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
Eurocircuits is organising workshops on PCB prototype assembly and soldering.
These workshops are presented by Ben Verwaest from ARCOSS and Uwe Dörr from Eurocircuits. We refer to earlier blog articles to get an impression of what is happening durin
Eurocircuits is running production plants in Hungary an Germany. The capacity of both board-shops is sufficient for the European market and still leaves free capacity for the Eurocircuits business to grow.
Why did we step into a venture to build a b
In the new EAGLE Version 6 format, the EAGLE brd-file is saved in XML format. Also new in EAGLE version 6 is that the used Design Rules Settings (used DRU-file) are embedded and saved in the EAGLE board file (EAGLE brd-file).
In the previously released EAGLE design rules of Eurocircuits (eC-EAGLE-design-rules-24-06-2011.zip) the DRU file description contained quote-characters (“), which are not supported as such in the XML format.
Using these “old” eC-EAGLE-design-rules in EAGLE Version 6 will lead to errors when trying to load a Version 6 EAGLE brd-file which has been saved with the “old” eC-EAGLE-design-rules. The eC-EAGLE-design-rules have been updated to correct this problem:
When you downloaded the eC-EAGLE design rules earlier and you did not upgrade to version 6 yet, you do not need to install these new DRU files. When you upgraded to version 6 of EAGLE we advise to use these new design rule files.
Also in 2013 you will find Eurocircuits at the E&A exhibition. Many visitors have already registered for a free entry ticket and for the gadget "Helios". The last 3 editions of the show (2007-2009-2011), Eurocircuits customers visited the show and our booth in great numbers. Thanks to them we were successful in the marketing cup.
For this edition we are again counting on your support. Register now for afree entry ticket and do not forget to opt in for the gadget as quantities are limited. All customers that visit our booth with their Eurocircuits entry ticket may expect a nice give away.
Eurocircuits presents: "Eurocircuits goes Visual" extended. After PCB Visualizer and PCB Checker we are now proud to present PCB Configurator. PCB Configurator is currently running in beta test phase. During E&A we will be able to demonstrate all of its powerful features. More info coming soon ...
Eurocircuits participates: • show gadget "Helios" - we make and sponsor all the bare boards • traceability seminar - we explain how and why we apply full traceability at Eurocircuits • design for excellence seminar - we elaborate on the influence of the design on the PCB quality
And last but not least there is of course the "live line", the many pavilions (PLOT, DEVclub, ...) and double the number of Belgian exhibitors against 2011. More later ...
As a good tradition of the last years we continue our cooperation with tbp electronics: tbp takes care of their nice café booth and we make sure they serve various lovely Belgian beers. We hope that with our booths side by side we will again form the centre of the atmosphere during this years edition of E&A.
Perfect prototype soldering with the eC-reflow equipment – a lively Eurocircuits workshop in Augsburg.
On 28 – 29 November 2012 Eurocircuits GmbH ran two one-day workshops in Augsburg, Germany. The topic was SMD assembly. A total of 36 people attended.
Our hosts were Claudia and Benedikt Sauter, the owners of embedded projects GmbH, a young company distributing third-party products from Atmel Arduino and Olimex as well as developing their own embedded measurement and control solutions. Their flagship product is the Gnublin Linux family of boards (http://www.gnublin.org/designer). These allow engineers to develop their own embedded solutions.
Benedikt Sauer started the proceedings each day with a presentation of his company and its products.
Uwe Doerr then gave a short introduction to Eurocircuits GmbH, followed by an overview of the theoretical part of the workshop. He followed this with a presentation of the features and operating principles of Eurocircuits’ reflow soldering equipment, the eC-stencil-mate solder paste printer and the eC-reflow-mate reflow oven.
The new generation eC-reflow-mate reflow oven delivers better soldering control and more comfortable operation.
Since we shipped the first units in April 2011 we have delivered more than 300 eC-reflow-mate reflow ovens to designers, SMEs and research establishments across the whole of Europe. At Eurocircuits we strive to make continuous improvements on all our products, hardware and software. Our goal is to make each product more effective in meeting customer needs as well as easier and more secure to use. So, when we needed to manufacture a new batch of reflow ovens, we first sat down to review the full range of customer feedback. We looked to see what improvements we could make to the design and operation of the next generation of the eC-reflow-mate.
We looked at three areas in particular:
Better control of the oven temperature, especially to ensure the most even soldering across the board
Eurocircuits and CadSoft run their first EAGLE workshop for electronics engineering apprentices.
