Time to shed some light on one of those secret tools in my little electronics toolbox: Eagle3D! If you are like me, using Cadsoft’s awesome (and free) layout and schematics tool Eagle and want good-looking pictures of your latest design, then you should probably heave a look at another free little tool designed to work on Eagle layouts to generate a 3D ray-traced rendering of your boards. The tool or rather script is called Eagle3D and can be found here.
No why is this worth writing about? First of all because it’s an astonishing tool creating absolutely realistic images of your board before you even think about manufacturing and soldering it. But secondly, because Eagle3D is not the type of tool with funny, colored icons in a nice little toolbar where you just click one of those icons and your rendering is done. Unfortunately, using it as it comes out of the box, you’ll probably end up with only half of the parts on your board being rendered correctly or rendered at all. To see the rest of you parts on the board, there’s no way around some fine tuning of the Eagle3D scripts (or even some CAD construction work to build custom parts). Below is an image of one of my boards at various stages, rendered with the out-of-the box version of Eagle3D, rendered after editing some of the Eagle3D scripts and finally, rendered after construction and adding some custom parts with Google SketchUp. Continue Reading