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Topic: perma proto boards -- any that really match breadboard pattern? (Read 2146 times) previous topic - next topic

Tazling

@westfw

I DL'd the file for the sparkfun solderable proto board and tried loading the .brd file (obtained here) into Eagle.  [Learning in the process that Eagle is a feature jungle with a steep learning curve!]

Mostly, despite the bewildering feature set, it made sense.  I could turn on and off layers representing the silk, the traces, etc.  The only thing that is puzzling me now is that this board has no holes :-)

Also no vias.  

Where the holes should be, are just little golden squares in the tDocu layer.

So I'm a bit puzzled.  Is this not the actual .brd file for the solderable BB?  Or has it been left incomplete so that the downloader can customise it?  It has traces tying the pads together, it has everything except the holes.  Odd.  What am I not understanding?

When I look at the output from your handy dandy ULP by contrast I see tons of vias, one for every hole, which is what I would expect.

So I tried starting with your ULP, drew a geometry border around it, checked it on my printer (yes, it seems like it should fit the bbps I have).  I want to make one more mod, which is to add 4 predrilled mounting holes.  As a complete Eagle n00b of course I'm finding most online resources far too advanced :-)  -- it is hard to find the answer to a really dumb question like "how do I add a size 4 mounting hole?"

I have discovered how to select the Holes layer and how to create 4 holes, and also found that I can modify Properties of Holes like position and diameter... but now I'm struggling with drill sizes.  

If I just specify an inch size (like 1/8), will a PCB fab shop accept that?  I keep getting the "nega" (circle with a slash through it) symbol for my mounting hole, and am not sure whether this means it would not be drilled by the fab shop, or just means I've chosen a size not on Eagle's very limited drill menu.  It would be nice if that menu looked more like a real drill index...

I forged ahead with it anyway (what the heck, cheap gamble).  I tried JLCPCB on your recommendation, & found their upload instructions a little confusing for the total n00b.  Eagle CAD generated two folders, one called DrillFiles containing a solitary xln file and the other called GerberFiles containing, guess what, various Gerber files.  I had difficulty getting JLCPCB's previewer to visualise the holes -- tried putting the xnl file inside the Gerber folder and then zipping, etc, but couldn't quite figure out what I was supposed to do with it.  In the end I zipped both dirs (GerberFiles and DrillFiles) into one zipfile and uploaded that, hoping they can sort it out.

Watching their instruction video for the third time I saw that I missed a step:  it appears that I have to add Vias manually (darnit).

If you are running EagleCAD v9 or so, how do you organise your zipfile for submission to JCLPCB?

dochawk

It was just to show the type ;) No idea about the quality. banggood and the likes did not exist 40-odd years ago 8)
but we did have Poly-Paks . . .


westfw

Sorry for the delay; I've been hosting a NYE/NYD party, which involved a lot of cooking and non-online activity...

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Mostly, despite the bewildering feature set, [EAGLE] made sense.
Yea!  That's better than most people's first effort with EAGLE.  It tends to trigger a lot of "how come you select a verb and apply it to an object instead of selecting an object and then applying a verb (like every other modern GUI interface?" reactions...

Um.  First of all I should comment that I'm only running EAGLE 7.x - I actually bought a copy of the "non-profit" license, and I'm sticking to it until something really compelling comes along.  So some of what I say may be a bit out of date...


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The only thing that is puzzling me now is that this board has no holes :-)
Where the holes should be, are just little golden squares in the tDocu layer.
What am I not understanding?
You're missing that the actual HOLES are in the "Drills" layer.  "Holes" are one of the objects that contains a Drill.  "Vias" and "Pads" also contain drills (and copper and signals as well.)

While my ULP plunks down a whole bunch of Vias (which are sort-of temporary trace components), the Sparkfun board is made up of a bunch of connector "components", which are more permanent (not affected by "rip-up" and re-routing)  They have lots of vertical 5-pin connectors, and some big horizontal 29-pin connectors, so if you want to move them around, you have to select by the component rather than by selecting a group of vias.  (The Adafruit board also uses vias.)


