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PCB Manufacturing companies

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e44-72

Member
Hello

I Like using stripboard for most my electronics projects but there starting to look a bit messy with loads of jumpers.
So I would like to get a PCB made and I do not own a laser printer or photocopier to try etching my own.

I want to ask for advise on manfuctures that produce good quality PCB's and are not too expensive. I live in the UK and I only want it made not soldered as well. I don't mind about waiting a long time I'm more interest in it not being too expensive.

Thank you for reading and any advise.
 

Mickster

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
This may get better responses in the 'Circuit Simulation & PCB Design' section, perhaps a Mod could move if it necessary?

With that said, what software do you have at your disposal in order to create your PCB design?

Some fab houses, such as ExpressPCB, to name one example:
http://www.expresspcb.com/
...release their own PCB design software, which is freely available, but with conditions attached - the output format applies only to that fab house and you are tied to purchasing PCBs from them.

Paid-for design software, such as Eagle & Altium, to name just a couple, output industry standard Gerber files which can be sent to any fab house.

In addition, free versions can also tend to be space-crippled...such as is the case with the free version of Eagle.

From the Cadsoft site:
http://www.cadsoftusa.com/download-eagle/freeware/?language=en

The following limitations apply to the EAGLE Light Edition in general:
•The useable board area is limited to 100 x 80 mm (4 x 3.2 inches).
•Only two signal layers can be used (Top and Bottom).
•The schematic editor can only create one sheet.

Apart from these three limitations the EAGLE Light Edition can do anything the Professional Edition can do. You can even load, view and print drawings that exceed these limits!
 

e44-72

Member
Hello and thank you for the reply, I use a software package called cicuit Wizard to draw my schematics and produce PCB layouts.
 
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Mickster

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Had a search for Circuit Wizard and found it on Maplin's site:

Gerber and N.C. drill export
Looks like you are good to go.

Please check the Circuit Simulation & PCB Design section though. There may be posts there which can direct you to suitable companies based upon your PCB size/requirements, along with testimonies about turnaround and quality etc.
 

e44-72

Member
Thank you for your help and advice and link to eagle software
 

tvtech

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Thank you for your help and advice and link to eagle software
Believe it or not...Eagle teaches people to get up to speed. Here is why:

Free Eagle lets a "designer" do PCB's up to 100mm by 80 mm. It teaches people to think..And pack as much as possible into that small area....

And make it reliable.......the best learning ground by far. Eagle rocks. Absolutely love it.

tvtech:D
 

Mickster

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Most Helpful Member
If you are interested in using Eagle, Sparkfun has some good tutorials to help you get started.

http://www.sparkfun.com/search/results?term=eagle&what=tutorials

It's probably not the most intuitive design software to use, at first glance, but once you get to grips with it... and the tutorials help greatly toward that... you'll be knocking up board designs in short time.

The initial installation provides quite a large library of manufacturers and their components, along with standard footprints for both common through-hole and SMD sized devices. Chances are that you will find most of the common components you are looking to use within the standard install, but can't remember which library they are within, or where they are located. Don't worry, you can make your own library:

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en...e=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=iw&ei=8ZDbT6i3GYj98QPx0eGMCw

Should you find something you require, which isn't included, chances are that someone else has already faced the same obstacle and created their own .lbr file.

Some more links:
https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=...e=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=iw&ei=UpLbT-63PMri8APTo7yfCw

Regards.

BTW, there's at least one ETO member who simply loves Eagle, knows it inside-out and pretty much falls over himself to help anyone who is struggling. It's not my place to openly name him, but if you find yourself struggling and use the right key words in your thread title, he's sure to notice and pop up & help.
 

e44-72

Member
Thank you very much for your help on this. You mentioned Gerber files, what is the extension anme for these? when I looked at saving stuff in eagle I could save as board (brd) schematic or libary, whats Gerber?
Also lots of places tend to do a minimum of two layers but i only want a single laer of copper (through hole mounting)

Thanks again for the help
 

Mickster

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Rather than trying to describe the Gerber file format and making a poor job of it, here's a Wiki link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerber_format

Think about automated machinery and the actual positional information which is required to direct it to perform it's various functions. You need to accurately position a tool head to perform a particular function, whether it be depositing a substance to, or removing material from a work-piece.

Your chosen software suite basically plots a tool route from one position to another, along with instructions regarding the operation/s to perform once the tool has got there. All of this information is stored in an exported file, which is usually accepted industry-wide. In the machining industry, the commonly accepted format is g-code. In the electronics industry, the Gerber standard is used.

Here's a Sparkfun tutorial regarding exporting Eagle boards to Gerber:
http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/109

Regards.
 

e44-72

Member
Thank you again for your time and explanation of a gerber file. I'm going to need to get used to working with eagle as I don't think I can produce a gerber file from my circuit wizard drawing.
 
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Mickster

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
If you are happy with the software you are using, there is no need to start all over again with Eagle.

All you appear to be missing is the step required to make the Gerber & drill files, which is indicated here on the software website:
http://www.new-wave-concepts.com/ed/cw_tour13.html

Go to the menu bar, select File > CAD/CAM > Export Gerber... along with Export NC drill...

Regards.
 

e44-72

Member
Thanks Mickster for the help, Unfornatunatly The circuit wizard I have is a student adition, it is givern to us as students and the really anoying part is It won't let me use the print option in file or the cad cam option, so i can't produce a gerber file. I'm going to go and actually buy the software myself and install it and hope my existing file will open on it.
I'd like to get used to eagle anyway as it seems like really good software and it has a much larger range of components than cicuit wizard. I just need to get used to using it.

Thanks again.
 
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