I saw some pictures of the throttle and it seems that its a custom made PCB that uses an Atmega microcontroller (same as Arduino).
My thought process is that it seems like an overkill in terms of complexity. A majority of the component count is there just to run and interface with the microcontroller; resistors, capacitors, regulators, LEDS, micro-USB, powersupply, cyrstal oscillator, etc.
What if we designed our own motherboard that only mounts components that are relevent to the throttle (barometric sensor, throttle pontentiometer, pin headers for display, etc) and off loaded the rest to a daughterboard that can be bought off the shelf (ie Arduino Micro).
A prime example of this is the kinT board for the Kinesis Advantage keyboard. The daughterboard (teensy) is bought off the shelf and soldered onto a motherboard that is custom made (by Michael Stapelberg). Kinx-Project
With the current design we have everything on one single PCB. A throttle that uses a splitboard design has the following advantages are:
- Easier Servicing Of Hardware - With a split board design you can cheaply replace the daugter or mother board. Easily replace broken parts (ie. Linear Motion Position Sensor) on the motherboard due to its simplicity.
- Cheaper Manufacturing - We just buy off the shelf daughterboard (ie arduino micro) and plug it into the motherboard. The motherboard is cheap since it is extremely simple and doesn’t require extensive component placement or SMD soldering. The off the shelf arduino board is extremely cheap because of economy of scales.
- Improves Reliability - The off the shelf arduino board is well… off the shelf. There are millions of these arduino boards that have been tested in a variety of environments. We will just need to worry about the reliability of the motherboard (not a problem due to low component count).
- Faster Prototyping - You can cheaply and easily modify the motherboard. For example download a BLE chip placement plan and easily incorporate into the motherboard. Generate gerber and couple days later you get your PCB. Solder in the daughter board and the few components that go onto the motherboard PCB and you are ready to flash the daugterboard.
- Easier For Hobbyist - Hobbyist won’t need to be concerned with Arduino component layout. They will just need to add/modifiy footprints for the component they are adding and route it to a free pin on the daughterboard (ie arduino micro) that will get attached.
The downside is that:
- We might need to put a bit more effort into layout to accomodate the off the shelf daughterboard.
Hopefully I made sense and didn’t confuse you guys. If you have question or clarification don’t hesitate to ask.