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'[PIC] - Fabricating PCB boards'
2007\01\04@201537 by Carl Denk

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I will have 3 boards, 2 sided, to be etched and drilled, will be looking
for 3 or 4 copies of each board. I have Autocad
that I have been working on the prototype boards which I have etched
with moderate results using the laser printer iron on method. I would
like to try having the boards fabricated out. Maximum size is 4" square.
This is in the USA.

1: Suggestions on software to either convert the Autocad to Gerber and
drill files, or use some other software to start with.

2: Suggestions on a house to fabricated the boards, including ones to
stay away from.

Thanking in advance. :)

2007\01\04@215151 by Timothy J. Weber

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Carl Denk wrote:
> I will have 3 boards, 2 sided, to be etched and drilled, will be looking
> for 3 or 4 copies of each board. I have Autocad
> that I have been working on the prototype boards which I have etched
> with moderate results using the laser printer iron on method. I would
> like to try having the boards fabricated out. Maximum size is 4" square.
> This is in the USA.
>
> 1: Suggestions on software to either convert the Autocad to Gerber and
> drill files, or use some other software to start with.

I like Eagle; it can do 4" square in the free version, is not too hard
to learn, and is popular among hobbyists.

ViewMate is a free Gerber viewer from pentalogix.com that might be
useful in doing a direct conversion.  It imports from a lot of different
file types, including BMP; I don't see DXF listed, but maybe it can use
something that Autocad can export.

> 2: Suggestions on a house to fabricated the boards, including ones to
> stay away from.

I use Advanced Circuits.  They're not the cheapest, but they're high
quality, very reliable, excellent service, made in the USA, and fast.
(Plus they include free popcorn.)  Their weak point is ordering, from a
hobbyist perspective - there are several different "front door" web
sites you have to choose from if you want to get the best price on a
small quantity.  If you don't need silk screen or solder mask, their
barebonespcb.com site is cheapest and very fast.  If you do, their "3
for $33" at 33each.com is the cheapest.  For more than 3 or 4, their
standard prototype service may start to be cheaper.  I wish they would
just roll this all together into one form, but there it is.

Hope that helps.
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2007\01\04@222319 by Martin Klingensmith

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Sorry I'm replying to Carl, not Timothy
AutoCAD can export to postscript, you can convert postscript to just
about anything with the right tools.
I'm not sure how you'd do the drill file though.
For the future, you may want to check into Eagle like Tim was saying.
The free version would probably be quicker than using AutoCAD to make  
PCB, due to it's having schematic capture and "rats nest" generation.
You don't have to think quite as hard about what trace connects what to
what.
I recently used Futurlec.com to get a circuit board made. The prices are
pretty much unbeatable unless you do it yourself. They accept Eagle
files directly, or Gerbers.
They are not in the USA (if you care)
--
Martin K

Timothy J. Weber wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\01\04@222933 by Bob Blick

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Carl Denk wrote:
> I will have 3 boards, 2 sided, to be etched and drilled, will be looking
> for 3 or 4 copies of each board. I have Autocad
> that I have been working on the prototype boards

Hi Carl,

Using Autocad limits your choice of board houses - some will accept your
files, some will have a surcharge, many just simply won't do it.

The software packages that can convert DXF to Gerber for you are likely
to be very expensive.

You might find a free or open source tool, but a quick googling turns up
conversion in the opposite direction.

There may be some other Autocad users on the list that have experience
with what you want to do, but popular opinion will probably be that PCB
tools are good at what they do, so most people use them rather than
Autocad for PC boards.

Cheerful regards,

Bob

2007\01\04@223132 by Bob Blick

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Carl Denk wrote:
> I will have 3 boards, 2 sided, to be etched and drilled, will be looking
> for 3 or 4 copies of each board. I have Autocad
> that I have been working on the prototype boards

Oops, I spoke too soon. How about this:

http://www.bay-technology.com/linkcad.htm

Cheers,

Bob

2007\01\05@035401 by Alan B. Pearce

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>The software packages that can convert DXF to Gerber for
>you are likely to be very expensive.

<VBG> Orcad can import DXF, which allows one to get mechanical drawings to
define board sizes. There is a demo version of Orcad available for download,
but ISTR its limitations are "smaller" than the free version of Eagle.

2007\01\05@091606 by Robert Young

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The freeware version of Eagle will probably suffice for now.
http://www.cadsoftusa.com and browse around.  Be warned that while it is a good
program and can do most basic things, its libraries are a bit screwy and
sometimes inconsistent.

Olin Lathrop has a nicely done set of custom libraries somewhere in his
http://www.embedinc.com web space.  He will no doubt chime in soon with a link.

That said, you could also consider http://www.pcb123.com which is owned by
Sunstone circuits (http://www.sunstone.com).  They also own http://www.pcbexpress.com
and http://www.pcbpro.com.  For quick, one-off stuff they are pretty
reasonable.  PCB123 has downloadable software that lets you do simple
schematics and layouts.  

Another consideration might be gEDA at http://www.geda.seul.org.  Haven't
looked at it in several years.

