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Old 23rd January 2007, 06:49 PM   #11
andy_c is offline andy_c  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by SY
Heh, the instructions explicitly say not to use wire for connections, but use net. I think the guy who wrote the manual and tutorial used to work for Microsoft.
Hi SY,

I'd recommend at least looking into FreePCB. I struggled with trying to learn Eagle, but it seemed non-intuitive and clumsy in many ways. I ended up giving up on it. Check out the FreePCB user's guide. It's extremely well written and friendly, and has an excellent tutorial too. The tutorial is complex enough so you can "get in the groove" of PCB design, but not so complex as to be intimidating. The UI is very simple and productive, and creating new library footprints is straightforward and well documented. The software does not have schematic capture, but you can use TinyCAD for that - generate a netlist and import into FreePCB. You'll also need to use the freeware ViewMate gerber viewer to view the gerber files. Also, there's a user's forum with some of the friendliest, nicest people I've seen in a forum anywhere.

Web site is here
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Old 23rd January 2007, 06:49 PM   #12
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SY,

Have you tried going straight to the PCB layout board (without using the schematic editor first) and placing your parts that way? This is the way I did it; it wasn't so bad for most of my circuits.

Let me just give you a suggestion:
I think you should stay with Eagle instead of PCBexpress or another proprietary program; Eaglelite and Eagle can output Gerber files (which almost ANY PCB house should be able to understand), but PCBexpress gives you a program that will only be understood if you want your boards made through PCBexpress' website. Eagle is more of a "universal" tool in that regard.
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Old 23rd January 2007, 07:02 PM   #13
SY is offline SY  United States
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That's why I chose Eagle in the first place, the universality. I avoided going right to PCB layout because that's what the documentation recommended. And that would have been my preference because the circuits I'm laying out (e.g., adjustable Maida regulator) are extremely simple. I'm beginning to think that I ought to do exactly the opposite of whatever they tell me.

Andy, thanks for the hint!
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Old 23rd January 2007, 07:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by SY
That's why I chose Eagle in the first place, the universality. I avoided going right to PCB layout because that's what the documentation recommended. And that would have been my preference because the circuits I'm laying out (e.g., adjustable Maida regulator) are extremely simple. I'm beginning to think that I ought to do exactly the opposite of whatever they tell me.

Andy, thanks for the hint!

SY,

Unless your circuits are EXTREMELY simple (like two resistors ;-) ) you really should bite the bullet and go via the schematic route. It's pretty infuriating if you get your pcb delivered (or self-etched) to find you made a wiring error. If you use a netlist, and the schematic is correct, there will be no pcb mistakes.

Jan Didden
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Old 23rd January 2007, 08:52 PM   #15
Nordic is offline Nordic  South Africa
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It took me a while to figure out drawing the schematic, and then to use the routing tool... if you are using the line tool on more then 5% of traces you are doing something wrong.

Even though this would seem the logical drawing tool...

you lay out with jus tthe yellow lines attached, using the ratsnest command to find the shortest routing after moves.... then use the routeing tool...to change those yellow lines to traces, NOT THE LINE TOOL!

In the schematic editor's manula it say somthing about connecting parts to nets, and nets to parts, one of them is the default right way... I tend to put in the little junction dots first and then draw the lines... it gets easy fast enough... took maybe a week or so for 80% to sink in... later on you can use cool tools like change package, and change a 10mm cap to a 15mm one and the par gets updated on your schematic...

Just be strong, and stick with it for a little while... you sure are hardheaded enough when it comes to other things... this time it will have real benefit to you...
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Old 24th January 2007, 12:19 AM   #16
SY is offline SY  United States
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If you use a netlist, and the schematic is correct, there will be no pcb mistakes.
In theory. Pinkmouse and I have a story about that... and I have some exploded capacitors as a souvenir.

Nordic, et al, I'll try some of the tricks you guys have suggested, but in this particular case, I've got to get these boards done fast so I can't spend a week diddling around with user-hostile software.
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Old 24th January 2007, 12:47 AM   #17
anatech is offline anatech  Canada
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Hey SY,
I just read this thread because I'm having the same problems. Eagle does not seem to be intuitive to me at all. I'm still struggling to get a small current source PCB done. I've already etched it by hand.

-Chris
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Old 24th January 2007, 01:34 AM   #18
BillH is offline BillH  United States
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Hi, all.

I had some of the same problems with Eagle. One of the other members of the forum recommend Build Your Own Printed Circuit Board by Al Williams. It's a very good explanation of how to use Eagle.

I bought it because I couldn't figure out how to make a copper pour.

Some things I've learned about Eagle:

1. Start with the schematic and use the net command for joining components.
2. Make sure you have a ground symbol connected in your schematic.
3. Use DRC to make sure your wires are connected.
4. The autorouter doesn't work very well, but it's a start. You'll almost always have to do some manual routing.
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Old 24th January 2007, 02:18 AM   #19
BWRX is offline BWRX  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by BillH
1. Start with the schematic and use the net command for joining components.
ALWAYS use the net command to make connections in schematics. In order for the connections to be valid the net must start at one pin and end at another pin. There are a few things you can do to ensure that this happens. The first thing you should do is set the grid to 0.1 inch spacing (should be standard) and make sure all of your parts are snapped to the grid. If a part is not snapped to the grid you can easily fix that. With the move command activated mouse over the center of the part that is off the grid. Now hold down the control key and left click. The center of the part should snap to the nearest grid point. Turning the grid on helps too. I prefer the dots style as opposed to the lines style. The next thing you can do is to turn on the pins layer in the layer display window. This allows you to see where to make net connections. To make the connection simply click the net button, mouse to the first pin and left click, route the trace to the next pin and left click when the pointer is above the pin. As most of you have found out the wire will not end but do not fear! All you have to do to end it is press the escape key. Viola, you're on your way to making thousands of working connections

Quote:
Originally posted by BillH
2. Make sure you have a ground symbol connected in your schematic.
I don't think this is necessary but some people do. You can use the name command to name nets, and I prefer to name the ground net GND, PGND, AGND, or something suitable.

Quote:
Originally posted by BillH
3. Use DRC to make sure your wires are connected.
This is always a good idea. You don't want any errors when you go to make a board from your schematic.

Quote:
Originally posted by BillH
4. The autorouter doesn't work very well, but it's a start. You'll almost always have to do some manual routing.
The autorouter sucks. Don't ever autoroute small boards. 100mm x 80mm is the largest board you can make with the free version of Eagle anyway.

Eagle is more intuitive than OrCAD... You can learn the basic functionality in a couple days if you spend the time on it. Let's not forget that the price is much better too!
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Old 24th January 2007, 02:34 AM   #20
Pars is offline Pars  United States
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Brian's advice is spot on. Eagle's schematic editor is picky about the grid spacing... don't take it down below the standard spacing or you will have stuff that looks like it is connected but isn't. You can grab a part and drag it to see if the leads come with it (connected) or not (not connected).

I always use the schematic editor first. I always name nets also, at least the important stuff like GND/AGND/DGND, Vcc or other voltage sources, etc. Saves alot of trouble later on. And yes, the autorouter isn't where you want to go.

Chris
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