Hi Gents and Ladies
I’m a newbie to Fritzing, and I’m hoping to eventually use it to help me produce some PCB’s that at the moment I am struggling to make.
Some backgound, I am one of those home bodgers who is always making some crackpot project and as a result is always learning. The current project is a homemade flight simulator rig to work with the DCS A10-C program. There is a whole forum dedicated to it that has loads of information and help with the individual panels, plus a clever guy came up with a program called DCS BIOS which outputs the game info to switches, LED’s, LCD displays and stepper motors for gauges using Arduino Nano boards.
It’s a fantastic job that they have done, and as a result I now have really professional looking ‘cockpit’ panels that interact with the game. Along the way I have learned how to use a 3D printer, CNC engraver, Co2 laser cutter and of course the programs that design the parts and convert them into files that can be used to drive the machines mentioned above, namely Solidworks, Qcad, Inkscape, CamBam, Universal Gcode sender and K40 Whisperer.
All in all I’m quite proud of what this old brain has managed to learn and produce.
As part of all this I am having to produce a load of PCB’s. Most are one-offs, as each is designed for a very specific job, and fit in very specific places and spaces. As they (generally) are not very sophisticated, I have been using a combination of Solidworks for designing them, then convert to .dxf files and so onto the the CNC engraver via CamBam where I am able to engrave blank PCB sheet with the circuit lines (don’t know what the proper word is) plus the solder pads for the switches, LED’s, rotary encoders and headers, and the CNC machine makes short work of drilling the holes and cutouts and the often irregular external profile.
For small, low density single sided PCB’s this is fine. I can even make double sided PCB’s again with the caveat that they are small and low density.
However the big issue is that the PCB board is very often warped, which when it comes to larger boards means that the circuitry cannot be cut evenly across the board, despite leveling software. As a result the circuits can end up breaking through or pulling up, so I have to use a minimum of 1.5 mm for any contact lines in order to have a chance of them not getting ruined, and of course ruining the boards. Plenty have ended up that way.
Additionally when I need higher density of ‘lines’ due to constrictions in the board or the need to avoid components, it means that often the copper ends up being machined through at some point due to the uneven surface.
I tried the method I found on the internet of using paint and the laser engraver to expose the copper for etching, with 100% failure rate. Even if it did work, the warpage that it gives the boards would make them unusable.
The irony is that with the .dxf file I can make absolutely ideal PCB’s, even double sided ones, I just can’t convert them into reality.
I have looked at various forum posts that use inkscape to make SVG files, and have struggled with it despite using inkscape quite a lot. The idea that I can take the .dxf file with the exact position of the solder pads and terminals, plus the outside profile of the board with all the necessary cut outs, mounting holes and contact holes all exactly placed, and then import that into Fritzing where I can then put in the contact lines and through holes (vias, i believe?) so that I can get one of those PCB manufacturers to make it for me really appeals.
So that is what I need, a workflow that takes me from a dxf file to a Fritzing PCB output file.
If any of you kind people can advise or direct me to somewhere that shows how to do this is a logical manner, preferably with explanations so I can understand the concept rather than just repeat parrot fashion, I would be eternally grateful!
If you need me to show example files or anything, let me know