What to Know About PCB Design for Python
There are lots of projects you can take on in Python, from designing practical applications for business use to building up your own creations as a hobby. Really, it just comes down to what you want to make and how much you need to learn about the ins and outs of the language before you can make it happen.
This variety of fairly straightforward possibilities is ultimately one reason that Python’s popularity is growing. Last year, in fact, ZDNet’s update on programming languages revealed that Python was preferred over Java for the first time (though C was still out in front). It’s not clear exactly what caused a 35-year-old programming language to leap ahead of Java, but we can certainly draw from this information that more people are experimenting with Python.
Even with this being the case though, many people with an interest in accessible programming languages don’t realize that it is possible to incorporate a Python program with electronic hardware. More specifically, a program can be written such that when connected, it sends a signal to a circuit board, which can in turn be hooked up to any number of inventions or devices that will perform a desired task.
Naturally, in order to make a creation like this work, you’ll need to have a firm grasp of Python basics — and the more you know the better. But what do you need to know about the design of printed circuit boards in order to finish the job on the hardware side of things?
You Can Learn the Basics
For starters, know that you can learn the basics of PCB design in an intuitive fashion through the use of top-notch software. This may surprise some who imagine circuit board design to be more of a hands-on, mechanical process. But the truth is modern PCB design is almost more like programming than engineering to begin with. The downloadable tools on Altium will give you some idea of what you can access even for free to get started. Basically, you can gain access to highly capable but easy-to-use PCB design programs that will help to walk you through the process of creating a blueprint for a functioning board. These programs are excellent to practice on and learn from, but they can also help you to finalize a design and send it off for production when the time comes.
It’s Simpler with CircuitPython
If you’re interested in combining a Python project with a hardware setup, it is also worth knowing that you may have an easier time making it work if you use a sort of alternate language called CircuitPython. Per a write-up at Hackaday, this is a form of MicroPython that is designed to be easy for programmers to learn and use, but which also harnesses the processing power of C. Thus, it is fair to say that particularly for beginner or less experienced programmers, CircuitPython enables the most powerful applications with the simplest setup.
You Can Also Seek Out Particular Boards
Just as you can seek out CircuitPython to make things easier from the software side of the project, you can also simplify your PCB design process by opting for one of a few specific kinds of boards that are well suited to a pairing with a Python program. The most popular option is almost certainly Arduino — a board that is actually built to be paired with a program in order to operate. However, there are also some Eagle PCB boards that work seamlessly with programs.
The bottom line in the end is that you have options. This project can be as simple or complex as you wish, and can incorporate different versions of Python and different types of printed circuit board design. Provided these options though, it is absolutely possible to write a Python program that will work with a hardware application and your own circuit board.