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Messages - sghughes42

DirtyPCBs support / Guest checkout option?
I'm trying to place an order but it seems the Paypal guest checkout option has disappeared. I'm unable to create an account for various reasons - is there any way around this?
DirtyPCBs support / Re: Error: Unable to determine type.
Update to my original post:

I've managed to locate where the required layers are listed - the 'About' page. Don't know how I missed this earlier!

Anyway, in Design Spark if you re-name the layers to suit the file is then accepted. I'm still not sure why this is necessary as it hasn't caused any issues previously.
DirtyPCBs support / Re: Shipping to USA - DHL China vs Hong Kong
You can complain in the UK and DHL might offer you a refund. Getting that refund however is another matter...

Not DPCB related but I ordered some samples from China once. DHL decided 10x 0805 LEDs were worth enough to charge me £20. They finally agreed they were wrong and to refund, however, getting that refund is another matter. I've actually given up as the time and effort it was taking just wasn't worth it, even for £20. Their latest tactic is claiming the person who agreed to the refund no longer works there so the whole process has to start again, from my proving the items were samples.

So, in summary, once the 'Add to cart' option is fixed, I'd quite like the next change to be adding other couriers! :)
DirtyPCBs support / Add to cart problem
I'm trying to put a PCB in the cart on the dev site but I'm hitting an issue where I get told the system is 'Unable to determine type'.

I've never seen this before and have tried to re-add gerbers previously ordered and get the same issue. Any suggestions? The file is a zip of gerber files generated by DesignSpark if that makes any difference.
DirtyPCBs support / Re: Price hike coming! But boards are even cheaper for VDPs
No issues with the price increase - as I've commented in the past, just the ability to do the mixed panels makes it worth every cent / penny to me. Being cheeky I'd even ask for a slightly larger option (15x15 or 20x10 say, or whatever works in panel multiplies) to allow bigger prototypes or bigger mixed panels.

As for the carriage, two suggestions for you. use an outfit called PostNL - it appears they ship in bulk to Holland then use cheaper regional post services in to Europe. Not sure how cost effective they are but delivery times are usually around a week so not as fast as DHL but faster than normal post.

Alternatively, if you can find local friendly hackers in the various regions maybe replicate that. I don't know the volume of orders you handle but if you can send even 20 at a time in one parcel to be split and shipped on at local postal rates it may well be cheaper.
DirtyPCBs support / Re: Are you paying DHL on receipt of your PCBs?
DHL have charged me on both orders I've had sent with them.

I can't remember the exact rules but we get charged both VAT and Import Duty. One has a threshold (£18 AFAIR) and the other technically is payable in all cases. Most carriers will let low-value parcels through regardless, DHL appear to treat things like PCBs as being for business use rather than personal use in all cases so enforce charges. They also use a very unfavourable $ to £ exchange rate.

They have a flat £12 'handling fee' where they administer these charges. One order was sizeable so I needed to pay something like £25. The other was just a single set of 10x10 boards so practically no duty to pay, so the admit charge swamped the actual amount owed.

Personally, I treat it as an extra cost to get the boards quickly - after all, the cost to use DHL isn't massively more than the post cost but is much, much quicker. If there was a way to avoid it I'd be happy but I can live with it.
DirtyPCBs support / Re: Plated slots?
I think I may have solved this due to a comment made on another thread and by stumbling on an undocumented function in my PCB package...

Design Spark allows you to add 'plated' board outlines as well as unplated ones. The terminology seems very strange as who plates a full board outline? And you can only add shapes, not single lines but at least it offers a way to achieve it.

However, this adds another query. DS produces two drill files, plated and unplated. The unplated drill file also includes routing information for the board outline. Do we know if the board house would actually ignore this and prefer to create their own outline from the (gerber) board outline file, or could they actually use this to make their life easier and at the same time give us the option to have unplated holes in our boards?
DirtyPCBs support / Re: How do I make a slot in my PCB?
Scratch all that, I've just found that you can add two types of board outline in Design Spark, plated and unplated.

As with so many things in this program the documentation is woeful and only be digging do you find these things...

So, to do a plated slot you add a plated board outline...

Next step is to see if I can improve the milling outline - the default settings appear to use a 0.6mm cutter when a 2mm cutter would seem a more appropriate choice... Unfortunately it may end up needing to hack files by hand to get this fixed. Question is, does it affect the board house at all leaving it alone? I can (and have) increase the minimum cutter size but you'd still end up doing twice as much cutting for each board separating slot on panelised PCBs...
DirtyPCBs support / Re: How do I make a slot in my PCB?
[quote author="vimark"]
Plated slots are produced when the line used to draw them are placed on drill layer while unplated one are placed on the outline layer
I don't know if I'm missing something, or things are done differently in the PCB packages I've used, but I didn't think there was a 'drill layer'?

