I recently faced the same situation; I had never done any layout or
etching before. I jumped on the web did some searching and after
playing around with about three or four packages I finally decided to
work with PCTrace. This is a schematic capture, autorouter(limited, but
it's a start) and PCB layout package. PCTrace is a windows-intuitive
package and was quite easy to get used to. In one afternoon I learned
how to generate a simple board and to generate a set of Gerber output
files. Gerber is (I believe) the standard format for defining a PCB
layout. This is what most etch houses request. For $99.00 I was able
to advance my design from a hand-drawn schematic to a double-sided PCB
in only a few days. And now that I've climbed the learning curve, my
next design will be even faster! Check out http://www.eesoft.com to download
the full software package less the Gerber output capability. You can
call and purchase the $99.00 software license and get a key over the
phone which will allow you to activate the full output capabilities.
Once I generated the Gerber files I did some searching and located
Alberta Printed Circuits in Canada to do my etching. I simply E-mailed
them my Gerber files and in less than a week, the boards were at my
house! (actually about three or four days) Alberta charges a $48.00
tooling fee and then $0.68 per square inch of etched board. There is a
limit to the hole density per square inch, but it is quite generous.
Their web sight is very informative and profiles all services. It also
provides many helpful tips and walks the user through the ordering
process. Check them out at http://www.apcircuits.com
This was a great way to do things, especially for a moderate quantity
of boards (more than a prototype, but not a full industrial
production). Now, I'd like to learn how to use photoresist PCBs so I
can generate my own etched PCBs in single quantities at home.
You can try http://www.expresspcb.com. They offer design software and production.
You use their software to design the board and then send it over the
internet to them for production. You can download the software for free.
>Things are cheaper on the east coast, 1 to 2 cents per hole.
Andrew was talking about the one-time price for designing a board, not
the per-board price of manufacturing it.
You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail.
Get completely free e-mail from Juno at http://www.juno.com
Or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]
If you send me a spec on your circuit, or better a sketch, I can help you.
We do schematic capture and PCB layout. But we need something to quote on.
I assume your board is small and will not exceed 4 layers: quite possibly
it is only a 2 sided application. In any case, I can't help if I don't have
something to go on.
I'm one of those layout guys. 10 years experience, military, NASA designs,
as well as consumer products (ballasts) for GE. Just changed fields to
System Administration, but I've got the tools and am still doing contract
layout work - very reasonable. Email me privately if you want to continue
the conversation. My apologies to the list for blatant advertising.
I am glad that I now have two contacts for PCB development.
I have on ocassion been a 'grouch' on this list. But
I don't want this to sound like I am grouching.
I am using MS Internet Explorer under Windows 3.1
and using the mail program that came with it.
My problem is that I only get a From: line
in the header and it all ways says "pic list".
If I want to see who posted the message I have to
go into the mail box with a text editor and try
to find the right message and then look through
the 'whole' header to find the email address
of the poster. It takes longer to do it than
it did to write about what I have to do.
I try to all ways put my email address on anything
I post so that when I start answering myself, it will
be easier. Plus I am proud of my new domain name.
Try http://www.expresspcb.com/ I haven't used these folks yet, but they
offer a free program that lets you make a PCB layout, send it to them via
the internet, and voila! in a few days you have your boards. I'll let you
get the prices from them, but I am told the price and service is unbeatable!
I am definitely impressed!
SO.....Whaddya really want??
Carl R, McIver (usually)
or the wife (Janet) and kids