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'Board construction techniques (was: Yet another LE'
1996\11\15@074726 by Byron A Jeff

face picon face
-
-> From: "W. Lee Vick, Jr." <spam_OUTwlvickTakeThisOuTspammicro.ti.com>
->
-> PIC.gurus,
->
->         I also have a little LED project and was looking for some help with
-> it. I'd like to build a box which determines the order of finish of a pine
-> box derby (small wooden cars about 7" by 3" which run down a slotted track)
-> race. [Details edited for brevity. ]
->
-Forget wire wrapping!  Making a PCB is so easy these days.  But first,
-prototype the circuit on a breadboard.

Well this is a religious argument. Each has their advantages and disadvantages:

Breadbording: Quick to throw together. Easy to change. Entirely too easy to
change.

Wirewrapping: Quick to throw together presuming you have the equipment. Sockets
cost more than PCB sockets. Too much extension from the bottom of the board.
Fairly stable and generally easy to modify.

PCB: Please tell me how to make an inexpensive, consistent PCB. While it
may be easy to do, many of us have not set up the design tools and equipment
to put it together. I'll gladly take a lesson in easy PCB making.

Pre-etched PCBs: Been experimenting with these lately. Shows promise. I'm
talking about the Rat Shack boards that are etched to look like breadboards.
Simply solder in the sockets, components, and wire.

Each has advantages and disadvantages. Generally while I'm designing and
testing I wire wrap. Easy to put together a semi-permanent board that can
be changed if necessary. I'm willing to examine PCBs but all I read in the
sci.electronics newsgroups is how difficult it is to get good boards....

1996\11\15@081642 by Giles L. Honeycutt

flavicon
face
By the way, what PCB package do you use, and have you seen WinBoard and
WinDraft?  I talked with this company and you can get a 100 pad
vertion via the internet, and upgrade the pads by paying them (cheap).  O'h I
also understand that the founder of this company is also the
founder of Orcad, and he is no longer with Orcad.  Just thought I would mention
this seeing as a lot of people might want free software for
making small projects like LED-somethings... I will post the Inet address when I
get to work, got Jury service today! (drat)
    Giles L. Honeycutt


Byron A Jeff wrote:
> Well this is a religious argument. Each has their advantages and
disadvantages:
>
> Breadbording: Quick to throw together. Easy to change. Entirely too easy to
> change.
>
> Wirewrapping: Quick to throw together presuming you have the equipment.
Sockets
{Quote hidden}

1996\11\15@082843 by Joe West

flavicon
face
Sorry for the off topic post but maybe this tip will help someone.

When I need a prototype I combine the Radio Shack breadboard and the
Radioshack "pre etched" board together.

Take the pre etched board secure it to the top of the breadboard the pattern
matches perfectly. Now build your stuff. I use wire wrap sockets for the I.C.s
due to the long pins. When your circuit is finished, flip the works over
and seperate the board from the breadboard, now solder using the breadboard
as a guide.

Joseph D. West
Electronics Lab. Supervisor
College of Mechanical Eng.
Ohio State University

(614) 292-2845
Fax (614) 292-3163

1996\11\15@084819 by D. R. Chicotel

flavicon
face
At 07:46 AM 11/15/96 -0500, you wrote:
>
>PCB: Please tell me how to make an inexpensive, consistent PCB. While it
>may be easy to do, many of us have not set up the design tools and equipment
>to put it together. I'll gladly take a lesson in easy PCB making.
>
>

This may not be the best way to make PCBs, but for a hobbyist doing low
volume, it works for me.

1.) Use Window's Paintbrush to design your artwork.  It is not difficult to
create a library
   of reusable patterns that are easily cut-and-pasted.  The hardest part
is making sure the
   the hole spacings are accurately spaced when printed.  A few printings
on paper make an easy
   test of this.

2.) When satisfied with your work, print the artwork on a Laser printer
using clear acetate as
   the paper.  This is the stuff we use at work for creating overhead
projector transparencies.

3.) Get pre-sensitized PCB material from Circuit Specialists and sandwich
the clear acetate (with
   printed artwork) between the PCB material and a piece of glass.  Be
careful not to put the artwork
   over the PCB material upside down or you will get a useless mirror image
of your work.  Been there,
   done that - oops.

4.) Expose the sandwich to a flourescent light for about 15-20 minutes.

5.) Develop and etch the board. (Developer and etchant are also available
from Circuit Specialists).

This makes very acceptable PCBs and you don't need any specialized software
or equipment (assuming you
have Windows or some other painting program, and running water).  Cost is
minimal - about $10 per
board or less depending on board size.  The true costs are in your time
spent developing the artwork.

Circuit Specialists can be found on-line, but I can't remember the address.

Hope this helps - DRC

1996\11\15@102156 by Gerhard Fiedler

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face
At 07:46 15/11/96 -0600, D. R. Chicotel wrote:
>1.) Use Window's Paintbrush to design your artwork.  It is not difficult to
>create a library of reusable patterns that are easily cut-and-pasted.

As others pointed out, there are a couple of freeware PCB design programs
around, might be an alternative... ;-)

1996\11\15@103835 by myke predko

flavicon
face
>By the way, what PCB package do you use, and have you seen WinBoard and
> WinDraft?  I talked with this company and you can get a 100 pad
>vertion via the internet, and upgrade the pads by paying them (cheap).  O'h I
> also understand that the founder of this company is also the
>founder of Orcad, and he is no longer with Orcad.  Just thought I would mention
> this seeing as a lot of people might want free software for
>making small projects like LED-somethings... I will post the Inet address
when I
> get to work, got Jury service today! (drat)
>     Giles L. Honeycutt

I tried out the IVEX (free) product and while they work very well on a small
test board I did, they upchucked something fierce on a 94 Pin board.  (Lot's
of GPFs with the product).