On 29 – 30 January 2013 Eurocircuits and CadSoft organised a joint workshop on PCB design for engineering apprentices at SMA Solar Technology AG in Kassel, Germany.
SMA Solar Technology leads the market in Germany for solar power installations. After surveying the market, they decided that all their electronics engineering apprentices should be trained on the EAGLE PCB Layout package.
Uwe Doerr from Eurocircuits started the January workshop with an illustrated presentation to the whole group of first and second year apprentices. The presentation showed how we make 4-layer multilayers at our factories in Eger, Hungary, and Baesweller, Germany. To make it even clearer and easier to understand, Uwe had brought along sample panels taken from the various production stages.
On 10 December 2012 we joined with CadSoft to run our first workshop on their highly successful EAGLE PCB layout package. The meeting was hosted in Augsburg by our old friends and customers embedded projects GmbH. Despite the sudden onset of winter 14 participants braved the snow and ice to attend.
Benedikt Sauter, Managing Director of embedded projects GmbH, opened the seminar with a presentation of his company. Then Uwe Doerr, Project Manager at Eurocircuits GmbH, introduced Eurocircuits. He highlighted our plans to provide a support infrastructure for designers to help them bring their projects to completion on time and on budget. For PCB designers these added-value services include special links with EAGLE CAD: free upload of EAGLE DRU files, sale of EAGLE licences, and direct links between the EAGLE V6 user interface and Eurocircuits’ Price calculator menu.
We use our blog as a medium to provide useful information to the electronics engineering community. Most of our blog articles can be of interest for a long time after they are published, and we frequently got feedback from readers that they are not so easy to find back.
In the blog interface you have the possibilty to see the blogs organised in categories, you can see them organised according to tags attached to the blog article, or you can perform a search on keywords
A simple list of all articles, similar to a table of contents in a book can help to give you an idea what kind of information is available in our blog-posts. The following table shows the title of the blog, the publishing date, and the number of hits, to give you an idea of the popularity of the item.
Most people here in Belgium say you need to wait till December 6, because that is the feast day of Saint Nicholas "Santa Claus".
In every family it is different. Therefore, no specific day or schedule is set for when to decorate your tree. Some people will choose to go with family tradition, others choose a random day where they have everyone together, while others decorate the tree on Christmas Eve.
This year you can start putting up your Christmas tree from December 7, as we start shipping the 'Elektor' Christmas tree on St. Nicholas day. Make sure you order your tree well in advance as we will produce 100 trees only.
This years Elektor Christmas tree is available in 3 versions
PCB only - Tree and controller are separate boards - you have to look for the ornaments and trim the tree yourself (source components and assemble the boards)
PCB Visualizer gives you complete control over the critical transfer of data from designer to fabricator. You leave nothing to chance. A brief on-screen check gives you 100% confidence that the board we are going to make is the board that you want – confidence and peace of mind so that you can concentrate on the next design without worrying about the last one.
Customers from right across the electronics industry tell us that PCB Visualizer and PCB Checker are already powerful tools to verify PCB data before placing an order. But there are always more features and more functionality they would like to make the software even more effective. So we have a dedicated team of software and electronics engineers who are constantly improving the tools and adding valuable features.
To keep you up to date with all the new functionality in PCB Visualizer we have now created a dedicated project website which has all the latest information as well as hints and tips on how to get the best out of the software.
PCB Checker – the next level of PCB designer support.
PCB Checker takes PCB Visualizer’s pre-order design rule check (DRC) to the next level. It provides a graphic display of the DRC results directly on your PCB layout.
Using PCB Checker’s clear menus and displays you can immediately filter the errors and view each type, stepping through from worst first. Correct your design data to enhance the manufacturability of your PCBs and to make sure that they fit into our lowest cost pooling service. You save time, you save money, and you save a frustrating search.
PCB Checker and PCB Visualizer allow you to check your designs prior to placing your order, using automated tools otherwise only available in professional front-end engineering software. You can place your pre-checked order confident that the data-set is complete and correct to the order and that your design data matches the most cost-effective of our pooling services.
As soon as our engineers have completed the tool data preparation (see front-end-data-preparation) they now put the finished data back into PCB Visualizer. You can see every detail of the production data as it will be used to make your PCB. If our engineers have found any issues you can see exactly what they have queried, ensuring clear and effective communication.
Today we release an update for our PCB Visualizer and PCB Checker automatic analysis tools.
We have also doubled the processing capacity of our analysis software tool so that we can process more jobs in less time. Due to the rapid increase in the number of jobs we need to process in PCB Visualizer, the waiting times got too long to be comfortable.
