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Tips to minimize error on embedded projects Answered

Hey all, Over the past long while (5 months of freetime or so) I've been hard at work on an embedded electronics project for fun. However, I keep running into stupid mistakes where I frankly should've known better. Sometimes it feels like there is a gremlin or some other sentient force whose only goal in life is to make sure my project fails. Anyhow, because of this, I ask: What suggestions do you guys have for things to do to help minimize stupid mistakes while undertaking projects (particularly embedded projects involving PCBs, though general project guidelines are also welcome). Thanks, Purduecer


What do you mean by embedded projects? Is that like making the guts of some electronics, putting it in an altoid tin, powering it up and it doesn't work and then you have to pull it out of the can again to figure out what is wrong? You would usually test as you go along and then do constant visual inspection and touch/pull connections for possible shorts, insulate and use heat shrink/tape/pads where possible shorts may occur...

In the case of my embedded electronics project, I am creating something entirely new (as opposed to building a kit) So I went through the following steps: 1) Code creation and testing (breadboarding) 2) PCB design and ordering 3) Manufacture 4) PCB Testing and, once I clear (4), will proceed to: 5) Casing and final assembly Examples of errors that came up along the way... 1) During (2), above, I made a number of design flaws in the original PCB such as unintentionally creating a short in the microcontroller programming lines and somehow accidentally screwing up the pinout on a couple custom transistor models I created. 2) During (4) I switched 2 microcontroller pins in code thinking they were identical only to later realize the circuits in question were not interchangable and burnt out an LED on an (expensive) tricolor led. Frankly, I don't feel like the project I'm working on is particularly difficult or complicated, but the above errors have represented considerable roadblocks financially and timewise, and so any tips to help avoid them would be very much appreciated (I do appreciate those you gave above, as well)

Seems you may be in a rush to get something mass produced and out to market. Can you order just a sample batch of your PCB or even create a "master" from the breadboard stage. You need to do testing on that, take it to user level testing and then give the final OK to manufacture the rest. And the golden rule of doing things...get a second opinion and at least one other pair of eyes to look at the stuff...and make sure they sign the confidentiality contract :)

One word: Breadboard.