Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Project: Preview | RoutaBoard

What's up, everyone? Today I'm reviewing the Routaboard, a new prototyping circuit board by KnivD out of London. Many thanks for the review units he shipped over. You can check him and his Kickstarter out here:


Project Preview: Routaboard

What is Routaboard? It's a really cool device- a blank circuit board with unconnected traces between each of the holes. This means that instead of having to connect your electronic projects together with wires, you can simply add a tiny drop of solder in between the holes you want, thus creating an actually professional-looking prototyping package.

Routaboard also comes with free software called RoutaEdit. It's a simple program that let's you design your projects digitally and figure out where to solder the traces ahead of time.
My review unit came speedily on through, which was nice since it came from overseas. I recieved four boards, (Two standard-sized doubled-sided boards, and two standard-sized singled sided boards.)

The boards look very sleek and professional, with a black finish contrasted by the gold holes and traces. They came without a single scratch or chip, which is very nice.

The Hardware:

The boards are a unique, and yet very smart idea and design. The standard size is 24x32 holes, big enough for most Arduino-type projects. (Or an Arduino shield!)

The traces are a bit confusing at first glance, but open up the RoutaEdit software and they'll make sense. The traces extend in all four directions from each hole, but are seperated from each other by gaps in the metal. The idea behind Routaboard is that you can apply a drop of solder in the gaps in the traces, which eliminates the need for wires in your package. And because there's no need to cut wires, you can use a desoldering tool to remove these solder drops and reuse the boards again and again.

Running along the side of each board is a strip of metal. These connect to the grid of holes and work as the power, ground, and a strip for inputs. (Such as Arduino analog or digital.)
Overall, the system is very handy. It makes prototyping much more minimal and space-conserving, although soldering the traces together may take a little more time. Keep in mind that to use this product to its maximum, you need a soldering iron and at least (some) solder on hand. Although if you're buying this board to begin with, you won't go far without said items.

The Software:

The Routaboard software, RoutaEdit, is... simplistic. I haven't used it for that long, but from what I can tell there... isn't much to do.

That's not to say it isn't helpful; RoutaEdit does give you a visual representation of how the traces work on the Routaboard, and you can use it as a guide while soldering to make sure you solder the correct traces.

The software also lets you add a virtual component to the board; however, the only components available right now are "blank" 1x2 components, DIP8, 14, and 16 parts, and resistors. Nothing else exists... yet.

The software is still in its early stages. As Routaboard continues its campaign and development, more features will be added, including a processing code written specifically for RoutaEdit projects. I can't wait to see what becomes of the program.

Oh, and a quick note: As of this post, RoutaEdit is only available for Windows. So OSX (sorry) macOS users, you may have to wait a bit.

Well, that about sums up the product. Did I convince you to invest in Routaboard? If I did, let me know in the comments below. Or send me your wallet out of gratitude. Either works. And ff you want to spend even more money, consider donating to the SHARD Labs GoFundMe!


Later, skaters!