Dangerous Prototypes 3D project models

We’ve started to build SketchUp 3D models of our projects. To automate the process we’re using the EagleUp export/import script. It builds a 3D model of the PCB and arranges models of components onto the board.

Sounds simple right? It is pretty easy, but you still have to find or build models for all the parts. Once the parts are built you have to match their 3D origins to the origins of Eagle footprints, and name them the same.

We’ve built a small library of components of our parts from various 3D Warehouse models to compliment the ones already available for download at EagleUp. All our models are open source and are available in the art folders of SVN.

As a feature we will be releasing a 3D model of one of our projects every Monday. If you’d like to help out, add some models,  or need some advice, please head for the forum.

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  1. nice :) looks pretty good.

    Have you tried the old process with eagle3d + povray ? I like the eagle3d+povray pics better then the sketchup (non open source windows only) models but I admit these sketchup models are easier to manipulate (if you have winblows machine)

  2. pov-ray is just a rendering software, whereas Sketchup is 3D modeling at its easiest…There are plugins for Skethup, which allow you to render life like images. one good open source prog is http://www.kerkythea.net/ there is a export utility from sketchup…

    I prefer sketch-up because It allows me to move models around and check for clearances, look at boards for silk errors, and build stuff around them… The idea behind the DP models is to add it as a 3d model people could zoom move around and even build cases for… As our experience level builds will try to render some lifelike images via kerkythe, but that’s not the main reason for building the models..

    1. Thanks for the tip about kerkythea hadn’t heard about that one.
      More 3D models is a great idea, I’ve already contributed the ones I’ve made to eagleup

  3. povray + eagle3d .. it’s not povray that I like more, it’s the eagle3d objects that look better to me then sketchup, especially as all the benefits of sketchup are non existant to me since sketchup is winblows only.

    Any way sketchup can export STL or even better IGES or STEP ?

  4. Would be fantastic to have an open source repository hosting for electronics projects, or ‘triggers’ for the existing one. Would be great to have automatic builds of web google-maps style schematic images and online 3D models of pcb layouts generated. Could continuous-build your firmware files with the latest fixes too :-)

  5. The Google Sketchup/Eagle interface does work well. We have used it to export SLTs to make 3-D prints of circuit board assemblies to check interfernces. It’s actually pretty easy to learn especially considering how complex a part you can design.

  6. Check out http://www.3dcontentcentral.com Its got a bunch of free 3d models of electronics components. I use their models a lot at work. Not sure if they have Sketchup compatible file formats though. If not, I’m sure you’ll be able to get a converter.

  7. Great! I like EagleUp and use it a lot.
    I guess you guys are already working on 3D models for your Gadgeteer modules. Check out what we did for GHI’s modules:

    I have two tips (in case you don’t know):

    1. You can export existing parts from already built SketchUp models.
    2. You can use a custom attribute in eagle with proper name for 3D part and even some transformation information. EagleUp will use that attribute two find the right model and will do some adjustments.

  8. Doesn’t KiCad do 3D? It did the last time I installed it did (PCBNew via FOSS Wings-3D). Seemed to work OK. Keep it open-source!

    1. Yes, it does, and has been for quite a while. I remember doing course projects with it in 2008 or so. Why people (in general) accept EAGLE as “industry standard” and never try anything else is beyond me.

  9. simply because, Eagle works and people have gone through the trouble of building their own libraries for it. Moving to another one is a painstaking process that takes time….And time is money :)

    Its not that I think Eagle is the best, its not by far…but for the projects I work on, it works well, and moving to another one would require me to learn it from scratch…so unless there are some overwhelming advantages (relative to what I need) I don’t see any reason to move from something that gets the job done.

    Keep in mind that learning all the nooks and crannies of any software takes a lot of time (few months at least)

    1. Yes, but it is the blind acceptance of Eagle by those starting with EDA software that traps many into the same dilemma you face. They invested the time to learn Eagle and that “locks” them in. Then they end-up (often subconsciously) limiting themselves to meet the limitations of Eagle just because they do not want to (or can’t) invest the time to move to KiCad.

      If Eagle wasn’t (for some reason) so blindly adopted by the hobbyist community, we wouldn’t have this waste and inefficiency – and KiCad would have a much larger following. That would allow KiCad to mature – faster and better.

      By propagating the use of Eagle in the hobbyist community, you do a disservice to others. If you want to continue to have the limits of Eagle set your boundaries; please keep it to yourself and do not actively help others fall into the same trap.

      1. Eagle is not as “blindly” accepted as one may think.

        #1 reason why people use Eagle is ’cause it’s free
        #2 reason why people use Eagle over other free EDA software is ’cause Eagle does not lock you to Widows but works both on Linux and OSX (compared to 99% of other free EDA tools that are Widows only, and for a hobbyist that is a huge flaw)
        #3 reason why people use Eagle over open source tools like KiCAD or gEDA is because both KiCAD and gEDA have flawed work flow trough application and lack some features (for e.g. many times mentioned back annotation, scripting … ) that Eagle has that are not something some people want to work without
        4# reason why people won’t move from Eagle to another EDA tool is ’cause they have scripts (some very powerful ones) and libraries (customized with what they use/can get) for Eagle and migrating them to another EDA tool is way more painful then the gain that other EDA tool potentially can provide

        Eagle is far from being the “best free tool out there”, but few years ago it was pretty much the only usable free tool, that placed it on the throne and as long as they don’t mess something seriously up, they’ll stay there. I for e.g. locked myself into another commercial EDA tool (non free) and it would be super expensive for me to move to Eagle or to KiCAD (not that any of the two does job nearly as good, but are free) just because I’d have to rebuild all the libraries from scratch.. something I spent years making..

      2. I agree with ‘you are insane’ when he said “Eagle is far from being the “best free tool out there”, but few years ago it was pretty much the only usable free tool, that placed it on the throne”

      3. @you are insane says, @vimark

        Exactly. Few years back the choices were much more limiting and if you wanted to “stay legal” Eagle was kinda only usable tool, especially if you were a Linux or Mac user. In the meantime many other tools came to play, some open, some closed but free… “Unfortunately” (or fortunately for CadSoft/Element14) none of the free nor open tools are “that much better” to make the transition feasible… and as I mentioned many times, you want to use open software because it is good, not only because it is open…

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