[Gta04-owner] PCB Layout Status

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Fri Mar 18 18:08:20 CET 2011


Hi all,
we have continued to work on the PCB layout - and have even 
written (extended) some tool to help for locating the critical
issues.

If you want to understand why it is so problematic, consider
you are going to holidays by car. And, you have already
packed 95% of the suitcases and boxes into your car. Now,
5% remain. And there is no space... Although you have
calculated the total volume and the sum is far below the
capacity of your car...

Nevertheless, we are now at 97%, i.e. approx. 60 remaining
wires and have solved some other critical issues.

The new tool is written in Obj-C (Cocoa) and running on
a Mac which gives fast and high quality graphics. With
the tool we can render the board layout and toggle through
the 8 layers much better than with CadSOFT EAGLE.

And, we have integrated a dynamic design rule check.
EAGLE requires one to click on the DRC button, check
the popup-box and close it again. Then, select the
MOVE tool and move a wire by 0.1mm. Then, one has
to do it again. I.e. approx. 5 mouse clicks at random
positions on the screen...

Selecting different layers is similarily tedious. You have to
open the DISPLAY tool and deselect the layers you do not
want to see and click the new layer. Then close the window.

Finally, you always see all VIAs (or none) not dependent
on whether the Via touches a layer at all. This makes it
almost impossible to estimate how do draw a new wire
to find the goal.

You may imagine how slow this process is, just because of
GUI flaws of EAGLE.

With the new tool we have a different GUI design and
the workflow is much faster. Move a wire? Just click on
one end and drag. The conflicts are updated while moving.
Change a layer? Just use arrow keys. And, the current
layer is visible while the others are greyed out.

With this new tool we have reduced the 90 remaining
wires to 60 in just 3 days. And, we can export back to
EAGLE any time and check the design there agains the
schematics so that we do not introduce errors. Finally,
we will send the EAGLE file to the PCB manufacturer.

Maybe, we can make the tool compile on GNUstep
for Linux and Windows and make it open source.
But for the moment we have no capacity to maintain
and manage another open source project.

I have attached some screen shots.

Best wishes,
Nikolaus

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