I'm running Windows/95 on a brand-new AST Computer.  I did call IVEX to ask
about it and they said they were aware of the problem under Windows/95.

I'm back on Easytrax (the free version you can get on the Net).

{Quote hidden}

I used to do it and finally gave up and got boards made.  The problems I had
included:  Getting top and bottom side layers to line up (or I would go with
one layer and lots of jumpers), Chemical storage and disposal (it's illegal
to put in the garbage here in Toronto AND you have to pay somebody to take
them), film manufacturing (although I got pretty good at it towards the end
with a laser printer that could do transparencies), board developing (Again
Chemicals and their disposal as well as making a lightbox to hold the film
against the card) and drilling (the drills cost a fortune and break so
easily).  I once (note the "once") made a board using tape, stencils, and a
PCB marking pen.

For the past two years, I've done a number of Hobby boards using AP Circuits
in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  I've had excellent results each time with a
cost generally about $60 Canadian for two boards - the only problem I've had
is with a bad socket (not the raw card's fault).  The cost is dependant on
the size of the card and the number of holes (good incentive to keep the
boards small), you can do multiple up panels which will drop the cost per
board significantly (last year, I did 8 "Frosty the Snowman" Boards at a
final cost of $12.00 Canadian each).  The three day turnaround doesn't hurt
either.

>> Pre-etched PCBs: Been experimenting with these lately. Shows promise. I'm
>> talking about the Rat Shack boards that are etched to look like breadboards.
>> Simply solder in the sockets, components, and wire.

I think you're talking about "Vero"/"Vector" (I'm not sure of the right
term/manufacture) Boards (the boards with the long copper strips on the
backside), which is .  They come out about 2x as large as the final,
embedded version, but at $5.00 for a 6x6 board (which I usually cut up into
smaller boards), the price is hard to beat.

One hint, I just got a Vector "Pad Cutter Tool" from Digi-Key (Digi-Key P/N
V1056-ND, Price $16.38).  I know the price is a bit high, but it really make
working with the boards a joy, compared to cutting the traces with a drill
or an olfa knife and a soldering iron (like you do with a Surfboard).

Now, does anybody know of any layout tools for these boards?

>> Each has advantages and disadvantages. Generally while I'm designing and
>> testing I wire wrap. Easy to put together a semi-permanent board that can
>> be changed if necessary. I'm willing to examine PCBs but all I read in the
>> sci.electronics newsgroups is how difficult it is to get good boards....

Steve Ciarcia, when he was creating projects for Byte, used to create
semi-embedded cards for his projects.  He would put on Connectors and such
and wire Vcc and Gnd and then Wire-Wrap the rest.  Maybe if somebody's
energetic, they could do this for the PIC?

myke

Being a stealth pilot is one of the most labour intensive and time
constrained types of flying that I know.  We have very strict time
constraints: to be where you are supposed to be all the time, exactly on
time, and that has to be monitored by the pilot.  For example, during a bomb
competition in training in the U.S., I dropped a weapon that landed 0.02
seconds from the desired time, and finished third!

Lt. Col. Miles Pound, USAF

1996\11\15@104641 by rhowe

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face
D. R. Chicotel wrote:
>
>PCB: Please tell me how to make an inexpensive, consistent PCB. While it
>may be easy to do, many of us have not set up the design tools and equipment
>to put it together. I'll gladly take a lesson in easy PCB making.
>

You can get a good but free PCB layout program called easytrax by
Protel. It is the little brother of there autotrax program. It runs
under MSDOS and is more than adequate for most boards. You should be
able to get a copy from Alberta Circuits at http://www.apcircuits.com/

If you have a laser printer, you may want to consider the toner transfer
systems. One is from a company called DynaArt Designs. You can access
their web page at http://www.dynaart.com. With this system you print the
artwork 1:1 to a laser printer, and then transfer the toner on to the
PCB using heat and pressure. The toner acts as a resist, so the board
can be directly etched. The advantage is the quick turn around. The
disadvantage is inconsistent results. I think this can be remedied if
you buy one of their 'SuperFuser' devices. Has anyone used a
'SuperFuser' ? If so what results did you get.


--
Randy Howe
Axiak Electronic Design Ltd.
Vancouver, B.C.

1996\11\15@110324 by Byron A Jeff

face picon face
> >> Well this is a religious argument. Each has their advantages and
> > disadvantages:
> >>
> >> Breadbording: Quick to throw together. Easy to change. Entirely too easy to
> >> change.
> >>
> >> Wirewrapping: Quick to throw together presuming you have the equipment.
> > Sockets
> >> cost more than PCB sockets. Too much extension from the bottom of the
board.
> >> Fairly stable and generally easy to modify.
> >>
> >> PCB: Please tell me how to make an inexpensive, consistent PCB. While it
> >> may be easy to do, many of us have not set up the design tools and
equipment
{Quote hidden}

This kind of testimony seems to debunk the original primise that making
PCB's are so easy that wire-wrapping is unnecssary.

{Quote hidden}

I'm still trying to find a good argument for using PCB's for development.
The statement that PCB's are trivally easy to do started this thread.

Breadboards are good if the project is extremely small. But their instability
and cost generally makes them unusable for anything other than fiddling.

