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The scoop on PCB layout software

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
#81
I recently used Kicad to design and had the PCb manufactures by PCBWay in China. The finished product was excellent and very professional. ($10/10 boards plus shipping). Excellent for prototyping and large piece manufacturing. I highly recommend them.
I don't get it. If you are doing a one-off board, what do you do with the other nine?
 

DerStrom8

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
#82
I don't get it. If you are doing a one-off board, what do you do with the other nine?
Sometimes it's good to have spares to test with or mod. Additionally, would you rather have one board from another company for $10, or 10 boards from this company for $10? It's going to cost you just as much to get a single board, so why not get a few spares?
 
#83
Sometimes it's good to have spares to test with or mod. Additionally, would you rather have one board from another company for $10, or 10 boards from this company for $10? It's going to cost you just as much to get a single board, so why not get a few spares?
Well put my friend. Not to mention it will cost you more for one more one-off to just ship it. By the way there were no hidden costs (like tooling NRC). I find this amazing that you can order this cheap of PCB boards half way across the world via emailing them a few files (gerbers) without spending hours telling their engineering what exactly you want. Modern technology for you! I feel free from PCBExpress locked in software!
 

DerStrom8

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
#84
I find this amazing that you can order this cheap of PCB boards half way across the world via emailing them a few files (gerbers) without spending hours telling their engineering what exactly you want. Modern technology for you!
I must say that not requiring hours of discussion with engineering is not a matter of modern technology, but instead is allowed because they do not generally fabricate complicated boards. If you ask a lot of Chinese companies to make an 8-layer controlled impedance board with 0.1mm trace/space and electroplated hard gold (this is a description of an actual board I just had made), they will not be able to do that. Their lack of precision is what keeps them cheap and easy to use. If you need a board done like the one described, you will still spend hours talking with their CAM and fab departments (trust me, I've been there)! It's a tradeoff: Fast and easy while sacrificing precision and capabilities, or slower and complex while hitting the tolerances required and meeting your requirements.
 
#85
Kicad is really a 1 stop interface for several different programs, the main ones being eeschema and pcbnew. You can use pcbnew on it's own to create a standalone board.
As to a single program that behaves how you want, DesignSpark works well, though it does want to "phone home" every time you fire it up so it can check that it's registered and show you an advert (which you can close straight away). It runs with wine, and is the single biggest reason I haven't explored the native Linux tools to any extent.
HA? You are teaching me something new?
1- First I had to start a project, 2- then create a schematics with parts, 3- then create a netlist. 4- Then associate each part with a footprint. 5- Save schematics and netlist.
6- Then start a new pcb design in PCBnew, 7- read the netlist and then move pieces around. 8- Wire connect parts
Are you telling me I can skip steps 1-5 and jump into PCBnew? How do you read a netlist if you have not created one in the schematics?
 
#86
I must say that not requiring hours of discussion with engineering is not a matter of modern technology, but instead is allowed because they do not generally fabricate complicated boards..... .
True that. I was referring to a simple 2-layer board. I am sure all of us spent hours on creating a home-made pcb or used a proto board with tedious point-to-point soldering. To find out you have a tiny bridge short hidden from a quick glance, pulling hair out trying to debug. This just makes it that much cleaner, easier, less time consuming, easy to debug and more professional. Not to mention small investment in boards that you would have normally spent any ways on buying a large clad board yourself trying to cut, sand, transfer, etch, clean, drill and solder.
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
#87
Ummm, I just tried it and I was able to place footprints from the library and connected traces to them. I had to turn off the DRC for it to let me connect the traces. You have to name the components manually. DS doesn't do as much but it's easier to use I think.

Re: board fab houses. It's a fair point about having spares and so on, but I'm getting quite competent at making my own now, so that's my baseline. I'm even at the point of looking for materials to do through hole plating at home!
 

MrDEB

Well-Known Member
#88
I use Diptrace and have never regretted the decision. Tried other software but learning curve gets in the way.
As for boards, I have found Elecrow to be very good and cost effective.
 

