Over the last few weeks we’ve been building 3D models of our projects in Google SketchUp using the EagleUp script. This script makes a 3D model of the board from Cadsoft Eagle board (.brd) files, and populates it with pre-existing models of components.
Once you have a 3D model in SketchUp you are free to evaluate it, build custom enclosures around it, or interface your model with others. This tutorial will help you build 3D models of your projects.
Download and Setup
There are a few apps you’ll need for everything to function properly. Download the following:
Once you have downloaded everything, install SketchUp and ImageMagick.
Insert the links to the respective files into the fields, use full paths and ‘/’ as directory separators instead of ‘\’
Check that there are no beaks on the dimension Layer
Now open the board you want to model.
It’s very important to check if the board outline defined by the ”Dimensions layer” is broken. If you get a bunch of lines instead of a model in SketchUp it is probably due to a broken board outline.
Zoom in for a close inspection. Once you are reasonably confident that there are no breaks continue to the next step.
Export the board model from Eagle
Next, run the EagleUp export ULP to export the board in a format that’s useful in SketchUp.
A new folder is created in the directory where your Eagle files are. Inside you’ll find lots of images of the board and an .eup file. SketchUp uses the .eup file to build the model.
Import the board model into SketchUp
Run the import EagleUp script in SketchUp to build the model:
Enjoy the show, it can take a while.
Check model placement and orientation
When the model has been built, a report will show components that did not have 3D models. The board and any available components will be visible. Look over the board, check the alignment and orientation of the component models.
Some part model won’t be perfectly aligned with the PCB. These will need to be tweaked.
To rotate a part model:
Hint: you can also just type in the number in degrees you would like the model to rotate.
To move a part model:
TIP: If you remember what you had to do to adjust the part, you can save the changes for future projects. Go into the models folder and edit the component model in the exact same way. Now generate the whole board again, the component will be properly aligned.
Download or create missing part models
One thing you’ll have to do a lot is download models of your missing components or create them from scratch.
To download components hit the ”Get models…” button in the top right corner. This opens the 3D warehouse where you can search for models. Alternately you can download the models we use from SVN.
If there is no model of the component you are looking for, you’ll have to build one yourself. That’s beyond the scope of this tutorial, but there’s plenty of SketchUp info out there.
If you build a part model, please share it share it with other modelers. You can upload it to the 3D Warehouse, post it in our forums, or just share a link with us. Our parts models are available in SVN, and we’re uploading them to the 3D Warehouse too.