Topics

Creating Gerber files for pcb construction

Gordon Gibby <ggibby@...>
 

OK,  another newbie question.   You folks are SO knowledgeable and SO creative, you can probably teach me this one also.


I learned how to make simple PCB's using an outfit down as ExpressPCB  (https://www.expresspcb.com/)  and they've made me some really nice printed circuit boards, but the prices are more like $20/board in qty 3, and it doesn't get any better until you get up to maybe 20+ boards....


So this morning a comrade down here pointed out a different group:  https://www.pcbway.com/​  and they are offering 10 boards for $5 (TOTAL)  with I'm told $21 shipping --- still WAY cheaper than what I've been doing --- they need GERBER files.


Question:  The only software I have is the stuff from expresspcb but it makes a .pcb file.   I'm enclosing a (just started and UNFINISHED) board for an swr meter/ antenna analyzer gizmo I want to use with our ARES group as a training project --- can some bright person here tell me if this is going to be acceptable to a manufacturer who wants "gerber" files?


thANKS -- and for any other advice, also!!!


Gordon


Jerry Gaffke
 

I'd guess you can't port the expressPCB files to another PCB vendor.
That's why they offer "free" PCB routing software.

I'm currently delving into kicad as my board design tool set.
Open source, most any operating system, creates standard gerbers, fairly popular.
Eagle used to be popular with the hobbyists, but got bought out and now somebody is trying to squeeze money out of it.
I've heard some recommend diptrace, but I'd prefer free and open source.

OSHpark is a good board fab house for quick prototypes here in the states.
PJRC (home of the Teensy) uses OSHpark.

Jerry, KE7ER


On Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 08:03 am, Gordon Gibby wrote:

Question:  The only software I have is the stuff from expresspcb but it makes a .pcb file.   I'm enclosing a (just started and UNFINISHED) board for an swr meter/ antenna analyzer gizmo I want to use with our ARES group as a training project --- can some bright person here tell me if this is going to be acceptable to a manufacturer who wants "gerber" files?

 

Jack, W8TEE
 

I've been using the Diptrace Freeware version, which limits you to 300 pins and 2 signal layers. My work has always fit within these parameters.

Jack, W8TEE



From: Jerry Gaffke via Groups.Io <jgaffke@...>
To: BITX20@groups.io
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2018 11:33 AM
Subject: Re: [BITX20] Creating Gerber files for pcb construction

I'd guess you can't port the expressPCB files to another PCB vendor.
That's why they offer "free" PCB routing software.

I'm currently delving into kicad as my board design tool set.
Open source, most any operating system, creates standard gerbers, fairly popular.
Eagle used to be popular with the hobbyists, but got bought out and now somebody is trying to squeeze money out of it.
I've heard some recommend diptrace, but I'd prefer free and open source.

OSHpark is a good board fab house for quick prototypes here in the states.
PJRC (home of the Teensy) uses OSHpark.

Jerry, KE7ER


On Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 08:03 am, Gordon Gibby wrote:
Question:  The only software I have is the stuff from expresspcb but it makes a .pcb file.   I'm enclosing a (just started and UNFINISHED) board for an swr meter/ antenna analyzer gizmo I want to use with our ARES group as a training project --- can some bright person here tell me if this is going to be acceptable to a manufacturer who wants "gerber" files?
 



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n5ib_2
 

Hi Gordon,

No - that ExpressPCB file will not be acceptable to most manufacturer's who require gerbers. The Gerber/Excellon format is a very specific industry standard method for specifying automated manufacturing processes. There are several files that make up a gerber set, defining the top and bottom copper layers, the silkscreens, solder masks, drilling template, and board dimensions.

The knock on ExpressPCB has always been that they hold you hostage to their proprietary file format and only provide gerbers (for a fee) after you've had boards made by them. There once was a very nice package called "Copper Connection" that could read ExpressPCB files, translate to their own native format, and export gerbers.. Alas, ExpressPCBflexed their corporate muscle and bought them out to surpress the competition.

The good news is there a number of board layout packages, including some on-line layout apps, that are fairly easy to learn - almost as simple as Express - and will create gerbers for you. We'll have to wait for others to chime in with the specific apps, since, as an original customer of Copper Connection, I can still use my old software and haven't had the need to hunt for new apps. One that I have heard of is "EasyEDA"

Jim, N5IB

Gordon Gibby <ggibby@...>
 

THANKS guys!!! Several of you have replied with lots of helpful information and suggestions for free software etc!!!
much appreciated.

gordon


________________________________________
From: BITX20@groups.io <BITX20@groups.io> on behalf of n5ib_2 <n5ib@...>
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2018 11:44 AM
To: BITX20@groups.io
Subject: Re: [BITX20] Creating Gerber files for pcb construction

Hi Gordon,

No - that ExpressPCB file will not be acceptable to most manufacturer's who require gerbers. The Gerber/Excellon format is a very specific industry standard method for specifying automated manufacturing processes. There are several files that make up a gerber set, defining the top and bottom copper layers, the silkscreens, solder masks, drilling template, and board dimensions.

