JLCPCB and KiCad

A PCB I designed in KiCad and had manufactured by JLCPCB

I normally fabricate my projects on prototype printed circuit boards where I make the circuits with jumper wires. It is error prone and very time consuming. I recently watched a tutorial series made by digi-key on how to design you own PCB’s using KiCad and order them from a PCB manufacturer.

My first project is a board designed to power an Arduino Nano, and break out several analog and digital inputs. One 12-pin header is specifically designed to break out a 16X2 LCD. I designed it to accept a MeanWell IRM-10-5 10 watt 5VDC AC-DC converter to power the arduino and any peripherals. I am really pleased with how it turned out.

Here is the KiCad schematic.
Here is my design in PCBNEW in the early stages before I drew the traces on the board.

The tutorial suggested that I go with OSHPARK to produce my boards. I uploaded my gerber files and the showed me proofs of my design. They quoted me $48 for three boards. I checked around and found that JLCPCB would make five for $2. I thought it was too good to be true, but after shipping, I only paid $13 for 5 boards. They are very high quality, and I only had to wait about 10 days. That’s even cheaper than the prototype PCB’s I had been using. I was able to solder all the components on the board in a few short minutes as opposed to hours. This is definitely the way I will go from now on.

Music Minus One: Anton Rubinstein Piano Concerto No. 4 D minor Op. 70

I have never seriously attempted to play a piano concerto before. I just assumed they were all too difficult for me, and that I would never be able to play with an orchestra anyway, so what’s the point? All that may still be true, however, I recently discovered the Music Minus One series that makes orchestra-only recordings.

Before I started seriously practicing, I printed a two-piano version of Anton Rubinstein’s 4th piano concerto in D minor Op. 70 on IMSLP and toyed around with it for several weeks, as I routinely do for pieces that I may or may not ever work on. I just wanted to play that big, powerful main riff on the opening, mostly. I kept fooling around with it and without too much effort, had learned most of the first movement, albeit very badly.

One evening, I was playing along with a professional recording that was way too fast for me, but I had so much fun when I could keep up. That’s when I searched and found the MMO recording.

The MMO recording comes with two CD’s: both have an awesome complete performance, and then a orchestra-only performance. One is at full speed, and the other claims to be 20% slower. I am practicing with the slower version.

The first few times playing along with the orchestra track revealed some very bad timing issues in my playing. Also, the recording was too quiet at times that I could not hear it well enough to play along even when I wore headphones at full blast and played quietly. As time progressed, It became much easier to keep up even when there are long silences in the recording. I used audacity to amplify the quiet parts of the track by up to 9dB and it is working well for me.

At this point, I have been seriously practicing for about 8hrs a week for the last three months. My goal is to get it polished enough to perform in a concert at my church.