Connect with us

Need PCB layout software with some special requirements

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Robert, Jun 9, 2007.

Scroll to continue with content
  1. Robert

    Robert Guest

    I'm looking for PCB layout software and have some unique requirements.
    Hopefully can find something that's not too expensive (free would be nice).

    I need to design a board that is about 8 to 10 inches square and will be
    double sided (2 trace layers). It will have nearly 200 parts, almost all of
    them two legged components, so about 400 holes or so. No need for
    autorouting, as I'll be manually routing all traces. Need to have Gerber
    file output.

    Now for the unique requirements: I need to be able to place a part at any
    angle, preferably to the nearest one degree, but two or three degrees may be
    OK. I also need to be able to draw traces that are arcs and traces that are
    straight, but could also be drawn at any angle, not just 90 degrees. The
    board is going to be as much a piece of art as it is functional.

    I appreciate any suggestions!

  2. Powerpoint (or any vector based drawing package), then a vector to Gerber
  3. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    pcb can do all that, although the arcs may need to be manually tweaked[*]
    and the rotated part code is new and has some quirks. I think we'd be
    open to feedback even if it doesn't work out for you.

    PCB also has a way of importing eps files as copper, using some
    external converters.

    [*] Are you looking for arcs like these? PCB has a puller module that
    can do some artsy arcs for you:
  4. Robert

    Robert Guest

    [*] Are you looking for arcs like these? PCB has a puller module that
    Actually, I'm looking to arrange some parts in a semi-circle pattern and
    connect them together with an arc on one pin and use traces with a radial
    pattern on the other pin.

    With all the libraries, compiler and cygwin needed to run on Windoze, sounds
    like it may be pretty complicated to get it installed. But free is nice ....
    may give it a shot. Any step by step procedure for installing on Windoze?


  5. JeffM

    JeffM Guest
  6. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    How many? If it's a lot, write a perl script to generate the pcb
    file. The format is text, and it's openly documented. That also
    works around the issue with editing the arcs. You'd just need to do
    some math to calculate the locations, and print out the data.
    I worked on that today, and it wasn't as straightforward as I'd hoped.
    I'm going to work on it some more in the near future, see if I can
    streamline the process. Getting the build environment set up properly
    is tricky, but once set up, the build itself should be easy.
  7. Jasen

    Jasen Guest

    I couldn't figure out how to rotate anything by an angle less than 90 degrees
    you missed the track going to the fourth via on the top row.

  8. Almost any PCB package will allow you to place tracks at any angle,
    but by default most packages have "orthogonal" mode turned on which
    limits angles to 45/90. Even old Autotrax for DOS does this.
    Similar thing with component rotation, although not all packages
    support any angle rotation of components and arcs.
    Check your current or intended package closely to see if it supports
    this stuff. It will be buried in the menus but it's usually there

  9. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Most of the "professional" level software packages can do this. Off the top
    of my head, Altium and Pulsonix both can... I'd be surprised if PADS
    couldn't. I suspect EAGLE can as well... Joerg?

    Pulsonix has a radial grid mode which makes it trivial to place components
    along an arc. I imagine other packages can do this as well.
  10. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest


    To rotate a part already placed, cut it, rotate the buffer, then paste
    it back. I thought about rotating the part as-is, but it makes a mess
    of the connected traces.

    I don't think this feature is in the latest snapshot, so you'd need to
    download the CVS version.
    I must have missed that one.
  11. Jasen

    Jasen Guest

    There's a command-line? Cool!

    (I should really have RTFM before posting that .. I only installed it
    this morning... )

  12. Leon

    Leon Guest

    Pulsonix can do that sort of thing, it has a polar grid feature which
    makes it easy. You could get the various angles spot-on.

  13. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    Sort of. The ":" key invokes a command window, allowing you to
    manually invoke any of the myriad actions that PCB defines. The menu
    and key bindings just invoke actions too (in the Lesstif HID, there's
    a file that defines this mapping). These same actions can be invoked
    on the pcb command line via --action-string="" or in a script with

    It really comes in handy when you want to do something like set the
    drill of all selected pins to a specific value, or set the grid to an
    unusual value. I use it a lot for setting up the solder resist mask.

    Plug-ins usually use the command window, too, since the GUI won't
    already know about them. For example, my teardrops plugin is invoked
    with :Teardrops()
  14. Robert

    Robert Guest

    Thanks for the info. Looks like some nice software. This is similar to what
    I want to do:

    But the software is pretty pricey!

  15. Robert

    Robert Guest

    That's an interesting idea. Do you have a suggestion for a converter? A
    Google search seems to only give me Gerber to vector converters.

  16. Robert

    Robert Guest

    Actually most of the parts will be along an arc. Well, I know Perl pretty
    well, but know nothing about Gerber file format. Looks like this may be a
    bit tedious, but may be the way to go in the long run. Will look into it.
  17. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Not compared to Altium or PADS... and it does *most* of what those can do for
    a much lesser price. (I.e., the bang per buck is pretty good...)
  18. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Sounds like all you really need is a decent paint program. If you're
    going to be routing by hand anyway, why fight with orthogonal software? :)

    Good Luck!
  19. qrk

    qrk Guest

    Pretty much any PCB Layout program can have rotated parts at any angle
    and can do arcs. If you want the parts in nice arcs, you will want to
    use a real 2D drafting program (AutoCAD, for example) to place the
    part outlines, then import the graphics in to your PCB program as
    footprint. This acts as a template which will make placing your parts
    easier. Some PCB programs can import DXF or GIF. Some programs will
    allow you to take a DXF file and convert to copper which may be easier
    to put in artistic arcs.
  20. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    ISTM that getting the angle you really want in any *modern* ECAD
    is just a RTFM thing.
Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day