In Fall 2018, I designed and led three robotics workshops to introduce first years to the team. The three workshops are:
Tools: DipTrace, LTSpice, Github
Keywords: Workshop, Teaching, PCB Design, AC/DC Converter, Robotics
The main purpose of the workshops was to introduce first years to the robotics team and give them some tools that they could use to get started with electronics. Around 40 students attended the three workshops, and about 3/4 of them joined the team.
This entire series of workshops was run in DipTrace, which is a schematic capture and PCB design software that has a free student version.
The first workshop was: Introduction to Mars Rover Electrical Subteam. I took the first years through the University Rover Challenge tasks and described our design goals for the season, as well as general system architecture for the rover.
The second workshop was: Introduction to Simulation and Schematic Tools. I chose a basic circuit, an AC/DC converter, and showed the attendees how to simulate the circuit in LTSpice, then how to create the schematic using DipTrace.
I taught the attendees how to place parts, connect them with wires, run a transient simulation, and probe voltages and currents in the circuit.
As an introduction to schematic capture, I showed the attendees how to use components from a component library and place components and connectors to make a basic schematic.
The third workshop covered PCB Design & Version Control.
In this workshop, we took the schematic that we made the previous week and converted it to PCB. Then, I showed the attendees how to arrange the components in an optimal way, how to route traces, and how to make copper pours.
Since we use a shared component library to create our custom boards, I showed the attendees how to create a footprint and link it to a schematic component, then update the schematic and footprint libraries.
Last, we guided the attendees through how to get started with Github and Github Desktop, which we use for version control of all the libraries and projects. Github has integration with Altium, making it a straightforward method of version control.
Running these workshops was a great tool for recruitment, and we will continue planning and hosting workshops in future years. From a feedback form, students said that they enjoyed the schematic and PCB design workshops more than the first workshop, so for next year I plan to dedicate the last workshop to University Rover Challenge and introduce the potential members to the UW Robotics electrical subteam.