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"how do I add a size 4 mounting hole?"
I have discovered how to select the Holes layer and how to create 4 holes, and also found that I can modify Properties of Holes like position and diameter... but now I'm struggling with drill sizes.  
If I just specify an inch size (like 1/8), will a PCB fab shop accept that?
I usually use a large-diameter Via for mounting holes, but "hole" will also work.  And yes, you can just specify 0.125 as the drill size (if your grid is set to "english" mode), and the board house will accept it.  You may want a slightly larger larger hole than the screw size.  (3.2mm for an m3 screw?)


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I keep getting the "nega" (circle with a slash through it) symbol for my mounting hole, and am not sure whether this means it would not be drilled by the fab shop, or just means I've chosen a size not on Eagle's very limited drill menu.
EAGLE will use a slightly different symbol for each drill size in the menu (which is changeable, BTW.)
And I think it uses the circle/slash for drills not in the menu.  But it should be fine anyway, since the CAM files generated will contain the actual drill sizes (which might get modified by the manufacturer.  I have my drills choices set to nice even metric values (0.5, 0.6, 0.8, 1.0, 3.2), while the english defaults seem to be based on ... some other standard (mils?  Drill Numbers?) that work out to slightly different values (1.02mm is 40mils, in the sparkfun board.  Try the drillegend-stack.ulp)  My understanding is that the manufacturer will substitute in their standard drills, within some tolerence factor.


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Eagle CAD [based on JLPCB instructions] generated two folders, one called DrillFiles containing a solitary xln file and .. GerberFiles.  I had difficulty getting JLCPCB's previewer to visualise the holes -- tried putting the xnl file inside the Gerber folder and then zipping, etc, but couldn't quite figure out what I was supposed to do with it.  In the end I zipped both dirs (GerberFiles and DrillFiles) into one zipfile and uploaded that, hoping they can sort it out.
Hmmm.  I noticed that the modern instructions are different than for older versions.  Usually I just run their provided CAM job and put all the files it generates into a .zip file, but it never created separate directories for me...


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Watching their instruction video for the third time I saw that I missed a step:  it appears that I have to add Vias manually (darnit).
You shouldn't.  Which instruction video are you looking at?
I'll try downloading the new version to a burner PC or VM and see what it looks like...

Tazling

Hi westfw, thanks for the extensive response.  I got close to fabbing a board from your ULP but the fab shop (I tried JLCPCB) rejected my file with the cryptic note

Hi, there is only holes in the board and you select surface finish with HASL. The tin will connect together to cause the short circuit.Please select ENIG if you need to do the board,thanks~

After a lot of googling and timidly asking a stupid question or two on the Eagle CAD forum (where 99 percent of the discussion is miles over my head) I think I've discovered that a board with tightly packed Vias isn't a good candidate for the HASL process, and this is what the fab house was trying to tell me... but since English is their 2nd language and I am vastly ignorant of PCB fab, I had a hard time understanding what they were trying to tell me.  At first I thought they were telling me my board had only holes and no pads or vias, and I knew that couldn't be right!  So I guess I need to pay a bit more for the ENIG finish.  I will regroup and try submitting the ULP proto board design again.

We have strayed far, far from the topic of Arduinos so I probably should stop asking n00by Eagle and PCB questions here at this point;  there are other fora for learning about this stuff.  I really appreciate your notes (above) though, they will help me get a grip on Eagle CAD (at least the feeble partial grip I need to do the minimal things I would like to do with it).  This conversation has opened a door for me to a huge, unsuspected new world -- much appreciated.

Oh, about the instruction video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf2y1rTRHDg&feature=youtu.be

It was linked on the JCLBCP web site, in their FAQs:  How To Generate Gerber Files.

Hope your NY party was awesome.