The knock on ExpressPCB has always been that they hold you hostage to their proprietary file format and only provide gerbers (for a fee) after you've had boards made by them. There once was a very nice package called "Copper Connection" that could read ExpressPCB files, translate to their own native format, and export gerbers.. Alas, ExpressPCBflexed their corporate muscle and bought them out to surpress the competition.

The good news is there a number of board layout packages, including some on-line layout apps, that are fairly easy to learn - almost as simple as Express - and will create gerbers for you. We'll have to wait for others to chime in with the specific apps, since, as an original customer of Copper Connection, I can still use my old software and haven't had the need to hunt for new apps. One that I have heard of is "EasyEDA"

Jim, N5IB

Jerry Gaffke
 

Haven't been keeping up much on the new board layout tools available, will be watching this thread closely.

I'm retiring as well.  
Much of my professional work revolved around PadsPCB (now owned by Mentor), doing tight 10 layer boards with large BGA's.
Can't recommend PadsPCB, not cheap or easy, primary selling point for us was the UI hadn't changed much since the 1980's.
Kicad is complex and a bit rough around the edges, but looks like it should give comparable results.
The Bitx40 and uBitx were created under kicad.
I can run it under linux which is a major plus as I'd prefer to avoid anything Microsoft.
Files are ascii text rather than binary blobs, netlisting and such done with easily hacked python scripts.
Open source, so it won't become unavailable or unusable or spendy like Eagle or CopperConnections.
It's being actively developed by the folks at CERN

EasyEDA looks interesting, though my situation demands offline use so won't work for me.
Could be ideal for casual hobbyist use.
But don't tell expressPCB.

Jerry, KE7ER

Art Howard
 

Not sure where to post this but I had a friend of mine doing some astronomy project and needed boards with parts are assembled and so forth because he's not technically able to do that.
 I do not know a lot about this stuff myself but his boards with the assemble parts and stuff were about 50 to 60% cheaper than anybody else had them so I'm not sure if it's relevant for anybody wanting to make the modifications to the UbitX etc.
 Here is a link to that outfit that does boards and assembly units and so forth and would be interested in knowing if somebody that's knowledgeable could check it out and see if they really are that much cheaper ?

On 15 Jan 2018 10:04 am, "Gordon Gibby" <ggibby@...> wrote:
Haven't been keeping up much on the new board layout tools available, will be watching this thread closely.

I'm retiring as well.  
Much of my professional work revolved around PadsPCB (now owned by Mentor), doing tight 10 layer boards with large BGA's.
Can't recommend PadsPCB, not cheap or easy, primary selling point for us was the UI hadn't changed much since the 1980's.
Kicad is complex and a bit rough around the edges, but looks like it should give comparable results.
The Bitx40 and uBitx were created under kicad.
I can run it under linux which is a major plus as I'd prefer to avoid anything Microsoft.
Files are ascii text rather than binary blobs, netlisting and such done with easily hacked python scripts.
Open source, so it won't become unavailable or unusable or spendy like Eagle or CopperConnections.
It's being actively developed by the folks at CERN

EasyEDA looks interesting, though my situation demands offline use so won't work for me.
Could be ideal for casual hobbyist use.
But don't tell expressPCB.

Jerry, KE7ER

N7PH <hickspj467@...>
 

I use DpiTrace also. Up until recently I had only used it to do schematics and home brewed boards. A couple weeks ago I made up a small interface board and basically one button push gave me the Gerber files. I sent them off to Allpcb <allpcb.com> and had 10 boards in less than a week for $5.49 USD. Service was excellent and I got handholding assistance along the way.

PJH, N7PH

Jack, W8TEE
 

I had trouble with the link...way too large and a popup in the middle. If you delete the "m." in


it's a little easier to read.