DerStrom8

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
#89
Re: board fab houses. It's a fair point about having spares and so on, but I'm getting quite competent at making my own now, so that's my baseline. I'm even at the point of looking for materials to do through hole plating at home!
That's good for you, but not everyone has that luxury. If you don't have the time, space, or materials to build your own PCB fabrication lab, then getting 10 boards for $10 is a very cost-effective way to go.
 

JonSea

Well-Known Member
#90
It's humorous. People complain that they don't want 10 boards even when the price is virtually nothing.

Let's say you use PCBExpress (EXPRESS PCB? I can never keep the name straight). You can get 3 boards of a fixed size, no solder mask, silkscreen on obey side only for $67. Not too many years ago, that was the cheapest game in town.

Now you can get 10 boards with silkscreen and solder mask on both sides, custom routed to any space you want for $10 - $15. If you opt for DHL shipping, you can have those 10 boards in your hands in a week for less than half the cost of 3 stripper boards. It's a fantastic age we live in.

Many of the Chinese fans have started offering 5 board deals, usually for the same price as 10 boards. The savings is on shipping cost.

I design few boards that I ever just use one of. I try to add features that will make it useful for other applications...add connector locations to make Port pins available for other applications. Or if you have room, add footprints for some part you've wanted to experiment with. Or even offer the board to other users here - if you have a particular need, others may too.
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
#91
Okay okay!
But I enjoy the process, I like overcoming the challenges! For me it's not just about building something that works, it's a whole creative process and I want to create as much of it as I can and learn to understand as much of the process as I reasonably can. It used to be about cost, but that's not so much of an issue now, and still I want to do things the hard way because that's what I like doing. Call me crazy...
 

large_ghostman

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#92
I like the pain of making my own, yes these days it costs you more to make your own, but i just like doing it.
I think because it took so long to master making my own boards, i am kind of reluctant to give it up. having said that, if its complicated or has alot of holes.........Then i do go the Chinese route :oops:
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
#94
I can really recommend using dry pcb film. It's as much better than toner transfer as toner transfer is better than using a sharpie! I made a nice little drilling machine (the automated one is on hold because it's feedback is crap) and use tungsten carbide bits (cheapo set) so lots of holes isn't a problem. I quite enjoy being able to drill lots of different sized holes...
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
#96
Any pictures TC?
spec
I took photo's as I went whilst making it, intending to write an Instructable, but didn't get round to doing so. I thought I had a picture of it in it's final form which I posted in another thread quite a long whiles ago, but can't find it. So here's the last couple of pictures showing it as nearly complete, but it doesn't have power connectors or chuck yet. I also added a microswitch to turn the motor on when the handle is pulled down, and off again when it goes up.
 

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spec

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#97
I took photo's as I went whilst making it, intending to write an Instructable, but didn't get round to doing so. I thought I had a picture of it in it's final form which I posted in another thread quite a long whiles ago, but can't find it. So here's the last couple of pictures showing it as nearly complete, but it doesn't have power connectors or chuck yet. I also added a microswitch to turn the motor on when the handle is pulled down, and off again when it goes up.
Looks pretty solid.

I tried to work out a simple drill press for Willen in Nepal to make- your design looks like just the ticket.:cool:

spec
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
#98
These are most of the pictures I took. You get a fairly good idea how it's built.
Notes:
  • I left the back part of the bracket with rectangular(ish) wings then cut them triangular after folding so I'd get the corners right.
  • There is a spring under the sliding block on each post. Mine came out of cheap speed clamps that broke.
  • The procedure for drilling the vertical holes was: drill one bottom piece and the sliding block, put a post in the hole to hold them together, drill the other hole, fasten the block down to the base and use it as a guide to drill through the bottom block.
  • The pin on which the operating lever hinges is just a long wood-screw. I threaded a bit of aluminium tube onto it, which is now fixed into the lever
  • I experimented with making sleeves out of sheet copper to go inside the holes in the sliding block, but it was more trouble than it was worth. so it's just plain wood sliding up and down the steel.
 

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spec

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Hell TC- you don't mess about with information. Thanks a lot.

One question. Did you use one of the brass collect chucks from eBay to attach the tungsten carbide twist drills to the motor shaft?

spec
 

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