New versus old tecnhiques

Making PCB Layouts, Manual routing, Auto-routing, Copper pouring, Updating from Schematic, Manufacturing Output
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Posts: 43
Joined: 22 Jan 2015, 07:11

New versus old tecnhiques

#1 Post by carlmart » 01 Feb 2020, 16:29

Today I was having a look at a pcb I had designed in '96, using a DOS program I had been using for some time, called Trax.

As printing through it was close to impossible, I imported the pcb file with Protel and printed from it.

About 20 years later I met with Diptrace, and picked it instead of Althium, as I found DT much more user friendly. The program belonged to my partner, and I could do extremely fine things with it.

But there was one thing I never got to learn or master, that perhaps someone here can at last guide me through.

With Trax I designed the pcb, usually single sided, and after the routing was finished I went to work on the traces width and then to fill spaces with blocks of copper, on areas where several components met.

What I wonder is how could I do in DipTrace what I did with Trax.

Please have a look at both designs I included. They are basically the same circuit, even if done at different times. One in '96, the other last week.

Size is an issue, of course, and I don't want to use SMD parts. Just regular through hole ones. Neither do I want to put the resistors "standing up".

But I wonder how can I do the "fill in" of what I call "common areas", so I can get to a design that is similar to the old one. Is it possible? How?

Would it be useful to upload the file here so the changes can be applied on it? There's no copyright over it, so there's no problem.

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Posts: 130
Joined: 15 Sep 2011, 16:28

Re: New versus old tecnhiques

#2 Post by farley » 01 Feb 2020, 17:27

That technique was not uncommon in the days of acetate and tape. I remember seeing quite a few boards similar to what is shown.

I would think it is possible in DipTrace using either copper pours or shapes. If shapes are used they will be direct connections only and will not honor thermal spoke settings (as far as I know). In addition, moving, adding, or modifying a component could mean anything between a little rework to complete calamity. One or more shapes or pours would need to be reconfigured. It would seem to negate one of the primary benefits of PCB CAD in that quick revisions and what if scenarios become overly complicated.

Unless there is a specific reason that requires such a technique, I would recommend using DipTrace's standard trace routing methods and using copper pours for things such as power and ground.

Posts: 43
Joined: 22 Jan 2015, 07:11

Re: New versus old tecnhiques

#3 Post by carlmart » 02 Feb 2020, 07:35

How could I try using cooper pours or shapes on that DipTrace design I showed above, not just for power or ground only?

Is there a place where this technique es explained thoroughly? I didn't see it at the tutorial. Perhaps someone who did could come in and say.

The specific reason for using this technique is for making more flexible pcbs to be used with through-hole parts, particularly for trying different shapes and sizes. Perhaps you could try see that my way.

Even moving to SMD for some of the parts is possible, because of the close proximity of the copper fields.

Posts: 42
Joined: 20 Jan 2016, 08:33

Re: New versus old tecnhiques

#4 Post by PaulNewf » 27 Feb 2020, 16:34

Copper Pour:
- Typically these days the whole layer is flooded with Gnd or Vcc to act as a Noise shield, reducing both emitted and received EMC (RFI/EMI...)
- For a Gnd flood, insert a copper pour: Objects, Place Copper Pour, draw the outline just inside the board edge. (You can insert/delete/move points)
- Then right click on the pour outline, and in the popup choose to connect it to your appropriate Net (Gnd/0V,V-, whichever best for EMC shielding)
- Suggestion: Set pour to a non zero priority so other floods/fills can have stronger priority
- Suggestion: Enable Use Net Clearance if you have nets with different clearances.
- Either "Update all Copper Pours" or right click and change the pour state.

Now if you want to add additional powers to "thicken up" other traces so they can carry more power...
- Draw a Copper Pour in desired area, and connect it to desired net, AND set it to a stronger priority (0 is strongest)

Typical: new designs will set Netclasses for the target trace width and clearance for each group of nets (by voltage/noise/etc). Then copper Pours are used to enhance the EMC of the design (Electromagnetic Compatibility).

You should consider whether you want a design that looks the same, or potentially has better performance.


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