Jack, W8TEE


From: Art Howard <k0kuk.vhf@...>
To: BITX20@groups.io
Sent: Monday, January 15, 2018 1:10 PM
Subject: Re: [BITX20] Creating Gerber files for pcb construction

Not sure where to post this but I had a friend of mine doing some astronomy project and needed boards with parts are assembled and so forth because he's not technically able to do that.
 I do not know a lot about this stuff myself but his boards with the assemble parts and stuff were about 50 to 60% cheaper than anybody else had them so I'm not sure if it's relevant for anybody wanting to make the modifications to the UbitX etc.
 Here is a link to that outfit that does boards and assembly units and so forth and would be interested in knowing if somebody that's knowledgeable could check it out and see if they really are that much cheaper ?

On 15 Jan 2018 10:04 am, "Gordon Gibby" <ggibby@...> wrote:
Haven't been keeping up much on the new board layout tools available, will be watching this thread closely.

I'm retiring as well.  
Much of my professional work revolved around PadsPCB (now owned by Mentor), doing tight 10 layer boards with large BGA's.
Can't recommend PadsPCB, not cheap or easy, primary selling point for us was the UI hadn't changed much since the 1980's.
Kicad is complex and a bit rough around the edges, but looks like it should give comparable results.
The Bitx40 and uBitx were created under kicad.
I can run it under linux which is a major plus as I'd prefer to avoid anything Microsoft.
Files are ascii text rather than binary blobs, netlisting and such done with easily hacked python scripts.
Open source, so it won't become unavailable or unusable or spendy like Eagle or CopperConnections.
It's being actively developed by the folks at CERN

EasyEDA looks interesting, though my situation demands offline use so won't work for me.
Could be ideal for casual hobbyist use.
But don't tell expressPCB.

Jerry, KE7ER



Virus-free. www.avast.com

August Johnson
 

I've had excellent results using KiCad to design and http://www.allpcb.com/ to produce boards. Just had some 4"x6" double-sided plated thru w silk screen and solder mask boards made. $33.44 total (Including $1.44 for PayPal payment) for 5 boards including free DHL shipping. They actually sent 8 boards instead of the 5 I ordered. From the reviews I see, people often get more than they ordered. Ordered on Monday evening and delivered on Saturday. Would have been a day sooner but DHL doesn't deliver to my town and had to wait one more day for USPS delivery.

August KG7BZ

James Lynes
 

Gordon:

I've just had my first PCBs manufactured by OSHPark. Their fee is $5 per square inch(for three boards) with free shipping. It took about 15 days to receive the boards. They provide a lot of status updates during the order processing.

Gerber files are actually seven files: top layer, bottom layer, solder stop top, solder stop bottom, silk screen top, silk screen bottom, and drill.

I used the free version of Eagle(board limit about 3" x 4"). An added benefit of OSHPark is that all they need is the Eagle .brd file. They make the Gerbers and panelize the orders onto 18" x 24" boards for manufacturing.

I recommend the Simon Monk book "Make Your Own PCBs with Eagle". It contains very useful information on installing the Adafruit and Sparkfun libraries and the Sparkfun design rules. I made myself a cheat sheet that I think will be published in the next QRP Quarterly.

James

N7PH <hickspj467@...>
 

James,

Most places also require a Board Dimension file. Perhaps OSHPark grabs that file on their own when they generate the Gerbers or it is available from one of the other files.

I have looked at several Gerber files and they appear to be CNC type G-code files with some special codes.

PJH, N7PH

Mike Bryce
 

Guys….


first off Easyeda does not need to be done on line. All you need is the gerber files generated by any number of layout programs. 

I use DipTrace and Easyeda all the time.

I DO NOT use their on line software for board layout.

The price point is making a board equal to or less than 100 mm square. If you can, 10 pcs at Easyeda will set you back $2.

yup! Two bucks!

of course there is shipping and DHL is $12 and change.

or slow boat from China for about $6


Yesterday I ordered 10 pcs of 6.5 by 1.5” boards and they were $11 and change for the the lot. This exceeded the 100 mm size, but still that’s not a bad price.


One of the secrets I’ve discovered is lumping all your pcb orders into one. Not, repeat NOT all the gerber files on one pcb, but rather send four or five separate files.( or as many has you have) The shipping will be dramatically reduced.

When I did the order the other day, I had five unique files, 10 pcbs each order, and the shipping via DHL was $23 and change.
So, 50 pcs shipped for $11 more than a single order.

all the chinese pcb houses, and OSH park require what is know as a board outline file. 

In the gerber, it’s called, ‘boardname. GKN’

OSH is great for smaller pcbs, and they’re made in the USA. However, when the pcb size begins to scoot upwards, they become dearly expensive. They offer as standard gold flashed pads, and of course the pcbs are purple.

Many of the USA based pcb houses kind of cheat and send small run orders to china. 


