Robert's Build Log


Software developer looking to make my own PCB boards. Initially I’l like to make PCBs to combine breakout boards, without the ratnest of wire I get on protoboards. I’d like to eventually get to designing my own circuits around ICs and components of my own. Right now THT is fine, but it seems SMD is the way of the future…so I ought to learn that too :stuck_out_tongue:

Located in Southern Oregon


Welcome Robert! Sounds like a reasonable way to start off. In fact a few of the boards I have done were just that. Adapter boards to make things s little more compact and neater.
I walso went throught he same thoughts with SMD. I had never considered to solder them by hand. Now that is pretty much all I use. In the Contextual Electronics courseware, @ChrisGammell has some great material on hand soldering SMD.


Just signed up for the 3 month AD2 + CE Apprentice Bundle and ordered my AD2.

My ‘workbench’ is a work in progress, but my multimeter and debugging through the arduino IDE are my only troubleshooting tools. I’d been looking at rounding out my workbench with a o’scope and wave generator, so the AD2 bundled seemed like a real no brainer.

I’m looking forward to getting started, but trying to force myself to watch all the videos and not do my typical…yeah, yeah, I know that. (which usually turns out that I didn’t really) :slight_smile:


Project Idea [I’m sure this will change in time as I learn]

Smart Swimming Pool Pump Controller with WiFI

  • Controls turning the swimming pool pump on/off on a schedule (220v)
  • monitors the outside temperature to cycle the pump in winter to keep the pipes from freezing
  • monitors the pump intake temperature
  • monitors the solar output temperature
  • cycles the solar pump based on schedule or temp (110v)
  • Display with Menu
  • Logging to SD card or MQTT (or both)
  • RTC
  • Add-On PH Sensor that can e-mail/Log when PH is out of range.
  • Add-On Autofill based on water level

I got about 70% of a prototype and coding assembled using breakout boards for SD/RTC/Relays, Thermocouplers, etc and a arduino nano. I had a good start to a menuing system on a Nokia 5110 display and a 3D printed enclosure,

What stopped the project:
The complete rats nest (now I understand the term better) of wire involved trying to wire this all together in a sensible manner (I need a PCB I think).
My control of the 110 and 220 is a mechanical relay controlled by the arduino, I’ve read about optocouplers that isolate the circuit, but have no idea about being safe around 220 (let alone 110).
My code was at the initial stage, mostly centered around the menuing system and pump control.
No Experience getting this wifi enabled or MQTT or other protocols to help make this a ‘smart’ system.

Thats the ‘big’ project I dream of putting together, I also think if it turned out right there could be a small interest among other hobbyist or just pool owners wanting a cheap way to ‘upgrade’ their pool control


I think you made the right choice. From what I have learned so far, this course should be exactly what you need to complete a project like yours. I love the AD2. I have had trouble with some I2c devices in the past and it was related to cable length, so a scope would have been great. Now I have an AD2 and it is very clear what is happening on the SCL and SDA lines. Freaking Great! Good luck and have fun!


Thanks @BradFernandez I looked over your build log, very impressive work and in just a month. I hope I catch on as quickly :slight_smile:


I appreciate that! All the credit goes to @ChrisGammell. He lays it out in a pretty clear concise way. And I watch most of the videos at 2x speed at the minimum and usually once at work on breaks and lunch then again later that night on my desktop where I will actually do the work. It’s worked well for me so far. Plus it’s easy to go back to because I just keep learning new stuff. It sounds like you have at least a decent understanding of the basics so you shouldn’t have a problem.


Welcome Robert! Glad to see the others here jumping in with their opinions of the course.

I like the idea of a pool controller, that is a device that definitely benefits from remote control/monitoring. Just uh…you know, watch out for the water + electricity thing :smiley:


@ChrisGammell thanks Chris, I found CE watching your KiCad videos on YouTube. An yes, the whole water + electricity is in my mind. I’ve got a socket off of a GFI breaker in the pump house and it has 2 USB ports. That’s the plan for now (powering whatever off the usb protected by the gfi).

According the the standard hobbyist relays (blue 1" cube), it rates well enough to turn the 220 pump on and off, but as I mentioned, I’ve read that it’s better to isolate the low voltage circuit from the high voltage stuff…Any thoughts?

Thanks for the welcome


Started work on “Shine on you crazy KiCad”.

I don’t currently work with RaspberryPi, but I’ve started programming ATTiny85 ICs with my Arduino, so I decided to use that circuit in place of the Header board in the video.

I’m going to follow the traces and re-verify before I’d send off to get the board made, but the idea is to learn kiCad, so with that outcome in mind, I’m quite happy.

I did break a cardinal rule and used FreeRouter’s AutoRouting to help me and made adjustments from there. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Can’t wait to double and triple check and get this ordered…I watched @ChrisGammell video on SMD soldering which inspired me to attempt using SMD components (1206 with handsolder pads…I think that’s all there is to it as far as design)


Looks good! I like how you adapted the board to fit your needs.


Awesome! Exciting isn’t it?! It’s a lot of fun being able to bring something you dreamt up to fruition.


General Update:
My AD2 should be here Friday, can’t wait to play around with it this weekend.

I’ve been reading:
Getting started in Electronics - Forrest Mims
Make: Electronics Learning through discovery - Charles Platt

I’m looking forward to building some of the tutorial circuits and checking them out on the AD2.

I was working my way through getting to blinky last night when my internet bandwidth dropped to nothing.


The AD2 showed up today :joy:
FYI to anyone ordering the CE bundle (probably any bundle), FedEx did require a signature.

I’m working my way through a few books (skimming)
Make: Electronics 2nd edition - Charles Platt
Exploring Arduino - Jeremy Blum
Practical Electronics for Inventors - Paul Scherz and Simon Monk

I hope I get some time to really lean into a couple of circuits I’m interested in building, and I need to get a ESP-01 programmer set up and finally mess with some wireless for a few ideas I have.


Got my enclosure for my AD2 setup (thanks to @Allen for the model; excellent). It was my first print in months, and instead of calibrating my printer I just went for it (hence the first layer doesn’t represent Allen’s great work very well). I’d be interested in doing it again as some point in ABS and smoothing it.

I finished up the Getting to Blinky 4 series. I’m looking for a simple circuit of my own to ‘make it my own’.

I was looking at these Tie Tacks on Amazon, thinking it might be interesting to do a simple wearable badge.AD2_Enclosure


Started messing with milling of simple pcb boards, I have much experimenting and reading of tutorials to go, but I’m happy with this, my first isolation milling attempt :smile:


I always imagine a double sided board would be quite tricky using the milling technique. Have you tired that before?


No, I haven’t managed a complete single layer board yet. :smile: I still need to manage a complete milling, drilling and cutout process

I have seen a couple of tutorials where people mount the board to the cnc using a couple of reference holes in the pcb, thus ensuring a ‘exact’ matching coordinate system when the board is flipped using the same holes again to mill the second side