PCB's are the way to go once the project is developed, tested, and working.
But for development? I don't think so.

So that leads me right back to wire wrap. Inexpensive (tool and wire for
less than $20), can be used in permanent situations, and simple modifications.
Gives nearly instant gratification like breadboards, but can be thrown in a
box and expect to work.

BTW I learned by hard experience that auto wire wrap tools like Slit-N-Wrap
and guns are generally bad news. Hand strip - Hand wrap is the way to go.
Every board I've ever had wrapped worked, can't say the same for the auto
tools.

BAJ

1996\11\15@114005 by optoeng

flavicon
face
myke predko wrote:
>
> >By the way, what PCB package do you use, and have you seen WinBoard and
> > WinDraft?  I talked with this company and you can get a 100 pad
> >vertion via the internet, and upgrade the pads by paying them (cheap).


I've used WinBoard for 3 designs, mostly in the neighborhood of 180 pins
SMT.  I had some problems early on that were fixed with the installation
of a newer driver for my PCI display adapter.....obviously not Ivex's
fault.  I use the $29.95 version that gets you 220 pin limit.

The big issue with any board layout software is:  How much work do you
have to do to get the library in shape for your work?  WinBoard comes
with a fairly big library of modules, but most of them are for through
hole parts.  Many of the SMT modules use pad geometries that don't match
up with the design rules preferred by my clients.  So, I found myself
modifying or creating most needed modules in the early going.
Fortunately, their module creation stuff is easy to use.

Ivex documentation is pretty good.  It's helpful to print it out in
color (at this price, you print it out yourself).  My main complaint is
that you need to refer to 3 books to get the whole picture: Getting
Started, Tutorial, and Reference.

The WinDraft and WinBoard combination is amazing value.

--

Paul Mathews, consulting engineer
AEngineering Co.
.....optoengKILLspamspam@spam@whidbey.com
non-contact sensing and optoelectronics specialists

1996\11\15@120917 by Bradley, Larry

flavicon
face
Been there. Done them all. Ruined all the T-shirts.

I use the breadboard thingies for development.

I use the Rat Shack boards for some things. Bit of a pain to work with,
but I found that if I use the chemical tin-plating solutions that you
can buy, and dip the board in that first, it solders better. You can get
rather obscene component density on these things, since you are using
insulated wire. You can more-or-less build multi-layer boards ... wires
can cross, etc.

I ONCE did wire wrap. Years ago, I had an evaluation kit for a Fairchild
F8 processor (meant to be used as an imbedded controller). I built 1K of
static RAM for it, with 256 bit RAM chips. It worked. But it was a long
job. Used manual wrap tool.

Just started building PCs the "easy" way. I've used the freeware
packages, and they work fine. I'm now using a package from Ultimate
Technologies in the Netherlands ... they have a 500 pin version for $79
US with schematic capture, autorouter, etc. Very nice.

If you use a package that lets you draw the schematic, then create the
board layout from that, you are guaranteed to have a board that works.
With the Rat Shack stuff, wiring it all by hand, you can (and will) make
mistakes on larger projects.

I use the Toner Transfer System (sold by digikey ... $15 for 5 81/2 x 11
sheets). I've only built a couple of boards so far, and they work fine.
You use a laser printer to put the pattern on the TTS paper (you can use
this for decals, etc as well). The you use the heat of an iron to
tramsfer the pattern to the board. Following their instructions,
everything has worked just fine for me.

Just don't make the traces or the pads too small, as this stuff is not
as precise as the photo methods.

You can make double sided boards ... I have not yet tried.

Drilling is a pain. Digikey sells special bits for this ... they have an
1/8 shank to make it easier to fit into a drill, and are tapered to the
proper bit size. They are designed for use on fibreglass (which will
destory normal bits rapidly, I gather). You only need a couple of sizes.
A bit that is just right for IC holes is also fine for most other
components. It may be a bit too big, but that isn't a problem. You can
use a normal electric drill ... a drill press accessory makes life
easier. I Dremel tool with it's accesory drill press stand is handy as
well. In fact, the Dremel tool (I just got one a month ago) has been
great for a lot of this stuff. It's "cut-off wheels" are great for
cutting up copper-clad boards into smaller pieces (I tend to make lttle
boards, not huge ones). Real handy tool.

Summary:

The Rat Shack boards with the copper patterns are cheap, easy to use,
and require no special tools, but are a pain to wire with lots of
components.

PC boards are not hard to make at home, with a modest investment. And
there is a certain amount of satisfaction at admiring your work. These I
put in frames and hang on my living room wall!. I can't say the same for
the Rat Shack boards. These I put in boxes and hide somewhere.

Have fun!

Larry

1996\11\15@132105 by Bob Blick

picon face
I don't think anyone has yet mentioned the use of plain perfboard,
"vectorbord"(their spelling, not mine). It comes in a few different grades
and hole patterns, I usually get the 0.1" spacing epoxy glass. It's just
board with holes in it, no copper, like you'd use for wire-wrapping.

Use regular sockets, dab a little hot glue on them before putting them on
the board. Hand wire it, using small solid wire. You can use wire-wrap wire
if you like, but the insulation doesn't like the heat of a soldering iron.
Did I say soldering was involved?

If you want a reliable, durable project, put all the components and
connecting wires on the top side and do all the soldering on the bottom
side. You can make a relatively compact project that will last for years.

If there's a part of your circuit that will require a lot of trial and
error, do that part of the circuit on a solderless breadboard, and after
you've gotten everything figured out, unhook the breadboard and finish
building your perfboard circuit.

