June 27, 2023

Raspberry Pi Pico Schematic in 20 minutes using Flux Copilot

Imagine designing a PCB in a third less time than you're used to - that's the power of Flux Copilot's new upgrade, allowing it to wire components together for you! This transition from a purely advisory tool to a proactive design partner has the potential to reduce time and complexity in PCB design significantly.

Flux app screenshot with raspberry pi pico schematic diagram

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To put this new feature to the test, we revisited a recent project where we designed a Raspberry-Pi-Pico-like schematic using only AI. Initially, it took us 30 minutes to complete the design using Flux Copilot's advice. With Copilot taking the lead on making connections, the same schematic design was completed in just 20 minutes!

In this tutorial, we'll walk you through the important workflows and example prompts to help you design a Raspberry-Pi-Pico-like board in 20 minutes. Curious about the end result? Take a look at the finished project here.

Using the New Flux Copilot in Your PCB Design Process

Using generative AI for PCB design means working at the very edge of current possibilities. This requires a few workflow adjustments to get the most out of it. These are some of the principles we found work particularly well, but we can't wait to hear what you come up with. Let us know in Slack!

Your input and interactions play a significant role in getting the most out of Copilot. Be clear and precise with your objectives, don't hesitate to explore different suggestions, and feel free to give feedback with a thumbs up. We compiled a list of useful prompts if you want to learn more about what Copilot can do.

Go from general to specific. It's much easier to get precise responses when Copilot is provided with more details. You can get those details by first asking more broad questions and use Copilot's response to ask a more detailed question. When you're confident about Copilot's reponse, use the "Take action"button to have Copilot wire the schematics for you.

Use Copilot as a teammate. Depending on the question, it might take Copilot a few seconds to reply. Use that time to focus on other areas of the design, Copilot can answer several questions in parallel.

Without further ado, let's dive into the prompts that made this project happen:.

Identify Required Components

At the start of your project, you'll need to identify the necessary components. This is a good opportunity to ask more general questions at first and start narrowing down the scope of the project.

For a Raspberry Pi Pico-like board, your interaction with Copilot might look like this:

@copilot what is the minimum set of components I need to make a Raspberry Pi Pico-like board?

Minimize Datasheet Reading

Having to sift through datasheets consumes a significant amount of time.

When you find a part in the library that you think might for your design, ask Copilot to verify:

@copilot does this LDO work for powering the RP2040?

If you're not familiar with some of the ICs in your design, you can ask Copilot what other components are required or what a pin is used for:

@copilot how should I connect the shield pin?@copilot what else do I need for the oscillator?@copilot what decoupling capacitors do I need for the RP2040?

Have Copilot Take Action

Copilot can do the wiring for you and save you precious time. Before you ask Copilot to take action, make sure you provide it with as much information as you can. If a component can be connected in multiple ways (as a flash memory to the RP2040), state your goals clearly.

@copilot how do I connect this flash memory to the RP2040? I want to make sure I can boot from it.

If you take a close look at the final project, you'll notice that these patterns repeat over and over on the different elements. Once you get familiar with this workflow, you'll be designing at a speed only big teams were able to accomplish in the past.

Towards a More Efficient PCB Design Process

It's an exciting time for PCB design. With this new feature of Flux Copilot, we're not just accelerating the design process but also opening up new possibilities for creativity and innovation. It's like having a skilled coworker by your side, ready to tackle the complex parts so you can focus on the big picture.

We're eager to see what amazing designs you'll create with Flux Copilot. This is just the beginning of a fascinating journey toward a future where AI assists in creating, imagining, and realizing incredible hardware designs. And we're thrilled to be on this journey with you.

Happy designing!

If this sounds interesting to you and you'd like to request a demo or learn more, please contact sales.

Contact Sales
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Nico Tzovanis

Nico is a professional electronics and PCB design engineer at Flux. Find him on Flux @nico

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Screenshot of the Flux app showing a PCB in 3D mode with collaborative cursors, a comment thread pinned on the canvas, and live pricing and availability for a part on the board.
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Screenshot of the Flux app showing a PCB in 3D mode with collaborative cursors, a comment thread pinned on the canvas, and live pricing and availability for a part on the board.