BoardLab [Smart Circuit Board Introspection Tool]

The tools used to work with Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), for example soldering iron, multi-meter and oscilloscope involve working directly with the board and the board components. However, the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software used to query a PCB’s design data requires using a keyboard and a mouse. These different interfaces make it difficult to connect both kinds of operations in a workflow. Further, the measurements made by tools like a multi-meter have to be understood in the context of the schematics of the board manually. The BoardLab system is a solution to reduce the cognitive load of this disconnect by introducing a handheld probe that allows for direct interactions with the PCB for just-in-time information on board schematics, component datasheets and source code. The probe also doubles up as a voltmeter and annotates the schematics of the board with voltage measurements.

Conceptual schematic


First sketches: January 2013

First prototype using camera tracking: June 2013

Second prototype using magnetic tracking: August 2013

Third prototype with input buttons on device and measurement probe tip: August 2013

Fourth prototype with measurement trigger button integrated with the probe tip and the second button moved to the other end of the device: August 2013


BoardLab: PCB as an Interface to EDA Software, Pragun Goyal, Harshit Aggrwal, Joseph A. Paradiso, Pattie Maes, UIST 2013 Demonstrations, St Andrews, Scotland

GitHub repository

Patent pending