This is not a method for mass-production, just an alternative to wire-wrapping.

Cheers, Bob

1996\11\15@132926 by Dave Mullenix

flavicon
face
>Pre-etched PCBs: Been experimenting with these lately. Shows promise. I'm
>talking about the Rat Shack boards that are etched to look like breadboards.
>Simply solder in the sockets, components, and wire.

In the PCB / Prototype board section of the Digi-Key catalog, there's a
family of devices which essentially clamp a pre-etched breadboard PCB to the
top of a real breadboard.  When you insert your parts and wires, they go
clear through the PCB and into the breadboard.  You get your circuit working
and debugged to your satisfaction, then a piece of foam rubber hinges down
on top of the parts and wires and holds them in place.  You can then remove
the breakboard to expose the foil side of the pre-etched PCB with the wires
and component leads sticking out, all ready to solder!

I haven't tried one yet, but I'm getting tempted.

1996\11\15@142631 by Chuck McManis

flavicon
face
> PCB: Please tell me how to make an inexpensive, consistent PCB. While it
> may be easy to do, many of us have not set up the design tools and equipment
> to put it together. I'll gladly take a lesson in easy PCB making.

This is correct, there is a high initial investment. You can use EZTrax for free
(you can get it from ftp://oak.oakland.edu) but I discovered that having a PCB
layout program, doesn' t necessarily make for good PCBs. If you don't know
how big a hole to drill for a component, or how big a pad to use, then you are
liable to build a board that isn't very satisfactory. The good news is that you
can send you GERBER files to places like APCircuits and for about $100 they
will send you back a couple of double sided boards.

> Pre-etched PCBs: Been experimenting with these lately. Shows promise. I'm
> talking about the Rat Shack boards that are etched to look like breadboards.
> Simply solder in the sockets, components, and wire.

These are nicer, but I've sworn of the radio shack ones. The ones to get have
plated through holes and copper on both sides. You can even make "psuedo"
pcbs with these by laying wire down along the hole lines. The one RS board I
like is the one with the same drill pattern as a solderless breadboard. These,
while inefficient space wise, allow you to transfer a circuit easily.

--Chuck

1996\11\15@152112 by timetech

flavicon
face
Bob Blick wrote:
>
> I don't think anyone has yet mentioned the use of plain perfboard,
> "vectorbord"(their spelling, not mine). It comes in a few different grades
> and hole patterns, I usually get the 0.1" spacing epoxy glass. It's just
> board with holes in it, no copper, like you'd use for wire-wrapping.
>
> Use regular sockets, dab a little hot glue on them before putting them on
> the board. Hand wire it, using small solid wire. You can use wire-wrap wire
> if you like, but the insulation doesn't like the heat of a soldering iron.
<snip>

We have used this technique for years (more than 20) with one major
difference: we use machine pin soldertail sockets, and we drill the
board (I forget exactly what size, I think its #54; write if you want
details) so the socket will sit down into the hole tightly. Usually
there's no glue needed. We hand wire using wire-wrap wire, but get the
good Kynar insulated stuff; the heat wont bother it. We use 20 or 24 ga.
bus bar with Teflon tubing for insulation to distribute power; put the
power grid in first, with all the bypass caps, then wire the signals.
You can daisy-chain by using a standard wire-wrap stripper at the
desired intermediate point and stretching enough of a gap in the
insulation to get a wrap around the pin. Solder as you go.

You can be surprisingly close to the final pc layout, and you can work
over a ground plane for fairly high speed stuff. We've also used a
hybrid approach, with power and ground and critical signals on a simple
etched or mechanically prepared board with sockets and hand wiring for
the rest. Done a lot of 16 & 32 bit stuff this way; PIC stuff is a
breeze.

-- Tom Rogers  Time Tech Inc.

1996\11\15@163107 by Gerhard Fiedler

flavicon
face
At 10:33 15/11/96 EST, myke predko wrote:
>I think you're talking about "Vero"/"Vector" (I'm not sure of the right
>term/manufacture) Boards (the boards with the long copper strips on the
>backside), which is .  They come out about 2x as large as the final,
>embedded version, but at $5.00 for a 6x6 board (which I usually cut up into
>smaller boards), the price is hard to beat.
>[...]
>Now, does anybody know of any layout tools for these boards?

An autorouter for these boards, that would be a challenge! :-)


>Steve Ciarcia, when he was creating projects for Byte, used to create
>semi-embedded cards for his projects.  He would put on Connectors and such
>and wire Vcc and Gnd and then Wire-Wrap the rest.  Maybe if somebody's
>energetic, they could do this for the PIC?

Wouldn't that be a great idea: make boards for every PIC (or even every
popular micro), with the basic standard circuitry and connectors, and a
field for custom stuff like those boards mentioned above? Once designed,
that's a cheap thing, and many small (hobby) projects could use them. Or is
there something similar already for sale?

Gerhard

1996\11\15@164639 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
It seems to me that one problem is with current packaging technology.  Wire
wrap works nicely with DIPS and even PGAs, but as soon as you start dealing
with PLCC packages, WW sockets seem to get prohibitively expensive, and if
you're using SIOC, VSOP, or other explicitly surface mount technology, the
sockets are hard to find and use in ADDITION to being very expensive.  In
these cases, using a PCB becomes nearly a necessity (especially if you NEED
the small size features of soic/etc in the first place.)

