BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!

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Hello all,

I have been having an absolutely shocking run with BEC's pcbs lately.
It got to the point a few weeks back that I went there to have a
"meeting" with them about all of the issues. Here is a copy of the
email I sent to them about it:

*************
Hello,

You have the amounts on the invoice incorrect AGAIN - One of these jobs

(********) is single sided, not double sided. We would also like to
have
them delivered by courier to our premises.

I certainly hope the component overlay is correct this time around - I
have attached a .jpg for you to check it against. Pay  particular
attention to the corners of the pcb where component overlay detail went

mysteriously "missing" the last time BEC manufactured this job.

The component overlay went horribly wrong on one of our other jobs
(#*****) recently also. One of your engineers (*****) was made aware of

this however we were not offered any reduced rate and, yet again, paid
full price for a sub-standard job. On another job (*****), holes were
completely missed even though they were multi-layer - again we paid
full
price and were not offered any price reduction. Recently the quality of

the BEC pcbs has been slowly declining with missing or incorrect detail

in overlays, bad registration with solder masks and holes drilled off
centre, solder not cleared from holes properly and so the list goes on.

We have been dealing with BEC exclusively as a "cash customer" for 7
years and I am disappointed to see the quality and service decrease to
this level.

I would like someone from BEC customer service to contact me personally

and discuss these issues and resolve them, if possible. At this time, I

can see no other solution other than to take our work to another pcb
manufacturer, as the current quality and service we are receiving from
BEC is terrible.

*************

Of course, no one contacted me. I had to call them to arrange a
meeting.

During "the meeting", Fransisco wandered over and told me the problem
was the new computer system (windows XP) and they were having problems
opening protel Autotrax files correctly. I showed him a sample of the
faulty boards and he really could not have cared less. He told me that
if I upgraded from Autotrax to a windows version of Protel, we wouldn't
be having all of these problems. I told him he should not accept
Autotrax files if he could not be bothered to manufacture them
correctly, as per the file.

I was told the problems would be sorted out now that they were aware of
what was going on. This turned out to be BS. I received my latest job
from BEC yesterday afternoon and guess what - they are stuffed up! The
automatic component identifiers have been left switched on and
consequently, the overlay is a mess!

I have sent BEC an email this morning however I really dont expect much
of a reply. I think it is time for me to start looking elsewhere for a
pcb fabricator who can deal with Autotrax files without "issues". Any
suggestions are most welcome.

I hope I am doing someone a favour by sharing my experiences. This
rigmarole has cost me customer confidence and could have potentially
cost me work. I feel BEC needs to start acting more professionally and
to sharpen up on their customer service.

Andy


Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!



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XP a new system ?  Hardly !

My guess is that they would probably prefer to lose a client who clings to
ancient software rather than upgrading to this century's version.

However if that is the case, they should just say so and decline your jobs.
Not dick you around.


geoff



Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!


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"Ancient" or not, BEC migrated through all of the releases of Protel -
they *used* to be able make pcbs correctly from an Autotrax file. For
me, in such small volume niche markets, the cost (and time) to upgrade
is ridiculous. I cut my teeth on Easytrax when it was first released
and because of the low volume of pcb design I do, I have never seen the
need to advance past good ol' Autotrax. I had a play with 99SE some
time back - looks like it takes a lot of driving.

In these economic times, a small business must be doing ok if it can
afford to turn away a no-questions-asked, pay-up-front, regular cash
customer - I know I certainly cant. These "cashies" keep the cash flow
going in between the payments from the "big customers".


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Exactly. If they cant do/dont want the work, make it known.

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Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!



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persactley.

anyone know if BEC do RoHS yet. Last time I approached them, they wanted
to do the boards gold plated at about 25% more cost, which creates other
problems.

Why not just make them lead free, like everyone else?

Don...


--
Don McKenzie
E-Mail Contact Page:               http://www.dontronics.com/e-mail.html

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Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!



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Its been a few years now, but I have never had success with
BEC. However, in there defence i would probably not support outdated
software like Autotrax either.

Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!


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Please explain your rationale.....

If you had already been supporting it for the last ~15 years, why would
you suddenly stop, especially when there is a demand?  The ongoing cost
is nothing so why not keep making the profit on something you ironed
the bugs out on over a decade ago? The customers' money is the same
colour whether the file is supplied in Autotrax or the latest DXP
format so why would you care?

Andy


Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!



