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Old 20th December 2001, 04:39 PM   #41
grataku is offline grataku  United States
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your point about using free software is well taken. I had to prove to myself that that could be done, but that doesn't put us any closer to the solution of this problem. However, I don't think my times estimate is so far off. On the honor system, I could time myself if you'd like.
How long does it take you to do:
1) in expressPCB, file print to acrobat distiller (in color)
2) when the the adobe file opens automatically do save as eps file.
3) open the eps file with illustrator
4) use the eyedropper to select the color layer
5) turn the layer to white on the window color menu
6) save the file to gif.
Granted it probably takes 10-15 sec for Illustrator to open on a current pentium machine. Let's make the CPU time 30 sec and add 5 min of user time that makes the ordeal 10 times what I said it would be. It's still nothing compared to how long it takes to layout a pcb.

By the way as anyone asked him or herself if this putzing around and trying to circumvent the expressPCB program printing security is in anyway going to pi** those people off?
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Old 20th December 2001, 07:58 PM   #42
paulb is offline paulb  Canada
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Sorry I mis-spelled your name. I'll get it right from now on.

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Old 21st December 2001, 01:08 AM   #43
Geoff is offline Geoff  United Kingdom
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Default Usable output from ExpressPCB

I knew that perseverance would pay off in the end! Here is an easy method for those who would like to obtain an output from ExpressPCB without the need for Acrobat or too much post processing.

There are several possible ways of obtaining a usable output from ExpressPCB. One is to use Window's 'add printer' facility to add a postscript printer definition (any will do) set to output to FILE rather than LPT1. This printer is then selected when printing from ExpressPCB, thus producing a .prn file which can be read by Ghostscript and saved as a bitmap image file. The image file can then be edited using any graphics program available. All in all, a very messy solution.

Another way is to install a driver that outputs to a pdf file (as the Acrobat method above) and again use Ghostscript to convert to this to a graphics file. This offers no real benefit over the postscript method. What is needed is a driver that will directly output a bitmap file. The first ones I tried caused ExpressPCB to crash, but I have now found two that will work.

The first is Alphatronics 'Bitmap Driver':


This is a free, unlimited demo (the only restriction is a simple 'nag' screen) and is a quick download (<100kB). It is installed using the Windows 'add printer' facility and can then be selected when printing from ExpressPCB as any normal printer would be. A bitmap file is produced from the print output which can be saved and then edited with a graphics program. I have found that some traces are reduced in thickness and some smaller diameter holes disappear when using this driver.

The second image printer driver is from NED:


Again, this is a free, unlimited demo (the only restriction is a simple 'nag' screen) and is a fairly quick download. The installation procedure and subsequent use is similar to the Alphatronics driver, however there is one big advantage with the NED driver, it automatically opens up whichever graphics program is associated with a TIF file (or any other program that you specify in the .ini file) and displays the image - see the readme file for more detail. It is then very easy to crop the image (to remove the whitespace that would normally have appeared round the board when physically printed) and to set the board colour from grey to white (do not select 'print in colour' in the ExpressPCB dialogue box). The image can then be saved in whichever format you prefer. This driver is better at preserving trace width and holes, but will still lose very small diameter holes (below the size built in to ExpressPCB for normal components).

One additional benefit of using a bitmap driver is that the grid disappears and does not need to be manually removed. The resolution is not as good as a direct print from ExpressPSB but is better than using 'Print Scrn' and editing the resultant image, particularly for larger boards. I cannot compare the results with the Acrobat method previously outlined in this thread as I do not have the necessary software, but they are as good or better than those I have been able to achieve with a postscript or pdf output.

All this can be achieved with free software. I note Grataku's concern regarding output beyond that intended by the program's owners, but they have made this software freely available and I do not recollect seeing any proviso or usage agreement that restricts its use to only that associated with ordering boards from them.

I hope the foregoing has made sense, if not either post a query or email me.

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Old 28th August 2003, 12:35 AM   #44
Johan_Ch is offline Johan_Ch  Sweden
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I have been using Ivex WinBoard for a while now, and all though it ain't the most stable program around, it has a very short learning curve.

But the main issue I have had with to other programs I have tryed out is that they often have a very limited library of parts. Yes, you can draw the you self, but that takes time and a lot of effort.

/Johan Ch
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Old 28th August 2003, 01:13 AM   #45
sam9 is offline sam9  United States
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Location: Left Coast
Joihan_Ch wrote:
" have been using Ivex WinBoard for a while now, and all though it ain't the most stable program around, it has a very short learning curve."

Is this new software package from from IVEX (includes a XSPICE sinulator) or the older version? I gave up on the older version when I upgraded to WinXP. I now use Vutrax which free and only has two limitatins (256 pins, no Orcad Spice interface). No realbugs, but the documentation is obtuse at times.

""But the main issue I have had with to other programs I have tryed out is that they often have a very limited library of parts."

Vutrax has a large library, but it doesn't include many of the parts I need. It seems none do.
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Old 31st August 2003, 02:45 AM   #46
lgreen is offline lgreen  United States
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Location: San Diego, USA
Default limitations of orcad lite?

I have stumbled onto an authorized CD of ORCAD LITE, I knew I had one around here somewhere. Does anyone know what the limitations of this are?

It includes 2 versions of capture, a pcb dealie and a spice dealie.

Before I try to use the pcb part, I would like to know if the effort is worthwile. Does anyone know if it can output usable files (to send to vendors to make a pcb) and has the capability to create components that can be edited? Other comments appreciated.

From looking at the web, it looks like the pcb is limited to 30 components, but I'm not sure.

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Old 1st September 2003, 09:22 AM   #47
Jan-Peter is offline Jan-Peter  Netherlands
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I have very good experience with PCB Elegance.

A 200 pins version is for free.

Website: www.merco.nl


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