If you’re starting out and intimidated by how good other people’s projects look… the truth is that they started someplace too. Just to press this topic a little further, here’s my first try at… eagle CAD, OSH park, and soldering SMD components!
The green and yellow ‘budge’ wires were my attempt to fix the problems… needless to say, there were too many to save this board. Actually, the power LED and fuse were the only things that worked. I learned a lot though. Here were my key insights:
One of the biggest lessons I learned was to simplify the design. My first board was a combination of all of the circuits I wanted for a past project. You can simplify this by picking out a stand alone circuit and build it up on its own board. From there you can debug them separately and then combine them into a final board.
Now that I have separate circuits, I can look at these circuits as modules. If I need a temp sensor, I can drop it on the board. If I need a motor controller… Boom! There it is. I don’t need to build it from the ground up.
Finally, now that each circuit is plug and play, you can tweak and massage the design. What do I mean by that? You can fit it into a smaller footprint, make it more robust, improve the way it interfaces with other circuit modules, and decrease wasted energy.
You can see that I approached this project in that exact way. These are a motor controller board, temp sensor board, and power management board. I’ll be able to debug everything separately and then bring it all together.