Rob

2007\01\05@093919 by David Novak

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Kicad (http://www.lis.inpg.fr/realise_au_lis/kicad) is simply unbelievable open
source electronics CAD software. Many users report that it is better than
Eagle. It runs on Windows and Linux.

For boards, try http://www.ultimatepcb.com. Price, quality and delivery are
excellent.

David


{Original Message removed}

2007\01\05@104146 by Carl Denk

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Thanks for the responses, keep them coming, here is where I am:
Autocad: Since this is where I am at the moment with 2.7 boards to the
point where I have etched, going to try to use "GERBERCON" to convert
the DXF to Gerber. Does anyone have comments on Gerbercon?

Future: KiCad looks really inviting, and will probably go that direction
for both schematic and board for future.

Fabrication: Looks like there are numerous vendors out there, haven't
heard anything bad yet, and there are a couple of favored. Pricing and
delivery (not critical at this time, a couple of weeks OK), similar,
depends on size board and options, probably pick closest one (Northern
Ohio) with good turn around and pricing for what future board sizes
might be.

Martin Klingensmith wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\01\05@130429 by James Nick Sears

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For fab I've had good luck with this deal from Gold Phoenix:
http://goldphoenixpcb.biz/special_price.php

You can use a program like gerbmerge (google it) to panelize your jobs
and then get a good prototype price if you have reason to fill the
whole panel or even most of it.  Those prices are FEDEX included by
the way, although there is an extra charge ($40 i think) for multiple
projects on the same panel.

-n.


On 1/5/07, Carl Denk <spam_OUTcdenkTakeThisOuTspamalltel.net> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\01\05@131152 by Dave Mumert

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Hi

I use winqcad for both schematic capture and PCB work.  The interface is a
bit different but is easy to learn.  I have done many boards with it and the
autorouter has never failed to complete a board for me.  You can download a
free version which does small boards.  You can also do larger boards but the
program will not print them or create the Gerber files if the board is too
large.

http://www.winqcad.com/

I use Alberta Printed Circuits for the boards mostly because they are just a
few minutes drive from me.  Their quality is first rate, I'm not familiar
with other prices, I am usually in a hurry and they can get me prototype
boards within 24 hours.  You can email or FTP the Gerber files to them, they
also supply a small program that will assemble your files into a ZIP and
send it to them for you.

http://www.apcircuits.com/

Dave


{Original Message removed}

2007\01\05@141834 by slippyr4

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lots of people suggested the free edition of eagle - but it might not
be suitable because the max area supported is 100mm x 80mm - which is
a bit smaller than the 4" square the OP is looking for.

Another possible suitable tool is gEDA (http://www.geda.seul.org/)

Also, check the archive. There are loads of threads about this. Two
recent ones of note are "CAD package alternative to Eagle" and "whats
the best PCB design software around"

Jon

2007\01\08@120846 by Aaron

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slippyr4 wrote:

>lots of people suggested the free edition of eagle - but it might not
>be suitable because the max area supported is 100mm x 80mm - which is
>a bit smaller than the 4" square the OP is looking for
>

Actually, the free version will let you do larger than 100mm x 80mm.

IIRC, you just have to make sure the pads for your components remain in
the 100x80 area, but the board outline, silkscreen, and traces (?) can
extend outside the 100x80 area.

Aaron

2007\01\08@234742 by Vasile Surducan

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On 1/8/07, Aaron <.....aaron.groupsKILLspamspam@spam@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> slippyr4 wrote:
>
> >lots of people suggested the free edition of eagle - but it might not
> >be suitable because the max area supported is 100mm x 80mm - which is
> >a bit smaller than the 4" square the OP is looking for
> >
>
> Actually, the free version will let you do larger than 100mm x 80mm.

Who is the maximum density you can route on an 100x50mm board with Eagle ?

500 SMD, 1500 pin, 2500 route, 2000 vias or you could more ?

greetings,
Vasile

2007\01\09@113653 by Aaron

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Vasile Surducan wrote:

>>Actually, the free version will let you do larger than 100mm x 80mm.
>>
>Who is the maximum density you can route on an 100x50mm board with Eagle ?
>
>500 SMD, 1500 pin, 2500 route, 2000 vias or you could more ?
>  
>

Beats me; I'm not really sure what you are asking has anything to do
with what I stated?

I was just trying to point out that it is possible to utilize the free
version for boards in the 4x4 inch range that somebody mentioned.  The
last board I did for a (hobby) project was 115x75mm.  For asthetics, I
wanted the width to match one of those surplus LCD terminals that
Jan-Erik, James, and/or Wouter sell.  Stretching the board outline
worked fine.  All the pads for the components still remained within the
100x80mm area; I did have some mounting holes and ground plane extending
outside the 100mm dimension, though.

http://i104.photobucket.com/albums/m168/agarb6/misc/avr.jpg

Aaron




2007\01\10@132122 by Vasile Surducan

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On 1/9/07, Aaron <aaron.groupsspamKILLspamgmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> Vasile Surducan wrote:
>
> >>Actually, the free version will let you do larger than 100mm x 80mm.
> >>
> >Who is the maximum density you can route on an 100x50mm board with Eagle ?
> >
> >500 SMD, 1500 pin, 2500 route, 2000 vias or you could more ?
> >
> >
>
> Beats me; I'm not really sure what you are asking has anything to do
> with what I stated?
>
> I was just trying to point out that it is possible to utilize the free
> version for boards in the 4x4 inch range that somebody mentioned.  The
> last board I did for a (hobby) project was 115x75mm.

