For my thesis prep class, I designed and built a portable phone charger from scratch. That meant designing the printed circuit board (PCB) in software, sending out the design files to a fab, soldering the parts, and creating a box to keep it in—none of which I had ever done before. This project was definitely a learning curve.
I first created the circuit design in Eagle, a PCB layout software. All this does is create the spots for each component and connect them with copper traces. Once I received the printed board, I soldered on the resistors, capacitors, LEDs, USBs, and chips required for the circuit. Then came the moment of truth: testing it with my iPhone. And it worked!
The final part involved creating a box to keep the circuit and its rechargeable battery. I used SketchUp to design the box and sent the files to a 3-D printer to fabricate it. Although it seemed the easiest, this process actually involved a lot of failure. Ultimately, I came up with design requirements and built a box that was both sleek and functional.