printed circuit boards

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Jeff Zimmerman

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Sep 6, 2003, 9:17:06 AM9/6/03
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I'm a 2nd year EE student, and I have a general background in
electronics. I'm trtying to get started in making my own circuit
boards. I've done some research on the web, but there is too much out
there.

Can anyone recommend what to buy, and where to buy it. I'd like to
make double-sided boards, but I'll settle for single-sided. I'm a poor
college student so I can't spend too much.

Baphomet

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Sep 6, 2003, 12:36:25 PM9/6/03
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"Jeff Zimmerman" <jrz...@psu.edu> wrote in message
news:cb2e8c1d.03090...@posting.google.com...

It would be really helpful to know whether you were interested in making a
pc board as a prototype / breadboard, or whether you were interested in
making production quantities.


Darkage

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Sep 6, 2003, 10:11:40 AM9/6/03
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I've just got started to. Probably the cheapest way is etching pen, a
blank copper board and some etching solution (ammonium persulphate or ferric
chloride) If you start doing finer work then maybe investigate the press n
peel stuff.

"Jeff Zimmerman" <jrz...@psu.edu> wrote in message
news:cb2e8c1d.03090...@posting.google.com...

A E

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Sep 6, 2003, 10:34:39 AM9/6/03
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Jeff Zimmerman wrote:

Well, you'll need three things at least.
* You'll need PCB software, which usually requires input from a schematic
netlist, but you certainly can enter a netlist by hand, but this gets very
tedious with modern high pin count parts, and is very error-prone.
But if you just want to make a board with a 28 pin DIP like a microcontroller,
and some parts like resistors and LEDS, it should be fine.
* When your layout is done, your layout software can output photoplot files,
which is what the people that physically build the PCB use to make the patterns.
If you want to make your own boards, you'll need a way to transfer that pattern
yourself onto a piece of copper-clad board. You can either print with a laser
printer to something called Press'n'peel and transfer the pattern directly with
a clothes iron (not a soldering iron :) ), or you print with a laser to a
transparency and use special boards that are light sensitive to expose your
artwork. You'll need a good UV source and some chemicals to develop the board.
You also need to clean the board before to make sure the artwork is on there
nice and good. Usually I use a sponge with an abrasive cleaner like Ajax, then I
rinse with tap water for a minute, then pre-etch the board for 30 seconds-ish,
then rinse again, then dry with a shammy.
* Once the artwork is on the board, you'll need some etchant to remove the
unwanted copper. I still use ferric chloride because it's cheap and it tastes
good. There are other etchants out there like ammonium persulphate, which is a
powder you mix with water, but doesn't taste nearly as good. :) Etchants are
fairly dangerous and can react wildly with metals, so you'll need nice plastic
containers to hold the ethchant. I use dollar store food containers.

You are on your own as to which software to use. Google around for something
called Eagle, people say it's good.
Also, be ready to try several times before you get some joy. And always use a
laser printer. I'm sure your school has a print shop or something like that. And
do some visual tests first, print on paper and check to see if your parts line
up on the printout, because I've seen something like +/- 5% variation in size
for so-called 1:1 printouts.
And for double-sided boards, try to get it all on one side, double-sided is too
much trouble unless it's a ground plane.

Jeroen Vriesman

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Sep 6, 2003, 10:49:45 AM9/6/03
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Well, there is allready a nice explanation replied on how to make curcuit
boards.

But then you still need to buy the UV lights, chemicals etc, which is
expensive, I know that for a student everything is expensive.

But here is what I did when I studied:

Find a practical technical school (mid-level), the kind of education people
do to become electronics service personal/repair stuff etc. Such a school
usually has all the equipment, I was able to make my pcb's in the evenings
at such a place when I studied, just material costs.

Good luck with it.
Cheers,
Jeroen.

Oliver Dain

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Sep 6, 2003, 11:03:20 AM9/6/03
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Jeff Zimmerman wrote:

For the lazy, is there is a service to which one can submit the output
from software like Eagle and get a board made and mailed for a
reasonable price?

A E

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Sep 6, 2003, 11:43:07 AM9/6/03
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Darkage wrote:

> I've just got started to. Probably the cheapest way is etching pen, a

Yeah, but that gets old fast. I used to use the direct transfer method, you
know, those press on decals?


Jan-Erik Söderholm

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Sep 6, 2003, 3:27:49 PM9/6/03
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Well, for the copper laminate itself, check :
"http://www.st-anna-data.se/" under the
"PCB laminate" link. 9" x 12" double sided for
only $2.50 each, high quality.

For single-sided, just etch one side away...

Jan-Erik.
(Yes, it's my site...)
(Check out the carbide drills at the same time !)

petrus bitbyter

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Sep 6, 2003, 5:07:34 PM9/6/03
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"Jeff Zimmerman" <jrz...@psu.edu> schreef in bericht
news:cb2e8c1d.03090...@posting.google.com...

