pcb fabrication

D

Dustin Robert Kick

Jan 1, 1970
0
I have some projects I'm working on, that I would eventually like to
have designed on pcb software, so I can send designs to a manufacturer
in gerber format (right?) Does anyone have recommendations about how
to go about getting ready for this? I was thinking of making some
extremely simple circuits, and having a manufacturer print a circuit
board as simple as just a power connection to connect an LED to, or
similar, and only stepping up what I designs when I'm sure that what I
think will be created is what really will be created. Would a
manufacturer find this a waste of time? Is there some other way to
double check designs so that I don't have to pay to have something
manufactured that I'll probably have no use for? i.e. can I send
gerber files to some forum willing to analyze them and answer
questions I have, or send a gerber file to a simulator?

Dustin

D

Dustin Kick

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin Robert Kick said:
I have ...

Dustin

Are there any books on pcb design/fabrication that are particularly good

P

Puckdropper

Jan 1, 1970
0
I have some projects I'm working on, that I would eventually like to
have designed on pcb software, so I can send designs to a manufacturer
in gerber format (right?) Does anyone have recommendations about how
to go about getting ready for this? I was thinking of making some
extremely simple circuits, and having a manufacturer print a circuit
board as simple as just a power connection to connect an LED to, or
similar, and only stepping up what I designs when I'm sure that what I
think will be created is what really will be created. Would a
manufacturer find this a waste of time? Is there some other way to
double check designs so that I don't have to pay to have something
manufactured that I'll probably have no use for? i.e. can I send
gerber files to some forum willing to analyze them and answer
questions I have, or send a gerber file to a simulator?

Dustin

If you're worried about board quality, find a fairly simple circuit that
represents what you want to have made, and ask the manufacturer if they'd
be willing to make a sample board. The worst that should happen is that
they say "no."

As for the formats manufacturers want, you'll have to ask. If it's a
fairly standard format, I'd expect a manufacturer to accept it.

If you want a board made here and there, you might consider getting a PCB
etching kit from Radio Shack. It somes with everything you need to make
a big mess, plus most the stuff you need to make a printed circuit board.
(The 1/16" drill bit is way too big. You need something like a #60 bit,
available at your local hobby shop. [Aside: I usually buy from the
hobby shop rather than ordering something online because I like being
able to stop in for a drill bit, can of paint, whatever and get back to
my project.])

Puckdropper

N

none none

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin Robert Kick said:
I have some projects I'm working on, that I would eventually like to
have designed on pcb software, so I can send designs to a manufacturer
in gerber format (right?) Does anyone have recommendations about how
to go about getting ready for this? I was thinking of making some
extremely simple circuits, and having a manufacturer print a circuit
board as simple as just a power connection to connect an LED to, or
similar, and only stepping up what I designs when I'm sure that what I
think will be created is what really will be created. Would a
manufacturer find this a waste of time? Is there some other way to
double check designs so that I don't have to pay to have something
manufactured that I'll probably have no use for? i.e. can I send
gerber files to some forum willing to analyze them and answer
questions I have, or send a gerber file to a simulator?

Dustin
If you only wnat one or two boards of a certain small design usually the
best way to go about it is to etch your own board using some of the various
methods out there. Most PCB fabricators will charge you booku bucks to
build just one or two boards. All the manufactures do (unless they offer
testing as a service) is take the gerber file and feed it into the PCB
machine to make the board exactly how it's described in the gerber file. If
they offer consultation or if you try to do something that is beyond their
machining ability they will let you know and have you submit another file
but mostly they just make what you send them. :\

J

Jason von Nieda

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin said:
I have some projects I'm working on, that I would eventually like to
have designed on pcb software, so I can send designs to a manufacturer
in gerber format (right?) Does anyone have recommendations about how
to go about getting ready for this? I was thinking of making some
extremely simple circuits, and having a manufacturer print a circuit
board as simple as just a power connection to connect an LED to, or
similar, and only stepping up what I designs when I'm sure that what I
think will be created is what really will be created. Would a
manufacturer find this a waste of time? Is there some other way to
double check designs so that I don't have to pay to have something
manufactured that I'll probably have no use for? i.e. can I send
gerber files to some forum willing to analyze them and answer
questions I have, or send a gerber file to a simulator?