On Jan 15, 2018, at 2:46 PM, N7PH <hickspj467@...> wrote:

James,

Most places also require a Board Dimension file. Perhaps OSHPark grabs that file on their own when they generate the Gerbers or it is available from one of the other files.

I have looked at several Gerber files and they appear to be CNC type G-code files with some special codes.

PJH, N7PH

Diver Martin <diver.martin@...>
 

I'm blown away by Easyeda's PCB pricing... I don't think any service I've used can touch that price.  I just paid last week $105 for 10 PCB's for my uBitx top motherboard with DFRobot, designed around a 150mm x 200mm maximum PCB size (including shipping).  EasyEDA quotes $38 for the same thing (not including shipping, which I assume to be $15-20).  WIsh I had known a week earlier, I would have tried them out, unsure about their quality.  (DFRobot does good quality)

I'm a big kicad fan, use it for 6-layer large-scale loadboards on 4.0 stable.  I'm eagerly awaiting the next 5.0 (or whatever it will be called) release for more 3D component support via STP files/etc.  The daily builds look very promising.

On Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 12:09 PM, Mike Bryce <prosolar@...> wrote:
Guys….


first off Easyeda does not need to be done on line. All you need is the gerber files generated by any number of layout programs. 

I use DipTrace and Easyeda all the time.

I DO NOT use their on line software for board layout.

The price point is making a board equal to or less than 100 mm square. If you can, 10 pcs at Easyeda will set you back $2.

yup! Two bucks!

of course there is shipping and DHL is $12 and change.

or slow boat from China for about $6


Yesterday I ordered 10 pcs of 6.5 by 1.5” boards and they were $11 and change for the the lot. This exceeded the 100 mm size, but still that’s not a bad price.


One of the secrets I’ve discovered is lumping all your pcb orders into one. Not, repeat NOT all the gerber files on one pcb, but rather send four or five separate files.( or as many has you have) The shipping will be dramatically reduced.

When I did the order the other day, I had five unique files, 10 pcbs each order, and the shipping via DHL was $23 and change.
So, 50 pcs shipped for $11 more than a single order.

all the chinese pcb houses, and OSH park require what is know as a board outline file. 

In the gerber, it’s called, ‘boardname. GKN’

OSH is great for smaller pcbs, and they’re made in the USA. However, when the pcb size begins to scoot upwards, they become dearly expensive. They offer as standard gold flashed pads, and of course the pcbs are purple.

Many of the USA based pcb houses kind of cheat and send small run orders to china. 




On Jan 15, 2018, at 2:46 PM, N7PH <hickspj467@...> wrote:

James,

Most places also require a Board Dimension file. Perhaps OSHPark grabs that file on their own when they generate the Gerbers or it is available from one of the other files.

I have looked at several Gerber files and they appear to be CNC type G-code files with some special codes.

PJH, N7PH




--
Martin Held - AE7EU
http://ae7eu.com/
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If there aren't any questions, then what is there to learn?

James Lynes
 

I don't remember having to enter a size when i ordered. They calculated a smaller size than i thought i had used and adjusted the price down.

The drill file is in a different format than the others.

James

Mike
 

I've used ExpressPC also (for years) . . . . sadly, the answer to your question is no . . . ExpressPC does not allow you to export Gerber files.

You need to design in something like Eagle (free version is for non-commercial stuff) or Kicad, etc. and export Gerber files (a group of seven files)

ExpressPC will give you gerber files of your design only if your a paid subscriber to other offerings.

Norberto Modanesi
 

Try KICAD sofware. It generate Gerber file.

73

 

De: BITX20@groups.io [mailto:BITX20@groups.io] En nombre de Gordon Gibby
Enviado el: lunes, 15 de enero de 2018 01:04 p.m.
Para: BITX20@groups.io
Asunto: [BITX20] Creating Gerber files for pcb construction

 

OK,  another newbie question.   You folks are SO knowledgeable and SO creative, you can probably teach me this one also.

 

I learned how to make simple PCB's using an outfit down as ExpressPCB  (https://www.expresspcb.com/)  and they've made me some really nice printed circuit boards, but the prices are more like $20/board in qty 3, and it doesn't get any better until you get up to maybe 20+ boards....

 

So this morning a comrade down here pointed out a different group:  https://www.pcbway.com/​  and they are offering 10 boards for $5 (TOTAL)  with I'm told $21 shipping --- still WAY cheaper than what I've been doing --- they need GERBER files.