Jeff,

Good description at:
http://www.electricstuff.co.uk/pcbs.html

pieter


---
Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.515 / Virus Database: 313 - Release Date: 1-9-2003

Martin Riddle

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Sep 6, 2003, 10:53:23 PM9/6/03
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A good layout program like Eagle. A laser printer. And Press-N-Peel.
Forget double sided as electro plating is a messy process, unless you spend the money to have the
boards made by a shop.
You can do double sided, by adding registration holes, and soldering the vias manually. But it gets
cumbersome.

BTW, I think the UV stuff is for the birds.

Cheers
Martin


"Jeff Zimmerman" <jrz...@psu.edu> wrote in message
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Bob Masta

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Sep 7, 2003, 9:34:20 AM9/7/03
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You might want to check out my page at
<www.daqarta.com/lptxh.htm>
This uses an ordinary "Sharpie" felt tip pen
and ferric chloride etchant. Lots of notes on
all the little details, like making the original
artwork on graph paper if you don't use CAD,
getting the right etchant concentration, and
using dental burs in a Dremel tool instead
of drill bits.

I've used this method for about 20 years now.
If you don't already use a CAD program, you
may find the graph paper approach to be a
_lot_ faster than learning the CAD, though
you'll want to do that eventually. But I've
used graph paper for fairly complicated
2-sided boards with good results.


Bob Masta
dqatechATdaqartaDOTcom

D A Q A R T A
Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
Shareware from Interstellar Research
www.daqarta.com

Chris Carlen

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Sep 8, 2003, 11:16:50 AM9/8/03
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Hi Jeff:

I have found that the prices for prototype PCB fabrication by commercial
PCB houses is much cheaper than the time that I would have to spend to
make them myself, even on a student's budget.

A student can get for $33 at www.4pcb.com, a double sided, solder
masked, and silkscreened PCB.

Get Eagle which can do up to 100mm x 160mm for free, and your set.

Next, seriously work at getting someone at the school to pay for your
costs. Get some sort of lab assistant job, or get involved with some
research projects. There are likely folks who have budgets that can pay
for your PCBs, and maybe even a higher license level of Eagle to do
larger boards and more layers, if need be. Dream up some cool circuit
they can use for an undergrad lab project, talk them into wanting it,
then put your project's pattern on the same board (but try to make it
unobvious, as 4pcb.com might reject it if it's obvious there are more
than one "part numbers" on the board). Cut the two patterns apart later.

I would also avoid the real easy and simple PCB programs out there,
which may not provide enough headroom for you to grow, as you move
closer to a career. Eagle is a "mid-level" program. In my view, it's
just right for a beginner, and sophisticated enough to handle your needs
for many years of learning and skill development. Also, the newest
version of Eagle really adds a bunch of features that take it closer to
the high-mid-level. And there are a number of licensing levels for
different budgets.

Good day!


--
_______________________________________________________________________
Christopher R. Carlen
Principal Laser/Optical Technologist
Sandia National Laboratories CA USA
crc...@sandia.gov -- NOTE: Remove "BOGUS" from email address to reply.

Spehro Pefhany

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Sep 8, 2003, 11:48:28 AM9/8/03
to
On Mon, 08 Sep 2003 08:16:50 -0700, the renowned Chris Carlen
<crc...@BOGUS.sandia.gov> wrote:

>Jeff Zimmerman wrote:
>> I'm a 2nd year EE student, and I have a general background in
>> electronics. I'm trtying to get started in making my own circuit
>> boards. I've done some research on the web, but there is too much out
>> there.
>>
>> Can anyone recommend what to buy, and where to buy it. I'd like to
>> make double-sided boards, but I'll settle for single-sided. I'm a poor
>> college student so I can't spend too much.
>
>Hi Jeff:
>
>I have found that the prices for prototype PCB fabrication by commercial
>PCB houses is much cheaper than the time that I would have to spend to
>make them myself, even on a student's budget.
>
>A student can get for $33 at www.4pcb.com, a double sided, solder
>masked, and silkscreened PCB.

Is that a student special? Their terms state a minimum of 3 pieces at
that price, plus shipping, plus a $10 handling fee, so more like USD
120.

Best regards,
Spehro Pefhany
--
"it's the network..." "The Journey is the reward"
sp...@interlog.com Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog Info for designers: http://www.speff.com

Jim Thompson

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Sep 8, 2003, 11:50:16 AM9/8/03
to
On Mon, 08 Sep 2003 08:16:50 -0700, Chris Carlen
<crc...@BOGUS.sandia.gov> wrote:

[snip]

>A student can get for $33 at www.4pcb.com, a double sided, solder
>masked, and silkscreened PCB.

How about non-student, or senior-citizen pricing ?:-)

>
>Get Eagle which can do up to 100mm x 160mm for free, and your set.
>

[snip]

Is Eagle easy to use?

...Jim Thompson
--
| James E.Thompson, P.E. | mens |
| Analog Innovations, Inc. | et |
| Analog/Mixed-Signal ASIC's and Discrete Systems | manus |
| Phoenix, Arizona Voice:(480)460-2350 | |
| E-mail Address at Website Fax:(480)460-2142 | Brass Rat |
| http://www.analog-innovations.com | 1962 |

I love to cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.

