RC1a PCB Board
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RC1a PCB Board

by Nils on Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:49 am


I am new to soldering and hardware stuff and would appreciate some advice.

As you can see from the topic description I am at the first step: ordering the boards.
I found this service: http://dirtypcbs.com/

My problem is that I do not really know what to do next.
As far as I have understood the whole thing needs 3 boards (as everybody can also see on the pictures).

So I have to pay 3x 25$ in order to get the boards, right?
(Since I have to select 10x10 cm for all boards.)

I took the ZIP file called "wavebubble RC1a.zip", which is described as "EagleCAD files for mainboard, 2 batteryboards (li-ion/AAA), antenna overlay" under "Files for v1.0a (RC1a)".

Now I just need to upload:

"cigpack-main rc1a.brd"

and that´s it, right?

Since they write on their webpage...
"You can now submit Cadsoft Eagle .brd files directly and let us create the gerbers! 2 layers only. .brd files are processed with Eagle v6.x and we noticed a bug on a single order using v7.1.0 files. It's probably best to make your own gerbers if you used Eagle v7+"

...it should not be a problem just to upload the files described above and receive the PCB´s. They are generating the gerber files.

Does that make sense?

Or is it better to use the gerber files from the download page directly?
Is it possible to print some of them together (2x2 for all 4 boards), or do I need to spend 3x 25$?

Please help me out.

wavebubble RC1a.zip
The files I want to use if it makes sense to let the service generate the gerber files
(273.28 KiB) Downloaded 177 times

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Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:30 am

Re: RC1a PCB Board

by lightningserpent on Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:20 pm

I am going to mention a few things before I attempt to answer your questions:

There is an issue with the RC1a panelized gerbers that shifts the silkscreen and makes part identification/placement difficult without the aid of the parts placement pdf. If you aren't doing a bulk order I can't recommend the original panelized gerbers. Bushing had a set of gerbers that made some adjustments and corrected the silkscreen errors, but the link appears to be dead. Vitaminmoo made a set, but did not make all the changes bushing did. Vitaminmoo's download link still works. His post can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=10547&p=49653&hilit=bushing#p49653

Technically only two boards are required; the "antenna" board shouldn't be needed if you plan on using external antennas. You could easily and make one out of a material of your choice for a lot less than having the fab house make one. It just needs the holes for the standoffs and for the power button.

You can choose between the lipo board or the AAA board. The AAA board will require longer header pins and stand-offs than the lipo board because the diodes on the backside of the main board will make contact with the batteries and prevent good contact between the two boards..

I am curious why you selected the RC1a instead of the WB2010. The 2010 is the newest revision and has several improvements. Very informative page here: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=14782&hilit=wb2010#p72524

Regardless of the board you choose I encourage you to verify the boards will pass the design rules by downloading the dirt cheap dru and running it on the boards you have open in eagle.

Here is the best I can do to answer your questions:
1) If you are not going to do a panel you will probably be just fine in uploading individual boards. I have never used the pcb manufacturer you selcted, but places like OshPark charge by the square inch; there isn't much benefit if I upload the boards individually since the total square size will be the same. The dimensions limit listed on the dirt cheap page will be the determining factor; how many of these boards can you fit in 10cmx10cm?

2) Make sure you have run the dru before ordering. This will tell you what the fab house is capable of and point out trouble areas. They might make the board, but the tolerances may not be enough to get a successful board; this is why you should download and run the design rules file from whatever fab house you use. I have uploaded brd files to OshPark and the results were the same as running a cam job and uploading the gerbers.

3) Uploading the brd files is convenient, but if you have doubts on the success you should download the cam file from the dirt cheap "about" page and upload the gerber files they list on the about page. I would not use their gerber generator; quoted from their about page: "Use our gerber generator at your own risk!"

Lastly, this is not a beginner's project. I encourage lots and lots of soldering practice before starting the wave bubble. I had never done smt before and a lot of it was simple. The atmega, ftdi, and pll were very challenging. The VCOs were very hard to solder and probably the most stressful due to the cost. Hopefully this answers more questions than it creates. It has been a few years since I made an RC1a, but (shameless plug) read through my build log: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=30621
I listed all the relevant things I could while I was building mine. There is even a list of files you can download that show shopping cart snapshots.

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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 7:27 am

Re: RC1a PCB Board

by Nils on Mon Jan 12, 2015 11:13 am

Dear lightningserpent,

Thanks for your reply. Also the report you wrote was quite informing.

The main reason why I thought about using the RC1a is, that it corrects errors from the RC1 (so it would not make sense to use the RC1) and that I have a step-by-step description (like a tutorial).

I thought it would make the whole project easier for me to follow the standard one than to use the new one which has improvements (which might not be well documented and might therefore require additional knowledge in electrical engineering).

Do you think it makes more sense to use the WB2010?
Another point is, that the WB2010 only has 2 PCB´s and not 3, which would spare money.

Also: How do I get the files which I need to send to the Board House from WB2010?
It is only written: "Gerber files (see .Info)". I downloaded the software and I was able to open the files. But how can I generate the gerber files, or what do I need to send to the board house?
Unfortunately I cannot find the boards anywhere on ebay anymore, so I have to order them from a board house.


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Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:30 am

Re: RC1a PCB Board

by lightningserpent on Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:52 pm

The RC1a is fine and is the one that I built. There is a sort of flexible standard and the information found throughout the forum doesn't always line up, even the build page lists part numbers for the wrong footprint; the pll chip comes to mind. Several people made modifications to their build which further confuses the process. The step-by-step is nice, but it is missing a few steps and requires you to infer a few things.

I spent several nights reading up and studying things, making notes, and performing general research while building my RC1a. The entire project, regardless of the board version, requires additional knowledge in general electrical subject matter. This forum is very helpful and answered a lot of my questions during my build.

The WB2010 does not have pcb antennas and therefore does not have the third board. I mentioned in my initial post, as a way to save some money, if you are going to use external antennas; do not have the fab house make the antenna board. You will require all three boards of the RC1a if you plan on using internal pcb antennas.

I haven't used the target viewer, but erich81 has stated issues with importing the target files into eagle. If the ".info" file is not present you might need to search for the design files if you decide to order the 2010. Design files are important and the ability to send them to the fab house might be the deciding factor on which board to build.

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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 7:27 am

Re: RC1a PCB Board

by wtfwtfdef on Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:52 pm

I have a PhD in electrical engineering and it was a difficult build, but very rewarding. This was one of lady ada's master thesis project, and its not to be taken 'lightly' by any means.
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Re: RC1a PCB Board

by Nils on Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:10 am

Finally I decided to use the new version.

I ordered the boards at DirtyPCBs.com and paid 50$ for 2x10 PCBs.

I attached the ones I ordered. I took them from Erich81, as they seemed to be the most updated versions to me.

However, I didn´t find a complete part list for the new layout from Erich81. Can I just use the parts from this list here?

Or do I need to order different parts? Unfortunately there is no PM function here to ask him directly.

(Also if somebody is interested in also building it but doesn´t want to order his own PCB´s, I have now a lot of boards here :) )

BRDs from Erich81
(38.77 KiB) Downloaded 187 times

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Re: RC1a PCB Board

by henry48 on Sun May 03, 2015 7:22 pm


im also interested in this project, are you still on it?
Also, do you still have the boards?
I might be interested to buys some from you as i would like to atempt this
project myself as well :)

What rev. 2010 WB are the boards?

Thank you in advance :)

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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:46 am

Re: RC1a PCB Board

by lightningserpent on Sun May 03, 2015 9:17 pm

If you open the Li-Ion board in eagle the top copper layer says "WB 2010 Rev. 2a".
version.png (16.13 KiB) Viewed 2930 times

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Re: RC1a PCB Board

by Nils on Sun May 10, 2015 3:07 pm

Hi henry48,

Yes I still have them here.
I am also still on the project but as I am also working it is hard to find time :D

Drop me a mail to wavebubbleproject@mailinator.com and let me know when you did.


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Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:30 am

Re: RC1a PCB Board

by Mannyk29 on Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:03 pm

Does anyone still have boards or gerber files for wave bubble?

Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:52 pm

Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.