I've heard that the computer-operated mechanical milling (routing?) machines
designed for making PCBs can be had for as little as $3-5K (used.)  It'd be
cool if someone would set one up for doing "hobbyist" PCBs, but it's hard to
imagine that you could make money doing so  (The advantages would include
small setup charges and teh ability to do small boards very easilly.)

BillW

1996\11\15@172656 by Clyde Smith-Stubbs

flavicon
face
Byron A Jeff <byronspamKILLspamCC.GATECH.EDU> wrote:

> BTW I learned by hard experience that auto wire wrap tools like Slit-N-Wrap
> and guns are generally bad news. Hand strip - Hand wrap is the way to go.

Agreed, except do yourself a favour and buy some pre-stripped wire. It saves a
lot
of work. It comes in various lengths and colours.

Having said that, after many years of wire-wrapping one-off boards, I have
now gone to getting PCBs made - it costs a little more, but with the right
software it's less work. The right software in my case is Protel Advanced
Schematic/PCB/Route. The software cost some significant money, but the
Advanced Route 3 in particular is brilliant. It can fully route boards I
have trouble completing, and can do in 5 minutes what would take me 8
hours or more.


--
Clyde Smith-Stubbs       | HI-TECH Software,       | Voice: +61 7 3354 2411
.....clydeKILLspamspam.....hitech.com.au      | P.O. Box 103, Alderley, | Fax:   +61 7 3354 2422
http://www.hitech.com.au | QLD, 4051, AUSTRALIA.   |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
For info on the World's best C cross compilers for embedded systems, point
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1996\11\15@173259 by Clyde Smith-Stubbs

flavicon
face
William Chops Westfield <billwspamspam_OUTCISCO.COM> wrote

> wrap works nicely with DIPS and even PGAs, but as soon as you start dealing
> with PLCC packages, WW sockets seem to get prohibitively expensive, and if

To get around this, make up a PGA socket from wire-wrap socket strips, then
plug a solder-tail PLCC socket into that. Works fine, just takes a few
minutes trimming the socket strips.


--
Clyde Smith-Stubbs       | HI-TECH Software,       | Voice: +61 7 3354 2411
@spam@clydeKILLspamspamhitech.com.au      | P.O. Box 103, Alderley, | Fax:   +61 7 3354 2422
http://www.hitech.com.au | QLD, 4051, AUSTRALIA.   |
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
For info on the World's best C cross compilers for embedded systems, point
your WWW browser at http://www.hitech.com.au, or email KILLspaminfoKILLspamspamhitech.com.au

1996\11\15@175938 by Gonzalo Palarea

flavicon
Has anyone tried the "PICproto" boards from microEngineering Labs? They have
4 different models.  I thing a little expensive, but maybe not when bought
in quantity?

1996\11\15@181831 by Les Troyer

flavicon
face
According to Gerhard Fiedler:
>
> Wouldn't that be a great idea: make boards for every PIC (or even every
> popular micro), with the basic standard circuitry and connectors, and a
> field for custom stuff like those boards mentioned above? Once designed,
> that's a cheap thing, and many small (hobby) projects could use them. Or is
> there something similar already for sale?
>
> Gerhard
>

MicroEngineering Labs sells proto boards specifically for pics.  There
are 4 different flavors 18pin, 18/28pin, 28pin, and 40pin cost $10-17.
Jameco& JDR carry them.

--
Les Troyer
Sr. Analyst
Siemens Power Corp
2101 Horn Rapids Rd.
Richland, Wa. 99352-0130

Voice    (509) 375-8695
Fax      (509) 375-8940
Operator (509) 375-8100
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Ad Hoc, Ad Loc, Quid Pro Quo; So Little Time SO Much To Know.
  -Jeromy Hillery Dillery Boo, PHD, MS and Q

1996\11\15@182846 by Chuck McManis

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These boards are GREAT! Instant PIC circuits, the PICProto18 (for 18 pin pics)
uses any kind of PIC, brings all pins out to a line of connectors,  and has a
plated through breadboard area to boot. For one larger project I soldered a
wirewrap sip connector through the "PICbus" (the line of connectors) and then
simply inserted it through a larger perfboard to "mount" the PIC circuit to the
rest of the circuit.

--Chuck

----------
From:   Gonzalo Palarea[SMTP:spamBeGonechalospamBeGonespamTIKAL.NET.GT]
Sent:   Friday, November 15, 1996 3:04 PM
To:     Multiple recipients of list PICLIST
Subject:        Re: Board construction techniques (was: Yet another LED project)

Has anyone tried the "PICproto" boards from microEngineering Labs? They have
4 different models.  I thing a little expensive, but maybe not when bought
in quantity?

1996\11\15@183116 by fastfwd

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Gerhard Fiedler <TakeThisOuTPICLISTEraseMEspamspam_OUTMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:

> Wouldn't that be a great idea: make boards for every PIC (or even
> every popular micro), with the basic standard circuitry and
> connectors, and a field for custom stuff like those boards mentioned
> above? Once designed, that's a cheap thing, and many small (hobby)
> projects could use them. Or is there something similar already for
> sale?

Gerhard:

MicroEngineering Labs already make exactly what you want... They have
versions for all the PICs (except maybe the 8-pin devices).  You can
reach them at 719 520-5323 (fax: 719 520-1867) or on the web at:

   http://www.melabs.com

-Andy

Andrew Warren - RemoveMEfastfwdspamTakeThisOuTix.netcom.com
Fast Forward Engineering, Vista, California
http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

1996\11\16@084038 by Hank Gupton

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Bradley, Larry wrote:

>components. It may be a bit too big, but that isn't a problem. You can
>use a normal electric drill ... a drill press accessory makes life
>easier. I Dremel tool with it's accesory drill press stand is handy as
>well. In fact, the Dremel tool (I just got one a month ago) has been
>great for a lot of this stuff.