Jan-Erik Söderholm

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Sep 8, 2003, 12:35:47 PM9/8/03
to
Jim Thompson wrote:
>
> Is Eagle easy to use?

No.

Jan-Erik.

Jan-Erik Söderholm

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Sep 8, 2003, 12:35:23 PM9/8/03
to
Jim Thompson wrote:
>
> Is Eagle easy to use?

Yes.

Jan-Erik.

Spehro Pefhany

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Sep 8, 2003, 1:08:40 PM9/8/03
to

Are you feeling ambivalent about it, Jan? ;-)

It seems to be the most popular of the low-cost packages.
http://www.cadsoftusa.com/eagle41e.pdf


BTW (for Jan only), here are some drawings of those knobs I
sent you.

http://www.trexon.com/pdfs/trexon_knob_15mm_dwg.png
http://www.trexon.com/pdfs/trexon_knob_32mm_dwg.png
http://www.trexon.com/pdfs/trexon_encoder_revA.pdf

Richard

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Sep 8, 2003, 1:59:00 PM9/8/03
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Jim Thompson wrote:
> Is Eagle easy to use?

Yes, sorta. But potent for the price.

The user interface is not quite intuitive, but once in "their" frame of
mind it makes sense. Flexible, extensible, and the free version is
full-featured with 2-layer support (licensed: 16 layers).

User discussions provide some good insight on what it can/can't do:
news://news.cadsoft.de/eagle.userchat.eng
news://news.cadsoft.de/eagle.support.eng

Probably the biggest shortcoming with the free version is the missing
manual (not even in PDF), which comes only with licensed copies. You've
got to get by with other docs, tutorials, and an advice website.

Non-commercial version: $125; full license: $1200 (if you want the
auto-router)

Jan-Erik Söderholm

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Sep 8, 2003, 2:07:34 PM9/8/03
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Spehro Pefhany wrote:
>
> On Mon, 08 Sep 2003 18:35:23 +0200, the renowned Jan-Erik Söderholm
> <a...@aaa.com> wrote:
>
> >Jim Thompson wrote:
> >>
> >> Is Eagle easy to use?
> >
> >Yes.
> >
> >Jan-Erik.
>
> Are you feeling ambivalent about it, Jan? ;-)
>

Well,
Is a Volvo "easy" to drive ?
Is a PIC "easy" to program ?
Is a 747 "easy" to fly ?

How do you answer to that ?
Both yes and no can very well be "correct" answers...

Jan-Erik.

Jim Thompson

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Sep 8, 2003, 2:16:30 PM9/8/03
to
On Mon, 08 Sep 2003 08:16:50 -0700, Chris Carlen
<crc...@BOGUS.sandia.gov> wrote:

>Jeff Zimmerman wrote:
>> I'm a 2nd year EE student, and I have a general background in
>> electronics. I'm trtying to get started in making my own circuit
>> boards. I've done some research on the web, but there is too much out
>> there.
>>
>> Can anyone recommend what to buy, and where to buy it. I'd like to
>> make double-sided boards, but I'll settle for single-sided. I'm a poor
>> college student so I can't spend too much.
>
>Hi Jeff:
>
>I have found that the prices for prototype PCB fabrication by commercial
>PCB houses is much cheaper than the time that I would have to spend to
>make them myself, even on a student's budget.
>
>A student can get for $33 at www.4pcb.com, a double sided, solder
>masked, and silkscreened PCB.
>
>Get Eagle which can do up to 100mm x 160mm for free, and your set.
>

[snip]

Anyone have comments about ExpressPCB?

Walter Harley

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Sep 8, 2003, 2:31:17 PM9/8/03
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"Jim Thompson" <Ji...@golana-will-get-you.com> wrote in message
news:u69plv8mnpsj86kp1...@4ax.com...

> Is Eagle easy to use?

It's approximately as easy as most of the other stuff out there. It is not
what I would call "easy" (and I consider myself quite computer-literate).

It is not "free." There is a "Light" version (max 2 sides, max 100mm x
80mm) which is free for personal use or corporate evaluation. If you make
money from your product, even as a hobbyist, you are required to license the
product. The Light version costs $49 to license; if you want to be able to
make larger boards, you need to license one of the (much) more expensive
versions.

Even if you want to make boards that fit within the size limit, it is
awkward; in order to enforce the size limit, once you've placed a component
on the board, you can't drag it back off, even just to rearrange your
layout. You better have a very good idea of where everything is going to go
before you start placing anything.

Last I checked (most recent major version) it had severe problems with GDI
resource leaks when running on Windows. It is in general
Windows-challenged; the UI is not Windows standard, it has difficulties with
the Windows font engine, and so forth. I haven't tried it on Linux, where
it might do better.

(And Jim, if you feel about the Germans the same way you feel about the
French, you should stop right now!)

-walter


Walter Harley

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Sep 8, 2003, 3:19:08 PM9/8/03
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"Jim Thompson" <Ji...@golana-will-get-you.com> wrote in message
news:2phplv8ofkpclu5m0...@4ax.com...

> Anyone have comments about ExpressPCB?

