delivered, we’ll write as much software as possible. We’ll use our devkit to play with the ESP32 and some SD card reader, and, most important, we’ll write the display algorithm (we fortunately happen to have a simulation to help us).

[bouLED] Finishing the main PCB

Last time, I routed the power supply. Since then, I placed and routed all the components and added the ground planes. We’re now waiting for the teachers to review the boards. Below is a screenshot of Xpedition PCB showing what I’ve got so far (ground planes are not displayed, but they’re there):

The green traces are VCC (3.3V). It’s not obvious from the colouring, but some parts of these VCC traces are on the back of the PCB. U3 (the tiny chip above D2) is a LDO regulator (LT1762) that drops the 14.8V VBAT voltage from the LiPo battery (J2) to 5V for the U5 3.3V-to-5V level shifter used for the SPIs (the connectors on the left). U1 is a LT1765 switching power supply for the 3.3V rail. U2 is the STM32H7 MCU. Finally, there’s an SD card (J1) and an ESP32-DevkitC for network connectivity (U4).

[bouLED] Placing LEDs

This week, we did a few corrections and improvements on the schematics and started the the actual design of the PCBs.

We chose the plexiglass sphere for bouLED. Its internal diameter is 350mm so we took a margin and reduced the triangles’ sides to 179mm. This was enough information to place the LEDs. Having done the triangle design with OpenScad revealed helpful to check the placing as I imported a DXF version of it in Mentor’s software, as Alexis suggested. I was also happy that we chose a rather regular LED repartition,  so I could use grids instead of manually copying 78 coordinates.

The triangle PCB in Xpedition PCB

For the routing, however, we’ll need to know the positions of the screw holes in the PCB. Hichem is currently working on that, designing the pieces with SolidWorks. (I started doing it with FreeCAD but the SolidWorks lobby had the last word.)

This will be a 2-layer PCB, with a ground plane on the bottom. The voltage regulator will go on the back side of the PCB, with the jumpers.

[bouLED] Starting placement and routing for the main board

I started placing the 3V3 buck converter first. Here’s what it looks like on the schematic:

The LT1765 switches at a high frequency (1.25MHz), which constrains the routing. The datasheet explains that the most important thing is to make the path from pin 3 to pin 2 through D2 and C2 as short as possible. My layout looks like that so far:

Vias to the ground plane aren’t pictured, but the path I was talking about is really short, and I think it will do the trick. The layout and schematics have yet to be reviewed, though.

[LASMO] SD card and galvanometers in the PCB design

Because finishing the design of the PCB is now the priority task, I’ve been working on several parts of it: namely, linking the SD card connector and the galvanometer drivers.

MicroSD connector

The microSD card connector we found in ExpeditionPCB is manufactured by JAE (Japan Aviation Electronics). The pins correspond to those of the microSD standard and are linked to one of the SPI interfaces available on the STM32F7. MicroSD cards can work on supply voltage from 2.7 to 3.3V, so we just use the same 3.3V supply as the F7.

Our SD card connector’s connections…
… and the pins it’s connected to on the F7 

Galvanometer drivers

The drivers of the galvanometer work with a balanced analog input ranging from 0 to 5V. Since the DAC of the F7 outputs a single-ended signal ranging from 0 to 3.1V (according to the datasheet), this is an issue we had to resolve.

We basically had to convert an analog single-ended signal to a balanced one, and amplify it with a 5/3.1 ratio. We achieved this by using an ADA4941-1 amplifier with two resistances, as represented below.

Signal adaptation circuit between the DAC’s single-ended output (GALVA_X signal) and the driver’s balanced input (GALVA_DRIVERX_IN – and +). The two resistors inside the ADA are of the same value.

This circuit is composed of a non-inverting amplifier (taking IN and FB as entry), which, with the resistances of 10kΩ and 6.2kΩ, multiplies the signal by 1+3.1/5 = 1.62 = 5/3.1 (approximately). Then a inverting amplifier with a gain of 1, create a signal symmetric to the OUTP signal with respect to the REF signal value. We set REF at 5V so that the signal can have a 5V range around the offset value of 5V. That’s also why we linked the REF signal to the GND port of the driver, so that the driver can see the signal as a balanced signal.

[LASMO] External clocks, and XLR architectures

For the two processors STM32F7 and the STM32F1, we need to use externals clocks. Indeed, for the STM32f7, the processor can use a 16MHz internal clocks, but in order to have the best performance STM32F7 can provide, we will add an external clock of 26 MHz. We will do the same for the STM32F1, but with an external clock of 16 MHz.

Also, we will use two XLR connections in order to have a sound signal wich the animation will be synchronize with. After find out about XLR connection and signals, I understood that a connector XLR has 3 pins, carry at 24 V, and receive two symetrics signals but out-of-phase. So, we have to desymetrize the sygnal. To this end, we will use an instrumentation amplifier: