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EETE APRIL 2013

ASSEMBLY & PACKAGING Fig. 6: The Thymio’s internal board and waveguide as seen in Altium Designer (left), the real parts (center), and the fully assembled robot (right) with coloured LED lights brought to the outer casing by the waveguide. make it easier to design with confidence. The strategic positioning of the connectors accounts for the required links, for example to the engines or to the batteries on the other side and between the two main parts of the robot. 3D visualisation ensures that there is sufficient space between the top of the green power connector and the plate that closes the robot structure to run the connector cables. The 3D view also shows that the connector can be placed in two configurations (2 or 3 motors) making sure there is enough room. The small white connector is very close to the wall in the mechanical configuration with 2 motors and therefore unusable. Since it is in practice only used in the 3-motor configuration and a different top plate, there is sufficient room for the cables between the PCB and the motor. Such details can easily be checked and displayed. Why do without 3D? In fact, all electronic design tasks can be done as if looking at a real prototype with housing. This also helps to solve potential issues with the mechanical design and the interaction between these two areas. There is no longer any real distinction between the two worlds, except that the two CADs (E-CAD and M-CAD) are used symbiotically to build on their merits. Here’s a small anecdote to conclude with: I recently spoke to a colleague who developed the robot Thymio – see figure 8c - also a very good example for the use of 3D. When we received the assembled PCBs, I took one in my hands and asked for the waveguide for the LEDs to check how it would fit. The colleague told me they were being manufactured, to which I replied that I had already seen one. “Yes,” he responded, “but that was in Altium Designer!“ So yes, 3D is not a luxury but a real design help to promote the creativity of all developers. 42 Electronic Engineering Times Europe April 2013 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE APRIL 2013
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