 Where did you get your Dremel drill press accessory?  And, how much did it
cost?

 -- Hank

1996\11\16@162629 by Gerhard Fiedler

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At 15:35 15/11/96 -0800, Andrew Warren wrote:
>MicroEngineering Labs already make exactly what you want... They have
>versions for all the PICs (except maybe the 8-pin devices).  You can
>reach them at 719 520-5323 (fax: 719 520-1867) or on the web at:
>
>    http://www.melabs.com

I _knew_ it -- it's too obvious. I wonder why in the previous discussions
nobody mentioned this solution (which might work for many cases where space
is not critical, and only one or two devices are needed). Thanks a lot!

Gerhard

1996\11\16@171502 by Matthew Mucker

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>Just started building PCs the "easy" way. I've used the freeware
>packages, and they work fine. I'm now using a package from Ultimate
>Technologies in the Netherlands ... they have a 500 pin version for $79
>US with schematic capture, autorouter, etc. Very nice.

Larry,

How 'bout sharing a little more info about this gem with the rest of us?
I've downloaded WinDraft and WinBoard, but WinDraft locks my system, and
WinBoard is seemingly unstable-- if you click on a part in the module loader
that *would* bring your board over the (100) pin limit, *if* it were placed
on the board, but instead click on cancel, WinBoard thinks that there are
more than 100 pins and won't let you save your file.  Same thing if you go
over the limit then delete a module which brings you back under the limit--
won't let me save or print my board.  This has caused me to get into the
habit of saving my file after placing EACH module.

Anyway, I'd like to know more about this program that you're using.  Sounds
like a good deal.

-Matt

1996\11\17@051616 by Bert Koerts

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Matthew Mucker wrote:
>
> >Just started building PCs the "easy" way. I've used the freeware
> >packages, and they work fine. I'm now using a package from Ultimate
> >Technologies in the Netherlands ... they have a 500 pin version for $79
> >US with schematic capture, autorouter, etc. Very nice.
>
> Larry,
>
> How 'bout sharing a little more info about this gem with the rest of us?

I'm using this software too. Ulticap (schematic capture) has some nice
feature's that even orcad (386+) can't give you. It's very easy to make new
components, easy to make connections (it works like an autorouter) etc.
Since i am using this package for a very short time now i can't tell much
about the ultiboard part right now. But it looks allright to me.
In ultiboard it's also easy to make your own shape. For placement of the
shape's you get help from a force vector, traces, and a histograms which
shows the routing density. Pin and gate swapping is supported and so is
forward/back annotation.

I like it a lot...

The package includes an tutorial manual and a cd-rom.

mvg

Bert

1996\11\17@053859 by Bert Koerts

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Bert Koerts wrote:
>
> Matthew Mucker wrote:
> >
> > >Just started building PCs the "easy" way. I've used the freeware
> > >packages, and they work fine. I'm now using a package from Ultimate
> > >Technologies in the Netherlands ... they have a 500 pin version for $79
> > >US with schematic capture, autorouter, etc. Very nice.
> >
> > Larry,
> >
> > How 'bout sharing a little more info about this gem with the rest of us?


Sorry, I forgot to give the adress:

http://www.ultiboard.com/
tel: usa: 1-800-8308584
mvg
>
> Bert

1996\11\17@160445 by Larry G. Nelson Sr.

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At 01:44 PM 11/15/96 PST, William Chops Westfield wrote:

>I've heard that the computer-operated mechanical milling (routing?) machines
>designed for making PCBs can be had for as little as $3-5K (used.)  It'd be
>cool if someone would set one up for doing "hobbyist" PCBs, but it's hard to
>imagine that you could make money doing so  (The advantages would include
>small setup charges and teh ability to do small boards very easilly.)
>
>BillW
>
>
The problem with these is the tooling cost. The drills are OK but the
special mills that outlinre the traces are expensive. They do last quite a
while. The tools with a short life are if you want to do a board rubout of
unused copper or another "outline" with the end mill to make a wider
isolation path. The end mills in that size are expensive and wear out fast.

Larry G. Nelson Sr.
L.NelsonEraseMEspam.....ieee.org
http://www.ultranet.com/~nr

1996\11\17@204357 by Steve Hardy

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I hesitate to stoke the off-topic boiler, but seeing as I started this
off with a contentious point please indulge me...

> From: Byron A Jeff <EraseMEbyronspamCC.GATECH.EDU>
>
> [SJH wrote:]
> -Forget wire wrapping!  Making a PCB is so easy these days.  But first,
> -prototype the circuit on a breadboard.
> Well this is a religious argument. Each has their advantages and
disadvantages:
>
> Breadbording: Quick to throw together. Easy to change. Entirely too easy to
> change.
>
> Wirewrapping: Quick to throw together presuming you have the equipment.
Sockets
> cost more than PCB sockets. Too much extension from the bottom of the board.
> Fairly stable and generally easy to modify.
>
> PCB: Please tell me how to make an inexpensive, consistent PCB. While it
> may be easy to do, many of us have not set up the design tools and equipment
> to put it together. I'll gladly take a lesson in easy PCB making.

Yes, consistency is a good point.  After much weeping and gnashing of teeth
I have found a routine which works for me.  I recommend anyone considering
making PCBs to spend a whole day working out a good routine then sticking
to it.

