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Archive for January 11th, 2007

PCB Layout and Prototyping

Posted by on January 11, 2007

For those that might be interested in designing and building your own PCBs, here’s a couple of links which may interest you.

Cadsoft Eagle Layout Editor

This is a comprehensive layout editor which is available as freeware! Some of the advanced features (more than 2 layers etc.) and the max layout size are limited in this version, however you can do double sided boards up to 4 x 3.2 inches. If you need more layers or a bigger board, and your not intending use it commercially, you can upgrade to a Non Profit license for US$125.00, which is very reasonable compared to some of the fully featured products out there. You can download it directly from the web site, and there are comprehensive manuals and tutorials to get you going.

If you’re having trouble getting stated with it – post a comment below.

Olimex Fast PCB Prototypes

This is the lowest cost prototype board manufacturer I’ve been able to find. The catch is they’re in Bulgaria. Not to worry though, they are quite easy to deal with, and 2 week shipping is only US$9.00. The whole transaction can be completed with s credit card by email and fax. I have used them a couple of times and I have friends in Australia who use them exclusively for prototype and commercial boards.

They will run one 6.3” x 3.9” double sided proto board, with plated through holes, 2 side solder mask and silk screen on one side cut to order for US$33.00. They will “panelize” the boards any way you like for the same price (e.g. you could get two 3” x 3.9” boards on the same panel for the same price…)

Even with the shipping, I haven’t been able to find a better deal than that. There are some restrictions, mainly minimum track widths and limited drill sizes, but for prototypes this is usually not a problem. You can also pay extra to get what you want. They accept Eagle board files (saves you generating all the Gerber’s) even tell you how to configure it to meet their design requirements.

Again, if you need a little help getting started with this – please post a comment.

Here is a link to a sample board I layed out with Eagle and had manufactued by Olimex. Sample Board

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