From today you have the following added functions and features:
PCB Visualizer and PCB Checker are now available in English and in German
PCB Visualizer and PCB Checker can show the measured and the required values in both metric (mm) and imperial (mil). All measurements are done in metric, and we show the imperial values for information only. Both settings are available behind the 'settings' icon in the top bar of PCB Visualizer ( see picture below)
We added a vertical and horizontal ruler to the detailed view window. When you zoom in and drag a part of the layout to one of these rulers, you can measure distances and sizes.
PCB Checker checks clearances, minimum track widths, and annular rings on outer and inner layers, as these are the most frequent data issues. Additional checks are now built in for drilled holes :
Overview of our first seminar 22-03-2012 and dates for future seminars.
We started with a warm welcome and the registration of our participants accompanied by a cup of coffee. 19 out of 20 preregistered participants found their way to ARCOSS for our first seminar on reflow soldering of SMD PCB prototypes.
Dirk Stans spoke a word of welcome and gave an overview of the planning for the day. Dirk continued with the Eurocircuits history for the last 20 years followed by a brief overview of Eurocircuits services.
The introduction of the eC-prototype-equipment was the next item on the agenda. Here Dirk explained why Eurocircuits have entered into this venture and explained the two machines eC-stencil-mate and eC-reflow-mate and their specification in detail. Special focus was laid on the difference between reflow chamber soldering and its solder curves and reflow soldering in a throughput oven.
Eurocircuits offer two types of gold finish: Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold (ENIG) as a surface finish for the whole PCB, and hard plated gold over plated nickel for edge-connector fingers. Electroless gold gives excellent solderability, but the chemical deposition process means that it is too soft and too thin to withstand repeated abrasion. Electroplated gold is thicker and harder making it ideal for edge-connector contacts for PCBs which will be repeatedly plugged in and removed.
Eurocircuits launched PCB Visualizer beginning of July. This first release gave you the opportunity to view the data you uploaded into your shopping basket and check that it conformed to the board you wanted to order.
User reactions so far show that this functionality is highly appreciated.
We have received a lot of useful feedback and this has enabled us to make continuous improvements in PCB Vizualiser's performance.
Today we take PCB Visualizer one step further.
Up till now the functions have included:
A graphic presentations of the CAD data loaded with your order (extended Gerber or CadSoft Eagle V6)
A comparison of PCB Visualizer's analysis of your data with the order values you entered on the Calculate and order page and the specifications or your chosen pooling service.
A galvanic plating simulation on the data you submit
All this information is based on the CAD data you sent, and is gathered through an automatic analysis tool.
These results are still available as “Pre-check data”.
What new functions have we added today?
When you place your order, the data goes to our front-end engineering department. Here it is evaluated by front-end engineers using powerful Computer Aided Manufacturing(CAM) systems. You can find more information on what we do in our blogs about Single image preparation here.
At the end of this process, we now send the “Production data” back to PCB Visualizer.
This means that you can now access two sets of data in PCB Visualizer.
U kan nog tot donderdagmiddag, 30-08-2012, voor de PCB Visualizer van Eurocircuits stemmen!
Tijdens de week van 25-28 september is het weer zo ver en kan u ons vinden op HET Instrument 2012, in Amsterdam, Hal 1 stand B031.
Deze beurseditie hebben we besloten mee te dingen naar de nominatie: "Noviteit 2012 van de branche Industriële Electronica (IE)". Hiervoor hebben we onze nieuwste ontwikkeling "PCB Visualizer" als noviteit ingediend.
Waarom geloven wij dat PCB Visualizer een noviteit is? PCB Visualizer, analyseert uw PCB data en vergelijkt deze met uw order data en toont uw print online op het scherm. De analyse gebeurt met dezelfde technische software en regels die wij intern gebruiken om uw print productieklaar te maken. Zo geeft de analyse, ook al loopt deze volledig automatisch, een realistisch beeld van mogelijke onduidelijkheden met uw order. Bovendien, en dat is wellicht meteen ook de grootste troef, gebeurt dit alles nog voor u de bestelling doorstuurt. U kan dus zelf, op voorhand, mogelijke anomaliën voorkomen. Bovendien staat PCB Visualizer in uw Eurocircuits klantaccount 24/24 en 7/7 ter beschikking zodat hij voor u werkt wanneer u dat wil. PCB Visualizer is een Eurocircuits software onwikkeling die technische CAM software en onze e-business software met elkaar integreert. Wil u meer weten over PCB Visualizer, lees dan onze BLOG over PCB Visualizer of ga direct naar de stempagina op de site van Het Instrument. Daar vindt u eveneens meer info en kan u direct uw stem uitbrengen. Stemmen kan tot donderdagnamiddag. Wij rekenen op u!
