No matter how superior your design abilities are, likelihood is you will have to spend a while chasing bugs in your boards after they arrive again from the meeting home. Testing and debugging a PCB usually includes quite a lot of cross-checking between the board, the structure and the schematic, which shortly turns into tiresome even for mildly advanced designs. To make this process a bit simpler, [Ishan Chatterjee] and colleagues on the University of Washington have designed the Augmented Reality Debugging Workbench, or ARDW for brief.
The ARDW is a setup consisting of a lab workbench with an antistatic mat, a number of measuring devices and a PC. You can merely place your board on the bench, open the schematic and structure in KiCAD and begin measuring and debugging your design as you usually would, however the true magic occurs when you choose a brand new icon in KiCAD that exports the schematic and structure to the ARDW system. From that second, you may choose parts in your schematic and have them highlighted not solely on the structure, however on the bodily board in entrance of you as nicely. This is maybe finest demonstrated visually, because the workforce members do within the video embedded beneath.
The real-life highlighting of parts is achieved due to a set of cameras that monitor the movement of the whole lot on the desk in addition to a video projector that overlays info on high of the PCB. All of this permits a wide range of helpful debugging options: for instance, there’s an choice to focus on pin one on all parts, enabling a easy visible verify of every part’s orientation. You can choose all Do Not Populate (DNP) situations and instantly see if all highlighted pads are empty. If you are unsure which part you are taking a look at, simply level at it together with your multimeter probe and it is highlighted on the schematic and structure. You may even place your probes on a community and mechanically log the voltage for future reference, due to a digital hyperlink between the multimeter and the ARDW software program.
In addition to designing and constructing the ARDW, the workforce additionally carried out a usability research utilizing a gaggle of human take a look at topics. They particularly appreciated the power to shortly find parts on crowded boards, however discovered the on-line measurement system a bit cumbersome as a result of its restricted positional accuracy. Future work will subsequently concentrate on bettering the decision of the projected picture and usually making the system extra compact and sturdy. All software program is freely accessible on the challenge’s GitHub web page, and whereas the present system seems just a little advanced for hobbyist use, we are able to already think about it being a great tool in manufacturing environments.
It’s not even the primary time augmented actuality has been used for PCB debugging: we noticed a considerably comparable system on the 2019 Hackaday Superconference. AR can even come in useful in the course of the design and prototyping section, as demonstrated by this AR breadboard.