How can I create a pcb panel?

Thread Starter

magnet18

Joined Dec 22, 2010
1,227
OK, I have looked at the prices and determined that in order to get a halfway reasonable price (under $150), I need to be able to put the boards together (as in side by side, to be broken apart later) in the production file. If I do this, I can get 2 and 2/5 of a clock (12 boards) for $100 from gold phoenix.
Eagle won't let me do that, what will? (preferably without re-doing the schematic... again)

LIKE THIS (first link) -
I was going to mention Gold Phoenix. I've ordered from them twice, and both times it worked out very well. You send them Gerber files and arrange payment via Paypal, and you'll get the boards in about 10 days. Both times they sent me about twice as many boards as I'd paid for.

See here:
http://files.myopera.com/John98wbr/albums/661338/panel.jpg

And here:
http://files.myopera.com/John98wbr/albums/661338/pcb.JPG

The panel shown was designed to fit their offer of 155sqin of mixed boards for $140. I didn't waste much!

http://www.goldphoenixpcb.com/singlepage.php?tg=specialprice
 

tracecom

Joined Apr 16, 2010
3,944
Eagle won't let me do that, what will? (preferably without re-doing the schematic... again)
I tried to learn Eagle and failed, so I don't really know whether it will panelize, but considering its reputation and popularity, I am very surprised if it will not. Maybe some Eagle experts will chime in.

DipTrace will. DipTrace also has a feature to import PCB layouts from Eagle, but I haven't used it and can't say how well it works.
 

John P

Joined Oct 14, 2008
1,808
I did the PCBs I showed in the images with FreePCB. It can panelize (obviously) which is good, because Gold Phoenix says, "Panelization of the multi-project panel must be done at customer side. We do not offer service to panelize multi-project panel. We need 40mil clearance between the boards."

If you just copy and paste with FreePCB, it won't panelize properly because the part numbers will all be incremented to prevent duplicates. Fortunately someone has written an add-on which takes a FreePCB file and converts all the part numbers to text, i.e. not associated with any part. The converted design is then the one that gets panelized, and it works fine.
 

elec_mech

Joined Nov 12, 2008
1,500
Ask the PCB manufacturer if they'll panelize it for you. I don't know what manufacturer my company used, but I designed a PCB about the size of my thumb and the company we used created a panel based on the single PCB I designed. Of course, we bought thousands, but it never hurts to ask . . .
 

Thread Starter

magnet18

Joined Dec 22, 2010
1,227
I did the PCBs I showed in the images with FreePCB. It can panelize (obviously) which is good, because Gold Phoenix says, "Panelization of the multi-project panel must be done at customer side. We do not offer service to panelize multi-project panel. We need 40mil clearance between the boards."

If you just copy and paste with FreePCB, it won't panelize properly because the part numbers will all be incremented to prevent duplicates. Fortunately someone has written an add-on which takes a FreePCB file and converts all the part numbers to text, i.e. not associated with any part. The converted design is then the one that gets panelized, and it works fine.
Were you able to paste straight from eagle into FreePCB?
And what was teh add on called?
Thanks!
 

John P

Joined Oct 14, 2008
1,808
I have no idea about FreePCB and Eagle, because my schematic capture is an ancient version of OrCAD. I believe FreePCB only interfaces with capture via a PADS format netlist, which normally includes part outline; you can make OrCAD put the part types in, or edit the netlist to get them right, or if you really must, you can do the designation one part at a time within FreePCB.

The program that changes part references to unattached text is FPCRef.exe by Bruce Parham. You can get it here:
http://www.freepcb.com/downloads.htm

Also mentioned on the download page is FPCRoute, also by Bruce Parham, which produces the type of file that's used by a free online autorouter in Germany, which works on your computer using Java. It does a great job, but if you want full optimization it is unbearably slow. For any board bigger than tiny size I set it running and let it churn away overnight. I used it on all the boards in the pictures.
 
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Thread Starter

magnet18

Joined Dec 22, 2010
1,227
Eagle WILL do it. You just have to BUY the full version. :)
$150 for little bits of data?
No thankz

You have the FAB 3000 software. They offer FREE full-featured demo At least for this time it may do the job for you. And you can find demos showing how to on youtube http://www.numericalinnovations.com/fab3000.html
Also found this. It seams to be a free tool
http://ruggedcircuits.com/gerbmerge/
Those both look fantastic, but the fab3000 won't open, I click the shortcut or the application file and... nothing happens.

I also can't seem to open gerbmerge, when I open python and try to open the gerbmerge file i get a syntax error pointing at the : in C:\python27\lib\site-packages\gerbmerge\gerbmerge.py
And if I try running the batch file nothing happens, and if I try running just lib\site-packages\gerbmerge\gerbmerge.py, it says it dosen't identify the y in .py

Am I sucking at python or is this a file issue?

[EDIT]
Nevermindly, I restarted and all the software is shining gloriously :rolleyes:
 
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Thread Starter

magnet18

Joined Dec 22, 2010
1,227
I hadn't seen that, thanks, that's just what I need if it's free and panelizes eagle files.
I'll use this fab3000 program trial now, since I started with it (and it's niiiice :D), but I'll definitely look into it, thanks!

Also wondering, if I put the boards together in one panel, can I just send it as 1 board, separate it myself, and save on the $30 "multi-design panel" fee?

I take it back, whenever I import a .drd file, the ones within bout an inch of the origin are fine, all the others end up mashed in the lower left corner almost randomly.
and I can't seem to be able to fix it. ANGER :mad:
 
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Thread Starter

magnet18

Joined Dec 22, 2010
1,227
Has anyone on here ever worked with designspark before?
If I import the board files, copy them and paste them into a new board file that's 12.4*12.4 inches, and create the gerbers & drill files, will I have any issues? Or do I need to re-name all the nets first and stuff when I copy 2 of the same board?
 
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