I use precoated positive photo board.  Saves worrying about the zillions
of variables which can affect the process of making your own (thickness,
baking temp, dust, hairs, dust, resist-eating moths, dust etc. etc.)

1.  Draw the board on white bond paper.  Use a laser printer or use
a 0.5mm drafting pen.  Print/draw mirror image so that the pattern will be
correct when the ink side is pressed against the board.  I use Protel
but have also used drafting techniques.  To draw nice pads, I drilled
a DIP pattern into my square so that running the pen around each of the
holes results in a nice round pad complete with drill guide hole.  (Relieve
the underside of the template to prevent ink smears).
2.  Sandwich board and pattern between 2 sheets of glass with ink side
against the board.  Expose to white fluorescent lights (4 x 20W tubes
about 200mm from board) for about 1 hour.  Yes, this is slow but it gives
time for the finer things in life such as preparing the developer and
etchant.
3.  Develop in commercial developer (or NaOH in a pinch).  Etch in hot
ammonium persulphate, preferred for its transparency and non-staining
which is always an advantage when sharing the kitchen with the boss of
the house.  Don't leave developer in glassware - I etched a good erlenmeyer
flask by not rinsing immediately.  Throw away developer after use.
4.  Drill then solder.  I find that removal of the resist is not
required before soldering and in fact forms a nice barrier against
my sweaty little fingers.  (Be nice if it was actually flux, wouldn't
it?)

Note on using laser printers: since the paper is not gripped by punched holes
etc. don't expect the laser to produce perfectly dimensioned artwork.  This
is especially a problem when doing long edge connectors or trying to
register two patterns for double-sided work.  75mm boards are about the
upper limit for my HP laserjet.  15mil traces and clearances are the limit
for a 300DPI printer and 10mil for a 600DPI.

If you know a little PostScript (TM) then post-processing of the artwork
can be quite easy.  A favourite of mine is to change the output from
Protel so that it  a) sets a black page,  b) outputs the pattern in white
with everything oversize by 30mils and  c) outputs the original pattern
in black.  This gives a pseudo ground plane for SS boards.  Optionally,
you can connect all the copper islands left by this process using the
drafting pen.

If cutting the board to size using an angle grinder, leave a 10mm zone
around the edge where no copper will be required.  The heat of grinding
ruins the resist for about 6mm either side of the cut.

Fluoro lights should be mounted to give a perfectly even illumination
over the board.  If the board is tilted slightly to the tube axis or
at one end of the tube, you will be surprised how unevenly the resist
will develop.  If in doubt, move the board to twice the original distance
and quadruple the exposure.

Heating the etchant is recommended unless you like watching paint dry.
I used to heat up ferric chloride in the microwave oven.  Since ammonium
persulphate is made up as required then discarded, just use boiling
water when making it.  Don't use at over 80 deg C otherwise the resist
can get damaged.

Hairline breaks in the traces are a severe annoyance.  They can be
minimised by ensuring that the printer toner is in good condition, and
examining the backlit pattern for breaks.  Such breaks are repaired
with the drafting pen.  Filled-in drill guide holes are another pest.
Cured by ensuring the resist is fully developed!

Many a good DS board has been damaged by using blunt drills.  When the
drill breaks through the other side it lifts the pad there.  Tungsten
carbide drill bits last more than 10 times as long as HSS but must be
used in a drill press.  They also cost ten times as much.  It's a pity,
but I've never seen nitride coated HSS in PCB sizes.

{Quote hidden}

Single sided with min. 20mil traces is easy.  Double sided and/or 12mil
is a pain.  However, by dint of much practise my boards are turning
out so well that I wouldn't consider wire wrapping or solder tags (remember
them in the days when components were big enough to see?).

Total investment: { PC; EasyTrax; Laser } or { Staedtler/Rotring drafting
pen };  2 glass sheets;  fluoro lights;  Plastic tray(s);  PCB drill.
Consumables: precoated board; developer or caustic soda; etchant; drill bits.

Regards,
SJH
Canberra, Australia

1996\11\18@025641 by Dave Mullenix

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>How 'bout sharing a little more info about this gem with the rest of us?
>I've downloaded WinDraft and WinBoard, but WinDraft locks my system,

If you're running Win 3.1, you have to download and install the 32 bit
Windows software support program and install it first.  It's on the same web
page as WinDraft.

1996\11\18@054334 by Geoff Wootton

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When I started making PCBs I found that using a normal electric drill in a
drill stand to be too cumbersome, resulting in many off-centre holes.
I personally find that the best tool to use is a modelmakers archimedian
screw drill. These can take up to a 1mm drill shank size, although it's so
precise I drill 0.6mm holes for most components. Cost about 6 UK pounds.


     Geoff


> >You can use a normal electric drill ... a drill press accessory makes life
> >easier. I Dremel tool with it's accesory drill press stand is handy as
> >well. In fact, the Dremel tool (I just got one a month ago) has been
> >great for a lot of this stuff.
>
>   Where did you get your Dremel drill press accessory?  And, how much did it
> cost?
>
>   -- Hank
>

1996\11\18@104428 by Martin McCormick

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       When I build an electronic device, I have two considerations:
If I don't want the circuit later, how much of the stuff can be recycled?
How easy is it to modify, (improve, fix, etc?)

