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Author Topic: Newbie question on designing your own 'board' instead of using wires  (Read 4968 times)
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Another option is DIPTrace.  Like Eagle, there's a limited free version available.  Unlike Eagle, though, the limitation is based on number of pins (300 or 500 pins in the free version), not board size.  Versions are available for Windows and Mac, though the Mac version is just running in WINE.  It works, but it's not very Mac-like.  There's also a detailed PDF tutorial you can download/print.  http://www.diptrace.com/ for more info.
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We should remember the OP said:
"I'm looking at the most easy software to use and only need connections to be created and holes, no components on there."

I use Eagle and Altium over a few weeks, but I learned Fritzing in a few hours, and that's what he is looking for. At least for now.
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Hi all

Thanks for your great input! I started off installing a few and just from looking at steps and clicking around a bit I liked PCBExpress best for now... might move on to another one as soon as it's needed though.

From the website I understood that the first step was to create a scheme using ExpressSCH and this is the result:



Before moving on to the next step I was wondering about a few things:

  • As I'm using a lot of leds I just want to have 'pins' on my PCB where I can connect the wires to from the LED matrix. Should I draw something for this in this sketch?
  • I'm using some pushbuttons as well, should I put them on here as well?

Thanks!
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If the LEDs & buttons will not be mounted on the board, then you can just use 2-hole connectors for the buttons (1 to the uC, 2nd the Gnd), and 2 16-pin headers for a 8x8 LED matrix, or 2-pin connectors for individual LEDs, connected up as if you had 64 LEDs on the board for each MAX7219.

For your uC, Aref only needs a cap to Gnd.
VCC & AVCC need connection to +5v and a Cap to Gnd each. Same with the MAX7219s, 1uF and 0.1uF on Vcc pin.
Reset needs a 10K pullup resistor to +5V.

I would also include pins so you can download code into the uC, either for an FTDI type module (Rx, Tx, DTR going to 0.1uF cap to Reset, +5, Gnd, CTS (connected to Gnd)), or an ICSP interface for downloading bootloader or code with no bootloader (MISO, MOSI, SCK, Reset, +5, Gnd).
Really beats pulling the chip every time you need to make a change.
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What about using keil and proteus?
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I like Proteus, and it isn't tooooo expensive at (IIRC) $250 for a lite license.  ExpressPCB is free, pretty awesome, and really easy to use.  I've built up quite the library of custom parts and designs.  The boards aren't cheap, though.  At least you get them in one week from the order submission.
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Remember too that thermal relief's are required not only on holes for thru hole parts like electrolytics but also for SMD devices as well. And on the topic of replacing defective parts SMD IC's are easiest to remove with a sharp XACTO or craft knife as it is easier to flick the pins left off with an iron than it is to try anything else W/O a thermal rework station.

Bob
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Docedison, why do you feel thermal reliefs are needed on through hole electrolytic caps?
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I second DipTrace.  I had problems with Eagle.  DipTrace works exactly like you think it would.  Making components and component footprints is easy.  It comes with a tutorial that shows you how to lay out a typical hobbiest board and render it to a PCB.  There is even a very convenient if slightly expensive (compared to sending it to China) direct order option, no need for Gerbers at all.
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Bear in mind that DipTrace modifies the security settings of the Documents folder.  In my opinion, the behaviour borders on that of a virus.
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Bear in mind that DipTrace modifies the security settings of the Documents folder.  In my opinion, the behaviour borders on that of a virus.

Why does it do that?
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Why does it do that?

There is no valid reason.
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Bear in mind that DipTrace modifies the security settings of the Documents folder.  In my opinion, the behaviour borders on that of a virus.
In what way does it do this?  Not that I think it affects me (it creates its own Documents folder on a Mac), but it seems rather odd...
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Diptrace runs on OSX? I thought it was PC only....

I do like the 3D preview of Diptrace...

Will try to download DT and play with it.
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Well, it kind of runs on OS X.  It uses Wine and Quartz to run the Windows version inside X on the Mac.  It's ugly, but it seems to work (I've only tinkered with it so far).  I don't think it supports the 3D mode, though.
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