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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software » Developers' Corner
freepcb
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bearblock



Joined: Sep 27, 2006
Posts: 90
Location: uk
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 4:20 am    Post subject: freepcb
Subject description: anyone use this?
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hi,

i thought it was time i learned how to design pcbs; so i've been putting together a 'vc sequencer brain' in freepcb. this is all basic 2-layer, through hole stuff.

it's going pretty well, but one thing worries me - it isn't adding any soldermask cutout info. i plan to get a prototype run made in china at some point but i don't want them to come back totally covered in soldermask & unuseable Confused

ian (frijitz), you use this software, correct? i have bought boards for your mindbending chaos generators from bridechamber (with green soldermask) and direct from you (no soldermask on these)... i'd like there to be soldermask on the sequencer brains if possible; do you need to use different part libraries? or is it something simple&stupid i'm missing, like a single checkbox?

thanks for reading!

bb (t)
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frijitz



Joined: May 04, 2007
Posts: 1710
Location: NM USA
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi bb-

Yeah, it does the SM automatically, and can only shows cutouts that you specifically add -- as far as I can tell, anyway. You can specify the SM gap when you have it make the gerbers. You can see the SM when you use a gerber reader to look at the final output.

When I get the "barebones special" boards, I just submit the 3 gerbers for the copper layers and the drill holes. I give bridechamber all the files to get the nice boards made.

Ian
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bearblock



Joined: Sep 27, 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

thanks ian! i exported gerber files and opened them in ViewMate - sure enough the soldermask layers have all the pads marked. the board is pretty much done now; freepcb is an awesome tool, so easy to learn.


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BananaPlug



Joined: Jul 04, 2007
Posts: 302
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Where are you getting the PCBs made? The barebones special? Is that 4pcb.com? I'm shopping around. Need to make some small PCBs.

Thanks!
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frijitz



Joined: May 04, 2007
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Location: NM USA
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bearblock wrote:
the board is pretty much done now; freepcb is an awesome tool, so easy to learn.

Nice looking board! I agree on freepcb being easy to use. I got very frustrated when I played around with eagle a bit.

Very Happy

Ian
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frijitz



Joined: May 04, 2007
Posts: 1710
Location: NM USA
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

BananaPlug wrote:
Where are you getting the PCBs made? The barebones special? Is that 4pcb.com?

Yes. I order them 3d day UPS and I always get them in 2 days (they're just up the road "a bit".) So a 3 day total turnaround!

Very Happy

Ian
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bearblock



Joined: Sep 27, 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hi! a few more queries...

i think i've found a good deal for pcb fabrication (pcbcart.com). they require me to supply some info with the Gerber files:

Quote:
Please double check "Min. Tracing/Spacing", "Min. Annular Ring", "Smallest Holes" specification that completely
match with provided PCB file, or it may have extra cost that delay the process


there are some other stats required too, like number of holes and board outline dimensions. i could probably work most of this out myself, but still, is there a way to export such info directly from the Gerbers, thus ruling out any... human error? </strangelove>
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frijitz



Joined: May 04, 2007
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Location: NM USA
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bearblock wrote:
Please double check "Min. Tracing/Spacing", "Min. Annular Ring", "Smallest Holes" specification that completely
match with provided PCB file, or it may have extra cost that delay the process


You can set most of these in Tools/Design Rule Check, to have the program check them. Just be careful, because the settings for the gerber export can override them (some have said).

For board size, if the origin is at (0,0), then zoom in to the upper right corner, put your cursor on the corner and read the coordinates at the bottom of the screen.

Very Happy

Ian
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bearblock



Joined: Sep 27, 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

nice one Ian Very Happy

i've sent the files off and paid now, so hopefully i'll be posting about this project again in the new year, once i've written some firmware...
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BananaPlug



Joined: Jul 04, 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Anyone here tried both Freepcb and DipTrace? Comments?
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bearblock



Joined: Sep 27, 2006
Posts: 90
Location: uk
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hello again frijitz,

i just found your post on the freepcb forums from back in aught seven:

Quote:
I've just discovered (the hard way: dollars down the drain) that the footprint for the TO92 transistor package has an error. This package has square leads requiring a hole size over 27 mil:
...
The footprint in FreePCB has 20 mil holes.


wish i'd read this earlier...

the sequencer brain i posted in this thread has a couple of bc547s - they were quite a snug fit but nothing that rang any alarm bells. development continued on and off for a couple of months, and i just recieved the voltage bank boards from 'pcbcart'. these are designed around a discrete 16-way analog switch using bf245 jfets, which i have only been able to install after hours of work with needle-nose pliers, ruined transistors and copious swearing Sad

not sure if this is down to the difference in plating thickness between different pcb batches or the difference in pin size between different transistors, and tbh it probably doesn't matter. i need to come up with a new TO92 footprint, and i was wondering what your approach was? i was thinking probably 28mil holes, but then does the copper pad need to be expanded too? the pads on the default freepcb footprint seem to be pretty close together already...

thanks for reading!

t
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frijitz



Joined: May 04, 2007
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Location: NM USA
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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I settled on 28 and 52 mil for the holes. I also spread the pins out a bit so the spacing isn't so tight.

Very Happy

Ian
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