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Old 6th August 2018, 04:31 PM   #21
edbarx is offline edbarx  Malta
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Unfortunately, my Linux installation did not provide me with a stable version of KiCad. While I am editing a footprint for a previously added component, the entire KiCad suite dies leaving absolutely no traces on the screen. I tried to build later versions but I am failing for some reason unknown to me. Even Debian's version does not have a patch that was uploaded about two years ago.

The above forced me to try to create my own software with which I would be able to draw schematics and maybe produce PCBs. However, this is also a path riddled with high hurdles.
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Old 6th August 2018, 10:11 PM   #22
MarcelvdG is offline MarcelvdG  Netherlands
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Yes, I vaguely remember there was something weird about Debian and KiCad. With the latest stable Debian, you by default get a very old and poor KiCad, but there was a fairly simple way to install newer versions. I've only done this once and it was some time ago, so I don't remember the details.
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Old 14th August 2018, 08:02 AM   #23
suzyj is offline suzyj  Australia
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Ahhh those were the days. Lay a sheet of vellum paper on a 0.2” grid. Cut out pad sets from 2X bishop graphics and stick them on the vellum wherever you want a pad or via, then another layer of vellum, and run crepe tape where you want bottom side tracks, then another layer of vellum, and lay out top side tracks, and finally another layer of vellum and draw in the silkscreen markings with a rotring pen.

Then the pad master with one side goes in the photoreducer to generate the bottom side artwork, and again with the top side tracks for the top side artwork, then the pad master by itself generates the solder mask layers, and finally the silkscreen artwork is made.

Then you tape the 1X top and bottom together and stick a board in the middle, expose that in the vacuum table so it’s really nice, develop, chuck it in the spray etcher, coat with soldermask, expose again with the pad masters, develop, screen print on the silkscreen, drill, insert eyelets, and finally assemble.

Was a huge pile of work and lots of yucky chemicals. If you wanted platethroughs you had to do the drilling on a blank board first, then clean and plate, then carefully line the holes up for the artwork. For some boards I remember 4X artwork, though never had to do one of those myself

It’s so much easier now you can just design the thing on the computer, export the Gerbers, and hit send.
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Old 14th August 2018, 12:06 PM   #24
edbarx is offline edbarx  Malta
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Originally Posted by suzyj View Post
It’s so much easier now you can just design the thing on the computer, export the Gerbers, and hit send.
My present experience begs to differ. Using a computer has brought me a series of software problems I have to solve first. After a lot of editing with cryptic error messages that mean nothing to a beginner, especially a beginner of my age, I succeeded to have my schematic pass the 'electrical rules test'. Happily, I dared press the CvPcb button, and after several minutes of deep processor contemplation, it presented me with yet another series of errors moaning about footprints being outdated! So, I, the totally inexperienced beginner, must face yet another challenging ordeal to design my own footprints so that, I may, or not, continue with the blessed process of getting a graphic showing the PCB's tracks. However, this seems to be a 'long long way to Tipperari'.

The same applies to using LTSpice. I haven't yet found a way of simulating my circuit which must use a power supply of -85V, 0V, +85V. But, for some weird reason, LTSpice does not easily offer those voltages, and one is faced with having to think workarounds to simply get a voltage above 48V! Another thing about LTSpice is, it lists a series of variables involving current and voltage, I assume, at the various nodes in a schematic. What do those cryptic symbols mean and how does one, associate them with nodes on a schematic?

The problem is finding a 'good introductory tutorial' which google seems so reluctant to give as a result of my searches.

Last edited by edbarx; 14th August 2018 at 12:11 PM. Reason: Grammatical error.
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Old 14th August 2018, 01:10 PM   #25
avtech23 is offline avtech23  Australia
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Making PCB without a computer
I haven't yet found a way of simulating my circuit which must use a power supply of -85V, 0V, +85V.
This is actually quite easy and fast to accomplish once you learn how.
Have a look at the attached image.



So from a blank page, press F2 (component selection).
Select a Voltage source.
Left click on the schematic to place one.
Reposition and left click again to get the second placed.

Press F3 and you should get crosshairs (wiring tool).
Make the connections as shown - Left click on a terminal, another left click will either terminate (at another terminal) or allow you to make a turn. Right click when finished.

Press F4, select GND, click OK. Left click on the schematic to place. F3 again to wire a connection if you did not drop it directly on the 0v wire.

Right click on the body of the voltage. You should get a box pop up to enter the DC voltage and series resistance. Put 85 in there (don't worry about plus/minus nor 'v'). Do the same for the second source.

On schematic, Press 'S'. Type ".OP" (without speech marks). Hit enter then left click on schematic to place.

Click on the 'running man' symbol. You will get the log appear. You can close this once you have seen that the nodes show the voltages you are after.

