Windows fonts for PCBs

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#1
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Well I finally purchased a Window based PCB layout program that will import effortlessly (well mostly) all my old Protel Autotrax files.

I still have both arms, legs, fingers and fingernails which would not have been the case if I had purchased the Altium product.

So now I'm like a kid in a candy store as I can use any Windows font for text instead of the dry, system font, I could use previously.

What do you find a hassle free font? For small text like say 36,48,60 mils? I tried Times New Roman but it seems that it has some very narrow legs with some characters and I'm afraid that the text could be unreliable.

Arial seems OK and it is close to the original system font, which by the way I can still use.

After almost 20 years of DOS based PCB layouts it gets a bit scary using a Windows based PCB program. This is the 1st one I seem to come to grips with. Tried demo versions of Altium but failed. Tried Kicad because of the "reasoable" price. Eagle scratched my eyes out and gave me severe headaches.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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So John, don't keep us in "suspenders" ... which package did you buy?

Ross (using Eagle and still with eyes and no headaches)

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

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I'm always trying to shrink my fonts. I've found that different manufacturers have vastly different capabilities when it comes to silkscreen - so the best answer is to just ask your fab what they recommend. I'm currently using the 25 mil tall, 5 mil thick stroke font in Altium Designer. But a lot of fabs can't handle silkscreen that fine.

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..and the package is....(we'll be back right after these commercials).

Anyway it's less than AU$90.00 with 2 years support. Almost home grown. It has a few bugs (maybe incorrect usage on my part??) but nothing too bad as far as I can see, I only got it 2 days ago.

ohhh OK I'll put you out of your misery :) you can get a demo version with the save feature disabled here http://www.hutson.co.nz/rimupcb.htm also the schematic demo package with 100 pin limit.

Still waiting for my registration on their forum to be approved and then I can ask some questions.

For about AU$250.00 it seems one can get a reasonably good package. The thing that got to me was the ease of importation of my Protel Schematic and PCB files. I have not found anything else that could do it at a resonable price before this.

As far as fonts I have used 36 mil tall, 6 mil thick stroke font as the smallest with Autotrax up to now, well I did not have any choice anyway apart from different size and thickness.

It seems that a font with even thickness may be best for smaller fonts. I'm waiting for a reply from my pcb maker to see if they can use the Gerbers I have produced with RIMU (I have send them a small PCB artwork), pretty easy task compared with the almost impossible task, at least for me, with Autotrax.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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Easy-PC imports most other formats including Protel, and costs about the same. I used it for about 20 years until WestDev bought it and produced Pulsonix. I'd heard of RIMU before, but never looked at it. Pulsonix can use any of the system fonts, but I've never tried it. I think that Easy-PC can do the same.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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Quote:
Pulsonix can use any of the system fonts, but I've never tried it.
But the question is WHICH font do you use so you don't have any problesm with small text in pcb production? :)

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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Most PCB suppliers state the minimum line width for silk screen text. Provided that is observed it doesn't really matter what font is used; I use the standard Pulsonix system default font, I think it's actually the ISO standard font (IS3098) for drawings. There are hundreds of weird and wonderful fonts I could use if I wanted to.

Serif fonts are best for legibility on paper, but that isn't relevant to text on PCBs. It might matter if a customer needed their logo on a PCB, of course; a specific font might be required for that.

Leon Heller G1HSM

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Just bit the bullet and ordered a few small PCB prototypes which was originally created with Autotrax and then imported and modified with RIMU...a bit of a Frankenstein :lol:

The PCB makers seem happy with the Gerbers it produces, see how we go.

By the way support for RIMU seems non existing :( they have a forum to which I tried to subscribe but still no approval. A couple of emails to the author and webmaster are still unanswered.

Is this a case of you get what you pay for? :? It seems that it used to be known as PCB designer but then changed to RIMU. Here I am trying to give them publicity and lots of sales and they ignore me!!

edit As Maxwell Smart would say "I hope you didn't take that bit about the support too seriuosly." I did get a reply to one of my emails. Looks like the forum could in fact be dead, let's see what can be done about that. It would be nice to have somewhere to post questions about RIMU.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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John,

Who does Your protoboards and to what level ( bare copper.. soldermask.. overlays etc?)

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It depends. BEC in your neck of the wood is one of them. :) I usually do the full thing including overlays.

At times I have used PCBCART and EZpcb. Now, with my newfound freedom to produce Gerbers easily, I should be able to use anyone.

EDIT by the way welcome back. :wink: I hope you hang around.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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FWIIW, I have used Eagle for about 10 years & taught it to 100's of students and 1000's of boards have been produced. Still have my hair albeit grey!
There are some commands that are not quite Microsoft'ish. I get my boards done by Futurlec.
I will have a look at the package John suggests though.

Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin & Murphy are always lurking about!
Lee -.-
Riddle me this...How did the serpent move around before the fall?

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Quote:
I have used Eagle for about 10 years
You must be left handed and use PICs :lol:

I tried Eagle but could not get my head/hands around it. But then again I have had a hard time using other Windows based PCB packages, so it must be me.

I have had a couple of solid days importing a couple of files and make them a bit nicer, so I'm getting the hang of RIMU. I'm even to the point of not upsetting the DRC checker too much.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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Quote:
You must be left handed

Not guilty!
Quote:
and use PICs

Guilty! But I saw the light with AVR's!

