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to hire someone who knows s/w turn ckt-diag into PCB Gerber fabrication files

Discussion in 'PCB Layout, Design and Manufacture' started by bob weir, May 5, 2017.

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  1. bob weir

    bob weir

    Sep 10, 2014
    besides Gerber the fab' house in Hong Kong accepts .pcb , .pcbdoc and .cam files.

    what i have is the ckt-diag , the parts list and an actual full-size PCB that can be scanned or photo'd.
    its about 90mm x 100mm. its 2-layer, FR-1 , 1 oz copper

    what i'm after is to hire someone who is fluent in the s/w to turn my ckt-diag into the fabrication files.
    which then i'll send to in HK and have more boards made.
  2. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    There are lots of us who can, but even for simple circuits there is a significant amount of work.
  3. AnalogKid


    Jun 10, 2015
    Are you reverse-engineering something? Are the <whatever> files used to create the first pc board available?

  4. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    What you are asking does not come cheap. Try looking at the companies represented here to find someone with the capabilities you need. For a shop in Aurora, Colorado, visit this web page.

    As Steve said, there are many of us here that can do what you want to do, from scanning a printed circuit board to reverse-engineer its schematic to importing hand-drawn schematics. But, IMO, it is better to work locally and, where possible, in person-to-person contact with the whoever is doing the work. Heck, you may even want to have the boards manufactured in the States. There are several quality board houses in Colorado on the Eastern Slope, and many more in California who work with Asian fabricators for inexpensive fast turn-around prototype quantities.
  5. bob weir

    bob weir

    Sep 10, 2014
    steve , ak , hevans - thank you all for your response. collectively your ideas have pushed me in the direction
    of learning the s/w myself and to then use my money to buy chinese-made boards for now.
    and learning the s/w is the first step. i like how its 1-stop-shopping.
    and i'm counting on using the many how-to videos on u-tube as a guide for what to do.
    a handful of design /order boards / build 'em cycles should create enough of a foundation to then tackle the ................. board i wanted to copy in the first place. it is one robust design.

    steve - your one line message was powerful. and got me thinking more about all that it takes to do the job

    ak - yes, you could say rev-engr is what's going on. the person who designed the boards held on to the files.
    .........and is no longer with us

    hevans - good of you to remind me of the cost factor. and for the links. ( that aurora, co one led to a gerber file viewer ... another aspect of the process to learn & be familiar with ) . your ideas have stimulated some fresh thinking. and i will try to find someone locally that knows pcb s/w and arrange some tutoring. and visit the arts & crafts show here in town this weekend to look for one of those 3-D engraving machines. as some are known to work on copper clad boards to make circuits. they are listed on ebay for $250. and up . the big unknown tho is what s/w and file types do they run on.
    Last edited: May 6, 2017
  6. Minder


    Apr 24, 2015
    I use the free Kicad for schematic capture and board layout.
    Also a Hong Kong Co Seeed are offering 100mm x 100mm double sided PCT boards for $4.90 per qty 10.
    hevans1944 likes this.
  7. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    Have you acquired any PCB software yet? If so, please tell us what you have.

    As @Minder mentioned, there is free PCB design software available. Avoid PCB houses that offer you their "free" schematic capture and layout software because the files their software creates are not portable Gerber files but are proprietary to the board vendor. Nothing wrong with that if you don't mind getting "locked in" to that one vendor, but it is mainly suited to hobbyists doing one-offs, rather than production work where you need to maintain control and portability of the files used for production.

    Years ago, in the 1970s, I did PCB layouts on Vellum using crepe tape and Bishop Graphics "puppets". CAD was just getting started for this type of work and very expensive. About 20 years later, I accepted a contract to build a multiplexed push-button switch interface to an IBM PC-AT clone. I bread-boarded the design with wire-wrap sockets, but was also able to convince my customer that a dedicated PCB would be better in the long run. So I purchased a one-year license to use PADS PCB schematic capture and layout software, passing the cost on to the customer. I found the learning curve fairly steep but manageable. About two months after installing PADS I had created a decent board layout. I allowed the license to expire without purchasing continuing "maintenance" and a few years later PADS was absorbed by another software giant and basically became un-affordable to me.

