Crazy idea of the day: simple carrier-board PCB for teensy sabers?

(Are non-profezzorn users allowed to make CIOTD posts? I hope so…)

With supply chains the way they are, here’s an idea: a very simple carrier board PCB that makes assembling breakout-board-based sabers easier/more reliable.

The use case; I want to assemble a few sabers, proffieboards are still hard to get, and it’s crazy cheap & easy to source breakout boards. But that means a ton of point-to-point wiring, plus needing a way to hold them together (chassis).

Instead, what about a very simple PCB that lets you through-hole solder all the boards and avoid all the wiring. Pros: more foolproof, no wire mess to wade through, more sturdy (PCB forms the backbone). Cons: yet another thing to make/order, increases thickness slightly, maybe not worth it.

The components I’m thinking of:

  • Teensy
  • SD reader
  • MPU6050
  • MAX98375A

I’m specifically thinking bare PCB as opposed to something like the teensysaber boards, because 1) I’m not experienced in designing SMD PCBs, and 2) this could be much more accessible to new builders. There are a ton of online shops that will do PCBs super cheap in small quantities, and the breakout boards are all over amazon/ebay/aliexpress. Plus it’d be a neat project to get myself into the PCB designing world.

Any thoughts? I know this is a weird in-between; not quite a fully populated board like proffie, and it’s just one step away from soldering them yourself. I’d find it useful, but not sure if others would.

More details…

Here’s a simple thing I put together in easyeda, with just teensy + MPU + MAX. It is not complete or even correct (missing SD, should use teensy 4 vs 3). But gives an idea of what I’m thinking:

re: Thickness… I’m thinking you could put down some kapton tape (or just trust the solder mask) and solder the breakout boards directly touching the carrier. So the extra thickness would be ~2mm, probably similar to the clearance for insulated wires anyway.

External connections; so far I’m only really thinking how to wire the breakout-boards to each other. But I could add some external connections on there (power, speaker, buttons, blade), maybe even a “standard connector” (right angle header pins?) to make it plugable. That might be neat.

Another crazy idea; double sided board. Right now I’m trying to do single sided so I can fit these boards next to the battery to save vertical space in the hilt. But an alternative would be to make a double-sided carrier board, which would let you halve the height at the expense that it could no longer sit alongside the battery.

Nothing crazy here though.
These are easy to make, although if you’re going to make your own PCBs anyways, why not just put the components on the board?
Maybe just start with the TeensySaber V3 design and update it for a Teensy V4?

If you do want to stick with breakout boards, you may want to consider using QWIIC for the motion board since that is just plug-and-play, and has worked really well for me, even with Teensy 4.