(Okay, I'll cross-post this response. My other response, re Eagle, was
posted only to sci.electronics.design.)

I've used this service several times over the last two years. They do very
high quality work at reasonable prices; their minimum price ($62 including
express shipping for three identical 2.3"x3.5" boards, double-sided) is the
best I've found, and their prices for small quantity production (50 boards),
with solder mask and silk screen, are pretty good too. The quality of the
finished boards is as good as anything I've seen in any commercial product.
At this price and turnaround speed, they can do boards more cheaply and
quickly than I can do them myself, given that whenever I do it I have to buy
new supplies and remember how to use them.

Their layout software is simple and somewhat limited but very easy and
intuitive. Their schematic capture is not great, and the integration
between the two is dubious. (Why, why, why

The biggest limitation is that they don't export Gerber and they don't
usefully import netlists. So you're stuck using their software and their
production service; there's no way to scale. You can't even print out
camera-ready art to etch it yourself. Also, their layout software is not
very smart about things like filled polygons, curves, and so forth.

Bottom line: they're great for very simple boards; but they don't scale well
beyond that.

-walter


Jim Thompson

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Sep 8, 2003, 3:33:49 PM9/8/03
to
On Mon, 8 Sep 2003 12:19:08 -0700, "Walter Harley"
<wal...@cafewalter.com> wrote:

>"Jim Thompson" <Ji...@golana-will-get-you.com> wrote in message
>news:2phplv8ofkpclu5m0...@4ax.com...
>> Anyone have comments about ExpressPCB?
>

[snip]


>Their layout software is simple and somewhat limited but very easy and
>intuitive. Their schematic capture is not great, and the integration
>between the two is dubious. (Why, why, why
>
>The biggest limitation is that they don't export Gerber and they don't
>usefully import netlists. So you're stuck using their software and their
>production service; there's no way to scale. You can't even print out
>camera-ready art to etch it yourself. Also, their layout software is not
>very smart about things like filled polygons, curves, and so forth.
>
>Bottom line: they're great for very simple boards; but they don't scale well
>beyond that.
>
> -walter
>

I've been toying around trying to decide whether to PnP Blue something
and try it myself, or just order from ExpressPCB. I'm developing a
product idea which, in the end, if it works, I'd just have a
commercial house lay it out. Right now I'm planning on building the
system up in small pieces while I sort out the circuit details.

As for printing out ExpressPCB, it *can* be done. I took
"unprintable" as a challenge and found a way to do it...

Here's the best way I've found so far:

(1) Print desired layer to a file using a *color* Postscript printer
driver (I installed a Tektronix 780 Graphic printer in Win2K).
(2) Bring into Paint Shop pro (at 300/inch)
(3) "Posterize" the image
(4) Using "Magic Wand" tool select one piece of trace
(5) Selections > Modify > Select similar. This will select all
instances of that color on the image.
(6) You can then copy and past that selected content.
(6a) You may need to "Resize" the image to make it actual size.
(7) Save as desired file-type.

Chris Carlen

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Sep 8, 2003, 5:37:34 PM9/8/03
to
Walter Harley wrote:
> "Jim Thompson" <Ji...@golana-will-get-you.com> wrote in message
> news:2phplv8ofkpclu5m0...@4ax.com...
>
>>Anyone have comments about ExpressPCB?

[edit]


> The biggest limitation is that they don't export Gerber and they don't
> usefully import netlists. So you're stuck using their software and their
> production service; there's no way to scale. You can't even print out
> camera-ready art to etch it yourself. Also, their layout software is not
> very smart about things like filled polygons, curves, and so forth.
>
> Bottom line: they're great for very simple boards; but they don't scale well
> beyond that.
>
> -walter


Those are some of the reasons I went with Eagle. I'm sure someone of
Jim's stature could afford it. It would be wise not to get invested
(time and $$$) in a dead end, capabilities-wise.

The new version of Eagle will do blind and buried vias, offset vias
(keyholes), and curves, as well as major enhancements to the library
management. There are lots of parameters for design rule checking, and
it's taken me a couple years to finally figure out all the details and
options it provides about polygons and supply layers. It is becoming
quite a powerful program.

Chris Carlen

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Sep 8, 2003, 5:32:16 PM9/8/03
to
Walter Harley wrote:
> It is not "free." There is a "Light" version (max 2 sides, max 100mm x
> 80mm) which is free for personal use or corporate evaluation. If you make
> money from your product, even as a hobbyist, you are required to license the
> product. The Light version costs $49 to license; if you want to be able to
> make larger boards, you need to license one of the (much) more expensive
> versions.

Not too expensive if you politely ask them for a little extra help on
top of one if their special promotions which come now and then. I have
a professional license at home for which I paid $350.

> Even if you want to make boards that fit within the size limit, it is
> awkward; in order to enforce the size limit, once you've placed a component
> on the board, you can't drag it back off, even just to rearrange your
> layout. You better have a very good idea of where everything is going to go
> before you start placing anything.

Peculiar. I've never actually used the evaluation/lite version. This
could be a problem.

