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Old 27th Feb 2021, 7:55 am   #21
Electronpusher0
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

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Originally Posted by David G4EBT View Post

Do these PCB CAD programs allow any freedom on pin spacing of the PCB pads for non-standard components, given that most 'through-hole' component pin spacings tend to be 2.5, 5, 10 mm?
For non-standard components it is best to create your own footprint. Pads and tracks will normally be constrained by the grid but you can select any grid you like and change it as you edit (previously laid pads and tracks stay where they are)
Standard grids go as fine as 0.01mm (0.39 mils) of you can define your own.

I set up my own grid when creating the footprint for the coils on the minimod.

Peter
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 11:23 am   #22
David G4EBT
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

Thanks for the feedback Peter.

You certainly got the pads for the coils spot on, including the slots for the tabs.

The coils fitted a treat!
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 9:24 pm   #23
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

I just mentioned Altium as it is one of many I have used in fact I have used far too many to mention or remember. I do remember starting with a DOS package called Easy PCB. I won’t argue over Altium it is a high end and probably the number one package used by professional designers. It’s also one of the easiest to use. However I wouldn’t recommend it on this forum given its cost and relatively complexity is overkill for our requirements. Personally I don’t care much what people use as I said in my original post it’s a religion. Believe in whatever ever woo woo feels right for you.
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 11:01 pm   #24
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

I do certain amount of PCB design professionally and have the dubious privilege of having paid for my own Altium licence. That was painful. I had to close my eyes when sending the bank transfer, and just the maintenance costs more than 100 a month. It's certainly not made for hobby use, though I believe there is a cut-down version.

Interestingly I did a design for one of my clients using Altium. When I handed it over to them they considered shelling out for an Altium licence for themselves but in the end decided not to, and went with KiCad. I've since worked with the files they produced and the results are very impressive. I think for hobby work KiCad is the number one choice. It's free, and will remain so for the foreseeable future because of the nature of the project. It's very widely used and understood by lots of people, so if you do have a query, it's probably going to be easy to find an answer to. It has its foibles, and isn't always the most intuitive package, but it's flexible and powerful.

I can work with Altium much faster than I can with KiCad. Some of that is to do with the way the software is designed, but I think it's largely a matter of learning.

Time and effort invested in learning KiCad won't be wasted.

Chris
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Old 27th Feb 2021, 11:48 pm   #25
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

I have tried some of the free PCB drawing sites with not much success, yes it is a steep learning curve. My understanding is to get a Gerber File output I would have to join up with a joining fee?, and would I loose work already done? I would only be making maybe one design a year as a hobby.

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Old 28th Feb 2021, 7:55 am   #26
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

To confirm, KiCad is free (open source) and you can output Gerbers without any cost.

JLCPCB have a guide on producing the Gerbers and Drill files:

https://support.jlcpcb.com/article/4...o-gerber-files

Peter
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 8:49 am   #27
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

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Originally Posted by 60 oldjohn View Post
I have tried some of the free PCB drawing sites with not much success, yes it is a steep learning curve. My understanding is to get a Gerber File output I would have to join up with a joining fee?, and would I loose work already done? I would only be making maybe one design a year as a hobby.

John.

I went through the same steps! I listened to the guidance of others and tried all the recommended packages, but found them all unintuitive. I have a rule that if I can't even do basic designs without recourse to a manual, then it is poor software. That seemed to apply to everything I tried. OK Kicad has good support, but I just want to get on with it, rather than wait for nanny to hold my hand.

Then I found EasyEDA from JLPCB. It allows Gerber and even 1:1 artwork output so there is no need to have professional boards made by them if you prefer to do it at home. It it largely intuitive and has all the functions needed including 3D display of the finished and fully populated board. That is so useful in fine tuning component and ident positions. It's not perfect, far from it but it does the job for me and at the press of a button, JLPCB receive my design for production.
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 4:24 pm   #28
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

As part of a Project to design and build a 300Hz strobe to help with adjusting my turntable(s) speed of rotation I appreciated that the end point would be a PCB that I could hopefully send off for manufacture. My circuit diagram had evolved over time as my Breadboard prototype grew in scale and complexity when more stages were added. I started off with the trusty pencil and paper but quickly moved to using Microsoft Paint. This allowed the use of different coloured lines for my connections and made it easier for me to follow the signal paths. I realised that at some point I would need to convert the circuit diagram to a PCB but my manual skills in that area were (are?) woefully lacking. So I had a go at using Eagle software to create a schematic from my circuit diagram and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth I finally created one.

