expressPCB to Gerber?

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expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby John Lyons » 16 Jun 2011, 07:14

Anyone know how to generate/convert expresspcb files into Gerber format?
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby Hides-His-Eyes » 16 Jun 2011, 08:52

How big is it? There are apparently a few really very crude methods, but a manual retrace might be faster.

Futurlec are able to do it somehow for their PCB fabrication; perhaps consider asking them for a quote for just the conversion.
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby John Lyons » 16 Jun 2011, 16:37

I use and have used express pcb for years so I'm comfortable using it and it's
fast and easy for me to use. I etch all my own boards so it wasn't an issue
before...;but now I have a few boards I want to have fabricated.

I know someone who can do the conversion but I don't want to ask how it's
done, despite the fact that he probably would not tell me anyway.

I'd like to figure it out myself...

I really should learn to use eagle but I don't have much time to fool around learning it.
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby Hides-His-Eyes » 16 Jun 2011, 17:18

The best way to learn eagle IMO is to make sure that you print off what you've made at whatever points you think you've done right and seen what it looks like. Most of the PITA in eagle is in creating components, for me, and the online libraries are simply no substitute for actually making your own with decent pad sizes, the right spacing and silkscreen, etc.

I read something once about someone doing conversion by converting each layer to pdf and then going PDF => Vector => gerber... Requires manual drills, and sounds pretty sketchy to me.

Take that attention to detail you use in your builds and apply it to making your own library of the components you use and I think you'll be fine. ExpressPCB holds your hand a bit in a way eagle doesn't, but in the end it becomes pretty necessary.
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby John Lyons » 16 Jun 2011, 23:31

I read something once about someone doing conversion by converting each layer to pdf and then going PDF => Vector => gerber... Requires manual drills, and sounds pretty sketchy to me.

What do you mean by "manual drills"? pdf >vector>gerber seems simple enough although I don't know anything about how gerber works. :oops:

ExpressPCB holds your hand a bit in a way eagle doesn't, but in the end it becomes pretty necessary.
Yes, it seems like this will have to be the way to go.
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby Duckman » 17 Jun 2011, 00:30

John Lyons wrote:but now I have a few boards I want to have fabricated.


ExpressPCB production is not a bad option.
What are the costs that you're considering appropriate?
You do any calculation with the Express PCB option?
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby John Lyons » 17 Jun 2011, 00:35

I'm going with silver circuits.
I don't recall the exact cost but it's something like $1 per board.
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby Duckman » 17 Jun 2011, 02:18

John Lyons wrote:I don't recall the exact cost but it's something like $1 per board.


Sorry, but that's what you need to find or what you get from ExpressPCB?
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby John Lyons » 17 Jun 2011, 04:30

That is what silver circuits costs per board, roughly.
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby Hides-His-Eyes » 17 Jun 2011, 09:19

John Lyons wrote:I read something once about someone doing conversion by converting each layer to pdf and then going PDF => Vector => gerber... Requires manual drills, and sounds pretty sketchy to me.

What do you mean by "manual drills"? pdf >vector>gerber seems simple enough although I don't know anything about how gerber works. :oops:

ExpressPCB holds your hand a bit in a way eagle doesn't, but in the end it becomes pretty necessary.
Yes, it seems like this will have to be the way to go.


A gerber is a series of text files describing each layer of the board, and one final text file telling the drill where it should drill and with what bits. That is information that cannot be extracted from a PDF, and worse still you'd have to add it in a gerber editor (if such a thing exists) or type them out by hand.

I don't think any of these options are easier than going through GM's tutorial twice, making yourself a little library and asking for help when you need it :)
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby Duckman » 17 Jun 2011, 14:02

Generation of Design Files
Once you have finished your design, how do you send the design to a fabrication house? If you are going to build you own circuit boards using the procedure outlined in this book, you can skip this section. If you are going to send your circuit boards to a professional fabrication house, you need to generate design
files that the fabrication house can understand. Since there are dozens of schematic capture and layout tools on the market, there must be a standard file format that any fabrication house can utilize. This standard file format is known as Gerber. Any decent layout tool must be able to produce Gerber files. If yours doesn’t, get one that does!
Once you generate Gerber files for your design, it is a good idea to check them with a viewer other than the software that generated them. This helps to catch most of the silly problems. If you don’t have a decent Gerber file viewer, you can download a free version of GCPrevue from GraphiCode, Inc. (http:\\www.graphicode.com)
As with any standard, there are always different flavors. Currently there are really only two main flavors: “standard Gerber” and “extended Gerber.” RS- 274-D is standard Gerber and requires an external aperture list to define all the apertures in the design (more on that in a moment). RS-274-X is extended Gerber and contains all the aperture definitions needed by the design. In other words it is a self-contained file. The preferred flavor is extended Gerber. This really is all you need to know about Gerber files, but if you are a stickler for details read on.

I found this in a downloaded .pdf (see below) Maybe it helps.

I think HHH is right. You should start using a program like Eagle... a big effort, but a big solution
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby John Lyons » 17 Jun 2011, 16:19

Thanks Guys.
I downloaded Eagle. I have my work cut out for me. :wink:
In the end this will of course be much better.
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Re: expressPCB to Gerber?

Postby Duckman » 19 Jun 2011, 20:04

Okay, sounds good. A lot of info about in the forum and some templates too.
Good luck! :thumbsup
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