Gadget. Terwijl u registreert kan u zich eveneens aanmelden voor het Gadget 2012, de "compass clock". De compass clock,is ontworpen door YMIF engineering en de printen komen van Eurocircuits. Zeker doen!
Verder willen wij u nog attent maken op het beursseminarie: "Design Automation & Embedded Systems" dat plaats vindt vrijdagochtend 28 september, zaal G104. Eurocircuits zal er een presentatie geven over "Eurocircuits goes visual" waar PCB Visualizer een wezenlijk deel van uitmaakt.
Wij kijken er naar uit u in Amsterdam te ontmoeten en hopen dat u voor ons STEMT en via ons REGISTREERT.
We have recieved plenty of feedback. Thank you for your support !
During the first week after the launch we got a lot of praise, comments, questions and suggestions. The praise was sometimes overwhelming - you can still see the smile on our faces :-)
'Quite amazing' or 'Great!' , 'Very nice tool!,' Great tool!...
and sometimes more down to earth
'good', 'worked fine' or 'everything seems correct'.
Very motivating for us to work even harder to improve and extend the PCB Visualizer functionality. The current version is still in beta phase which means that we work on stabilizing the software, improve its performance and further develop the analysis algorithms to increase the reliability and accuracy. It is important for us to continue to recieve your feedback about how you experience the PCB Visualizer. Our priorities for further development are based on your reactions.
What we learned during the first week.
1. It's not clear what to do when the PCB Visualizer shows errors - can you proceed with your order?
Whatever the result shown by PCB Visualizer, you can place the order. When the import of the files was successful and a red flag is showing in the order details, we advise to check your design and your order details to avoid that you will receive an exception further in the process.
PCB Visualizer shows errors but you think your data was not analysed correctly. Please let us know through the feedback form what information is incorrect. We will analyse the problem and look for a solution. You can place your order, the data will be analysed by an operator independent from the PCB Visualizer result.
Import failed - PCB Visualizer works only based on Extended Gerber files as well as CadSoft EAGLE V6 files. All other file formats will result in an import failure. - However, you can place your order - older formats of CadSoft EAGLE as well as standard Gerber-files are still accepted.
2. From all our customers feedback, we learned that we need to improve on:
PCB Contour recognition - improve the success rate on contour recognition. We will publish guidelines how you can define contours so PCB Visualizer can detect the correct contour more easily .
Build-up recognition in case of single sided boards
Make the results of PCB Visualizer also available after an order has been placed. You will therefore also find it in your running orders.
Further extend the DRC functionalities. We show measured values now but not the location of the errors. We will build this functionality into a DRC check module that you can run after the PCB Visualizer is shown. We will keep you informed about the progress.
Endless ' data loading - please wait' - message. PCB Visualizer is not always loading as expected. This behaviour seems to depend on operating systems as well as browsers. Make sure that you are using the latest versions of your browser, that your internet connection bandwidth is sufficient and that your firewall is not blocking .png images. We are exploring the reasons for this loading problem. When you are confronted with this, try if PCB Visualizer works from another PC or another location.
3. What to do with the information in the plating section?
When we raise the red flag in the plating section of PCB Visualizer it does not mean that we cannot produce your boards. It means that the copper distribution over the surface of your board will not be even.
The values give a degree of inbalance of copper distribution over the board.
We do have possibilities to influence the plating when we construct the production panels and also during the production process, but the variation of copper thickness on your tracks and in the holes will be higher when the plating indexes are lower.
Designing your board with the plating indexes in mind will result in a higher reliability of your boards.
Today sees the release 1 of our PCB Visualizer project. What we want to do is to enhance customer value and customer convenience by providing faster, clearer and more comprehensive feedback with on-screen interactive possibilities.
Release 1 gives you the functionality to view the data you have uploaded and to check that it conforms to the board you want to order. Is this the right data? Is all the data in the package? Has the CAD output worked correctly?
To use PCB Visualizer, follow the normal “Calculate and order” procedure: fill out the boxes, calculate the price, and attach the data. Then “Add to basket”. Immediately you will see your job in the Shopping basket. The new Visualizer columns will show a spinning wheel and “Processing”. Within a few seconds (depending on the size of the data), the text will change to “Visualizer”.
