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Old 13th January 2005, 02:59 AM   #11
eeka chu is offline eeka chu  United Kingdom
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I use PCB123.

It's free.

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems to have it's own personality and funny ways of doing things. At first, I wanted to pull my hair our whenever I tried to use it.

Then something clicked after a few days and now it's much easier.

There still seem to be specific orders you need to do things in to get the best out of the program.

The program is also continually being updated and improved. Soon it will be a very versatile tool!

It will let you print artwork for press and peel style prototyping. You can also have them etch your boards, create the pick and place files and have Screaming Circuits production assemble the boards for you.

It'll do things like copper pours, thermal pad relief, autorouting and such. Although, as always, the autorouter is retarded. So you can only really use it for amplifier work when you're trying to initially scope out the layout.

Apparently, the future updates will include things like automatic part placement to show you the very best ordering for your layout.
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Old 13th January 2005, 01:26 PM   #12
ble0t is offline ble0t  United States
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I currently use Eagle (which I really like the more I get to know it), but I was curious as to which software package has the best library of parts? Does something like Protel (which costs so much more), have a massive part selection, or do people end up doing a lot of their own component creation in any piece of software?
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Old 13th January 2005, 01:53 PM   #13
eeka chu is offline eeka chu  United Kingdom
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I've found PCB123 has quite a good library.

The library seems to be a kind of community effort; they have downloaded libraries on their site.

Adding a component is pretty easy because you can size and position the pads using a co-ordinate system = no more trying to get the mouse to move 0.01mm either way.
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Old 18th January 2005, 10:53 AM   #14
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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PCB Design Software
Protel Autotrax: free
I was going to say that the main drawback is the lack of support for newfangled video cards with high resolutions, but I see that there are new video drivers which will even work under XP at up to 1600x1200:
http://www.airborn.com.au/layout/easytrax.html

http://www.protel.com/downloads/index.html
(look for "freeware downloads" near the bottom of the page)
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Old 9th February 2005, 06:08 AM   #15
johnthetweeker is offline johnthetweeker  India
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I use the dos version Easytrax (dangus's link). Havn't tried autotrax yet. Easytrax is dos, but works on my W98 box very well. After a few days of figuring out it got real friendly with me. I am able to make professional quality boards with it. For prototyping I use a flatbed Graphtec plotter, on which I mount a waterproof marker pen (made an adaptor from a used plotter-pen) and plot directly on a cut-and-cleaned copper-clad board. I get excellent results.

If you need details on the plotter improvisation I can provide.
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Old 11th February 2005, 11:54 AM   #16
adx is offline adx  New Zealand
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Quote:
Originally posted by ble0t
I currently use Eagle (which I really like the more I get to know it), but I was curious as to which software package has the best library of parts? Does something like Protel (which costs so much more), have a massive part selection, or do people end up doing a lot of their own component creation in any piece of software?
I always modify or make my own PCB components, or use a client's library. Protel's schematic components can be very handy. I use Protel because it's the de-facto industry standard in NZ. It has also been through its good phases during its development:
- Autotrax
- Advanced PCB 2.8 (my favourite)
- Protel 98 last service pack
- 99SE is now stable and well supported although vastly slower than 98 for one extra feature (ability to set polygon clearances).

They're all actually very similar, even DOS Autotrax. That's not a bad thing.
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Old 11th February 2005, 10:01 PM   #17
wes-ninja250 is offline wes-ninja250  Canada
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Hey, WorkingAtHome -- you can use ExpressSCH and ExpressPCB easily for transfer. Here's the resist pattern I used for a single-sided board not long ago: http://ninja250.kingston.net/carb_he...ist_600dpi.gif

Okay, so you how do you do it? Download a printer driver called the "Universal Document Converter", and print your board to a virtual page large enough that the watermark isn't in the way. That will give you a bitmap. Print only the traces you're interested in (e.g. top or bottom of board), in colour.

Then load the bitmap into some photo editing tool - I use PhotoShop - and use the "select by colour" tool to get rid of the green dots. Then convert the image to black and white, invert if necessary (i.e. using for photo resist), and print.

If you are doing single-sided boards, you can also use the same method to print the silkscreen pattern to make component placement easier.

To help with "silkscreen" layer placement, put three of vias in some kind of triangle in out of the way places on your board layout, and drill them out so you can align the top and bottom transfers properly.

Wes
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Old 12th February 2005, 09:35 AM   #18
d3imlay is offline d3imlay  United States
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I use PCAD 2000 at my office. I was pretty much self taught and I don't have a clue with autocad. There are a huge number of libraries available for pcad. Don't know what it costs, but I'm sure it's expensive.
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Old 12th February 2005, 09:56 AM   #19
jacco vermeulen is offline jacco vermeulen  Netherlands
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i have AutoCad2002 at home, have been working with AutoCad R12, R13 and all the others since the end of the 80s.

For designing pcb layouts freeware is much easier, and stuff like Abacom Sprintlayout, Eagle, PCBdesigner can be easilly had.
For elaborate stuff i still enjoy Ultiboard, the current version i am using is 2001.
Just a hint, not all people using pcb software are willing to pay high dollar.
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Old 19th February 2005, 08:40 PM   #20
dherr555 is offline dherr555  United States
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I have pcad2000.i got on ebay for 99.00 bucks .Up to 6 layers and 400 components.Library is kinda a pain .But mostly its me I think , I got read instructons.i dont have excel so I have to download newer library stuff one manufacture at a time to get it to import.
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