> Last I checked (most recent major version) it had severe problems with GDI
> resource leaks when running on Windows. It is in general
> Windows-challenged; the UI is not Windows standard, it has difficulties with
> the Windows font engine, and so forth. I haven't tried it on Linux, where
> it might do better.

It is wonderful on Linux, ranking among the most stable of applications
I've ever used. It'll run for 8 hours a day all week without crashing,
except for once in a while.

Must have something to do with their doing the development on Linux.
Use a serious OS for serious business, and use a toy OS for toying, I say.

Walter Harley

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Sep 8, 2003, 5:58:54 PM9/8/03
to
"Chris Carlen" <crc...@BOGUS.sandia.gov> wrote in message
news:bjisgp$t51$1...@sass2141.sandia.gov...

> Not too expensive if you politely ask them for a little extra help on
> top of one if their special promotions which come now and then. I have
> a professional license at home for which I paid $350.

P'raps. But at their stated prices, for the Pro version including schematic
capture and autorouting modules, it's $1800.

I think Eagle is a prime example of the same sort of thing that many MSFT
products are: its strength is that everything else sucks even worse.


Chris Carlen

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Sep 8, 2003, 6:32:11 PM9/8/03
to


Huh?

MS is a criminal monopoly. Cadsoft is a small software company trying
to make an honest living producing a respectable and fairly priced product.

Eagle really is quite good, IMHO, both in terms of raw functionality as
well as price.

Most importantly, Eagle provides both a Linux and Windows version. That
represents a fundamental philosophical motivation that is different from
MS. MS wants you to have to use their software, and only their
software, on only their OS. "Lock-in" as it is known. Once you're
using their software, it is *very* painful to switch to another brand.
And you can't switch OSes if you're using Office, even though Windows
should be banned from all use on the face of the earth for security
reasons alone.

Just a few thoughts.

DocBrown

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Sep 8, 2003, 8:09:09 PM9/8/03
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jrz...@psu.edu (Jeff Zimmerman) wrote in message news:<cb2e8c1d.03090...@posting.google.com>...

> I'm a 2nd year EE student, and I have a general background in
> electronics. I'm trtying to get started in making my own circuit
> boards. I've done some research on the web, but there is too much out
> there.
>
> Can anyone recommend what to buy, and where to buy it. I'd like to
> make double-sided boards, but I'll settle for single-sided. I'm a poor
> college student so I can't spend too much.

Hi Jeff,

If cost is your main concern and you are looking to build single
projects or prove-up models (initial stage prototype to deside if cost
of full prototype is worth it). A prototype board like at
www.onepasinc.com is your quickest, easiest solution.

Doc

Walter Harley

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Sep 8, 2003, 8:33:50 PM9/8/03
to
"Chris Carlen" <crc...@BOGUS.sandia.gov> wrote in message
news:bjj013$16s$1...@sass2141.sandia.gov...
> Walter Harley wrote:
> [...]

> > I think Eagle is a prime example of the same sort of thing that many
MSFT
> > products are: its strength is that everything else sucks even worse.
>
> Huh?
>
> MS is a criminal monopoly. Cadsoft is a small software company trying
> to make an honest living producing a respectable and fairly priced
product.
> Eagle really is quite good, IMHO, both in terms of raw functionality as
> well as price.
>

I'm not trying to compare MSFT and Cadsoft as companies (and I have no
insight into Cadsoft's ethical behavior). All I'm saying is that in my
opinion, like many MSFT products, Eagle only looks good in comparison to its
competition. Judged on its own merits, it is simply not a great piece of
software. At least on Windows (I haven't tried on Linux) it is ugly, buggy,
counterintuitive, hard to learn, expensive; merely less so than the
competition. It is not what software can or should be. It is just good
enough to be useful, not good enough to enjoy using. It is certainly not
good enough that other people should be modeling their software after it.

I think this assertion about Eagle is not especially contentious; a quick
search of Usenet postings, including on Eagle user groups, will support it.
Certainly my own experience does; I used it as a hobbyist for several years,
though I uninstalled it when I went commercial (having turned my electronics
hobby into a business). Like others, I found it usable and even perhaps
"quite good" in some regards but not excellent. It puts up a fight. It
never let me just turn it on and start working; I'm sure if I used it 8
hours a day, I'd get to know it well, but used on an occasional basis it is
difficult. I've never been able to get a schematic or a board to end up
quite like I wanted it, and I've never been able to get through a project
without running into some kind of hurdle or other. That said, I'll probably
end up buying a license and reinstalling it before long, because I've found
nothing better.

As for the rest of the Microsoft vs. Cadsoft debate - I have worked at a lot
of software companies, including Microsoft (in the early 90's), and at each
company the developers were proud of what they were doing, felt that their
products were better than their competition's, felt that they held their
users' needs as their highest priority, and felt that they were properly
prioritizing bugs versus features and security versus usability. Not that
they were necessarily right; but I think that to draw the software world as
Microsoft with black hats and everyone else with white hats, as some do, is
mistaken. There are plenty of other black hats out there; and for that
matter, there are plenty of well-intentioned, skilled, hard-working people
at Microsoft, hard though it may be to believe.