Dustin

Hi Dustin,

You are correct, you normally send designs in Gerber format. Also, most
of the PCB software I have used has electronics rules checks and design
rules checks to make sure the board is at least sound be design. It
might not do what you want it to, but it should manufactured correctly.

I've just recently gotten into making my own boards, and it's coming
along nicely. My method is to use the free layout software Eagle
(www.cadsoft.de) to design my schematic and board, then laser print the
board onto high gloss paper, iron the paper (toner, really) onto a
copper clad board and then etch with ferric chloride.

There are a lot of variables that go into it, and I've messed up as many
boards as I've made good but that has been because of experimenting with
different line widths and pads and such.

One of the most critical things I've found is the type of paper you
print onto. I've found "HP Photo Paper" with the following labellings to
be very good: Laser, Glossy, 8.5x11", 7.5 mil, 58 lb, 97 brightness, 100
sheets. I got it at Office Max for I think around $10. There's a billion sites on the net that detail this method of PCB manufacture, just search for "PCB laser print" or some such. Now, while this method works find for boards with low part density and large line widths, the ideal (home brew) method is with photo etching where you use pre-sensitized boards, transparencies for your artwork and UV illumination to expose the board. I am in the process of gathering the tools to try this method now. I found the book "Build Your Own Printed Circuit Board" by Al Williams (Tab Electronics) to be pretty useful for learning the basics of Eagle and home PCB manufacture. After that it's a matter of honing your methods and learning from the Internet. Finally, if you would prefer to spend a little cash but get professional boards, check out www.expresspcb.com and www.pad2pad.com. Both have free CAD software and you can send your design right from the software and have boards in your mailbox a few days later. ExpressPCB even has a "MiniBoard service" where you can get three 2.5x3.8" double sided boards for$51. It's a great deal, and you don't have to worry about a
manufacturer laughing at you for testing simple designs

If you'd like to see a board I recently made using the home brew
process, check out:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vonnieda/352415008/in/photostream/
It's the first I ever made, and it works great. It's a simple AVR
breakout board for prototyping microcontroller programs.

And here's a few more handy links:
Web-Tronics - Good source of PCB supplies
http://www.web-tronics.com/printed-circuit-board-supplies.html

Drill Bit City - Great source of cheap, tiny drill bits
http://drillcity.stores.yahoo.net/

BatchPCB - Very cheap boards but long wait time. They batch their orders
to China. They also have a design rule checking system. You can upload
http://www.batchpcb.com/

Good luck!
Jason von Nieda

D

DJ Delorie

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin Robert Kick said:
I have some projects I'm working on, that I would eventually like to
have designed on pcb software, so I can send designs to a manufacturer
in gerber format (right?)
Right.

for this?

The final steps depend on the manufacturer, but basically, you design
the board in your favorite EDA program (mine is gEDA), have it export
gerbers, and send them off to the fab via the web or email.
Would a manufacturer find this a waste of time?

They don't care, but it gets expensive when you do it that way. Check
out www.batchpcb.com; they're geared towards one-off tiny boards,
although you'll have to wait a while for them to come back.
Is there some other way to double check designs so that I don't have
to pay to have something manufactured that I'll probably have no use
for?

You can make it at home with toner transfer or photoplot techniques.

J

John Larkin

Jan 1, 1970
0
I have some projects I'm working on, that I would eventually like to
have designed on pcb software, so I can send designs to a manufacturer
in gerber format (right?) Does anyone have recommendations about how
to go about getting ready for this? I was thinking of making some
extremely simple circuits, and having a manufacturer print a circuit
board as simple as just a power connection to connect an LED to, or
similar, and only stepping up what I designs when I'm sure that what I
think will be created is what really will be created. Would a
manufacturer find this a waste of time? Is there some other way to
double check designs so that I don't have to pay to have something
manufactured that I'll probably have no use for? i.e. can I send
gerber files to some forum willing to analyze them and answer
questions I have, or send a gerber file to a simulator?

