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Author Topic: Newbie question on designing your own 'board' instead of using wires  (Read 5023 times)
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Hi

I made an Arduino project with simple connections but quite a lot of wires... as I would like to redo the project but don't intend to loose hours again on the wiring I'm looking for a better solution. Which software is easy to create any 'gerber' files that can be used to have your own PCB prints? I'm looking at the most easy software to use and only need connections to be created and holes, no components on there.

Thanks!
Stijn
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I'm looking at the most easy software to use
They all claim that and they are all not true.

Quote
only need connections to be created and holes, no components on there.
I don't think there is one like this.
Look here for some options:-
http://www.p-m-services.co.uk/web_links.htm
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Use Eagle to create your schematic and PCB design. Then find a board manufacturer (lots of people like OSH Park, Seeed Studio and iTead Studio). All of those manufacturers will provide a CAM file. Simply go to your PCB in Eagle, open up the CAM file in the CAM Processor tool and hit Export. Put all the files that are generated into a ZIP file and send it through the site.

Most of the hobby-level PCB manufacturers offer good tutorials about how to prepare Gerbers and use their service, so start by checking out one of their sites.
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I would not say Eagle is easy to start with.

Fritzing is maybe a good choice for this.
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Can Fritzing be used for this? I already used it a few times to make a layout for breadboard - no PCBs yet. Bit afraid that Eagle is too difficult to start with.

Thanks!
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I made my first PCB last week (it didn't arrive yet...)

Eagle was really tough to get it do anything useful.

Fritzing was easy.

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+1 for Fritzing - getting the layout right is rather easy.  Watch some of the youtube tutorials smiley
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Fritzing is great for the first few PCBs while your learning.  But when you realize Fritzing is limiting your design, you will go to Eagle. 

There are dozens of tutorials for Eagle and it's actually not that hard to learn.  Eagle just has more options you can use.

I think that Sparkfun has the best tutorials for Eagle.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/108
http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/109
http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/115

IMHO, if you start out with Fritzing, it's going to make learning Eagle that much harder.  I started out using Fritzing, it's a great program, but is limiting as to what you can do with your designs.

Also, if you have specific questions about how to do something in Eagle, just ask in this forum, there are a lot of members here that have the knowledge to help.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 11:04:35 am by codlink » Logged

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Bit afraid that Eagle is too difficult to start with.

EAGLE was the first schematic/PCB design software I used, and to date is the only package I've used - I didn't find it remotely difficult to understand and learn. I just watched a quick intro video by Jeremy Blum (on youtube) and took it from there, I'd give it a try!
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On a personal note I did schematic design and PCB layout for 30 years and I find Eagle totally incomprehensible...
The Program feels like it was designed by a C programmer or I was totally spoiled by Protel/Allium Pads/Mentor and Cadence... All of which I've used at one time or another Protel/Altium for 20 of the 30 years.
The Only thing that Eagle has going is the price..  A Full Seat  (all the Bells and Whistles) is less than $2K/Yr where an Atium Full seat is $6K/Yr @ $325/Mo.... Min 12 mo.
Eagle is the VW of Cad Programs... It Will get you there... eventually.

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I find Eagle to be very straightforward to use now that I have gotten used to the libraries & finding parts.  That was very aggravating to start, way too many choices.
Next was making symbols for new parts. Very awkward the first couple, once I started doing it more often and remembering a process it got easier.
Still haven't got a handle on making a new part from an existing library & saving it outside of that library, but I'm pretty quick at creating a new one from scratch and then editing my own for stuff I forgot.  Even figured out how to make oddly shaped boards, like one with multiple curved radius edges to fit in a custom servo case.

Even with a beginner/hobby license, you can cram a Ton of stuff onto a single page schematic and squeeze it into a 80mm x 100mm board.  I finally moved up a level to get to 100mm x 100mm so I wasn't feeling like I was giving up 20mm x 100mm of board area when I ordered from itead, standard sizes being up to 50mm x 50mm (10 for $9.90), then up to 100mm x 100mm (10 for $24.90) at the time - they now offer a  up to 50mm x 100mm size board as well (10 for $22), which the 80x100mm eagle limit would fit right in to.
You can do a lot with the Netlist, Partlist, Error Check, and Design Rule Check to make sure your final board is buildable and nothing has been left off.

And for quick discussions here in the forum, I still use expressPCB a lot.  Very quick to put something together.
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The Only thing that Eagle has going is the price..  A Full Seat  (all the Bells and Whistles) is less than $2K/Yr where an Atium Full seat is $6K/Yr @ $325/Mo.... Min 12 mo.

Eagle has a one-time purchase price. I have the pro commercial version, $1K for the schem and pcb module (no need for autorouter) - purchased about 5 years ago. I do NOT have to pay $1K every year.

While the other software, as you say, is $2K, $6K PER YEAR.... OrCad is $10K (not sure though if this is subscription or one-time).

In the end, everything ends up being a gerber file.

If the project works, that's the most important thing. 

There are some "stupid" and "quirky" things I hate about Eagle... my experience being coming from AutoCAD (though I didn't use AutoCAD for PCB design).
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I use Eagle for all my PCB design, for 2 years now, currently with 6.2.
I find that with attention to parts placement, I can let it autoroute and it does a pretty good job with 2 layers, even with complex designs, usually just needing some vias named GND to connect the top & bottom ground polygons together, and sometimes tweaking trace routing by hand to let the ground polygon fill in places it couldn't reach otherwise.
The iteadstudio DRC & CAM files work well for making sure boards can be made, down to 8mil trace width with 8mil clearance if desired. I usually go with 10mil for traces, 12 mil for vias and 24 (or wider) for power.
One thing that is a gotcha sometimes is having the trace width too wide and then it cannot connect to an SMD pad, usually for power.
I also put restricted area between narrower SMD pads (like FT232 and ATMega2560) to help prevent solder bridging.
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The solder mask should take care of this, shouldn't it?

Eagle has a default 4mm spacing on the solder masks of all pads. you can reduce or remove this in the DRC rules. Then if a trace runs between narrow SMD pads it should be fully masked so there shouldn't be any issues.
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"The solder mask should take care of this, shouldn't it?"
You would think. I just like to give myself more margin when hand soldering based on what experience has shown of my capabilities.
I know the standard Atmega2560 couldn't be masked by itead, had to make the pads a little narrower so solder mask would go in between.
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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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