       I have tried everything from "ugly construction" to printed circuit
boards and wire wrap.  As one who was born blind, I can't read or write
schematics, but IC's provide a convenient graph-like reference for circuit
design as in:
1 +input
2 -input
3 NC
4 v-
etc

       I tried making PC boards in the early seventies and found the
experience interesting, but frustrating.  I would use tape and decalls to lay
out a circuit on a piece of un-etched board and then dunk it in ferric
chloride.  I then discovered two awful truths.  First, I couldn't feel the
traces on the board after stripping off the tape and second, the liquid
has a nasty habit of flowing under any little bubble or break in the tape
and etching where it shouldn't.  Sometimes, dirt or other contamination
would act as random resist and leave a little copper fly speck where there
should have been nothing.  I found out about wire-wrapping and that technology
solved enough of my problems that I have been content with that for almost
20 years.

       What works for me is to do a usual wire-wrap on any square pins such
as IC sockets or any other devices that don't have round leads.  I wrap the
wire on the round leads and then solder it since it will slowly unwrap
if not secured.

       I am looking forward to using PIC's for the same reasons everybody
else likes them plus one more.  If I come up with a good application that
either might have a market value or is simply good and I would like another
one like it, documentation will be much easier since most of the circuit is
the program itself.  The source file shows what pins should be what in the
circuit.  After all, there are many different ways to connect digital logic
and linear devices that accomplish the same purpose so it is nice to be able
to keep track of what one did so that it can be revisited years later without
having to just start over again because the documentation is too poor to
follow.

       I am dreading the day when the only components will be surface mount
devices and we must all build our circuits under a microscope.

Martin McCormick WB5AGZ  Stillwater, OK 36.7N97.4W
OSU Center for Computing and Information Services Data Communications Group

1996\11\18@114802 by Bradley, Larry

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I didn't buy the press accessory, (I have an very old tiny drill press
designed just for PC boards that I picked up in a surplus place), but
they are a standard Dremel accessory and I've seen them at several
places where Dremel tools are sold (such as Canadian Tire up here in
Canada ... a large chain store). The cost is about $60 CDN ($1.29 US  :)
)

Larry

{Quote hidden}

1996\11\18@120209 by Bradley, Larry

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The package is called Challenger Lite, from Ultimate Technologies in the
Netherlands. They have a Web site at
http://www/ultiboard.com/offer.html.

It used to be $79 US, incl shipping but now is $94.

The package has a schematic capture module, a PCB layout module, with an
autorouter built in, plus a separate fancier autorouter. It is a DOS
package (the separate autorouter is Windows ... I've not even fired it
up), but comes with a reasonable set of video drivers. But the standard
SuperVGA ones work fine for me.

It's biggest flaw comes from the documentation. They send a tutorial
manual, and a getting started manual, but no user manual. And no on-line
help. But with some experimenting, you can figure out what a lot of the
things do.

For example, since I use the laser printer/iron-on method, I like traces
and pads that are a bit larger than normal. It was relatively easy to
figureout how to change the default trace and pad sizes.

It has an impressive library of components (no PICs, but building a
library component is quite easy). One caution ... being a European
package, it uses Eurpoean schematic symbols by default. HOWEVER, there
is an American symbol library set as well ... you just have to make sure
that you select from the proper library.

The schematic package is easy to use, and produces high-quality
drawings. Same with the PCB package. If you want to do anything other
than what is in the tutorial manual, be prepared to experiment.

The printing subsystem supports laser printers, plotter, and Gerber
photoplotter stuff. The printing can be customized (again, via
experimentation) to your needs. For example, I don't make two-sided
boards, but I use the ability of the PCB package to put traces on the
top side to place wire jumpers. I modified the printing of the top-side
silk screen (which I use a  component layout guide) to print the
top-side traces as well, then I just install jumpers where those traces
show up.

I'm very impressed. I too played around with Winboard, and this is much
better. It is a professional package with a 500 pin limit.

They said that when they ship version 5, the Windows 95 version,
purchasers of Challenger Lite will get an upgrade to that version free.
I'm anxiously awaiting it.


Larry



{Quote hidden}

1996\11\18@131049 by timetech

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Larry G. Nelson Sr. wrote:

> The problem with these is the tooling cost. The drills are OK but the
> special mills that outlinre the traces are expensive. They do last quite a
> while. The tools with a short life are if you want to do a board rubout of
> unused copper or another "outline" with the end mill to make a wider
> isolation path. The end mills in that size are expensive and wear out fast.

Actually, what you need to do is learn to sharpen the things. I used a
diamond hone and a "vision aid" to see the edge. Most of the machines
I've seen use a pointed bit, and the tip geometry is so simple that
sharpening is pretty easy.

-- Tom Rogers  Time Tech Inc.

1996\11\18@161836 by Larry G. Nelson Sr.

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At 11:21 AM 11/18/96 -0500, terogers wrote:
>Larry G. Nelson Sr. wrote:
>
>> The problem with these is the tooling cost. The drills are OK but the
>> special mills that outlinre the traces are expensive. They do last quite a
>> while. The tools with a short life are if you want to do a board rubout of
>> unused copper or another "outline" with the end mill to make a wider
>> isolation path. The end mills in that size are expensive and wear out fast.
>
>Actually, what you need to do is learn to sharpen the things. I used a
>diamond hone and a "vision aid" to see the edge. Most of the machines
>I've seen use a pointed bit, and the tip geometry is so simple that
>sharpening is pretty easy.
>
>-- Tom Rogers  Time Tech Inc.
>
>
This is true for the main mill from T-Tech for example but the end mills are
too tiny.
Larry G. Nelson Sr.
RemoveMEL.NelsonTakeThisOuTspamspamieee.org
http://www.ultranet.com/~nr

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