Duane - Yes, it is a layout tool ( manual drawing ). Similar to ExpressPCB's drawing tool. Great for simple breakout boards. I recommend the Eagle path for anything beyond that ( which requires schematics and autorouting ). If you are willing to wait on OSH-Park, its a quick (effort wise ) and inexpensive ( $5-$10 ) path to making small interconnect adapter boards, etc that might otherwise be perf board or flying wires.
There are a few in the list that I posted a while back about PCB tools that allow for commercial usage of their free/low cost versions. I can think of at least two that can be had for free or under $50 that are without limitation of layers or pins. I am currently reviewing one of them, and the other, I will be playing with here soon.
Were I doing this, I'd have a jumper next to each header / Screw terminal that you could select (with one of those little black jumpers that fit over pins). More PCB space, but much easier to use. I did a PCB graphic but I cannot get it into my post, I'll email it to you Max.
David - I thought about doing that, but didn't want to add the additional board space. If I were to go that route, I'd probably end up with a block of jumpers that would all all permutations of connection.
@David @Duane: As I recall we did discuss doing something like this -- but the header pin connectors protrude above and below the board (so as to allow for the stacking of shields), which means we need to have access to both the terminal pins AND the screw-block pins INSIDE of the header pin connectors so that we can connect them to the prototyping area...
@Max, Duane yeah. it is a tradeoff. Given that most PCB terminals are 0.2 inch spacing, and the header pins are 0.1 inch, you could maybe put the jumpers between the header and the terminal bolocks, and stagger them so they don't take up too much space, but the board would then be that much wider. ANd I suppose that once you have wired your jumpers, you're unlikely to want to change them very often.
@Max - "So that explains your whimsical hair style" That's nothing. Once I had to get a replacement Driver's licence in a hurry, so went into a 1 hour photo place. The guy should have said "Mr Ashton, I think you should comb your hair first" but he didn't. So I got this crazy nerdy looking photo on my licence. Used to have fun with it at car hire places.... "Mr Ashton, can I see your drivers licence please?" "Yes, but only if you don't laugh at my photo." "Of course I won't!" I'd hand over the licence and the girl would usually dissolve into uncontrollable giggles. Or try to suppress them, which was even funnier.
These days licence and passport photos have to be taken without glasses on. Which is almost as bad, in my case.....
I have never seen any less than 0.2". Very handy.....
You should check out the Phoenix Contact MPT 0.5 range from 2 to 12 pole 0.1" spacing- for example a 4 way block would be MPT 0.5/4-2.54. Phoenix is definitely in Oz. Actually they cliam some at 2.5mm which would be just that much closer together.
By the way watch for my blog on PCB screw terminals. Should be with Max next week.
I'm receiving a lot of emails from folks woudl are intereded in getting these boards for their own use.
We hadn't really thought about this before, but based on the interest we are seeing we are now planing to make these available for purchase.
Duane has sent the first files over to the board shop -- just three of each board in the first run – he always does this just to make sure that everything is 100% good before going into production. He says we should have these back in 1.5 weeks or so. Once we have them back and check them out, we'll go for a full production run.
When I say "full" – I'm not sure how many yet – that depends on the price breaks – we're not trying to make any money out of this – we'll do them at cost. Our ideal goal is to be able to produce both boards for $5 (and that includes shipping etc.) ... but this may simply not be possible – we'll have to look at the numbers – Duane is talking to board shops as we speak. I will be doing a follow-up blog about this in a couple of weeks telling folks how much the boards will cost and how to get them – in the meantime, do you want me to add you to the list of folks who have expressed an interest so I can email you when we know more? If so, email me at my personal email address of max@CliveMaxfield.com
I just received an email from Mike Kraynak, who spake as follows (he said I could post his comments here):
Hi Max, this prototype board reminds me of the early days of PCB CAD. We often had to create PCB layouts larger than the capabilities of our CAD system ('Racal-Redac PCB Mini' in my case).
Back then we would create 2 PCB databases as you have shown with a vertical split along which we placed what we referred to as a 'pseudo. We would create the 1st database with the pseudo part on the right edge. The 2nd database would have the pseudo part on the right edge. Traces that cross the split between the 2 databases would be routed to a pin on the pseudo part in the 1st layout and to the corresponding pin on the pseudo part on the 2nd layout. We would then output gerber files for both databases.
When creating the gerber files for the 2nd database we would shift the "X" position on the film by the distance necessary to align the phantom parts on top of each other. We would then append the 1st gerber for each layer with the 2nd gerber for that layer in a dumb text editor. This can more easily be done today with a free gerber editor. Thinking back, we created some amazing designs back then with this method. In some cases we split layouts both vertically and horizontally. Regards, Mike Kraynak