Then hover your cursor over a line until you see a probe symbol appear.
Look in the bottom left hand of your screen. This shows the voltage at this point.

And that's it.

(I placed labels at the +85v, 0v and -85v points for clarity - you can do this with F4 and just type the name you want the node to be called and place in the same manner as the GND)

I knew none of this 6 months ago but it can be learnt.
The ever growing project list.. :NAP140 Clone, NAD 3020i & 3225PE, JLH1969, TDA2050, Fender 5F2A Princeton, NE5532 Preamp | : VSQC Phunk Style, Retro 50W | Filmosound 601 | SHPA | : Apex AX-14 | TGM-10 | TDA7265 | LM4780 (Last in line)...maybe

Last edited by avtech23; 14th August 2018 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 14th August 2018, 02:18 PM   #26
Tubelab_com is offline Tubelab_com  United States
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I started making PC boards long before the PC existed.....1960's. There are two usable methods from that era that still work. Neither are good for fine pitch SMD's but that stuff didn't exist in the 60's either.

Sharpie, or other waterproof marker. My mother had some "art ink" pens that had small roller tips like a ball point pen. They were made for doing art on cloth, canvas or other material. She used them on T-shirts. I used them on PC boards. The ink was thicher than what flows from a Sharpie and required zero retouching. I'm sure that similar products exist today since I see kids around who have decorated their canvas tennis shoes in gold, silver and other btight colored inks. Draw your pattern directly on the board, etch, wash the ink off with acetone or lacquer thinner.

Masking tape. I would cover an entire board in wide masking tape. I would press the tape down hard to the copper by going over the entire surface with the back side of a spoon. Draw the pattern on the tape, cut and peel the unwanted (undrawn) areas, etch, peel. Sometimes an acetone clean up is needed to remove the residual stickiness. This works best on large traces. I recently made a power supply board this way, but my thinnest trace was about 0.100 inch. It came out very good.

Obviously these methods are really only useful for one offs, or something you don't need to change and do again. I use a computer for those, but for a multiple output power supply with diodes, resistors caps and one regulator, it was quicker to do a masking tape PCB or use perf board.
Tubelab, it's 5 year mission. To explore strange new tubes, to seek out new circuits and topologies, to boldly go where no tube has gone before......
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Old 14th August 2018, 06:49 PM   #27
suzyj is offline suzyj  Australia
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Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
My present experience begs to differ. Using a computer has brought me a series of software problems I have to solve first.
This stuff has been paying my rent and feeding my family for getting on to 30 years. The only thing between me and the dole queue is the complexity, so thatís a good thing!

Regarding your footprints, the people who wrote KiCAD are software twits who love their subversion repositories. This sort of complexity is really only useful when youíve got teams designing stuff and you need to ensure theyíre using the same components. For those of us working on our own we can dispense with the nonsense. Footprints and symbols donít need to change. Look up how to make a local version of the libraries, do that, and then disconnect from the repositories. It makes running KiCAD much more straightforward.

And I totally donít understand your LSpice question - I run high voltage supplies all the time with no problems.
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Old 14th August 2018, 07:04 PM   #28
mondogenerator is offline mondogenerator  England
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I have used some of these old methods of PC board fabrication.

I've used the tape footprints and pads, crepe tape tracks and tracing paper. Expose. Etch.

I picked up a good trick at college for cheap transparency, regular printer paper soaked with baby oil.

I've used etch resist pens, which are still around, but are expensive, messy and need retouching unless you can flow the track nicely.

Favourite emergency method is hand drawn layout on 0.1 inch graphing paper (I have a very low weight type which is perfect).
Same again, soak with baby oil, expose.

It works fairly well with the light grade of paper and good dark tracks (often I will draw on both sides for the thinnest tracks.

They are all just as time consuming as software drawn single sided designs. Haven't tried double sided, I think that is another story...

But, in most circumstances it's just quicker and easier to use strip board, or tri-pad board.

If I could find double sided strip board, tracks at right angles, which used to be available ma y years ago, then I'd probably never bother to etch at all
In a world full of self proclaimed experts, the humble are king

Last edited by mondogenerator; 14th August 2018 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 14th August 2018, 08:25 PM   #29
MagicBus is offline MagicBus  Greece
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My entry level to computer pcb design was ExpressPCB ExpressPCB - ExpressPCB . Ideal for dummies like myself and more than enough for home brew boards. But it doesn't export gerber files so, for complex double layer boards that had to order I needed to move to something else. KiCAD was a nightmare, I didn't even give it a second chance. I found DipTrace Download DipTrace - DipTrace and I seek no further.
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Old 14th August 2018, 11:05 PM   #30
mlloyd1 is offline mlloyd1  United States
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In the words of "The Incredible Hulk":
"DIPTrace good!!"

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