Eagle PCB v8.3 3D Model Fusion 360 Mini Review

2017-10-25 18:25:51 by

Now that Autodesk owns Eagle CAD I’ve been watching more closely at the latest releases to see what direction they are going in and with the latest 8.3 release it looks pretty promising. Below is my mini review of version 8.3 where I try to layout out a simple PCB board and open a 3D model of it in Fusion 360.

 

Tutorial Reference

We’ll be doing a short tutorial based on the 555 timer flashing LED example provided in the book Make Your Own PCBs with EAGLE by Simon Monk that uses Sparkfun/Adafruit libraries and design rules. You can download the Sparkfun Eagle design rule file on Github and place it in your dru folder:

 

 

Managed Online Libraries and Fusion 360 3D Models

This is a pretty big departure but definitely something that was coming – cloud based library part management. The online library management is a repository and one-stop-shop for finding and using components in your design. From the Autodesk blog about this release this is how they are framing the problem:

 

There seems to be some confusion about this feature and how it works. What Autodesk is trying to do is host validated 3rd party libraries from say Sparkfun on their servers and keep them updated for you. Then they provide the back end so you can download the libraries to your computer and be able to easily update to the latest library from the 3rd party supplier. It’s really the first step for Eagle to have a real library management system and lays foundation for Autodesk to do more interesting things going forward. You can’t edit default parts in managed libraries so if you need to make changes you have to make a copy and put it in your own custom library.

 

And the other thing they are doing with the cloud libraries is adding 3D models that sync to Fusion 360 so you can easily create a 3D model of your PCB design in Fusion 360. Yes they are some drawbacks here – mostly you need to have all your library components in the cloud in order to map and sync to Fusion 360 to get the 3D model.

 

Using a Managed Library

Once you create a new project and have a new schematic you can go to Library | Open Library Manager:

 

Go to the Available tab and select the library you want to use and select Use to add it. Now you can go to the In Use tab and see the library is there:

You will also notice under the Library menu item the option to Update All. You can select this option to automatically update your components in your design with the latest release from the 3rd party vendor.

 

Adding Parts and Creating the Schematic

Now you can add the necessary components and create the 555 timer flashing LED circuit.

 

Adding parts from the managed libraries is just like using a normal library:

If there is a 3D model already mapped to the component it will show up in the part viewer:

Finally you should get a schematic like below with no errors when you run ERC checks:

Create the Board Layout

Switch to Board Mode and you get the default board layout:

Move and place your components:

Use the autorouter and watch the magic happen:

I’m not adding a ground plane or doing any real routing but I do want to make sure there are no DRC errors. After that I’m going to try to pull this design into Fusion 360 and see what the 3D model looks like.

 

Fusion 360

Use the Fusion 360 Sync button to send the PCB design over to Fusion 360:

This is showing that none of the Sparkfun components I selected using the online managed library has 3D models associated to them. This is disappointing because I know Sparkfun has a Github rep full of 3D models and this probably means I would have to side load all of these under a custom library. I’m sure future releases might have the 3D models included but I was hoping with this release there would be some included.

 

Opening the PCB model in Fusion 360:

 

Default Front Side in Fusion 360

 

 

Default Back Side in Fusion 360

So none of the 3D models are included but default block models are there which is better than nothing. You can see all the traces and the vias so that’s working as expected.

 

Last I just added some test to the top layer silk screen to see if it would update over to the Fusion 360 model and after pushing the Eagle design to 360 an updating the component in 360 I could see the change:

 

 

Summary

Overall not a bad first try at doing 3D in Fusion 360 from Eagle but the managed libraries need to have the 3D models attached otherwise you need to do it manually.

Here is a link to an Autodesk video tutorial showing you how to do that: (Step 4 – Create a Managed Library and Map 3D Models)

I’m hoping that future updates have more built-in/attached 3D models but the basic PCB to Fusion 360 3D model worked without any hitches and that alone is worth the upgrade if you’re working with both the PCB layout and the mechanical design.

 

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