Being able to see in 3D what a PCB will look like before you commit to getting it made is invaluable, generally the tools to do that are quite expensive. Well that used was the case, now its easy and free! Using google Sketchup and the superb EagleUp you can export your PCB to a set of images and a .txt file. Once you have processed them you import the .txt file in to Sketchup and it draws the board and all its holes for you. Each component requires a Sketchup model but EagleUp has a beginner’s guide to help you get started. So with the Layout complete on our new Home/Garden automation controller we’ve made 3D model’s of the components before we commit to the PCB manufacture. Heres how it looks :
Were still not quite finished, so a few of the components are missing and the image cropping needs some work as were getting crescent shaped pads on some holes, but I think it looks fantastic!. With this model finding an enclosure or getting a custom one 3D printed from the many services that have appeared over the last few years will be easier too.
Update : Jerome Lamy, author of EagleUp has released an updated version that fixes the alignment issues I was having and removes the manual steps needed before.