With the version 4, eagleUp is much simpler and intuitive to use. Here is a short tutorial that will walk you through the steps from a 2D design to an enclosed 3D model.
Open your project with Eagle as usual. Make sure that your board has a closed contour on layer 20 (Dimensions). It can be a rectangle, a complex polygon with rounded edges… Unfortunately at this step a circular contour does not work as it has no edges.
For better accuracy, set the width of your outline to zero so it’s as thin as possible.
The board provided for the tutorial is ready to use. No action needed.
Export from Eagle
For this small tutorial I provide a demo project with a layout and the corresponding schematics. Please consider this only as a material for modelling. The initial idea was to make a simple 4-bit meter for analog signal. As a circuit it probably does not work !
Run the ULP “eagleUp_export.ulp”. You can click on File / Run / eagleUp_export.ulp.
A window with various settings will appear. Here you can set the colour of your board, the type of plating. The images will look better with the 1200 dpi resolution, but the model will get heavier and slower, so you should use it for small boards only. 600 dpi is ok most of the time and has sufficient details. If you have a very large board or want a quick preview you can use the 300 dpi but the quality of the texts will be lower.
You can use the tPlace layer for the silk screen, or tPlace + tNames if you have placed the designators correctly.
If you have a large board and just want a quick preview of the board and components you can select the no image option. It skips all the steps related to image creation so it is much faster.
If you want to try different color sets for your board, try the custom solder mask color. A popup will prompt two hexadecimal colors : one for the mask over copper (usually lighter) and one for mask over epoxy (darker). You can find a color generator here. Share your best results !
Press OK to launch the export. It should take just a few seconds, then you are back to your design. Users of older versions of Eagle ( before 5.11) might see popups asking for the overwrite of the image files.
The export script writes in the folder of your design a *.eup file with the details of your board : shape, thickness, position of the packages, and exports some images of the copper, silk and masks. These images will be mixed to create a realistic view of the PCB.
You can run the export script as many times as you want with different settings to see their effects.
After a successful export you will see a popup. If a new version of eagleUp is available you will get a notification as well.
Import in Sketchup
Open Sketchup. If asked, set the template to engineering in meters. It is convenient to draw. I enter the dimensions in meters instead of millimeters to achieve smaller details. You can delete any object included in the template.
Click on the Plugins menu, then import design from Eagle.
Browse to your project directory and select the eup file previously generated. You will see several terminal popup and disappear during the creation of the PCB images. This step can take a few minutes with a large design on a slow computer. Just be patient.
If all goes well, after a few seconds you will see a popup saying
Eagle'up import completed Missing packages: 1X02
The import is completed. There was no model for the pinheads so it is listed as missing.
Note : if you are experiencing issues with the import in Sketchup, enable the ruby console in Window / Ruby console before running the plugin. This will give useful information.
Here you go. A nice model of your previously 2D design. But will it fit in an enclosure ? No project is completed before being in a nice enclosure, right ?
Use the measurements tools of Sketchup to get an idea of the dimensions of your project :
Remember the unit is mm and not meter. Well it seems that Sparkfun Soapbox could be a match for our project.
From the datasheet provided you can try to model the enclosure. To save some time I have included this enclosure in the models. So you just have to click on File / import. Browse to your /models directory and select Soapbox.skp
You can rotate and translate the half-shell below your board to check the fitting. At this point you will usually notice conflicts and collisions.
At this point you can manipulate the board and the enclosure, check for the mounting points, attachments… before having the real board or even purchase the enclosure. CAD saves time, money and a lot of effort !
You may have noticed that the Led pins were quite long. That’s because we have not yet cut them to the proper length. Let’s close the enclosure and check the length needed to have the Leds visible from the outside.
The easiest is to duplicate the half-shelf with the rotate function. Press Control once and it will rotate+copy. Since the shell is symmetrical you can use the middle point of the small side like shown below. Much quicker than trying to add a new instance and try to align it by hand.
With the top shell in place, select it and hide it (contextual menu). You can un-hide it at any time with edit / unhide all.
Now select the four Leds, and move them up (along the blue axis).
For a final check you can apply a translucent material to the top shell. I use Translucent Glass Block Dark. Everything seems all right inside. You can now take measures of the location of the Leds, so you know where to drill the enclosure.
This project is not finished. You can complete the model by adding some proper connectors for the input signal and for the battery, and an On/Off switch. Maybe a larger enclosure will be necessary after all !
I hope this small tutorial shows you the benefits of a 3D modelling of your electronic layout. Please ask in the comments if you need more detailed step.