Walter Harley

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Sep 8, 2003, 8:34:58 PM9/8/03
to
"Chris Carlen" <crc...@BOGUS.sandia.gov> wrote in message
news:bjisqn$t5h$1...@sass2141.sandia.gov...

> Those are some of the reasons I went with Eagle. I'm sure someone of
> Jim's stature could afford it. It would be wise not to get invested
> (time and $$$) in a dead end, capabilities-wise.

Well, PCBExpress is free and very, very fast to learn, so not much of an
investment. But it is quite limiting.


Jim Thompson

unread,
Sep 8, 2003, 9:28:22 PM9/8/03
to

Since I am just tinkering with a wild-assed idea I'm going to go with
ExpressPCB. (I had no problem getting it going in a blink.) If the
idea shows promise I'll hire one of you professional PCB guys to
coalesce what I expect to be several ExpressPCB boards into a single
card.

Winfield Hill

unread,
Sep 8, 2003, 10:13:16 PM9/8/03
to
Jim Thompson wrote...

>
> Since I am just tinkering with a wild-assed idea I'm going to go with
> ExpressPCB. (I had no problem getting it going in a blink.) If the
> idea shows promise I'll hire one of you professional PCB guys to
> coalesce what I expect to be several ExpressPCB boards into a single
> card.
>
> ...Jim Thompson

Jim, one new thing I've noticed is that four and six-layer PCBs are
finally getting the same low prototype prices that two-layer boards
have long enjoyed [but only from some firms]. Just something to keep
in mind during your layout process.

Thanks,
- Win

Chris Carlen

unread,
Sep 9, 2003, 10:56:09 AM9/9/03
to
Walter Harley wrote:
> I'm not trying to compare MSFT and Cadsoft as companies (and I have no
> insight into Cadsoft's ethical behavior). All I'm saying is that in my
> opinion, like many MSFT products, Eagle only looks good in comparison to its
> competition.

Which MSFT products look good compared to their competition? Windows?
Outlook? Internet Explorer? IIS? Databases that crash along with
their OS under heavy load? Even notepad is just a wart on the side of
Windows. You get 10 or more highly featured editors with any Linux install.

Windows is insecure and unstable, but easy to use, albeit extremely
limiting. Depends if you are doing serious work (in particular running
an enterprise transaction server) or playing games which one you will
think is better. On the desktop, I think the favor goes to Linux for
basic useability. More apps for Windows doesn't make Windows better
from a technical or useability standpoint. Try managing so many program
windows on a MS box so that the task bar icons are only a few pixels
wide. Oh, well of course it would likely lock up anyway with that much
activity. But on Linux with X you can spread out over any number of
virtual desktops. This X feature alone has made Windows seem primitive
and constraining to me for the past 8 years.

In the server world, Windows is a joke and everybody knows it. The only
reason it is used is because of IT departments that don't have any real
computer skills on hand, or have foolish managers. Pointing and
clicking, with reinstallation after the limited troubleshooting options
lead to a dead end is not what I call "system administration" which is a
real troubleshooting (translation: thinking) process, truly possible
with UNIX and UNIX-like systems. You never have to reinstall Linux/UNIX
to fix a problem, unless you get cracked. And almost never have to
reboot except for hardware changes.

Outlook is almost entirely responsible for billions of $$$ lost due to
lost productivity resulting from internet worms and email virii. This
program should be outlawed, plain and simple. Any Windows house that
uses Outlook is *not* sincere about security (actually, any house that
uses Windows at all is not sincere about security.

Internet Explorer is so primitive compared to what is presently
available in Mozilla that it's usage by so many is fertile grounds for
anthropological study of primitive cultures.

Granted, Excel is a decent program. But it's about the only one they've
made that is any good. Oh, masm was pretty good, once.

Word is junk. WordPerfect was better, but got out-marketed and had some
bad upper management.


Judged on its own merits, it is simply not a great piece of
> software. At least on Windows (I haven't tried on Linux) it is ugly, buggy,

What version did you use? Just for the record, I maintain that is is
*very* stable on Linux. It would be interesting to see what the cadsoft
newsgroups have to say about it on Windows nowadays.

> counterintuitive, hard to learn, expensive; merely less so than the
> competition. It is not what software can or should be. It is just good
> enough to be useful, not good enough to enjoy using. It is certainly not
> good enough that other people should be modeling their software after it.
>
> I think this assertion about Eagle is not especially contentious; a quick
> search of Usenet postings, including on Eagle user groups, will support it.

Mostly beginners.

> Certainly my own experience does; I used it as a hobbyist for several years,
> though I uninstalled it when I went commercial (having turned my electronics
> hobby into a business). Like others, I found it usable and even perhaps
> "quite good" in some regards but not excellent. It puts up a fight. It
> never let me just turn it on and start working; I'm sure if I used it 8
> hours a day, I'd get to know it well, but used on an occasional basis it is
> difficult. I've never been able to get a schematic or a board to end up
> quite like I wanted it, and I've never been able to get through a project
> without running into some kind of hurdle or other. That said, I'll probably
> end up buying a license and reinstalling it before long, because I've found
> nothing better.