The reason for persevering with Eagle was that it was free for students & they could take home for homework etc. Students made their own boards using pre-sensitised laminate. Also introduced it to my amateur radio colleagues and lots of RF boards were made with it. Don't write it off yet, as it has a lot of support.!

Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin & Murphy are always lurking about!
Lee -.-
Riddle me this...How did the serpent move around before the fall?

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John,

The problem with Eagle is that it *doesn't* follow the Windows standards, and does things the wrong way round for many people. Most users expect to select something, and then perform some sort of operation on it. Eagle has it the other way round - you select the operation, then the object on which it is to be performed. Eagle aficionados claim this is an advantage.

Leon Heller G1HSM

Last Edited: Wed. Mar 3, 2010 - 10:21 AM
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@John
I have also used EZpcb ... and PCBcore. Happy with both.

But at the moment I have 3 different designs being made by . Expect them to arrive early next week.

IME, the Australian pcb houses are way too expensive. And the US ones are not all that far behind when you consider delivery costs.

Cheers,

Ross

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

Last Edited: Wed. Mar 31, 2010 - 12:36 PM
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Got the boards in today. This uses just the standard font as imported. Next week I should get other boards where I have changed some of the fonts to Arial bold, see what that looks like.

The black bit in the centre is infact a shiny big pad as I was experimenting with polygons and pads and forgot to turn it back into a polygon. :?

Attachment(s): 

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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Ross,
I now manufacture prototype quality boards out of Brisbane.
Still learning apects of the craft but gave capability to respond within 24 hours on double sided product.
For early samples see http://www.cnczone.com/forums/sh...

Soldermsk problem resolved; designed and built a laser based direct imaging system. No need for phototools, Everything done from gerbers.

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Personally I find Lucida Console is one of the most readable fonts, but it is also a bit wide. Any sans-serif font that looks good in 8pt or 6pt size should do nicely.

Is that.... Windows 3.1?!

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Quote:
Is that.... Windows 3.1?!
Do you mean the system font used above? NAH it's DOS based.... :)

Edit Zig that's a good service you provide and the boards look nice. But as one of the carpet commercials here in Sydney goes "Tell'em the price son, tell'em the price" :)

I paid $100.40, including Fedex, for ten boards of the above and it took 10 days from placing the order to boards in hand. Next lot will be cheaper as the cost of the photoplots is a once only. (about $30.00).

I can sell the prototypes, and usually do, as they are as good as the production boards. Very rarely the boards are such a mess that I will need to throw them away. Yes may need to cut a track or add a link but they are saleable. The ones above, simple as they are, worked 1st time.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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js wrote:
Quote:
Is that.... Windows 3.1?!
Do you mean the system font used above? NAH it's DOS based.... :)

Actually was referring to the screenshots of the EDA package posted above, on their homepage...

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ignoramus wrote:
Ross,
I now manufacture prototype quality boards out of Brisbane.
Still learning apects of the craft but gave capability to respond within 24 hours on double sided product.
For early samples see http://www.cnczone.com/forums/sh...

Soldermsk problem resolved; designed and built a laser based direct imaging system. No need for phototools, Everything done from gerbers.

I guess you are responding to my assertion that IME that Australian pcb houses are too expensive.

PM me with some contrary evidence if you wish.

Cheers,

Ross

Ross McKenzie ValuSoft Melbourne Australia

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John,

The conventional PCB manufacturing process is designed for production of large volumes of PCBs.
Further generally speaking the technology ( PTH vs SMD) does not come into the equation when costing the product.
The unit area cost of production is not dependent on the board density so long as the density is within the process window of a particular installation. In other words cost of etching 0.020" features is same as cost of etching 0.012" same as cost of etching 0.008" featuresno matter how dense the board is ( that is length of tracks within a unit area of the board).

With our approach to high speed prototype turnaround whihc is much "greener" than chemical approach the costing is not based on unit area but on unit length of copper isolation cut.

Therefore John I will be happy to provide costing based on a gerber file but i can not give You a blanket statement of XY.Zcents per unit area.

Indeed the sample graphic ilustrates this point keenly.Your product has an area which contais some tracks and a much larger area with no features at all.
You can see a possibility for skew in costing based on simple area based costing.

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Ross,

Yes .. this country is known to be a rip off place. I quite agree with You.

My kitchen stove failed the other day; it needs a couple of new control switches.

One web based supplier offered the part at AUD78.00 another i had used in the past quoted the part at AUD50.00 including GST.

I then called up the manufacturer to get an idea of the cost of repairs. It was AUD90.00 call out which included first quarter of an hour on te job. Thereafter it would be AUD35.00 per 15 minutes plus parts.

I guess a technician charges AUD140.00 per hour on a short term contract.
It would seem to me that a factory overhead is a tad higher than a van on the road.

It would also seem to me that a chemical engineer's hourly rate ought to be somewhat higher than whitegoods servicemans.

So in light of this, my experience, I reckon we just might have to keep pace with the serviceman's hourly rates.

Seriously we are cost sensitive.
We offer a quick turnaround service, well aware that an engineer is waiting for his PCB so that he can debug his design and code and get to market as soon as possible without undue delays.

There are times when goods from overseas may be better value and ofcourse there are times when overseas brains will be better value.

Just keep in mind the old marketing adage:'...sell on price, live on rice..."

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Quote:
live on rice...
That's an expensive meal!! Strictly dry bread and water from the rainwater tank here....we need to keep our costs low. :)

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly