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Mark Easley TI

Best PCB maker for prototyping?

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Yep - it was jwoodrell - in that case, the fab house modified the solder mask but didn't notify anyone.  I'd guess it's the same case for your board.  I'd say Seeed should know about it.  At a minimum - so that people will know when they order boards.  

Isn't missing mask between pins on a chip like that kind of a problem if you're going to do reflow?

 

Minimum Solder, done by hand. Not using solder paste or an oven or doing multiple at a time. For the qfn chip, it might still be, but for the tssop? Nothing some soldering braid won't fix. I'll email them though.

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Elecrow sends extra boards too, I got couple of 12 packs with my last order.

Both our reflow controller PCB orders came back 12ea in stead of 10ea. We're betting it has to do with panel size, but who really knows .  .

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For some reason, octopads were never standardised in gerber :( This means that you have to verify your fab's octopad interpretation for each fab (or backfab). Alternatively (but less nice) use circular pads and add a small polygon on top of it manually.

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There's Eagle which still has the most hegemony IMO, I personally use DipTrace (limits you by "pin count" rather than board space), but I read last summer I think that Laen from OSHpark reported KiCad overtook Eagle as the dominant software used... (I tried KiCad for a short while but couldn't stand it, went back to DipTrace).

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KiCAD.  There are tools to convert EagleCAD libraries to KiCAD.  KiCAD has no limitations on size or pins.

Autorouter isn't very tightly integrated is my main complaint...and less 3rd party scripts...

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I'm using Kicad and I'm quite fond of it. It does lack some features that Eagle has, such as more choices for trace bends (and probably quite a few more). Other things are just a bit more tedious, like auto routing, which isn't supported by Kicad directly, but utilizes Freeroute instead.

 

As a hobbyist I think Kicad is full sufficient, and if anything annoys me enough I'm always free to change it myself as Kicad is open source.

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I use designspark, say what you want but it's pretty decent. Like anything, once you get used to doing something a certain way it's hard to change.

 

Things that I like about it are the library manager and the wizards for new part creation. Also like the way that the copy/paste function works, makes it really easy to replicate a schematic or layout multiple times with ease.

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I personally use DipTrace... 

I also use DipTrace.  I find that the signal routing is a lot nicer in DipTrace than it is in Eagle: easier, faster, better coloration and graphic display.  It has some quirks, but for manually routing tight spaces and pours on multilayer boards, it is the way to go unless you want to pay for Altium.  I've done 5/5 bug-free boards with DipTrace, and the boards I do are reasonably dense -- great DRC.  This makes sense, since the guys who made DipTrace have roots in CNC and machining.

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