I've done some tricky stuff with it lately, and always get what I want.

> As for the rest of the Microsoft vs. Cadsoft debate - I have worked at a lot
> of software companies, including Microsoft (in the early 90's), and at each
> company the developers were proud of what they were doing, felt that their
> products were better than their competition's, felt that they held their
> users' needs as their highest priority, and felt that they were properly
> prioritizing bugs versus features and security versus usability. Not that
> they were necessarily right; but I think that to draw the software world as
> Microsoft with black hats and everyone else with white hats, as some do, is
> mistaken. There are plenty of other black hats out there; and for that
> matter, there are plenty of well-intentioned, skilled, hard-working people
> at Microsoft, hard though it may be to believe.

I am confident that there are a lot of good folks working at MS. They
are trying to make a living like the rest of us. It's the management
that is the criminal gang. And not too many software inductry folks
outside of MS think that the overall effect of MS on the industry has
been positive. Kind of like the current state of the US government,
lots of good people there, but a rotten upper management with
monopolistic intentions.


P.S. Don't take some of my hyperbole about MS products too seriously,
or anything else for that matter. It's all in good fun. ;-)

petrus bitbyter

unread,
Sep 9, 2003, 3:13:12 PM9/9/03
to

"Jim Thompson" <Ji...@golana-will-get-you.com> schreef in bericht
news:f4mplv86vieaj0pop...@4ax.com...


James, and other Express users,


I ever checked it out for myself:

- Installed a HP LaserJet 5P/5MP Postscript printer and set it to print to a
file
- Printed the required layer using this printer to file test.ps
- Opened test.ps using a plain text editor (notepad will do for small files)
- Removed all but one of the dots of the grid. They look like
0 0 scol L ; : N 1222 3130 7 7 rp C
0 0 scol L ; : N 1282 3130 7 7 rp C
0 0 scol L ; : N 1342 3130 7 7 rp C
- Closed the file and reopened it by PSP at 600dpi
- Removed the grey background by color replacer
- Saved test.***
This way I got a clean artwork image ready to be printed by a 600dpi
laserprinter.

I still have no intention to use it this way but at the time it looked like
the challenge it
wasn't.

Jim Thompson

unread,
Sep 9, 2003, 4:32:50 PM9/9/03
to
On Tue, 09 Sep 2003 19:13:12 GMT, "petrus bitbyter"
<p.k...@hccnet.nl> wrote:

>
>"Jim Thompson" <Ji...@golana-will-get-you.com> schreef in bericht
>news:f4mplv86vieaj0pop...@4ax.com...

[snip]


>> As for printing out ExpressPCB, it *can* be done. I took
>> "unprintable" as a challenge and found a way to do it...
>>
>> Here's the best way I've found so far:
>>
>> (1) Print desired layer to a file using a *color* Postscript printer
>> driver (I installed a Tektronix 780 Graphic printer in Win2K).
>> (2) Bring into Paint Shop pro (at 300/inch)
>> (3) "Posterize" the image
>> (4) Using "Magic Wand" tool select one piece of trace
>> (5) Selections > Modify > Select similar. This will select all
>> instances of that color on the image.
>> (6) You can then copy and past that selected content.
>> (6a) You may need to "Resize" the image to make it actual size.
>> (7) Save as desired file-type.
>>
>> ...Jim Thompson
>

>James, and other Express users,
>
>
>I ever checked it out for myself:
>
>- Installed a HP LaserJet 5P/5MP Postscript printer and set it to print to a
>file
>- Printed the required layer using this printer to file test.ps
>- Opened test.ps using a plain text editor (notepad will do for small files)
>- Removed all but one of the dots of the grid. They look like
>0 0 scol L ; : N 1222 3130 7 7 rp C
>0 0 scol L ; : N 1282 3130 7 7 rp C
>0 0 scol L ; : N 1342 3130 7 7 rp C
>- Closed the file and reopened it by PSP at 600dpi
>- Removed the grey background by color replacer
>- Saved test.***
>This way I got a clean artwork image ready to be printed by a 600dpi
>laserprinter.
>
>I still have no intention to use it this way but at the time it looked like
>the challenge it
>wasn't.
>
>pieter
>

"Posterize" (2-levels) is easier to do than "color replacer".

I notice something else as well: Reduce hole sizes to give an
accurate "center" for your drill.

Frank Pickens

unread,
Sep 10, 2003, 10:32:39 AM9/10/03
to
Sent my first order to ExpressPCB Friday afternoon. Boards arived Airborne
Tuesday morning. Amazed at the speed and the quality. I will use them again
although they ar a bit pricey.
Frank

Aubrey McIntosh

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Sep 11, 2003, 2:35:50 PM9/11/03
to
Oliver Dain <oda...@nospam.mindspring.com> wrote in message news:<YGm6b.1291$Yt....@newsread4.news.pas.earthlink.net>...