The question was quite simple: which is the maximum component density
you may route using the Eagle's autoroute facility on an 100x50mm
board with say 10 layer padstack.
No one said the freeware Eagle can't be used.

Vasile

2007\01\10@223755 by William Chops Westfield

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On Jan 10, 2007, at 10:21 AM, Vasile Surducan wrote:

> which is the maximum component density
> you may route using the Eagle's autoroute facility on an 100x50mm
> board with say 10 layer padstack.

I don't think there's any inherent density limit on the autorouter;
it will go down to the usual design limits supported by board houses.
However, as people have said previously, it's NOT a very good
autorouter, and I expect you wouldn't be happy with it at very high
densities.

> No one said the freeware Eagle can't be used.
>
Freeware eagle only supports two layers, so there goes your 10 layer
padstack...

BillW

2007\01\11@053631 by Vasile Surducan

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On 1/11/07, William Chops Westfield <.....westfwKILLspamspam.....mac.com> wrote:
>
> On Jan 10, 2007, at 10:21 AM, Vasile Surducan wrote:
>
> > which is the maximum component density
> > you may route using the Eagle's autoroute facility on an 100x50mm
> > board with say 10 layer padstack.
>
> I don't think there's any inherent density limit on the autorouter;
> it will go down to the usual design limits supported by board houses.

William, some board manufacturing houses are able to manufacture class
3 PCB with
5 layer stacked microvia, some others can't  manufacture only with
dificulty two layer PCB at real density... so it's not a good answer.
:)
On the other hand the autorouter has a density limit caused by via
rings (minimum mechanical drilling via is 6/16 mils) and board size.


greetings,
Vasile

2007\01\11@060242 by Alan B. Pearce

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>William, some board manufacturing houses are able to manufacture
>class 3 PCB with 5 layer stacked microvia, some others can't
>manufacture only with dificulty two layer PCB at real density...
>so it's not a good answer. :)

But stacked microvia would be a specialist area, and if you require that,
then you are building products that are using BGA chips and are into cost
areas where you would go to a "full spec" board house anyway for prototype
PCBs, and you are probably needing specialist substrates to deal with
temperature co-efficient differences between PCB and component.

But any board house doing the normal multilayer FR4 type PCB should be able
to do 10 thou track 10 thou space with ease, more likely 8/8 would be their
minimum. It then becomes a matter of minimum annular rings and drill sizes
they are prepared to use that determine component density.

2007\01\12@005352 by Vasile Surducan

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On 1/11/07, Alan B. Pearce <EraseMEA.B.Pearcespam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTrl.ac.uk> wrote:
> But any board house doing the normal multilayer FR4 type PCB should be able
> to do 10 thou track 10 thou space with ease, more likely 8/8 would be their
> minimum. It then becomes a matter of minimum annular rings and drill sizes
> they are prepared to use that determine component density.

Hi Alan,

8/8 mil is quite unusefull for 0.65 mm pitch BGA package. My question
was a precise one, based on my last work. 4/4 mil, 5 mil stacked
microvia in least three layers (better four) and 6 mil mechanical
drilling (blind vias) is a must.
Do you now any US PCB board house doing currently such boards ?

thx,
Vasile

2007\01\12@052328 by Alan B. Pearce

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>8/8 mil is quite unusefull for 0.65 mm pitch BGA package.

Ah, well then you are into specialised territory, for that size pitch.

>My question was a precise one, based on my last work. 4/4 mil,
>5 mil stacked microvia in least three layers (better four) and
>6 mil mechanical drilling (blind vias) is a must.

Any time stacked visa get involved, then AIUI there are a limited number of
board houses that do it.

>Do you now any US PCB board house doing currently such boards ?

No, not being in the US, but rather in the UK. The only board house I
personally know of doing stacked vias is in Sweden, but I am sure there are
others in Europe.

For US suppliers, I suspect you may need to be looking at military qualified
suppliers. I do not know if cell phones, pagers and similar miniature
consumer devices use stacked vias (seeing as how they tend to use the size
and style of chip you refer to) but I assume they all get the PCB
manufactured and assembled in Asia.

2007\01\12@114058 by Madhu Annapragada

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Try http://www.pcb4u.com (or better known as Accutrace)
I just received a ten layer with 4/4 width/spacing, 4mil vias with 14mil
pads, controlled dielectric, and gold plating for a design of mine. I have
had them do blind and buried vias in the past too and they do a heck of a
job. I have not seen them do 6mil mechanical drill though. 8 mil mechanical
is pushing it and below that they transition to laser drilled holes. Not
cheap though but with these specs cheap is a dirty word anyway...

Regards
Madhu Annapragada

{Original Message removed}

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