Thanks to all

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Thanks for all of your replies. As David showed me, there's more than one
online provider of pcb's. Guess I jumped the gun by getting enthralled by
the first one I discovered. I downloaded the layout tools from all of them
and they all look and work very much alike. But as I discovered with a
little xperimenting they don't recognise each others output files. So the
warning about getting locked in to just one suppliers proprietary tool is a
good point. Also downloaded the free version of Cadsofts Eagle pcb software.
Don't find it anywhere near as user-friendly or intuitive as the little
freebies but if it has industry-standard output I guess I could learn it
eventually. Can make no sense of the really old DOS version of Protel so I
hope I can find a later version to test drive. I am interested in multiple
boards and I'd be happy to use a local maker if I can generate the right
sort of files. For one off projects, if it can't be done on veroboard it
doesn't get done.
This is all to do with the soldering iron timer I've been on about for
weeks. In its fourth incarnation it is down to one 4000 series IC and a big
MOSFET. (I don't have enough years left to learn how to do it with a PIC)
Anyway, my employer is looking at it but I fear I'll have to do all the work
of figuring out the production details if the design is adopted.


Sorry, didn't mean to create new thread.

The verbiage below was meant to refer to Pad2Pad topic

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Re: Thanks to all

I'm a bit surprised that you found Protel's (presumably) EasyTrax/AutoTrax to be
hard to understand.  Every piece of pcb layout software I've tried has been
riddled with arcane approaches, some more than others.  I certainly wouldn't
describe the Protel DOS ones as anything worse than the rest.

The reason I comment is that for the ability to ship a file to a manufacturer,
especially in Oz or Asia, the Protel formats are about the most widely accepted.
Many of the others - as you noted - lock you in to their parent fabricator.

FWIW I still use Protel AutoTrax and have had boards made in Oz, Malaysia,
mainland China and Thailand.

Re: Thanks to all

budgie wrote:
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Gotta second that one - and IMHO, as Protel evolved, the bloating just
the increase in performance of machines, hence the later all bells and
humdreds of megabytes WinProtels are just about as good as Autotrax for
DOS (fits
on a floppy). That's progress for you !. BTW had boards done in Oz
(BEC,IMP,Entech),Malaysia (Custom) and China (Gold Phoenix, my current
favourite) but Thailand ??? What is the URL for a boardhouse there ?.

Re: Thanks to all

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There's a web calculator there.  I use them now and again, the quality's not bad
at all.

I fell out of favour with CustomPCB because I dared to ask why an order for 32
boards gave me 30, 2 of which were totally unusable.  A vitriolic emailed
response was their last communication to me.  They failed to ack a subsequent
order, so I crossed them off my list.

Do you have the URL for Gold Phoenix, to save me googling?

Re: Thanks to all

budgie wrote:
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But the best deal is to go through ebay (search on "layer pcb") where
you get 200
sq inch DSPTH for about $100 inc freight wheras if you go to the URL,
you get 100 or 150 sq inch depending on which pricing links you follow.
The quality leaves Custom in the dust (not difficult) AND they do hot
air levelling real solder (unlike that ghastly silver process that
Custom do). Custom does definately have its place however as they are
cheap and don't have any silly "no multiple designs on one panel"
I have had some a few unusable boards from Custom as well - Gary simply
ignored my
complaint. All of them lick the pants off the US boardhouses that
advertise cheap
prices then royally rodger you on things like freight (and don't seem
to have heard
of Protel). Gold Phoenix also take paypal (handy!).

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