In Design Spark (and in QuickRoute I used in the past) the outline layer was a gerber while the drill file was excellon.

Maybe excellon does support milling commands as well as drilling, but my CAD package doesn't allow this?

Previously I've just created a new layer for plated slots and my board house has used this as necessary but of course for DPCBs we need to do the leg-work at our end so if anyone knows how to do this it would be very helpful to me.
DirtyPCBs support / Plated slots?
Are plated slots supported in DirtyPCBs?

I want to use a coin cell retainer such as: ... ct-18-3785

These have a thin, wide 'pin' - 1.6mm x 0.3mm. While it will work to just put a big enough round hole, this would be harder to solder and uses up a lot more board area.

With a previous PCB house I created a 'plated slots' layer which just included the outline of any slots to be plated, similar to how unplated slots work with DirtyPCBs. They did this milling before plating rather than after.

Is such a thing possible here, or as with unplated holes is it a step they have been able to omit from the PCB production process to get the costs down a little?

BTW, Ian, you've commented elsewhere that DirtyPCBs actually makes a small loss. I, personally, would be more than happy to pay a little extra, especially where I'm able to panelise several boards on to one as the service is much cheaper than available anywhere else and I would really love to see it continue. I tend to do lots of PCB variants but in fairly low volumes so what you offer is ideal.
DirtyPCBs support / Re: How do I panelize my PCBs? What kind of panelizing is ok
FWIW I've done a few mixed panels now, designed with Design Spark from RS and they have all been produced without problem - as far as I'm aware!

The only issue I get is that DS produces two drill files, one for plated and one for unplated so you have to merge the two manually - as others have commented, it would be nice if DirtyPCB could do both types of drilling but I know that adds an extra process so probably not too keen...

Anyway, I create an outline on one of the documentation layers to show the maximum panel size then arrange my boards (copy and paste) within this outline, leaving a 75 thou gap between them. I'm not sure what milling cutters the board house uses but this seems to work well - and also leaves a large enough gap to easily de-panel the boards.

It's worth commenting at this point that it is easier to copy and paste just the board outline at first until you get the arrangement as you want, then copy and paste the whole board.

You need to use a bit of sense in arranging to make sure you can create enough nibs to link the boards together with a decent amount of structural strength. Unlike others I use nibs rather than mouse-bites as they are less work for the board house and no great hassle to remove with a decent pair of cutters.

When I have time I'll try and write a tutorial but basically, I create another layer called 'Outline' on which I create a series of 1 thou thick closed shapes with which I trace the outline of the panel then create inner cutouts to separate the boards. To create the nibs I have the edges of two of these shapes 0.2" apart then convert the ends in to 180 degree arcs.

I then output this as gerbers, merge the drill files manually and check with Gerbv to make sure it all look sensible.

The two attached pictures give an overview, the first is the general panel arrangement, the second the outline detail. Note I've also got two slots in one board for mounting a display. The board house seems to have no issues with this - I've done very thin slots (25 thou) before to add clearance between pads on a TO220 and they came back as expected.

To de-panel I just cut the nibs then trim with a set of Xuron cutters. Cheaper ones work but the blades tend to shatter after a few hundred nibs on 1.6mm PCB. Thinner stuff is no problem at all.

For anyone in the UK I can also recommend for stencils - £15 for an A4 sheet and you can similarly merge designs on a single sheet if you need more than one.
Dirty Store / Re: Cheaper PCBS on the dev site and $.95/gram SLA 3D prints
What's something like "4x 10x10 protopacks"?

Maybe I should have said 4 off 10x10 protopacks? As Sjaak said, I've ordered 4 different protopacks of 10x10cm size. The Protopacks are a great idea, especially as the can be panellised. I've got 2 or 3 designs on each one so should get about 8 or 10 different PCBs in total. They are for testing so I only really need 2 or 3 of each but if they work I can use the surplus as the first production units as well.

Slightly concerned over the processing time - been 6 days since I ordered and they are still in production. Previous orders have been a lot quicker than this to go from order to shipping, although considering the point of the service it's nowhere near being too long.
Dirty Store / Re: Cheaper PCBS on the dev site and $.95/gram SLA 3D prints
I've used DirtyPCBs a few times before with good success. I've just placed an order using DHL rather than post and the cost seems to have come out very low - DHL HK at $25 for 4x 10x10 protopacks.

I know the site had some issues calculating postage - have these been fixed or is this still wrong? When I've used 3pcb to quote in the past their carriage on a similar size / weight order would be a lot higher.

Happy to pay the extra if this is wrong - order number is 200486.