In case it is of any help, attached is my current Word notes for pcb design and fabrication using DT. It's basically a work in progress. I have only been using DT for a few months now, and by no means am I a "power-user". I probably know just enough to be considered dangerous. But I have learned a few vital tricks thanks to guys like gunrunnerjohn, RTR12, and others on this forum, and much more was through the school of hard knocks.

So here it is for anyone who is interested in trying DipTrace, but just needing a gentle nudge in the (hopefully) right direction. If anyone has any suggestions for improvement or correction, I am very interested in any feedback!

Cheers, Rod

We are never too old to learn something stupid....

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Rod: Yes, thank you! PDF works fine.

The notes are a good resource for anyone that wants to start using DipTrace. I still need to send in a design and the part about the Gerber files is helpful. It might be good to mention how to create the initial board outline and how it can be changed later. Also how to include the dimensions to the drawing. But most of what you've outlined is very familiar from my experience. Good work!

Your notes say what size traces to use up to 1 amp.  Does that mean the software can't do traces for 10 amp, or are PCBs no longer a good idea with that kind of current?  I ask because I want to make a power supply routing/breakout box where I can plug a Lionel 180W brick in one end and have 3-4 spots on the other end to attach leaders too.  I was thinking a PCB would be a lot cleaner then a rats nest of wires and bus bars to get the same result.

 

As for the Word file, you don't need Word to open it.  Apple's Pages will open it, Google Docs will open it, any of the versions or forks of Open Office will open it too, and those are just the things off the top of my head.

sinclair posted:

Your notes say what size traces to use up to 1 amp.  Does that mean the software can't do traces for 10 amp, or are PCBs no longer a good idea with that kind of current?  I ask because I want to make a power supply routing/breakout box where I can plug a Lionel 180W brick in one end and have 3-4 spots on the other end to attach leaders too.  I was thinking a PCB would be a lot cleaner then a rats nest of wires and bus bars to get the same result.

 

Sinclair, 10 amps is quite a bit for pcb work though I am sure it could be done. You would want to use 2 oz copper or more, and the traces would need to be very heavy. I have no experience with such a design, but hopefully someone here can help. There is software available to find needed trace widths for given current, but aagain I can't help you with that, sorry.

Leo, good idea about adding the making and changing of the board outline! I had to mess around with that quite a bit before it started to sink in, duh.

Rod

We are never too old to learn something stupid....

You can obviously use heavy traces for 10 amps, it's done all the time.  You can use the Digikey PCB Trace Width Calculator to calculate the size trace you need.  Note that the middle column is for multi-layer boards, so you'd be using the right hand figures for two-sided boards.  Internal layers require a lot more copper as they don't have air circulation to help cool them.

I did a sample with 10 amps and 2oz copper, the trace width ended up being a bit over 1/10" wide, not that difficult.  FWIW, when I do high current stuff, I usually take a run at the calculator when determining the trace width.  You can configure individual traces or nets to be wide in DipTrace.

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Rod: Thanks once again for the PDF version! Very helpful!

I've recently found that Mouser uses an ECAD software converter that will allow you to download parts and 3D models into DipTrace. And although I have had some difficulty with how it all fits together, it looks promising. It's called "Library Loader" from SamacSys. It supports a number of different ECAD products. I'm still testing it out for myself. If I knew more about how the libraries work in DT I might be able to explain it better.

Rod, I updated the 'electronics projects list' thread with your latest revisions adding the PDF version too, it wasn't listed previously. 

Leo, that sounds like a neat find you've made at Mouser. I'll have to take a look, not that it will do a lot of good? Please keep us posted on your progress. 

I did fiddle a little with the DT libraries, but I still don't fully understand them either? There's still some pieces missing from my puzzle. Still much more to learn on my part.

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