Eurocircuits Printed circuits blog

What keeps us busy at Eurocircuits, projects we are working at, new idea's, background information and a platform where you can participate, give your opinion and guide us to what is important for you as an electronics developer

The only event exclusively designed for electronics design engineers

"Share our knowledge"

The Electronics Design Show in Coventry, 21st – 22nd October has established itself as one of the leading shows in the UK catering for the professional needs of electronics designers. This year it includes more than 110 exhibitors plus a Conference program and Workshop sessions and Eurocircuits will be there on stand L46.

Eurocircuits will be showing its newest tools for PCB visualization and DFM, prior to ordering and completely free of cost to the user as well as:

    • Live demonstrations of the full range of Eurocircuits PCB services
    • Live pricing
    • Exciting new services
    • Our bench-top reflow soldering equipment, eC-stencil-mate, eC-reflow mate, eC-test mate, eC-pre-heater and introducing eC-placer
    • Expert advice and tips on EAGLE CAD and reflow soldering


Registration is free and can be made quickly and easily here:

Show opening hours:

  • Wednesday 21 October: 10.00 – 17.00
  • Thursday 22 October: 10.00 – 15.00


Show location:

Jaguar Exhibition Hall 2

Ricoh Arena, Phoenix Way, Foleshill, Coventry CV6 6GE


All visitors to our stand will receive a €15 voucher to be used against their next purchase from Eurocircuits.

The eC-equipment

The eC-stencil-mate

The eC-placer

The eC-reflow-mate

The eC-preheater

The eC-test-mate

The eC-consumables

Posted under:
Posted on:
08 Oct 2015

Eurocircuits as loyal long term sponsor of the Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering.

For the last several academic years, Eurocircuits have been supporting the students of the Delft University with various projects. The Aerospace Rocket Engineering team is one of them and they have an exciting project to conquer space with their rocket.

Link to home page:

We support the DARE electronics team:

Our latest contribution to the team can be found here:

You really should visit their website and admire what these enthusiastic group of students can do.

Overview of the DARE campaign so far

Test of the rocket engine

Posted under:
Posted on:
06 Oct 2015

Figure 1

Internet headline 2 October 2015

The price of gold has risen by nearly 250% over the past few years. So accurate costing is essential both for our customers and ourselves.


We have made some changes in the way we calculate chemical nickel-gold (Che Ni/Au) prices. Previously we had 2 options:

  • Che Ni/Au selective: the nickel/gold surface finish was applied only to the copper exposed by the soldermask.
  • Che Ni/Au overall: this covered 2 situations: cases where the customer required nickel-gold over the whole board but under the soldermask; and cases where there was no soldermask on one or both sides.


Now we offer a choice of 3 options:

  1. Che Ni/Au selective
  2. Che Ni/Au sel. - large area
  3. Che Ni/Au before soldermask


Che Ni/Au selective and Che Ni/Au sel. - large area


For Che Ni/Au selective and Che Ni/Au sel. - large area the nickel/gold surface finish is applied only to the copper exposed by the soldermask. If the exposed copper covers less than 40% of the board surface choose Che Ni/Au selective; if it covers more, choose Che Ni/Au sel. - large area. The percentage of exposed (or "free") copper is calculated in real time and shown in the DFM section of PCB Checker.

Both Che Ni/Au selective and Che Ni/Au sel. - large area are pooling options.


How to use the new options when specifying Che Ni/Au surface finish?

  1. Select Che Ni/Au selective in the price calculator menu.
  2. To get the final PCB price, upload your data to allow PCB Visualizer to calculate the free copper area.
  3. Open PCB Visualizer in your Shopping basket.
  4. For most PCBs the free copper will be less than 40% of the board area, so Che Ni/Au selective will be correct. When you open the Shopping basket, there will be a green tick in the PCB Visualizer column (assuming that there are no other issues).
  5. If the free copper is more than 40% of the board area on the top or bottom layer (typically where there is no soldermask on top and/or bottom layers), there will be a red flag in the PCB Visualizer column. Click the item to open PCB Configurator/PCB Checker. A Remarks message will advise you to change to Che Ni/Au sel. - large area. The PCB price will rise slightly. Click the "PCB Checker" and "DFM information" tabs to see the exact values.
  6. If you have selected Che Ni/Au sel. - large area and the free copper percentage is less than 40% of the board area, a message will advise you to switch to Che Ni/Au selective.

    If you have selected Che Ni/Au sel. - large area when calculating the price and the free copper area is less than 40%, PCB Visualizer will show a green tick (as the job is producible). If you have selected Che Ni/Au sel. - large area in the pricing menu always click the item in the basket and check for the warning message.
  7. The new price for boards with Che Ni/Au surface finish and no soldermask on top or bottom layers is significantly lower than the present Che Ni/Au overall price.


Che Ni/Au before soldermask

This is now a separate option. As it is rarely specified and requires a special process route, it cannot be pooled. It is now a non-poolable option. In case you have chosen it by mistake you will receive a warning message.

Posted under:
Posted on:
06 Oct 2015

Why use PCB Visualizer?