A red flag in the Status column means that there is an issue with the data. Click on “Visualizer” to review it and avoid an exception when the order is placed. A green icon means that the automatic checks we have run so far indicate that the data matches the order. An exclamation mark (!) indicates a non-critical difference between the data and the order. It also warns that the system could not complete an automatic analysis. If this happens place the order as usual and our engineers will run the checks interactively.
Click on “Visualizer” and you will immediately see an image of your finished PCB with your selected solder-mask colour, the build-up, a birds-eye view and an interactive viewing area. In the viewing area left click to zoom in and right click to zoom out or use the scroll wheel on your mouse. Click and drag to pan around the image. Click on the layers in the build-up to see each layer individually.
On the left you can see three functions: Import, Plating and Order details. If you see a red flag then there is an issue under that heading.
Click on Import and you can view each layer with pan and zoom facilities as above. You can also view combinations of layers using [CTRL] select. This is useful if you uploaded your data as an EAGLE V6.2 BRD file. You can combine the separate EAGLE V6.2 data layers (place, value and shape) to see how your component legend (or silkscreen) will look. In a later release it will be possible to build your own legend and save it for the order.
Click on Plating to view the copper density distribution of your outer (plated) layers. The measured figure for the plating index tells you whether the copper distribution is within the limits demanded by good plating. A red index means that there is a potential problem of over- or under-plating. For more on this topic go here.
Click on Order details to confirm that the data provided matches your order. Typical issues may be that the board size in the order is wrong, or the order calls for one component legend but there is data for two - or none, or the minimum hole size is too small for the chosen service. You can also review every part of your order. Is the board thickness correct? Have I chosen the right surface finish? Does the board need UL marking? …..
To return to the full colour board view and build-up screen, click on the text “Order details” or any of the sub-headings.
If you need to correct your order, close PCB Visualizer and click on the Modify button on the left of the screen. Make the necessary changes and put the order back in the basket. PCB Visualizer will then check it again.
How to get the best out of PCB Visualizer Release 1?
PCB Visualizer Release 1 is the first release of the Input Processor and Data Analysis stages. We will introduce modifications and refinements, based especially on your feedback (see below).
It is important to understand that the data input and analysis is entirely automatic. It is based on sophisticated algorithms that have been tested on thousands of data sets over the last 8 – 10 years, but a few simple rules will ensure that you get the best out of PCB Visualizer.
Input only Extended Gerber (RS274X) and Excellon drill files with embedded tool sizes, or EAGLE V6.2 data. Of course, if your job uses standard Gerber with a separate aperture table or Excellon files with a separate tool list we can still accept it. Just input your order via the normal Order process, not via the basket.
Use clear layer naming to ensure that you get the right build-up displayed. See our guidelines.
Remember that PCB Visualizer is showing the raw Gerber and Excellon data layer by layer. The drill data is combined into the overall view, but no other mechanical features like slots and cut-outs. These will be added by our engineers later in the front-end engineering process. And the data will not be panelised unless you have uploaded panelised Gerber files.
At this stage we have not yet run an in-depth Design Rule Check, so there may still be data issues later on (but PCB Visualizer will soon help with those as well, see “Next Releases” below). More on the checks we carry our on your data
When you close PCB Visualizer you will see a feedback form. Please take a moment to share your feelings and remarks with us so that we can improve the Visualizer program. Did it work properly on your job (give us the job number so we can tweak the algorithms if necessary)? Did you find it useful? What additional functionality would you like? …..
We will continue to add functionality including more interactive options.
At the Input Processor/Data Analysis stage new functionality will allow you to modify your order on the fly, correct the build-up, and build customer delivery panels on screen.
The next step will be to provide feedback and interactive functionality at the Single Image stage, that is after our engineers have processed the data (see more information on how we process your data here). You will be able to see the real in-depth DRC values for the job. Where our engineer has raised an exception and proposed a solution you will be able to view the exception and accept or reject our solution without the need to go back to your CAD system or re-upload the data (unless we have been unable to provide a solution and you need new data). More information on repairs.
These are our plans but we will also respond to your feedback and to your suggestions for new functionality. Our goal is that PCB visualizer will enhance customer value by providing a faster design feedback and DRC verification service, customer cost where Design For Manufacturability checks flag areas where the designer can change to a more cost-effective class, customer convenience by providing a fast visual check without the need to open his CAD or Gerber files, and customer communication by illustrating the engineer’s report and any subsequent discussions with interactive graphics.