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The demand is small, and restricted to hobbiest like yourself.

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Pffft. Its got more bugs that DXP.

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Your money is toy money. Your format is outdated. The PCB shop has to
spend time manipulating your outdated format, time is money. Perhpaps
they should charge an extra processing fee for outdated formats, but
then you would complain even more, saying how its not fair.


Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!



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Hi all,
which is why you export to the standard file format - gerber or x-gerber
rather than ascii protel pcb or binary pcb files. .
you MAY need info on the manufacturers standard tool sizes for this if they
can't support all sizes for the aperture files, or as autotrax doesnt have
aperture data in the gerber file, need to find a converter which creates
x-gerber for you

Or use the ipc standards file format ipc-2581 ipc-nc-349 rather than gerber,
but not all manufacturers use the ipc formats, and not all software exports
in ipc format - that standard hasn't really taken off like other ipc
standards.

Greg



Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!



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Not true, there are a number of small scale manufacturers still using it.
Peter Crowcroft wouldn't use anything else until he died recently.
It did the job for the small DS boards he needed, and he didn't have to pay
for, or learn anything new. Two rather BIG hurdles with DXP unfortunately.

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But a person still using autotrax is probably not going to pay the cost of
DXP.
I know I'm not for one :-)

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I have no doubt the large scale producers would agree, that is their choice.
No doubt there are smaller producers who would welcome some extra "toy
money".
It's simply a matter of finding them, which is what the OP is after
apparently.

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No, he already indicated he would prefer they simply say up front if they
can't handle the format.
What he is trying to find is someone that can. The total cost, including any
extra processing fees, is just part of the comparison between companies, as
long as you are told up front.

MrT.



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Sorry Mr. T.,
    But DXP has gone the way of Autotrax and if you had paid for DXP you'd
now have to pay for Altium Designer 6.  I think they're trying to get down
below a one year cycle.  Got to keep the customers' money churning.

Cheers,
Alf



Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!


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Got to keep bank rolling all those embedded micro core design people
they have been hiring like crazy for the last 6 months too.
I smell a bubble...

Dave :)


Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!



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Time to throw my evaluation disk out then I guess :-)

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Even more reason for occasional users to stick with Autotrax then I guess.
Although I imagine DXP files might be supported for a little longer yet.

MrT.



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I use Jemal PCB in Perth - but that may be too far for you!

Name : Marc Kaye
Tel : 08 9356 1997
E-mail : marc at vianet dot net dot au

I don't have any problems with my Autotrax files (except my own
problems of course!)

Alan
--
Sell your surplus electronic components at
http://ozcomponents.com
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Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!



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I used to use BEC in days now past, for AutoTrax jobs.  Then they had a major
change to names there, and it all seemed to go pear-shaped from that time.

I'm also in small volume niche product - and I presume Alan would declare he is
too.  I looked at Jemal - having dealt with their predecessor in the 70's
(Malcolm Searle at the helm) - but it always seemed their "panel" sizes and my
boards never gave a decent panel fill factor.

I had been using Futurlec for protos but the quality was all over the place -
some great and some unusable - and tried CustomPCB in Malaysia.  They have
"issues" with AutoTrax file formats, but can supply proofs before production.
They also do silver plated (i.e. ROHS-compliant).  Had a disagreement with their
man regarding "lost" quantities, and we parted ways.

Next had some boards from mainland China, via Peter (RIP) at Kits'r'Us in HK.
Farkin' great quality (as good as BEC ever were) and price, but sadly didn't get
details of who/where.  There are soooo many shops in China that to try one is
really a pig-in-a-poke.

Now use Futurlec and find the quality is reasonable, price is fairly good, and
turnaround is typically 3 weeks or so.  Have learned to factor that into my
work.  Soemtimes holes aren't properly cleared, but I accept that at the price
because the pain of trying other sources isn't something I look forward to.

Like you, I dabbled with 99SE and quickly went back to AutoTrax.  It does all I
need and - cost aside - the time spent on the WinProtel's learning curve isn't
going to ever be repaid at my volume.

If I needed 5-day turnaround, I suspect I'd be off to try Jemal.  At least I can
kick arse there (seeing they are here in Perth) but it's a bit harder for you
over there in BEC country.

Re: BEC and Protel Autotrax - BEWARE!!!!


Hi,
try pcbfast. They've done a good job for me to date with no complaints

www.pcbfast.com.au

Greg

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