Next stage was to use the Generate/Switch to Board command which (allegedly) converts the schematic to a PCB layout - at this stage the PCB layout shows a jumble of components and a tangle of spaghetti! It's possible to move everything, components and connections, and to resize the board (and much else) but I really didn't have the staying power for that! I had hoped that my "stubborn genes" would have kicked in at some point and so I persevered! Although I have a background in evaluating and using software in my job on a daily basis (now Retired) I really did struggle with Eagle for some time and asked myself why is it so difficult to use? I wasn't expecting the software to perform any magic tricks, I never do, but I didn't anticipate the tangle of spaghetti and components all piled on top of one another. Several unsuccessful attempts to untangle everything led me to put the Project on hold for several months.

Fortunately Forum member David G4EBT stepped in and created a PCB layout from my circuit diagram and even manufactured a couple of boards for me using traditional methods. Extremely generous and saved any more wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part!

Roll the clock forward about six months and I decided to have another go ("stubborn genes"?) but this time with the help of Forum member Terry_VK5TM (based in Tintinara, South Australia) who persuaded me to switch to using Sprint Layout software. Much easier to use than Eagle and with some excellent online tuition, advice and guidance from Terry, including some homework on occasion, I finally managed to create a PCB layout based on David's circuit diagram. Version 6 of the Sprint Layout software allows you to easily Export the required Gerber files which you then zip up and forward on for fabrication - another vote here for JLCPCB in Hong Kong.

I found Sprint Layout very intuitive and it allows you to import a BMP image of any drawing and basically trace over this adding tacks, pads and components. Adjusting the board size, editing the layout, changing the grid size and adding components from the extensive libraries was fairly straightforward although my online Tutor i.e. Terry_VK5TM was much more useful than any user manual!

A really useful function in Sprint Layout (for me) is Photoview which allows you to visualise both the track side and component side of your PCB, along with the silk screen layer, before Exporting your Gerber files. As someone that often gets their layer mirrors and x-rays confused this function is indispensable!

As with any new software it takes practice to get up to speed and it does prove beneficial if you have a circuit diagram of your own to work on. There are probably lots of bells and whistles that I don't know about and haven't used but they will be there if and when the time comes. Meantime I'm content to work with only those I need to create the relatively simple single layer PCBs for my Projects.

A bit of a ramble so apologies but it's Sprint Layout that gets my vote.
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 4:31 pm   #29
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

Here is another one of mine from EasyEDA. A set of three mk2 under test and the 3D of the mk3 I am about to place an order for.
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 5:42 pm   #30
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

My second pcb design using KiCad was for a soldering iron controller I designed.
I was going to use vero board but after the sucess of the MiniMod I decided that I would go straight to pcb.
JLC had a special offer on prototypes so 5 boards cost just over 5.

Because it was untested I included 3 rows of uncommited holes / pads for additional breadboarding if I needed it.

It was so much easier than trying to breadboard on vero board, somehow I always manage to forget to cut a track and have to fix a fault before I can test the design.

Pictures attached. (from KiCad not the actual boards)

Peter

Edit, the only mistake I made was the date on the silk screen 20 instead of 21!
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 6:23 pm   #31
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

Oops, didn't realise we were having a Beauty Contest so here's mine.

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Old 28th Feb 2021, 9:14 pm   #32
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

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Originally Posted by DonaldStott View Post
Oops, didn't realise we were having a Beauty Contest so here's mine.

Attachment 227906
Very nice!

I am sorry if it looked liked showing off, the point I was making is that once you have mastered a pcb design program it is often worth breadboarding straight to pcb and missing out the vero board stage.

Peter
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Old 28th Feb 2021, 9:58 pm   #33
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

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Originally Posted by Electronpusher0 View Post
I am sorry if it looked liked showing off, the point I was making is that once you have mastered a pcb design program it is often worth breadboarding straight to pcb and missing out the vero board stage.
I didn't think it was showing off at all, hence the Smiley face.

I totally agree about missing out the vero board stage - heresy some would say.

And to get back on track (pardon the pun!), here are the component side and track side views in Sprint Layout - nice and clear: -

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Old 2nd Mar 2021, 10:00 pm   #34
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Default Re: Sprint and KiCad PCB CAD software impressions please?

Hi

Easy EDA will also allow you free export of Gerber Files by the way!

There is a free version of Altium called "Circuit Maker" - (don't confuse it with "Circuit Studio" which is expensive!) but you're limited to saving your work "in the cloud" so not suitable for work that's commercially sensitive or needs to be kept private!

I must confess I've never got the hand of manual routing – I don't have the topology skills to place components so all the tracks can be placed correctly – I tried making a Pioneer SA9900 power supply board and got totally stuck about 75% of the way through when I tried it using Sprint!

Chris Williams

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