We launched PCB Visualizer in 2012 so that users could view their data on screen, check that it showed the exact PCB they wanted and make sure that there were no data issues which might delay delivery.

The result was a big fall in the delays due to data issues ("exceptions") raised by our engineers during data preparation. And the delays have fallen further thanks to the Pre-Production Approval procedure introduced in April 2015. Now you need make only 1 mouse-click to get your job into production.

But what happens if you are away for a day or two? Your delivery is delayed.

Better sort the issues before you place your order.

That’s where PCB Visualizer comes in. Get a price and upload your data into your Shopping basket. Then wait 2 - 3 minutes for PCB Visualizer to analyse your data-set and identify any issues which may delay production (missing files, design-rule parameters that don’t match your chosen service, ….). Check the PCB Visualizer column on the Shopping basket page. If there is a green tick, there are no data issues. Place your order confident there should be no delays.

If there is a red flag, there are critical issues which may delay delivery.

The new Auto-repair tools will help you deal with red-flag issues with minimum time lost.


Automatic repair functions in PCB Visualizer.

From July 2015 PCB Visualizer includes automatic repair functions.

Our data preparation procedures include a number of routine automated procedures which adjust the design data to our manufacturing tolerances. They are described in our data preparation BLOGS Eurocircuits Data Preparation – Single Image 1 and Eurocircuits Data Preparation – Single Image 2. We are now gradually introducing them as automated repair functions into PCB Visualizer.


Auto-repair function #1 – annular rings on via holes.

The first automated repair function is now available to use. It repairs annular rings (outer and inner) on via holes where the copper ring remaining after drilling is below the minimum value for the chosen service. The repair function automatically reduces the via hole size, for example from 0.50 mm to 0.25 mm, so that the copper ring around the drill tool meets the service specification.

Although the repair function is automatic, the user retains full control of the operational parameters. He can:

  1. Define which holes are vias. Important as some component leads need very fine (0.40 mm) finished hole sizes
  2. Set the smallest finished hole size allowed. For example, to keep within the parameters of the lowest cost pooling service

To see in detail how the new Auto-repair can help you, go to our new PCB Checker User Guide. This is the first in a series of User Guides to our design-optimisation, data-checking and order preparation tools which will be released over the next 2 – 3 months.

All new User Guides will be available online, but if you would like to receive an email with a link to each as it is released, opt in for the mailing here


Auto-repair ongoing.

We plan more Auto-repair functions to help you get lower cost and more robust PCBs with no delays to delivery.

Meanwhile a couple of tips to solve data issues fast:

TIP 1.

Smart menus can provide fast 1-click solutions to data issues. In the example pictured just click the "Measured" radio button to change the PCB classification and clear the flag.

TIP 2.

Yellow-triangle (non-critical) minor issues will usually be resolved by our data preparation engineers. So they can be safely left open.


Posted under:
Posted on:
06 Oct 2015

Alex Wilkinson of W Technology, 1 Chamberlain Place, Kidlington, Oxford, UK, became very interested in the eC-test-mate after seeing it demonstrated on the Eurocircuits stand at a recent trade show. W Technology develops and designs circuits, PCBs and firmware for a wide variety of products and product areas. Following on from the design phase, the prototyping and production stages which W Technology can also take care of usually require some degree of testing. As a result they are always looking for smart ways to speed up and automate testing while reducing the amount of manual intervention. The eC-test-mate looked particularly ideal for a product W Technology builds for John Wainwright Systems – an access control specialist. The board in question has an RS485 interface which could easily be used as a test interface into the board, and lots of relay controlled outputs, all of which need to be tested. It also has numerous inputs and outputs for inter-system connections, entry card readers, door sensors etc. For this board to be delivered to the client and meet W Technology's high standards, all of these interfaces need to be tested.

That's where the eC-test-mate looks ideal. On the surface, it looks like it can provide multiple automated test functions and measurements and take out the majority of the manual testing currently required. The fact that it runs a scripted test process means it should be easily adaptable to any future changes made to the board design or functionality, which is inevitable.

So W Technology took delivery of an eC-test-mate system complete with the Eurocircuits eC-test-mate Demo Board.

The PC software is freely available from Version was available at the time of writing. Installing the software is easy and only takes a matter of seconds. The demo board test scripts are available from the same location and come in a .zip format. The first thing you naturally do with a .zip file is to open it up and extract all the files, but in fact this is not necessary as the eC-test-mate software works with the zip file itself, saving you having to open it and create a folder for all the files it contains.

Open the eC-test-mate program and click the large blue 'PCB manager button'. Then click the 'Import' icon at the bottom left of the screen:

Make sure the required test head is plugged in to the PC (In this case, test head 1, green), click on the newly imported board and then the green tick at the bottom, 'Activate'.

Once activated, you click on the 'Test' heading at the top of the screen and you are ready to go. The demo board and scripts show a good selection of tests that can be performed:

  • Power supply to the board and testing for over-current conditions.
  • Reading analogue inputs, setting analogue output voltages.
  • Setting up on-board potentiometers to be within a certain range or allowing the operator to set them to a particular value and recording that value.
  • Setting outputs and requesting operator confirmation of the changed state.
  • Reading switch inputs and automatically moving on once activated.
  • Sending and receiving RS232 commands.