Dustin

Design something moderately complex, useful or not, mixed surface
mount and thru-hole, and have a few proper plated-through,
lot.

Look in the backs of the professional (and free) electronics mags...
EDN, Electronics Design, EE Times. There are tons of ads for cheap PC
boards, with introductory offers. You should be able to get a few
2-layer boards for around $60. Don't mess with the ferric chloride thing yourself. John B Ben Jackson Jan 1, 1970 0 You are correct, you normally send designs in Gerber format. Download a free Gerber viewer to verify the output is what you expect. Now, while this method works find for boards with low part density and large line widths, I just did a toner transfer board with some 0603 parts and 10/10 rules. I'm sure people have done 8/8 with a good laser printer and some care. Going much below that requires some skill even using a board house. Finally, if you would prefer to spend a little cash but get professional boards, check out www.expresspcb.com and www.pad2pad.com. Both have free CAD software I can't really recommend this to the OP, because a large part of the learning curve is the software. When you venture outside the world of LEDs driven by 555 timers, the first step in board layout is making your own symbols and board elements. If you learn to do this with gerber- capable software like Eagle, you can etch boards yourself or use almost any fab house. As the complexity of your work increases you can keep re-using parts and sub-circuits from old designs. If you start out in a proprietary CAD program, you will have to make a painful break at some point. ExpressPCB even has a "MiniBoard service" where you can get three 2.5x3.8" double sided boards for$51. It's a great deal, and you don't have to worry about a
manufacturer laughing at you for testing simple designs

The deals in PCB manufacture depend heavily on board size, how many you
need, how fast you need them and whether you want soldermask/silkscreen.
That's not a bad deal for "bare" boards, but if you add silkscreen their
prices aren't as competitive. batchpcb.com is great for small board
sizes or low quantities, but their prices get silly if board area goes
up, and it takes a long time. If you had a 60 sq in board they'd charge
you $150 each, while a place like Sierra Proto Express would make you *three* *4 layer* boards for the same$150 and get them to you in 1/3rd
the time. Then again, Sierra Proto Express is one of those places with
a silly "no panelization" rule, so you're still better off with batchpcb
if you wanted 60 1 sq in boards. You really have to shop each board
order if you want the best deal.

One further comment about batchpcb -- the default gerber output from
Eagle is slightly offset from (0,0) and batchpcb doesn't detect this
(at least in the X direction) and will charge you for the unused space.
Check out your gerbers in a good viewer and then use the DRC setup in
Eagle to re-export the board with a small negative offset to compensate.
I was going nuts trying to get a 1 sq in board down to 1 sq in by their
DRC until I figured this out...

B

Bob Masta

Jan 1, 1970
0
I have some projects I'm working on, that I would eventually like to
have designed on pcb software, so I can send designs to a manufacturer
in gerber format (right?) Does anyone have recommendations about how
to go about getting ready for this? I was thinking of making some
extremely simple circuits, and having a manufacturer print a circuit
board as simple as just a power connection to connect an LED to, or
similar, and only stepping up what I designs when I'm sure that what I
think will be created is what really will be created. Would a
manufacturer find this a waste of time? Is there some other way to
double check designs so that I don't have to pay to have something
manufactured that I'll probably have no use for? i.e. can I send
gerber files to some forum willing to analyze them and answer
questions I have, or send a gerber file to a simulator?

For simple projects (and not-so-simple, once you get the
hang of it) you can easily make your own hand-drawn
boards with a Sharpie marker, some ferric chloride
etchant, a Dremel tool, and some dental burs.
Full details at
www.daqarta.com/lptxh.htm

Best regards,

Bob Masta

D A Q A R T A
Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
www.daqarta.com
Scope, Spectrum, Spectrogram, Signal Generator

D

DJ Delorie

Jan 1, 1970
0
Ben Jackson said:
I just did a toner transfer board with some 0603 parts and 10/10 rules.
I'm sure people have done 8/8 with a good laser printer and some care.

