Getting to Blinky: Learn to design your own digital firefly

Presented at ToorCamp 2018, June 22, 2018, 5 p.m. (180 minutes)

This is an in-person, hands-on version of "Getting To Blinky", an online course series that has taught thousands to use the free and open source electronics CAD program, KiCad. This would be a "digital firefly" version of that course which showcases how to create a blinking circuit. This would include getting acquainted with the design tool, including how to add customizable artwork to a Printed Circuit Board (PCB). By the end, attendees will be able to actually order a low cost PCB from online sources.

This workshop will cover the entire process of creating a PCB from scratch using KiCad, the open source electronics CAD program.

In the first part of the workshop we will go over the "why" of creating PCBs, including some very very basic electronics concepts. More importantly, we will go over the realties of creating PCBs and why the creators care about certain factors.

Then we will dive into using KiCad, including creating a schematic. This segment will be about creating a simple electronics circuit that represents the electrical connections on the final product. This will also allow us to list the actual part numbers for creating physical devices later on.

Finally we will associate those schematic symbols and their net connections into the layout portion of the program, which moves the design from the theoretical realm into the physcial realm (well, on a screen). This will allow us to design the physical representation of the PCB, which will later be sent off for fabrication. At this stage we will also pull in artistic design elements to make the PCB look better.

The output from this process will be a set of design files that can be sent off to be manufactured. From only an idea, we will be able to create digital files that can easily be turned into physical products.


  • Chris Gammell
    Chris co-hosts The Amp Hour podcast, an electronics focused show that has been running for more than 7 years. When not podcasting, Chris enjoys teaching on how to design and build electronics via his online course ‘Contextual Electronics’, which prioritizes hands-on instruction.


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