PS yes, you can 3d print multilayer PCBs today.
https://www.aniwaa.com/product/3d-printers/nano-dimension-dragonfly-2020/
But there's a catch... you have to have $50-100K to buy the printer.  Oh well.
I could buy an awful lot of fab-house PCBs for that kind of money :-)

westfw

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I got close to fabbing a board from your ULP but the fab shop (I tried JLCPCB) rejected my file with the cryptic note

Hi, there is only holes in the board and you select surface finish with HASL. The tin will connect together to cause the short circuit.Please select ENIG if you need to do the board,thanks~
It's nice to get a rejection instead of a set of non-functional boards that they charge you for.  I'm somewhat impressed that you get ANY human intervention for the prices they're charging...
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I think I've discovered that a board with tightly packed Vias isn't a good candidate for the HASL process
No, it SHOULD be OK.  For example, this board worked fine with HASL, and has a prototyping area of similar dimensions (though I don't remember whether I used the ULP for it.)

I think there are two possible explanations:
  • It means "We don't want to waste our drill bits drilling all those holes for a protoboard that we already sell through some other channel."  (some PCB firms actually put a limit on hole count on their cheap process offers.)
  • (more likely) something went wrong in the ULP or CAM export process, and somehow the copper layers didn't get exported properly.


Can you package up the .brd file and the same .zip you sent to JLCPCB and put it someplace where I can check it?

We don't need to stop talking till a moderator says so.  And I think we're well within the norms for this sub-forum, anyway...

Tazling

Try this shared folder:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1_z4CrsEScb2_ZIbEyRBg5I4abWY1KqzV?usp=sharing

or direct link to zipfile

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HG8w04B5dBY7UeW6XlKd93IitR-tM7hn/view?usp=sharing

and to brd file

https://drive.google.com/file/d/185B7SJ8NtZuNiGecGOfUjc5KNu4otpst/view?usp=sharing

I'm never quite sure how far down sharing goes in google folders...

Well if you think the mods will not object then...

I did find some text online that suggested HASL could be a problem with a lot of small vias (diameter is relevant) because the molten metal could "stick" in the vias reducing their diameter, or even blocking them.

Anyway if you could review the output and let me know if there's something horribly wrong with it, that would be very helpful thanks.

The only mod I made was to draw a perimeter and add 4 mounting holes at the corners.

I think software reviews the board files at JLCPCB, and the human just types a short and cryptic text message.  Given their volume and pricing, as you say, even that is surprising.

I wouldn't want anyone to think I was a natural whiz at Eagle -- Eagle CAD only "made sense" to me when using it to view existing designs... the layers were not that different from e.g. GIMP layers or any other layered drawing tool.  Designing from scratch (I looked at a few tutes) looks terrifyingly complicated.  I probably will never need to do that, though :-)  my ambitions are pretty small.  I'm working on version 2 of USBcycle, my ongoing project/obsession...

https://www.hackster.io/Tazling/usbcycle-ride-through-your-virtual-world-8ff961

which right now is on hold because I don't have a bb p/s hefty enough to feed the power-hungry Nextion... so I'm waaaaiting on new p/s from Banggood, which (when you combine CP slowdown, holidays, customs, and the container ship schedule) are taking a looooong time to get here.  argh. 

so in the meantime I'm fussing about with any other details I can resolve, like a solderable proto board that actually fits the bb p/s properly, which is how this thread all started...

westfw

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https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HG8w04B5dBY7UeW6XlKd93IitR-tM7hn/view?usp=sharing
The files look OK to me.  (There is gerber viewer software for checking...)

Tazling

#37
Jan 05, 2019, 05:33 am Last Edit: Jan 05, 2019, 05:46 am by Tazling Reason: add screenshot
I tried JLCPCB again, this time selecting ENIG finish, but I can't get anywhere with their web site now.

Their Gerber preview/checking rejects my zip file.  It produces no image, and a long list of errors/complaints.

See screenshot...

I am not sure where to begin.  Clearly a bunch of information is missing (at left).  Not sure why it thinks the (xln) drill file is not aligned with the rest of the (Gerber) files.

