PCB Questions

Hello all!

I am going to be making a final version of a project and I am considering using a PCB. I have a couple questions, however.

What is a good software to design them? What can I expect for a price? Can I (mostly) rely on de-soldering components to use them again?

Thanks, Tyler

A custom PCB is the correct "final version" for many projects.

I use Eagle for board design (free for non-commercial use with limits, and a hobby version isn't that expensive. Commercial versions get pricey though). Some people prefer KiCad (which is free), though I found the interface to be less pleasant.

Either way, you can expect a serious learning curve (like with any CAD software) - it can get very frustrating when you're first learning it.

Price for fab services - some places charge by the square inch, others have a fixed price for certain ranges of board size. A lot of people like OSHPark (USA), but they're a little pricey compared to the chinese board houses like DirtyPCBs (among other). OSH is $5/sqin for 3 copies of a 2-layer board. DirtyPCBs is $14 for approx 10 copies 2"x2", $25 for same 4"x4" - but you need to put in an extra $20 or so for shipping if you want it fast. Other cheapo chinese board houses are in the same ballpark. If you pay for DHL, they're almost as fast as OSH; if you don't, of course, they're very slow. Those are the ones I've done business with.

Desoldering components is unpleasant and has a high rate of damaging the part in question, even for parts that are easy to remove. Some SMD packages aren't practical to remove without a hot-air rework station, and other parts are difficult to remove intact. You should not rely on desoldering components to reuse them except in unusual circumstances - it's time consuming to get the parts off, and then you're using parts that have been used and been through additional stresses. If a part turns out to have failed during this time, you could waste even more time debugging to find out what recycled part was bad. So yeah - IMO it's hard to justify reusing parts instead of just buying new. Most parts you'll be using are really cheap, typically.

I've used pulls in my projects - but usually it's because the part is expensive, hard to get, or I need to fix something now and don't have the part in stock except as a pull

For the package, search the forum, it has been discussed many many many times. For the cost, should be less than $100 for the board. Best to use new components.

But, your have not said what will be on the PCB, what size you expect it to be and how many you require.

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On my PCB will be a basic circuit to control a stepper, servo, RGB LED, have color sensor input, have switch input, and have the stepper motor H Bridge. I only need one PCB. What are the restrictions on Eagle free version, and what makes it advantageous over fritzing or KiCad? Thanks

Can I (mostly) rely on de-soldering components to use them again?

I virtually never re-use a soldered part. I'll re-use if it was used on a plug-in breadboard or in a socket.

And if you've got a working breadboard/prototype, it's a good idea to keep it working until you know the PCB version works. ;)

[u]Eagle Versions[/u]

Desoldering components is unpleasant and has a high rate of damaging the part in question, even for parts that are easy to remove. Some SMD packages aren't practical to remove without a hot-air rework station, and other parts are difficult to remove intact. You should not rely on desoldering components to reuse them except in unusual

It depends on whether you care about the board you are removing the part from. If all you want are the parts and you plan to scrap the board you can use a propane torch and a chip puller and run the flame over the pins on the bottomside of the board while pulling up with a chip puller on the top side of the board. It takes a little practice and anyone who says it will damage the chips obviously hasn't mastered the technique. I've never damaged a chip using that method. When done correctly takes one second. If you aren't going to scrap the board then you need an $800 hot air gun with the adaptor tubes. You run the hot air gun over the SMD fine pitch chips and just lift them up with a chip holder or tweezers. It is possible to desolder and remove through hole chips but you don't want to go there....

Did you search the forum for past discussions?

What are the restrictions on Eagle free version

http://bfy.tw/62k9

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I have to put in a good word for Diptrace.

The free version is good for 300 pins and 2 layer boards.

Have used altium and eagle in the past but I find myself using diptrace for 90 percent of my projects now. I personally find it very fast and easy for small projects and has a good library of parts.

Eagle.

Tons of community support Tons of tutorials Tons of plug-in and extra for it.

Does have a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the basics..

(ie: designed to be used with a 3 button mouse, [left, right, scroll wheel].. and that its backwards than most (US?) apps were used to... like in MS Word.. you highlight the text then apply the 'effect (ie: bold)... where as in Eagle you click the 'effect' and then apply it to the stage/canvas/component..etc)

I suggest walking through many of the tutorials..

Take a look at Designspark from rs components.

Its free and has full functionality.

Not mentioned much round here though.

I like it because it has a similar feel to easy-pc which i originally purchased for home use.