> Jeff Zimmerman wrote:
>
> > I'm a 2nd year EE student, and I have a general background in
> > electronics. I'm trtying to get started in making my own circuit
> > boards. I've done some research on the web, but there is too much
> > out there.
> >
> > Can anyone recommend what to buy, and where to buy it. I'd like to
> > make double-sided boards, but I'll settle for single-sided. I'm a
> > poor college student so I can't spend too much.
>
> For the lazy, is there is a service to which one can submit the output
> from software like Eagle and get a board made and mailed for a
> reasonable price?


This summer I have worked on my first wholly owned electronics design
project.

I used CadSoft's EAGLE, and I like it a lot.

I shipped EAGLE files off to Olimex according to the instructions on
their web site. They emailed a .pdf of a fax form, and required that
I sign it and FAX it back.
Money quietly moved from my credit card to them, and boards quietly
arrived at my house. It was professional. It was satisfying. I
never had that post purchase let-down, though there was a missing week
spent in customs. Now I am am an international player. :-)

Now, these are my first boards and my judgement is biased, but they
were beautiful. They're still beautiful. I think the process of
learning EAGLE and making the board was far preferable to wiring the
circuit up on a breadboard. And even though, or perhaps because, I am
a chemist, I wouldn't even consider etching at home.

Also, I bought a board from someone who published in Nuts & Volts a
couple of years ago. Power and ground were shorted on that board. I
didn't really care, because I just wanted to see and hold a board in
preparation of my project, but the fact that they said their board
house was crummy, and Olimex worked perfectly for me, has made me a
little cautious about looking for references -- don't go just with
price. Drop a prospective supplier an email, and if you're not really
happy with the tone and response time, remember that it doesn't get
better after they have your money.

One advice: occasionally drop in a pair of vias 0.100" apart, so you
can cut traces, or solder in wire-wrap wire, or touch a probe tip. It
IS a prototype, right? Just keep ease of debugging and modification
in mind.

These boards have served their purpose well. I have programmed the
PIC, made some decisions about the circuit. Now that the circuit is
connected to power, programmer, daughter boards, and comm lines, I can
see how some connectors should really go on another side of the board.
Stuff that would have escaped me if I had breadboarded it. And it is
tidy. I would have had a mountain of wire on the breadboard.

One of the regulars here pointed out to me that my design wasn't
finished until I had manufacturer's part numbers. I was grumpy, but
he was right. A Mouser web page was mighty handy.

...
I have now modified the board, since all of the worrisom aspects of
the software have been proven on the Rev. 1 prototype. I sent the
Rev. 2 prototype boards back to Olimex yesterday. There are
differences in hardware, and will need changes in software, but the
confidence level at this point is very high and probably justified.

I have been into the libraries, and made custom parts there. For
example, I have made a 'PIC-Hobby' pad layout that gives an extra row
of pads adjacent to the PIC-16F877, so that hobbiest can make more
modifications to my board. I also changed the silkscreen layers to
the 10mil that Olimex wants (they will fix it for $5, but as I am
McIntosh I chose to spend $500 of time to avoid the charge)

Aubrey McIntosh

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Sep 11, 2003, 2:50:46 PM9/11/03
to
Jim Thompson <Ji...@golana-will-get-you.com> wrote in message news:<r0bqlvcln5oq2mckv...@4ax.com>...

> On Mon, 8 Sep 2003 17:34:58 -0700, "Walter Harley"
> <wal...@cafewalter.com> wrote:
>
>
> Since I am just tinkering with a wild-assed idea I'm going to go with
> ExpressPCB. (I had no problem getting it going in a blink.) If the
> idea shows promise I'll hire one of you professional PCB guys to
> coalesce what I expect to be several ExpressPCB boards into a single
> card.
>


I have two 'half Eurocards' made with the freeware Eagle license. At
one time, I wanted them put onto a single Eurocard. It turns out that
the design ended up being much cleaner as two half cards, but the
question may be useful anyway.

Can someone merge two routed half eurocards as a service for me with
the commercial license? Is this request too close to the edge of the
freeware license agreements? (I stay squeaky clean.) It is just a
straight cut and paste, the two boards have matching connectors. The
boards are completely routed, but there would be airwires between the
connectors when they are merged, and those should become routed.

Chris Carlen

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Sep 12, 2003, 10:39:03 AM9/12/03
to


Aubrey:

Is it really that hard for you to come up with some $$$ to buy a
license? I have found CadSoft to be helpful when begging them for a
little extra discount now and then, for hobby use.

Are your boards for commercial or hobby purposes?

Mark Mcmillan

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Oct 13, 2003, 1:28:56 AM10/13/03
to
I have also used ExpressPCB three boards $63 but no mask or silk. If I sent
a file today (Sunday) the boards would arrive Thursday (at least in the US)
and there is no mess to clean up and no chemicals to spill or children or
pets to get into.
even if you don't have them build the board there FREE download will do
schematic and layout and you can print the PCB on your printer and use the
printout for doing the home PCB thing. (ICY!)

Frank Pickens <frankp...@verizon.net> wrote in message
news:3F5FDE89...@verizon.net...

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