At the end of the test the screen briefly flashes red or green, as does the test head, to show the overall result. Failure in any one section of course results in an overall fail result. Helpfully, if it failed in one section and you go to test again, you have the option of retesting just that section which saves time by not going through the complete test process again.

Click on the 'Edit & Debug' heading at the top of the screen and you have access to the test program scripts. These are a bit like a simplified version of C. Unusually you can't actually type the text of the program script, instead you select the required command from the box to the right and fill in the appropriate parameters. A benefit if this is that you avoid introducing syntax errors that are otherwise quite easy to make, particularly with an unfamiliar language.

The test heads themselves look to be pretty robust – the test pins are shrouded in a spring loaded plastic cover to hide them when not connected to the target PCB. Only the steel location pins poke through initially allowing for location onto the PCB before pressing down and making all the connections.

They all have a USB connection so they can plug directly into the PC if the power requirements are low. For a board where you only need one test head this can leave you with less stuff on your desk. Otherwise you connect them through the base station which provides extra power – well above what USB can normally provide. The base station acting as a USB hub and power injector to the test heads. Also included in the base station are some little passive test boards – one for each head – which allow for quick verification that each head is functioning correctly. There are built in test routines to use these within the PC application.

While these can be removed from the base station, it's quite convenient to use them in the base station as they hold the test head in place.

The intended way to use the test heads is for the land pattern to be designed onto the target PCB itself, therefore not requiring the traditional 'bed of nails'. In some cases this may not be possible though due to space requirements, or perhaps where you need additional external circuitry to be able to test a system. In this case you could design the footprint for the test head into the board containing the external circuitry, and for example, use the I2C interface on test head 2 to drive an I/O expander chip to allow an almost limitless number of inputs and outputs to be multiplexed into the eC-test-mate system, and still all be tested and controlled from scripts within the PC software.

All in all it looks like a pretty versatile system. W Technology sees it being more than capable of testing the board originally identified as being a good contender for its application, and they look forward to incorporating its use into other product lines in the future.

W Technology, and contact via

Posted under:
PCBA test
Posted on:
22 Sep 2015

Today, CadSoft released a major update for its EAGLE CAD software. Version 7.4 not only solves bugs but also introduces important new software functionality. All new features in version 7 can be viewed here in chronological order.

CadSoft takes this opportunity to offer interesting conditions to purchase new licenses and upgrades.


NEW licenses

10% on new licenses. Customers who do not have a paid license will receive a 10% on new licenses purchased before 30th September 2015.


Upgrade campaigns

V6 customers

  • 20% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 30th September 2015
  • 15% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 31st October 2015
  • 10% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 30th November 2015

This offer is valid for license owners of EAGLE version 6 licenses. Discount not combinable with other discounts and only applicable for the existing license. The discount cannot be applied on the purchase of additional modules, users or a bigger edition.

V5 customers

  • 40% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st September and 31st December 2015

This offer is valid for license owners of EAGLE version 5 licenses. Discount not combinable with other discounts and only applicable for the existing license. The discount cannot be applied on the purchase of additional modules, users or a bigger edition. Offer valid until 31st December 2015.


New MAKE rental licenses

On top of this CadSoft releases a new product portfolio, called "EAGLE Make". For now EAGLE Make includes two license schemes: EAGLE Make Pro and EAGLE Make Personal. EAGLE Make Pro is a rental license and EAGLE Make Personal is the license previously known as the Hobbyist version.

They are both released with a promotional 20% discount. The campaign runs till 31st October 2015.


All prices and discounts mentioned here are reflected in our EAGLE license calculator :

  • Prices mentioned here are excluded from any taxes. The prices including the correct taxes are only presented in the calculator as only there we can establish the correct country depended values for the taxes. And only from there can one order.
  • Discounts can only be granted when the order and payment are received before the discount specific expiring date.




EAGLE Standard

EAGLE Professional

EAGLE Make Personal
(previous known as EAGLE Hobbyist)

EAGLE Make Pro

License Model





Annual license



Commercial / Educational

Commercial / Educational




Single seat

Multiple seats possible

Multiple seats possible

Single seat

Single seat

Modules included

Layout, Schematic, Autorouter

Possible variations:

  • Layout,Schematic & AutoRouter
  • Layout+Schematic
  • Layout+AutoRouter
  • Layout
  • Schematic

Possible variations:

  • Layout,Schematic & AutoRouter
  • Layout+Schematic
  • Layout+AutoRouter
  • Layout
  • Schematic

Layout, Schematic, AutoRouter

Layout & Schematic













Board size




160x100 mm fixed

1.6 dm² variable

Price (excl. taxes)

62 €

Use our online calculator

Use our online calculator

140 €

250 €

Upgrade prices

(excl. taxes)


Depends on your purchased modules. Use our online calculator to check for possible upgrades.

Depends on your purchased modules. Use our online calculator to check for possible upgrades.


AutoRouter (150 €)

Need to be online






Version updates included

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy


Upgrade Path






Posted under:
Posted on:
02 Sep 2015