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Questions about the BatchPCB service

Moderator: robacarp

By Zeke
#3403
I was led to the SFE site when asking where I could produce custom PCBs and saw what a great deal they give you so I decided I'd give it a try.

I have 100 surface mount LEDs here that I'd like to make a little easier to handle by applying 5 to a small PCB. Here is a quick, basic sketch of how I'd like the PCB to end up looking, blown up 8x. Original size is about 10mmx10mm.

Image

Now, I've taked a look at this EAGLE program and I can't figure it out. I'm not a CAD newbie either, I have 4+ years experience with AutoCAD r13-2004 but they are very different programs. If anyone would be willing to help me get started or even draw up a quick sketch in EAGLE and explain how they did it the help would be appreciated.
By Zeke
#3407
After playing around with the program for a few more hours I'm kinda figuring it out but I have two big problems. I'm no electriconic engineer and I have no idea what the different layers should be used for. Also.. is there anyway to freely move objects and then snap them to areas on the grid? I'm having problem mixing inches and mm's together, stuff isn't lining up properly.

Also... anyone know how I could optimize the space. I want 3-5 LEDs per chips and as many chips as I could fit in a 1"x1" board. They just need solder pads on the back that I could connect wires to because I plan on connecting the LEDs in series so I just want the (+) to run straight through the unit and come out the other side for the (-)... if that makes sense.
By BigRedBee
#3408
THere's an excellent manual that goes along with the Eagle program. Take a look at it. It has a very good description of all the layers, and what they are used form.
By Zeke
#3409
Ok, great. That explains the things I wanted to know about the layers. Now... I still cannot figure out how to freely move things or how to get them to snap to where I want them to, they seem to have a mind of their own. My idea is to basically shrink the sketch I have above to 5x5mm squares, maybe a little bigger, and do the same thing and just try to fit as many copies as I can in the smallest area possible. Thing is... I don't understand how to space copies 30mil from each other let alone set up where I want my traces and solder pads and vias. If anyone would be interested I could draw a sketch in AutoCAD if someone would be willing to translate it or actually help me with this program. I'm so confused!
By moorejl
#3410
Go to borders and buy "Build your own printed circuit board". It has an depth tutorial on Eagle. I have put in at least 40 hours learning this powerful but unintuitive program. At first I couldn't do anything with it and I am a software engineer :? But after I read the book, it all fell into place.
By BigRedBee
#3411
I agree, Eagle is far from intuitive. But, it's free, it works, and is capable of producing some fairly complicated boards!
By Zeke
#3412
But as you can see mine is rather simple, no? I've been fooling around with it, still no success. Maybe I can convince my wife to buy me that book. :P

She already hates my hobbies, complains I don't spend enough time with her.
By westfw
#3443
Something like this? The outer square is 1 inch. The inner tiles are each
7mm on a side, and the "extra" holes between them are .032 inch,
demonstrating the 30mil clearance necessary for separating them.
Sparky says he'd rather not cut things that small apart, I think, so I'd
probably be inclined to move the tiles further apart to fill the inch, add
some extra holes to aid manual cutting below the 1-inch square level
(bigger boards are easier to assemble, too.) Those are 0603 smt LEDs;
I don't think you can get much smaller than the 7mm tile and still make
sense. Producing this board involved lots of changing the grid size :-)

Image
[/img]
By Zeke
#3444
I can't really tell because of the small image but from what I can see it looks great. The LEDs I have are, indeed, 0603 LEDs. I just don't really know much about creating PCBs so I didn't know what all I needed to draw and what layers I had to use, etc.

Do you by chance have AIM, MSN, or Yahoo? I have all three, if you could I'd appreciate it if you contacted me.
By cbatters
#3522
moorejl wrote:Go to borders and buy "Build your own printed circuit board". It has an depth tutorial on Eagle. I have put in at least 40 hours learning this powerful but unintuitive program. At first I couldn't do anything with it and I am a software engineer :? But after I read the book, it all fell into place.
I agree. Powerful program but worse than not intuitive, it is actually counter-intuitive. I'll have to take a look at the book you mentioned.

Examples -

1. Copy does not Copy objects into the clipboard, all it does is duplicate. (Attempting to Paste after "Copy" indicates the "Paste Buffer" - otherwise known to millions of users as the clipboard - is empty.

