PCB adapter board design, no components. Where to begin?

Hello.

I am in need of an adapter board made for a project of mine. Its sole purpose is to connect an arduino with a shield. In the case of what I'm working on, I have VERY strict space requirements and cannot stack the shield on top of the arduino. There are ways around this, like getting a module instead of a shield, but I want to dive into making a simple PCB on my own as a learning experience.

I can make an adapter PCB that allows me to place the arduino and shield side-by-side, and connect the required pins with Vias and solder them directly to the adapter board. However, I'm having a lot of trouble getting started. I won't need any components on the board, no resistors, no relays, etc. Just a plain PCB with connected Vias. I'm hoping to create a gerber file that will allow me to send this off to have ~5 of these made (again, part of the learning experience).

I've tried Eagle, but from what I can tell, it will only allow you to create a board from a Schematic. Since I have no components, its a little hard to start with a schematic. Is there something else I can use to create a simple PCB that outputs Gerber files? Maybe some learning/reading material for that website/program that is recommended?

Thanks!

(deleted)

Since I have no components, its a little hard to start with a schematic.

What you do is add terminals to the schematic and connect them in an interconnecting schematic.

spycatcher2k:
Connect with VIAs? I think you MAY have your terminology wrong, A VIA is a very small plated hole connecting one side of a PCB the other. You need pads for connecting a PCB to a PCB.

Yeah, sorry. My terminology is poor. I’m still learning.

larryd:
What you do is add terminals to the schematic and connect them in an interconnecting schematic.

I’ll look into this. As it turns out I also need 2 small relays on the adapter board so I might be able to use a schematic after all. Any links you can provide to help me get started from scratch?

You might consider making a cutout in your PCB board design, slightly smaller than the footprint of a small Arduino board (like the NANO), with pads that match up all around the edge of your cutout. It should then be pretty easy to line up the Arduino board with the pads, either on the top layer or solder side, and carefully solder the two together from the edge. That will completely avoid the extra space taken up by even the shallowest header connector. And, the PCB cutout likely won't add anything (or at most pennies) to the cost of the board fabrication. As I've been pleasantly surprised at the VERY reasonable prices from some of the China based PCB fabrication (PCBWAY.COm for example), and these fab houses can add such cutouts very easilly and cheaply.

You are kind of thinking of component wrong. Find a component that give you a hole pattern on the PCB that you want and add it to you Schematic, just because you are not going to mount on the board does not mean that you can not use it to lay out the PCB for what you need in holes spacing. You can then wire any of those component on the schematic for any traces you want. You can make components for your needs like one for a rework area.

1steve: You are kind of thinking of component wrong. Find a component that give you a hole pattern on the PCB that you want and add it to you Schematic, just because you are not going to mount on the board does not mean that you can not use it to lay out the PCB for what you need in holes spacing. You can then wire any of those component on the schematic for any traces you want. You can make components for your needs like one for a rework area.

There are no components that share the hole pattern I need.

Use one pin components then position as needed.

It is not that hard to design a component one that has the hole location where you want them. Or use a 1 pin connector. Use different 1 pin connector for different sizes holes. If you put them in a schematic you can run traces between.

You can find some based on arduino board extension development reliable optimization PCB layout design service, http://www.electronic-dev.com/pcb-design-layout-manufacturing/arduino-pcb-layout-design-service.html

niamishra: You should seriously mull over making a pattern in your PCB board plan, somewhat littler than the impression of a little Arduino board (like the NANO), with cushions that coordinate all around the edge of your pattern. It should then be quite simple to fix up the Arduino board with the cushions, either on the best layer or patch side, and cautiously bind the two together from the edge. That will totally dodge the additional room taken up by even the shallowest header connector. Furthermore, the PCB pattern likely won't include anything (or at most pennies) to the expense of the board creation. As I've been enjoyably shocked at the Truly sensible costs from a portion of the China based PCB manufacture (PCBWAY.COm for instance), and these fab houses can include such patterns easilly and inexpensively.

This is a near exact copy of my post #4. Please don't copy other's answers and re-post. It wastes everyone's time!

Post #1, eagle and most PCB CAD software requires a schematic. In your case the schematic will just be a series of connections between 2.54 mm headers. Headers and other connectors can be added just like resistors and other components. From the sound of your "adapter" you'll have headers (male) on the bottom then headers on the top (which could be male or female). If you want to leave a hold to hand slder a wire into then just tell the eagle schematic that it is a hole for a one pin 2.54mm header , then position it accordingly in the board view. When the PCb is produced don't solder a header to that hole and just fit a wire instead.

If you download the Sparkfun Eagle libraries, they have board footprints. Select two for a schematic, connect them up, create the board from the selected components, place the components, connect them up. Is really pretty simple. This took just a few minutes with a Promini and an Uno R3 for example.