Author Topic: Larger PCBs without paying for CAD software?  (Read 6082 times)

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Offline rob77

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Re: Larger PCBs without paying for CAD software?
« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2016, 06:47:01 pm »
I think Eagle is one of the most unintuitive computer programs I've used.  Took me a long time to get used to it.  My main complaint with it now is it tries to help when drawing, but usually the help it lends is only a hindrance.  Eagle has made me want to throw my monitor through the window at times.  KiCAD has to at least be better than Eagle, the developers would have to really work at it to do worse.

each software has it's own "beloved features" :D

I either send my boards to the fab or make them myself.  The simple ones I usually do myself just to avoid the turn-around time.  I use toner transfer with a laminator.  Based on my experience I would agree it might be a bit difficult to get an 8"x 8" board to transfer toner well.  I'm sure it would be possible to make the board yourself and save some money, but how much is your time worth.  Depending on board complexity it might be better to go with a fabricator due to the time involved in doing it yourself.

once you have all the tools and materials in place and you got some experience making PCBs - then it's upto 1 hour regardless of the board's size. you can do virtually any size , your only limiting factors are your printer's printable area to print your polyester transparencies, size of your laminator, the effective area of your UV source to do the exposure and of course size of developing and etching tank. if you have an A4 printer and laminator, then you can comfortably make boards upto 160x200mm (approx 6x8inches) and absolute maximum size will be approx 200x250mm.
 

Offline CraigHB

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Re: Larger PCBs without paying for CAD software?
« Reply #26 on: October 11, 2016, 05:27:22 pm »
once you have all the tools and materials in place and you got some experience making PCBs - then it's upto 1 hour regardless of the board's size.

I'm not inexperienced at making PCBs, I've made a good number of them.  Simple ones I can do pretty quick, but when boards are double sided with hundreds of vias there's just no way to do that quickly by hand.  There's enough time involved there to make sending out for fabrication preferable.  Then there are boards with more than two layers which can be a necessity when footprint has to be absolutely minimal.
 

Offline rob77

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Re: Larger PCBs without paying for CAD software?
« Reply #27 on: October 11, 2016, 10:02:42 pm »
once you have all the tools and materials in place and you got some experience making PCBs - then it's upto 1 hour regardless of the board's size.

I'm not inexperienced at making PCBs, I've made a good number of them.  Simple ones I can do pretty quick, but when boards are double sided with hundreds of vias there's just no way to do that quickly by hand.  There's enough time involved there to make sending out for fabrication preferable.  Then there are boards with more than two layers which can be a necessity when footprint has to be absolutely minimal.

obviously hundreds of vias on a board is a complexity not suitable for riveted vias. i'm using rivets made by Bungard and the smallest ones are 0,4mm inner and 0,6mm outer diameter - so it's not even possible to make extra high density boards this way. multi-layer board is out of question. 4 layers is technically possible but it's too much work and it has severe limitations - the only stacking possible is ((1*2)+(3*4)) - basically two 0,6mm thick double sided boards glued together with high temp epoxy - i did it and it works, but it's way too limiting in terms of routing (you can't have vias going through all 4 layers - just 1&2 or 3&4 or 1&4) and it's simply too much work and takes ages to make it (epoxy cure time is 24hours).

so in short yes, it has it's limitations to make the boards in your home/lab... but the limits are not that bad.. 2 sided board with soldermask , smallest via drill size is 0.6mm , and 0,5mm pitch packages - pretty usable for many many projects.  and it also has it's advantages... don't have to wait days for my board(s) and if i make a stupid mistake i can do a re-spin in 1 hour and it costs me the raw materials only.

and in situations like the OP - low budget and giant PCB footprint - it's probably the best option ;)
 

Offline sci4me

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Re: Larger PCBs without paying for CAD software?
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2016, 02:22:22 am »
once you have all the tools and materials in place and you got some experience making PCBs - then it's upto 1 hour regardless of the board's size.

I'm not inexperienced at making PCBs, I've made a good number of them.  Simple ones I can do pretty quick, but when boards are double sided with hundreds of vias there's just no way to do that quickly by hand.  There's enough time involved there to make sending out for fabrication preferable.  Then there are boards with more than two layers which can be a necessity when footprint has to be absolutely minimal.

obviously hundreds of vias on a board is a complexity not suitable for riveted vias. i'm using rivets made by Bungard and the smallest ones are 0,4mm inner and 0,6mm outer diameter - so it's not even possible to make extra high density boards this way. multi-layer board is out of question. 4 layers is technically possible but it's too much work and it has severe limitations - the only stacking possible is ((1*2)+(3*4)) - basically two 0,6mm thick double sided boards glued together with high temp epoxy - i did it and it works, but it's way too limiting in terms of routing (you can't have vias going through all 4 layers - just 1&2 or 3&4 or 1&4) and it's simply too much work and takes ages to make it (epoxy cure time is 24hours).

so in short yes, it has it's limitations to make the boards in your home/lab... but the limits are not that bad.. 2 sided board with soldermask , smallest via drill size is 0.6mm , and 0,5mm pitch packages - pretty usable for many many projects.  and it also has it's advantages... don't have to wait days for my board(s) and if i make a stupid mistake i can do a re-spin in 1 hour and it costs me the raw materials only.

and in situations like the OP - low budget and giant PCB footprint - it's probably the best option ;)

Honestly, I think I may as well TRY it myself. Does anyone have a dummies guide for this? I have NO idea where to start with making my own PCBs.
 

Offline CraigHB

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Re: Larger PCBs without paying for CAD software?
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2016, 03:15:06 pm »
There's some good how-to docs you can find on the web.  It's something people write about a lot.  When I first started using the toner transfer method that's how I got some good ideas on the best way to do it.  Going to a laminator was a big help for me, though they sometimes need a little modification to get the temperature up high enough.  I don't have any links for you, but should not be hard to find.  Otherwise maybe someone else can provide a link to a good how-to.
 


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