2. Cut is actually Copy but it only operates on grouped objects.

and on and on....

Learning curve is deceptively long. On first inspection I thought I would get a simple schematic / board done in a day. Wrong! Plan on investing ~2-3 days to get proficient enough to crank out a small project.

Documentation helps but is lacking in both in scope and examples. (Biggest problem is they are attempting to document something that is counter-intuitive so you need to read very carefully to "un-learn" things that work correctly in every other drawing / CAD package.)

Perhaps we can start a thread here for Eagle CAD Support (100X better than the lame news group support from CadSoft.)



Clint
By cbatters
#3528
Wrestled for half a day trying to figure out how to create a variant of an existing part (same pinout but different signal names) Perhaps this will save someone else some of the same pain.

Came to the following conclusion:

1. No direct way to duplicate a device

2. What you really need to do is duplicate the symbol which contains the pinout

3. However, no direct way to copy / duplicate / rename a symbol either

4. What you have to do is:
a. open the symbol you want top cop after opening up the library
b. select the group control and rubber-band around all of the elements
c. Select CUT (NOT COPY) from the menu (I must have selected COPY 100 times - if you select COPY it WILL NOT WORK)
d. DO NOT CLICK ON THE GROUPED OBJECT - Select the Go Traffic light on the tool bar (This is insane!)
e. Create a new symbol (click on the single AND gate on the tool bar and provide a new symbol name)
f. Select paste
g. Stop laughing so hard and save quick

5. Now that you have copied the old symbol to a new symbol, you can make changes to the pinout/legends of the new symbol

6. Then you can use the new symbol in a new device
a. Create a new device by selecting Device in the tool bar (4 AND gates)
b. Click Add and select the new Symbol you created earlier
c. Select a new Package
d. Connect symbol pins to Package pins
e. Repeat for additional Packages
f. Stop laughing and save quick

If there is a more direct way to do this please advise and I will retract my
criticism of this being the most counter-intuitive SW package I have used in the last 20 years.

Much more intuitive to allow a copy operation on a device and prompt the user for a new device / symbol name. Unfortunately, this operation highlights MANY of the counter intuitivve elements in the package.

If this was an obscure requirement I would not be so critical but this is a pretty common to create new parts that are only slightly different from existing parts.



Clint
By zilym
#3540
In step 4d, you can RIGHT click on the grouped objects to select them instead of using the Go traffic light button. Right clicking grouped objects works for many of the tools in EAGLE.
By cbatters
#3544
zilym wrote:In step 4d, you can RIGHT click on the grouped objects to select them instead of using the Go traffic light button. Right clicking grouped objects works for many of the tools in EAGLE.
Agreed - although in this case the "tool tip" at the bottom of the screen says to click on the traffic light. (Other operations on groups like "move" in board layout say to right click. Any other cad package in the world would use left click on any of the items in the group to operate on the group.)

Also pretty funny that the hover tip over the scissors says CUT while at the same time the "tool tip" at the bottom says "Copy Group to Paste Buffer".

Eagle needs a product manager with more SW development / packaging experience.



Clint
By westfw
#3605
cbatters wrote: Powerful program but worse than not intuitive, it is actually counter-intuitive.

1. Copy does not Copy objects into the clipboard, all it does is duplicate.
2. Cut is actually Copy but it only operates on grouped objects.
I don't think it's so much that Eagle is "counter-intuitive" as that it makes very little attempt to be consistant with the "standard windows user interface." If you stop expecting it to behave like other windows programs, the learning curve gets shorter because you stop bumping into your preconceptions... (but not LOTS shorter, because it ISN'T compatible with anything else.) Still lots better than some of the old versions that were more strictly command-line based.

WestfW
By cbatters
#3606
westfw wrote:
cbatters wrote: Powerful program but worse than not intuitive, it is actually counter-intuitive.

1. Copy does not Copy objects into the clipboard, all it does is duplicate.
2. Cut is actually Copy but it only operates on grouped objects.
I don't think it's so much that Eagle is "counter-intuitive" as that it makes very little attempt to be consistant with the "standard windows user interface." If you stop expecting it to behave like other windows programs, the learning curve gets shorter because you stop bumping into your preconceptions... (but not LOTS shorter, because it ISN'T compatible with anything else.) Still lots better than some of the old versions that were more strictly command-line based.

WestfW
Pretty much sums up counter intuitive....


Clint