We felt that current EDA packages are not serving our users all that well. So we're bringing a new design tool using the most advanced 3D technology known to man. It's going to shake the printed circuit board world to the foundations, and it's a PCB:NG exclusive for our Early Access users.
Here at PCB:NG we are obsessed with making it as easy as possible for people to bring their hardware designs to life. Everything hinges on having a carefully balanced user interface that gives you, the customer, just the right amount of control over our manufacturing process to get the end result that you expect without showering you with minutia. This way you get to spend more time designing new and awesome hardware devices, and we get to play with our fancy machines and code more fun algorithms.
So far we have managed to turn the process of producing electronics from an exercise in frustration that usually involves countless email exchanges and phone calls and wrangling multiple vendors into a streamlined online shopping experience, the kind you get from leading vendors in other industries, like Shapeways or Moo: upload your board design, pick your parts, put in your credit card information, and wait for your electronics to show up 12 days later.
But in our quest to tame the complexity, we might have overdone some things and overlooked others. The simpler the ordering process gets, the more mundane and boring it becomes. And the more we focus on the web, the less attention we pay to where the world is moving to. To paraphrase the great Wayne Gretzky, it's time to sprint to where the next generation of our customers is going to have fun: Minecraft.
Minecraft is a video game that places you into a virtual world built out of cubes, and you get to change and morph your surroundings as you wish. The game is incredibly popular thanks in part to how easy it is to build things in it - and people do make amazing things there. If someone can make a replica of the Starship Enterprise, or a copy of Westeros inside of such a virtual world, surely it should be possible to use those same tools to design a circuit board, put some components on it, and get our manufacturing process to turn those bits and bytes into an actual working piece of electronics? That's precisely what we set out to do.
Introducing The CircuitDIGGER: design your hardware in Minecraft, get it made in the real world.
Forget the browser! The whole thing happens in Minecraft, and the process consists of exactly 3 steps:
1. Download and install the standard Minecraft game software and use it to login to one of our servers.
2. Use the in-game tools to build a large scale model of your circuit board design.
3. Finalize your order by chatting with one of our artificially intelligent in-game assistants.
Checkout this video to see CircuitDIGGER in action. If you want to see just the fun part where I run through the traces of this 555 timer-based blinky board, scroll to the 5:50 mark.
Of course, if Minecraft is not your thing, our regular web-based assembly service is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
P.S. If you want to explore that 555 timer board in Minecraft on your own computer, here are the Minecraft save files. Enjoy!