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Topic: Having a professional pcb made (Read 379 times) previous topic - next topic

billcat

I am kindly asking for recommendations or advice on the subject, here is a little detail:

I am a bit inexperienced with pcb design and electronics but have recently designed a board I am considering having made professionally.

One of several catches is that I didn't design the board using your standard pcb design software(such as Eagle, which is proving rather difficult for me to get a grasp of), but rather conventional cad software and created the board drawings in .dxf file format whereas I created a separate layer for each component i.e. bottom traces, top silkscreen, drills by diameter,etc.

Now it appears most pcb manufacturers require Gerber files and I was able to convert my files as such, but I remain uncertain that they are in a useable format by the manufacturers due to my inexperience. (And I have considered this may be a factor in the following progression)

Furthermore, I did go ahead and send the files to a manufacturer via email as a RFQ. The company name is Sunstone circuits, and several days after the files were sent, I received a reply asking that I provide a bit of personal info in order to proceed, which I did, albeit hesitantly, provide. I never heard back from them again and feel a bit aggravated by this of course. First, they got my files, second, they got my personal info, and then they blew me off.  :smiley-evil:

So being once bitten twice shy, now I'm hesitant to try another manufacturer and feel a little stuck.
I am curious if this is par for the course provided my offbeat workflow.
Has anyone else done something similar and actually been successful with getting their boards made?
Are there any companies where employees review the files manufacturability, and inform the customers of problems with the files?

Just looking for a little advice, any and all appreciated. Thank you :-)


Pelleplutt

Use a Gerber viewer program to check if it looks like you wanted.

Pelle

GilchristT

I've used this before, fairly easy to use
http://www.easylogix.de/products_detail.php?prog_id=1

You have to register with them to use it but I've never gotten any spam from them.

Tommy

billcat

Use a Gerber viewer program to check if it looks like you wanted.

Pelle
Hi,

I did just that and the files look exactly as I would hope.....somewhat/

I will elaborate...

the GERBER files look spot on.

However, research seemed to indicate that the DRILL files should be of an EXCELLON type.  I also was able to seemingly convert those, have viewed them with a generic text viewer, and they seem to be similar to example Excellon files I have discovered about the web.  They show to be of file type .drl

The files I sent to the manufacturer included DRILL files in both Gerber and Excellon types(Redundant , but figured better provide too much info than too little) The Gerber drills appeared in my Gerber viewer as simple holes of a diameter that corresponded to the file name, for example  DRILL_032.gbr
The .drl I viewed with text editor, and appeared to me to be more of a machine readable variant of some sort of G-code.  I also named them similarly to the gerbers i.e DRILL_025.drl

billcat

I've used this before, fairly easy to use
http://www.easylogix.de/products_detail.php?prog_id=1

You have to register with them to use it but I've never gotten any spam from them.

Tommy
Thanks Tommy,

our replies crossed.......

but I am able to view the gerbers already, see my last reply..

rmetzner49

I used Advanced Circuits in my past life.  Excellent company.  I supplied them with Gerber files though.  Maybe their Engineering group can convert it for you.

I know Sunstone favors their PCB123 native files.  For a good DXF converter, I used Artwork Conversion.  http://www.artwork.com/  Includes their Gerber Viewer.


MorganS

OSH Park does a really good job of previewing the PCB layout before you click the 'order' button. I always upload PCBs to them as part of my design process because I find it easier to see errors in their preview renderings that aren't obvious in Eagle. I would do this even if I used a different fab to do the actual manufacture.

Their previews are also good enough to show to customers because they really look exactly like the final PCBs you will get. When I do finish a design and click 'order' I save copies of the previews and use them to write documentation, brochures etc.

OSH Park does accept Gerber+Excellon files but I'm sure 90% of their customers use Eagle because it's simpler to upload just one file.

The main advantage I find with Eagle (and other similar programs) is the schematic always matches the PCB. If you are using a 'drawing' program to do a schematic drawing and a PCB drawing, you can't tell if there are mismatches and errors.
GoForSmoke: "What GShield? You never mentioned a shield."

rmetzner49

Quote
The main advantage I find with Eagle (and other similar programs) is the schematic always matches the PCB. If you are using a 'drawing' program to do a schematic drawing and a PCB drawing, you can't tell if there are mismatches and errors.
And you can't tell with Eagle whether someone has botched making a Library Part for you, especially as it pertains to mechanical locations of shafts, pins, and the like.

I never said I used AutoCad to draw the schematic, though we started out that way.  What is handy to have is a way to produce a Gerber file from an AutoCad DFX, so you can check dimensions and fit with the board.

oric_dan

OP, I've never heard of Sunstone before, but they look like a reputable company. I can't understand why they would need "personal" info, nothing more than a credit card to charge. You shouldn't need a specific RFQ, just fill out the forms, and send the Gerbers. You hardly need to talk to a human anymore.

I've used the following company for many "years", and they recently dropped the price for small pcbs to $3 each, 10 qty minimum, and a quick 5-day turn. Easy to test some initial designs, and fix mistakes without incurring huge costs They generally want regular gerbers with an excellon drill file.

http://pcb4u.com/a1ad77.asp

billcat

#9
Jan 24, 2015, 12:11 am Last Edit: Jan 24, 2015, 01:16 pm by billcat
Just for the record, (yes I know its been awhile) I went with the company linked in the last post:

http://pcb4u.com/a1ad77.asp

Thanks for the recommendation....I received my boards today and am very pleased.  They responded right away and gave recommendations because there were a few minor problems with my files.  The prices seemed very reasonable and they even included a couple extra boards.  It did take about 2&1/2 weeks to get them, but I was in no hurry.

I highly recommend them for those finding themselves in similar situations as I.

 :D

polymorph

Thank you for letting us know the resolution of your question. It is always appreciated.
Steve Greenfield AE7HD
Drawing Schematics: tinyurl.com/23mo9pf - tinyurl.com/o97ysyx - tinyurl.com/q7uqnvn
Multitasking: forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=223286.0
gammon.com.au/blink - gammon.com.au/serial - gammon.com.au/interrupts

CrossRoads

I like iteadstudio. They have a CAM file that is used with the eagle CAM processor to make the needed gerber files. They have a DRU file that is used for design checking to ensure the file created is manufacturable. Their pricing is good - 10  5cm x 5 cm boards fo $9.90, 10 5cm x 10x boards for $14.90, 10 10cm x 10cm boards for $19.90, plus shipping. I have not had a single bad board, marking, traces, holes, vias, or otherwise in 4 years of ordering cards.
http://imall.iteadstudio.com/open-pcb/pcb-prototyping.html
Someone mentioned libraries - it is up to you as the designer to confirm the footprints you select against the parts you use. Mechanical drawings are available for everything - check them against the eagle package.

Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.

MarkT

Two little tricks:

1) Print out your boards at real size on paper, check all the parts sit on top of their
footprints correctly - this will spot any errors in foot prints / package choice

2) If using Eagle download sparkfun's CAM job sfe-gerb274x.cam :https://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/BeginningEmbedded/9-EaglePCBs/sfe-gerb274x.cam
[ I will NOT respond to personal messages, I WILL delete them, use the forum please ]

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