 

Question:  The only software I have is the stuff from expresspcb but it makes a .pcb file.   I'm enclosing a (just started and UNFINISHED) board for an swr meter/ antenna analyzer gizmo I want to use with our ARES group as a training project --- can some bright person here tell me if this is going to be acceptable to a manufacturer who wants "gerber" files?

 

thANKS -- and for any other advice, also!!!

 

Gordon

 

Vince Vielhaber
 

The problem I'm finding with Kicad is the lack of component templates, unless they're downloadable somewhere I haven't found. I found and imported a bunch of them but some of the newer surface mount ICs aren't there.

Vince.

On 01/16/2018 11:55 AM, Norberto Modanesi wrote:
Try KICAD sofware. It generate Gerber file.

73



*De:*BITX20@groups.io [mailto:BITX20@groups.io] *En nombre de *Gordon Gibby
*Enviado el:* lunes, 15 de enero de 2018 01:04 p.m.
*Para:* BITX20@groups.io
*Asunto:* [BITX20] Creating Gerber files for pcb construction



OK, another newbie question. You folks are SO knowledgeable and SO
creative, you can probably teach me this one also.



I learned how to make simple PCB's using an outfit down as ExpressPCB
(https://www.expresspcb.com/) and they've made me some really nice
printed circuit boards, but the prices are more like $20/board in qty 3,
and it doesn't get any better until you get up to maybe 20+ boards....



So this morning a comrade down here pointed out a different
group: https://www.pcbway.com/​ and they are offering 10 boards for $5
(TOTAL) with I'm told $21 shipping --- still WAY cheaper than what I've
been doing --- they need GERBER files.



Question: The only software I have is the stuff from expresspcb but it
makes a .pcb file. I'm enclosing a (just started and UNFINISHED) board
for an swr meter/ antenna analyzer gizmo I want to use with our ARES
group as a training project --- can some bright person here tell me if
this is going to be acceptable to a manufacturer who wants "gerber" files?



thANKS -- and for any other advice, also!!!



Gordon



MVS Sarma
 

Vince,
 In a constantly upgrading world,
 need and ability to create new footprints appears a must.
 Itoo suffer this even under eagle.
 i find such creation is easier on sprint layout.
 I agree some one's comment is it is like childs toy with no sch support etc.


regards
 sarma
 vu3zmv

Regards
MVS Sarma
 

On Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 10:36 PM, Vince Vielhaber <vev@...> wrote:
The problem I'm finding with Kicad is the lack of component templates, unless they're downloadable somewhere I haven't found.  I found and imported a bunch of them but some of the newer surface mount ICs aren't there.

Vince.


On 01/16/2018 11:55 AM, Norberto Modanesi wrote:
Try KICAD sofware. It generate Gerber file.

73



*De:*BITX20@groups.io [mailto:BITX20@groups.io] *En nombre de *Gordon Gibby
*Enviado el:* lunes, 15 de enero de 2018 01:04 p.m.
*Para:* BITX20@groups.io
*Asunto:* [BITX20] Creating Gerber files for pcb construction



OK,  another newbie question.   You folks are SO knowledgeable and SO
creative, you can probably teach me this one also.



I learned how to make simple PCB's using an outfit down as ExpressPCB
(https://www.expresspcb.com/)  and they've made me some really nice
printed circuit boards, but the prices are more like $20/board in qty 3,
and it doesn't get any better until you get up to maybe 20+ boards....



So this morning a comrade down here pointed out a different
group:  https://www.pcbway.com/​  and they are offering 10 boards for $5
(TOTAL)  with I'm told $21 shipping --- still WAY cheaper than what I've
been doing --- they need GERBER files.



Question:  The only software I have is the stuff from expresspcb but it
makes a .pcb file.   I'm enclosing a (just started and UNFINISHED) board
for an swr meter/ antenna analyzer gizmo I want to use with our ARES
group as a training project --- can some bright person here tell me if
this is going to be acceptable to a manufacturer who wants "gerber" files?



thANKS -- and for any other advice, also!!!



Gordon





--
  Michigan VHF Corp.   http://www.nobucks.net/   http://www.CDupe.com/
                          http://www.metalworkingfun.com




at91r40008
 

Gordon,

to my knowledge PCBExpress will not generate Gerber files they want to lock you in to buy the PCBs
from them.
If you want Gerber files generated PCBExpress will do it for you for a fee but it is not cheap.
I have used many CAD programs over the course of my career (PADs, Mentor, PCAD, Orcad, etc) now
I am using Diptrace, it is affordable and has a large library of components. I think they also have a free
very limited version.

--
73, Yvon NU6I