When working on my projects I usually take a non standard approach to the design process. Instead of starting with a block diagram and schematic, I put together a working prototype using easy to find components and parts in my personal inventory.
First I develop a rough idea in my project journal (and in my head) and break the project down into smaller modules. Then I dive right into researching how I could accomplish certain tasks in each module, and what devices can be used. After finding suitable candidates I test each module individually for functionality. Once all the modules are successfully tested, then I integrate them with each other, and have the full system working on my breadboard.
After getting a working system on my breadboard, I would make a schematic. This is not the way I am taught in school however. My instructors would never approve wiring up a circuit without a schematic. But since I am testing module by module making a schematic for everything is time consuming. Usually each module involves 5-10 connections, and almost always the device datasheet has a schematic on how to wire it up for a certain application. Although if the module is complicated enough you will usually find a rough schematic in my journal.
Making a schematic for every working circuit is very important. That way you can modify and make significant changes to the existing circuit without fear of losing the circuit you already built. Also a schematic helps when moving the breadboard circuit to a standalone device.
Last few days I have been working on testing various components of the Gyro’clock circuit. They all passed the initial tests. Before starting to put it altogether, I built a complete circuit on the breadboard. For this project, this step is specially important to see if the tiny 150 mAh Lipo battery is enough to power the entire circuit.
So I put together the complete circuit on the breadboard and powered it with a fully charged Lipo battery. Since it is not yet possible to spin it around like the real Gyro’clock would be, I slightly modified the orientation detection module to trigger the clock display module at a reasonable angular rate. This simple test verified that all modules in the circuit are functioning and that the battery is capable of doing its job.
This is an important milestone for this project. Before actually building the device I know that it is going to work if I wire up everything as it is in the breadboard circuit. The next major milestone is a standalone prototype. In the meantime here is the schematic,