Beaglebone Black Wireless

This example will cover the design of an enclosure for the BeagleBone Black Wireless single-board computer. You can download the files below to follow along the example yourself:


The design files for this board are open source and can be found here. The BeagleBone Wireless board is also one of the example projects in the free version of EAGLE. An interactive 3D representation of the generated enclosure and PCB can be found at the bottom of this tutorial.

In this example, we are going to make an enclosure for the board with cutouts for the micro HDMI connector, micro USB connector, power jack, and USB connector. The reference designators of these connector components in the EAGLE example project are X3, X4, X5, and X12.

IDF Preparation/Upload

In order to use the Enclosure Generator, IDF files are required to be uploaded as input. IDF files are human-readable files that have traditionally been used for translating ECAD (electrical CAD) designs into MCAD (mechanical CAD) representations. There are several different IDF file types that most ECAD tools can export. The type used by the Enclosure Generator are *.emp and *.emn files. EAGLE circuit boards can be easily exported into IDF files using the following commands:

  1. Open the project in EAGLE.
  2. Click File>Export>IDF 3D
  3. Click "Save to IDF"
  4. Select the folder to save the files.
Once you have completed this process, the *.emn and *.emp files can be uploaded. It is advisable to examine the files to make sure that they were exported correctly and are not empty. It is also often necessary to ensure that the dimensions of components given in the *.emp file is correct. For this example, the heights of all components as exported by EAGLE are 1mm. This is obviously incorrect, and will result in improperly sized cutouts for our connectors.

Currently, the best way to fix this problem is to adjust the component size within your ECAD tool, or to adjust the given size of a component in the IDF files themselves. For this example, we can alter the *.emp file in our text editor of choice, inputting the correct height for all components. Now that we have prepared the IDF files, uploading them is a simple process:

  1. Go to the "Get Started" navigation bar link at the top of the page.
  2. Select the *.emn and *.emp files using the upload buttons.
  3. Click "Upload".

Enclosure Design

The IDF files are now loaded and we can begin the process of generating an enclosure. For the BeagleBone Wireless board, we are going to increase the height of the enclosure, update the components that need cutouts, and set the cutout directions:
  1. Setting the height of the enclosure to 30mm is easy, simply adjust the default "Height" value to 30mm.
  2. It also makes sense to update the PCB Z offset to a value above the maximum bottom side component height. In this case, a value of 10mm will do.
  3. The default reference designator type that is used for component cutouts is "J", which is no good for this board as all of the components we are interested in have "X" reference designators. In order to fix this, we erase "J" from the "Component Cutout" field and replace it with "X", then click the "Update Cutouts" button. This will reload the page with the components we are interested in as cutout options.
  4. Set the cutout directions to directions appropriate values. This process unfortunately often requires several attempts if the component orientations on the board are not known. Once the component orientations are set, click "Update" to update the cutout settings.
  5. We are now ready to generate the enclosure by selecting "Generate" at the top of the parameter sidebar. This will trigger a progress bar and a 3D model of the enclosure to appear once it is complete.
  6. Other changes are possible via simply altering the parameters and re-generating the enclosure. These changes can be as simple as altering the number of mounting holes to completely altering the base template of the enclosure.
  7. Once the enclosure has been generated, we can download it and check how well it fits the PCB, further modify it (if desired) or fabricate it.

More examples to come!