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A 3-post collection

Custom Fritzing part for Mojo v3

Written by Michael Earls
 electronics  FPGA  Illustrator

There is a great tool called Fritzing that allows you to create a breadboard view of circuits that you can use for documentation. I really wanted to use it to document the breadboard for my post on setting up a reversible counter, but no one had created a part for it yet. You can also use Fritzing to create schematic diagrams from your breadboard as well as create PC boards.

So, I took a side journey down a very deep rabbit hole. Here's what I learned along the way.

The final part is available on GitHub in my fritzing-parts repository.

Fritzing example with new Mojo part

Fritzing Community

The first thing I noticed immediately was how helpful everyone is in the Fritzing community. The online forums are full of helpful people willing to pitch in. In fact, my part would not have been completed without the enormous effort of @vanepp from the Fritzing forums. I had spent three weeks of my spare time getting everything laid out in Illustrator and Fritzing before I was brave enough to "release" the part onto the Fritzing site. As soon as I did, I received instant feedback on what needed improvement on my part. From there, I've had the assistance of a very experienced part maker working with my source files (which I had converted from the Eagle CAD software to SVG since Eagle is the format that the Mojo manufacturer used to create the board).

Fritzing does not like Adobe Illustrator SVG

Adobe illustrator has the ability to export to SVG. It retains the layer and group names, but some things just weren't translating correctly, so it kept causing trouble. It turns out that the community is mostly using Inkscape (an open-source (GPL) alternative to Illustrator) to make their SVG documents.

I am going to learn how to use Inkscape and I will likely cancel my Adobe Creative Cloud membership. I already know how to use GIMP (the open-source Photoshop alternative). I'm not a graphics professional, but I'm paying a pro price to keep these tools.

The only other product that I use from Creative Cloud is Premiere Pro, but I can just buy Premiere Elements to replace it. That will save me a lot of money each month.

Part creation is hard

I jumped into this thinking "this should be easy, there are so many online tutorials". I was wrong. Even with the tutorials, there were some things I had to learn about creating parts. I accidentally deleted the first part that I created after wiring up 110 pins to three different views (that was over 600 mouse clicks after it was all over).

There are lots of resources, but I'm a hard-knocks kind of learner, so my stubbornness cost me extra pain. The Illustrator part took me over two weeks of spare time to get right. I started with a high-resolution image of the board from the Embedded Micro website and edited it in Photoshop. I prepared it (changed color balance and contrast) for Illustrator. Once I had it in Illustrator, I used the image trace tool to create the beginnings of a long task. I replaced each individual component with hand drawn basic shapes (the image trace created complex paths that would have made an enormous SVG file).

Once I had exported it to SVG, I then had to make sure that the pins lined up. It took a lot of work between myself and @vanepp from the forums


I enjoyed the part creation overall and I'd do it again. I think Fritzing is a great tool and I hope more people add more parts to it.

More Illustrator and Lightroom Goodness - Image Trace

Written by Michael Earls
 Illustrator  LightRoom


I really like the image trace functionality in the new Illustrator CC. I took a photo of Laurie and did some alterations in Adobe Lightroom to increase the contrast and make it a better candidate for image trace. I then loaded it in Illustrator and applied the image trace to it. Then I added the fill color to her face. It was so incredibly simple. It’s amazing to me that this illustrator file can now be used to create an image of any size and not lose resolution. It could even be on a billboard! I love Illustrator.

Here is the original image:


First project with Adobe Illustrator CC

Written by Michael Earls
 featured  Illustrator

Laurie’s new job has her teaching preschool at the Jewish Educational Alliance here in Savannah. As part of her teaching, she needed a wheel that would let her students know what the day’s activity would be. I decided to create it for her using Adobe’s new Illustrator Creative Cloud.

Here is a PDF containing the final product: ActivityWheel

Activity Wheel

Most of the work I did involved finding Creative Commons images on the web and converting them to line drawings, then cleaning up the paths.

The activities are:

  • Monday – Sandbox
  • Tuesday – Painting
  • Wednesday – Skating
  • Thursday – Water table
  • Friday – Spray Painting (with paint in a spray bottle)

I really like the new Illustrator. I still haven’t decided if I can pay the $20/month for it, though. I have the Photoshop/Lightroom special of $9.99/month already.