    I would suggest that you not walk down a similar path. PCB design has become quite complicated and you need a PCB software design package that can keep up, but you probably don't need the latest and greatest thing available. Try demo versions of commercial software first before taking the plunge. I would suggest starting with something like Eagle.
    Arouse1973 likes this.
  8. Arouse1973

    Arouse1973 Adam

    Dec 18, 2013
    How complex is the PCB? Can you post a schematic and a picture of any bare PCBs you have on the forum.
  9. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    PCB "engraving" machines have been around for quite some time... some of them even work... sort of. You have to be aware of their limitations with regard to resolution and accuracy. For any PCB of significant size and/or complexity, removing copper by scraping or machining is going to be a time-consuming process that does not scale upward for multiple copies. I would suggest it is only suitable for "one off" projects of limited complexity and larger feature sizes.

    The preferred, standard, method of PCB production involves photo-lithography, chemical etching, and selective electro-plating, which is capable of manufacturing features with sub-micron resolution and accuracy. A variant of the photo-lithography process is used to manufacture integrated circuits, although you obviously don't need that sort of resolution to make a printed circuit board. But the nice thing about photo-lithography is it can be scaled up for production quantities.

    What you DO need is a Gerber plot file and a drill file. The Gerber is used to make photo-lithographic masks by exposing photographic film, mounted on a X-Y CNC table, through various apertures that define the width of lines and the shape of pads. Don't worry about the details. You PCB design software will produce an appropriate set of Gerber plot files that can be used by ANY PCB board-house to make photographic masks for single sided, dual-sided, dual-sided with plated-through holes, and multi-layer boards with plated-through vias connecting various layers. The software will also generate a drill file containing information for CNC drilling of all the holes and routing all the edges required by your board. The important thing is to make sure the files that your software produces are in standard Gerber PCB file format and Excellon drill file format.
  10. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

    Jun 21, 2012
    Here is a blog post comparing Eagle and Kicad.
    Kicad wins.
    Seeed Studio is a reliable Chinese PCB manufacturer plus a whole lot more, with tools and modules aimed squarely at the hobbyist. Some Seeed modules are (or were) stocked by Radio Shack. As per usual when dealing with Asian vendors, documentation can be a bit spotty and/or thin.
  11. sorvillo


    May 15, 2017
    PCB design requires a PCB software design, you can start with something like Eagle or Kicad.
  12. bob weir

    bob weir

    Sep 10, 2014
    to my may 4 post readers -

    the services of someone to convert a schematic into a PCB are no longer needed.
    so that initial request for paid help that led to the post on may 4 is cancelled

    what i wrote on may 5 still holds. and am still very much engaged with learning some s/w.
    its that of the chinese website EasyEda. and several orders for simple circuit layouts
    have already been made.
    in fact last weekend they had a 10 boards for $2. sale.

    at present i'm tackling how to do the wiring by hand. the auto-router can make mistakes.
    or place traces in sub-optimal locations. doing the wiring by hand will lead to learning
    how to create a 'star' Vcc distribution , as well as a single-point ground return.

    believe its important to layout these busses 1'st. then the parts. and use all the vias
    it takes to get the traces on the top and bottom sides.

    am yet to catch on how to connect the ground end of parts to a ground plane.
    think it has something to do with giving all parts the same name for their ground pin.

    despite it being called 'easy' one still is faced with having to learn what to do
    step by step the entire way. thankfully there is a lot of material both as video how-to tutorials
    and printable ones to aid this process. as well as figuring out what the matter is when
    the s/w does a design-rule-check and cites some errors you made.

    for beginning to learn PCB s/w i highly recommend giving EasyEda a try.
  13. Dennis Tan

    Dennis Tan

    Jun 29, 2017
    I have to say, to master pcb-layout technically, you may need some professional knowledge and software like CAM350, and you may learn more when you deal with your PCB fabricator。It's actually very easy to understand the whole designing of circuit board stack-up after you know one software.
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