I've done 7/7 with 01005 parts successfully[*]. I don't think it's
reliable enough to do large boards that way, though.

[*] http://www.delorie.com/pcb/first.html

J

JeffM

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin said:
I have some projects I'm working on,
that I would eventually like to have designed on pcb software,

Open source software (Gratis and Libre):
gEDA

Freeware (Gratis only):

Usable (limited) demo:
have made it VERY risky to re-use
someone else's EAGLE-compatible component symbols.

Lock-in-ware (crippleware):
These DO NOT produce Gerber files.
The output from these apps is only useful
when sent to the fab houses which distribute the "free" software.
..
..
so I can send designs to a manufacturer in gerber format (right?)
Typically. Check with your fab house for other supported formats.
Is there some other way to double check designs[...]
i.e. can I send gerber files to some forum willing to analyze them
and answer questions I have, or send a gerber file to a simulator?

Dustin Kick wrote:
:Are there any books on pcb design/fabrication
:that are particularly good that I should read?
25-page PDF (385kB)

D

Dustin Kick

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin Robert Kick said:
I have...

Dustin

FIrst, thanks for all the great responses, I've got a bunch of ideas how
to procede now. Does anyone out there use the UNIX tool pcb maintained
by Harry Eaton?
http://pcb.sourceforge.net

This is the program that I'm trying to learn with, right now, on Mac OS
X, through the fink package system. Is there a better Mac OS X
compatible program that I should try?

D

Dustin Kick

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin Robert Kick said:
...
Dustin

Are there any books that are particularly good at explaining the pcb
creation process that I should read?

S

[email protected]

Jan 1, 1970
0
FIrst, thanks for all the great responses, I've got a bunch of ideas how
to procede now. Does anyone out there use the UNIX tool pcb maintained
by Harry Eaton?
http://pcb.sourceforge.net
This is the program that I'm trying to learn with, right now, on Mac OS
X, through the fink package system. Is there a better Mac OS X
compatible program that I should try?

E

Ecnerwal

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin Kick said:

A certain regular poster here is also one of the developers and project
admins of pcb, so it's pretty likely he's used it. ;-)

Make up your own mind about better, as I haven't gotten around to
designing anything in both programs yet, but in the tiny world of
engineering software for OS X, I did find one other option : Look at
Osmond. Free for designs up to 700 pins. Pay if you need to do more.

http://www.swcp.com/~jchavez/osmond.html

D

DJ Delorie

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin Kick said:
FIrst, thanks for all the great responses, I've got a bunch of ideas how
to procede now. Does anyone out there use the UNIX tool pcb maintained
by Harry Eaton?
http://pcb.sourceforge.net

I use it all the time. And I help maintain it, too (although on
Linux, not OS/X)

E

Eeyore

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin said:
Are there any books that are particularly good at explaining the pcb
creation process that I should read?

By creation do you mean layout out the tracking or fabricating a PCB
from raw materials ?

Graham

B

Bob Woodward

Jan 1, 1970
0
Dustin said:
FIrst, thanks for all the great responses, I've got a bunch of ideas how
to procede now. Does anyone out there use the UNIX tool pcb maintained
by Harry Eaton?
http://pcb.sourceforge.net

This is the program that I'm trying to learn with, right now, on Mac OS
X, through the fink package system. Is there a better Mac OS X
compatible program that I should try?

I have been using Eagle ( cadsoft ) for some years now.
Works perfect under Linux.
While my wife uses a MAC ( OSX ) i tried Eagle there.
The program runs just fine but using it with the MAC-mouse is a curse.

This is propably true for more CAD programs.
Does a 3-button mouse work under MAC ?

Robert

E

Ecnerwal

Jan 1, 1970
0
Bob Woodward said:
Does a 3-button mouse work under MAC ?

Yes. I don't know if it would work the way the program expected (you'd
have to try it and see), but in general, a 3 button mouse does work, and
the one button mouse can mimic more buttons by using option keys on the
keyboard to "modify" the click.

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