MikroElektronika Learn

Click Boards

How a click board™ is made – Part 1

30 May , 2017  

We release new click boards™ every day. Have you ever wondered what is the process behind the making of one?

 

This article covers the first part of the process. You’ll get inside information on how three different teams inside MikroElektronika work on their own, and together, to bring a new click board™ on the market every day.

Let’s begin this story with the Hardware team, where the ideas for click boards™ and their functions form. We’ll lead you from morning until evening. Put on your seatbelt, it’s going to be a fast ride.

Day 1 – Hardware

Everything begins in the mind of our hardware engineers. An idea for a new click needs to form, and sometimes this takes time. Innovative ideas are hard to come by on a schedule. But our engineers have a few prepared at all times.

Once the concept of the future click board™ is ready, the engineer begins to study the necessary components. Which component is the best one in the context of the click’s function? Does the click board™ need additional components?

They usually work on a click board while the idea for a new one cooks in the back of their mind.

Day 2

The next day, bright and early in the morning, with a fresh coffee in hand, the hardware engineer begins to make the electronic schematic of the click board™.

After the schematic is completed, the PCB routing starts. Here, at MikroElektronika, we have three standard click board sizes: small, medium, and large. So, the appropriate size PCB is chosen for the click.

The engineer forms the layout on the PCB based on the electrical characteristics of the click board he is making. And proceeds to send it for review to the Marketing team. We are pretty much obsessed with details here, every part counts. After all, the click board needs to be esthetically pleasing, as well as functional and efficient.

Day 3

Marketing is pretty quick with the reviews of this kind, and usually, sends a whole batch of clicks that are approved completely, or some slight changes are made. Once hardware gets the reviewed click it’s time to order the click board™ PCB, this process takes up to a week, but we are working to shorten that time slot, to one single day.

Day 4

The PCB is ready and our manufacturing department produces the first batch of prototypes, using the pick and place machine that is only devoted to this purpose.

A test program is made for the click prototype, and if everything works as it should, hardware orders the components for the production of the click and sends it to the software team.

Day 5 – Software

This is where the software team enters the stage. Upstairs in their sunny office, the software engineers receive notice when a certain click board™ is ready for them.

With the longest wall of the office covered in click boards™ they have plenty of inspiration to make some amazing code each time.

A software engineer opens the documentation he got from hardware and studies the schematic, the datasheets of the components, and gets to know the click board™ he is about to make the code for. Sometimes the software and hardware team members have a chat before the coding begins, to make sure everything is understood properly.

Day 6

Based on the function of the click and its complexity the software team decides the correct approach for building the library and the demo application. We currently have about 600 libraries available. Take a look at the LibStock library here.

When the click board™ library starts to be developed, it is tested parallel with the first made example. The example in question is then translated to all other architectures, from the original one. We currently cover 7 different architectures and 3 languages for a total of 21 compilers (PIC, dsPIC, PIC32, ARM, AVR, 8051, and FT90x, on C, Basic, and Pascal).

For more information on our compilers, click here.

The software engineer then moves on towards packaging the library he made and fills up the necessary documentation. They claim it’s the boring part of the whole process.

Day 7 – Marketing

It’s up to the Marketing team then to present the click board™ in all its glory. Each click is unique and special, so it is a fun task to present one each day.

After the libraries for the click are done, the software team sends the click to Marketing with the necessary documentation. Usually, the engineer takes a walk downstairs to the Marketing office with the click, to explain what its main functions are.

In the image above you can see Vojislav, our designer, preparing images for the click board™ release, while the Sales team works on their own part in the background. He gives the equal amount of attention to each image he does. And when it comes to click boards, he’s particularly meticulous.

To complete the release, the Marketing team prepares the necessary text, that describes the product. From the most important functionalities and components to the pins on the mikroBUS™ socket, and the news post that follows the release.

Some click boards require more explanation, some require less, it all depends on the complexity of its functions.

The news post, click board page in the shop, and LibStock library page are published simultaneously. You could say that we are very well synchronized. Since we had a lot of practice, with 300 click boards already released, it is a smooth process.

Now that you have seen the first part of this unique process, you’ll never look at a click board™ in the same way again.

Stay tuned for the second part of the article, where Production, Packaging and Testing, and Sales complete this incredible journey.

By