I fed the same zip file to gerber-viewer.com (nifty site) and it looked fine (see 2nd screenshot).

Frustrating!

westfw

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Quote
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HG8w04B5dBY7UeW6XlKd93IitR-tM7hn/view?usp=sharing
The files look OK to me.  (There is gerber viewer software for checking...)
Ah.  Although the files seem to be formatted fine, the names are not at all close to what JLCPCB suggests here.
I don't know whether that's because of new EAGLE versions, or whether it's something you did manually, but it seems that JLCPCB doesn't like it.  USUALLY, companies provide a .CAM file, but it looks like they only have instructions (and not terribly consistent instructions, either.  The page I linked above says that they'll accept .brd files directly, but that doesn't seem to be the case...
There are a couple of design decisions to think about:
  • You get silkscreen on top and bottom layer, it seems a shame not to put SOMETHING there.  Row and Column numbers, or maybe just big blank white rectangles where you can scribble with a sharpie...
  • I noticed that Adafruit's PermaProto board use quite thin traces between the pads, and only on one side.  This permits them to be cut, perhaps enabling more components to be added.  My ULP and Sparkfun's board use big thick traces, which are less fragile, but also harder to modify.
  • You have room for additional pads in the vertical sections, if you wanted.


Anyway, attached is a .zip file that JLC seems to think is OK...
It looks like:

Tazling

@westfw

wow, I totally missed that (the file naming convention).
that zip file almost worked the first time (I was able to get it into the fab queue) so I didn't realise there was a serious problem with it.

I did nothing manual to the files, I wouldn't dare :-)  I just did the export procedure as shown in the video.  so now all I need is a little bash script to auto-rename them before zipping and uploading.  cool!  many thanks for pointing out the error.

and thanks for the sample zipfile.  I will dl and examine.  is it also from your ULP?


westfw

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is it also from your ULP?
No (maybe?)  - I started with your .brd file and added silkscreen...
I ended up exporting it using the .CAM file that "pcbway.com" provides, I think.  It has compatible filenames built-in.  (or it's possible that I had modified it...)

Tazling

I'm increasingly confused... :-)

I visited pcbway.com (expensive!) and eventually found the "Sparkfun CAM file" (is that the one you used?) which I DL'd and then tried their instructions

https://www.pcbway.com/project/share/How_to_generate_Gerber_from_Eagle.html

but in a nutshell, nothing worked as described.  I get a feeling there is some version hell going on under the surface.  when I go to Sparkfun website I find that the cam file is pretty old.

[update] after a bit more googling and headbanging I found this page for Eagle 9
https://www.pcbway.com/blog/News/Notes_for_Gerber_files_Generated_from_Eagle_9_20.html
which looked hopeful until I actually tried to DL the rar files.  404s on all of them  ARGH.  and despite having created an acct I don't seem to be able to post to the comments on that page... this reminds me of the old Zork GUE text game: "you are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike."

[one last update before I crash for the night]
found yet another pcbway resource:
https://member.pcbway.com/BrdToGerber/Index
appears to translate brd file directly to gerber zipfile but... there are warnings about using it with Eagle versions later than 8, and mine is the current 9.2.  so this is all rather discouraging.  I tried it with my original brd file and the result sure looks right, but... scary warnings.

Say, westfw, if you could somehow make available your modified version of my original brd file I would be interested to run it through the pcbway insta-converter and compare the output to your Archive folder...

westfw

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if you could somehow make available your modified version of my original brd file
It sounds like recent changes (v8, v9) may have broken old instructions.  Which is unfortunate for the board vendors, since a lot of EAGLE users are holding on to their older (not subscription-based) versions and resisting the upgrade...

Tazling

Thanks westfw,  got the file.  Working on another piece of the puzzle right now but will return to my .brd files and the import/export issue soon.   If version incompats don't defeat it, that one-stop conversion page https://member.pcbway.com/BrdToGerber/Index looks like the way to go.

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