|Autotrax to Gerber
||Produces RS-274X gerbers with Excellon
||Gerbers generated by this conversion utilize:
- Aperture Macros
- Circular interpolation
- Future version will also require Polygon Area Fill
- Suitable for "PCB FILE 4" (Autotrax) files
- Produces ".ZIP" folder of Gerbers with
standard extension names
- Includes a "File_ID.diz" with an Index of
the zip folder
- Includes a Bill Of Materials (BOM) with position and rotation
- Includes time/date/filename of the .PCB original file as a
- Tents vias - that is vias are covered with soldermask
- Uses original Autotrax vector font, so PCBs match your
- Expands soldermask (2 thou each side)
- If SMD are present, makes pastemask with contraction (2
thou each side)
|Known issues and workarounds
||Doesn't TraxPlot make Gerbers?
|The Gerbers produced by TraxPlot are a very old
version and are not accepted by most manufacturers. It's not
worth trying to use them.
|Some PCBs contains large numbers of "fills"
eg for a groundplane
||Our conversion "paints" fills to avoid
overflowing the aperture table.
(Protel lacks this) But the resulting files are still large
|Some PCBs contain large numbers of
cross-hatched tracks, eg for a groundplane
|The resulting files are large - either
design the PCB more efficiently, or just get the manufacturer to accept
the larger file
|Defining the PCB edge
|Normally the PCB outline is drawn on the Keep-Out
layer. You can draw it on other layers if your PCB
manufacturer knows what you are doing - the converter will still
convert the result.
|You should use just a small number of different
drill sizes to minimize tool changes when drilling your PCBs. The
first few lines in the excellon drill file that is returned with your
Gerbers lists all the tools, in size order. Our conversion does
not rationalise tool sizes - that should be done as part of
the PCB design.
|Making a Panel of PCBs
|This is a pretty standard requirement.
Just use "Block Read" to read in multiple copies of the same (or
different) PCBs into a new PCB file, zip it, and we will convert the
whole panel as one Gerber. You should have previously contacted
your PCB manufacturer to find what spacing to leave between the PCBs
(typically 300 thou, 250 thou, 100 thou or even 20 thou). On the
other hand, most PCB manufacturers step and repeat a single design for
|Is there another way to make
RS-274X gerbers from Autotrax files?
|The best accepted way (other than our
conversion), is to import the .PCB file into PFW V2.8 and save to
Gerber format. However, PFW V2.8 often misrotates pads when
exporting back to Autotrax format. If you do chose to use those
re-exported files you must examine carefully all component pads
|Can Later versions of Protel can also import
Autotrax and save as Gerbers?
While V2.8 "just" misrotates pads and does not reproduce the Autotrax
vector style text strings, later versions actually lose via
connections to power planes. Years ago, a manufacturing
company called Hartec took a PCB that we had designed, mis-converted it
in this fashion, manufactured a bunch of reject boards and then blamed
us, as the designer, for the fault, losing us a customer. Thanks
for the Politics, Guys.
|Viewing Gerber files
|Use a Gerber file viewer - there are many of
them available. CAM350 is good "paid-for" one, and is widely
used in the PCB industry for setup.
|How to check which Gerber file belongs to what
|We try to make it easier - if you convert a zip
file containing "ColesKbd.pcb" our converter produces "ColesKbdGb.zip"
with each of the Gerber files having the date and time of the original
.pcb file. However, using a Gerber viewer is the correct method
|Why convert to Gerbers
|Gerbers are pretty much the standard for PCB
manufacture. However, a number of manufactuers do accept PCB FILE
4 format files directly. Just a warning - a few accept PCB FILE 4
format files and then misconvert them for you - pretty much all PCB
manufacturers use Gerbers internally in their production process.
|A layer appears in the Gerber that is not needed
|The converter generates gerber layer files for
each layer used in the PCB, for instance if there is a bottom side
component legend it will generate a ".gbo" file to contain it.
Also it generates, for instance, a .gtp (top layer paste mask) if
surface mount pads are used on the top layer. If you do not want
a layer present in the final gerber file, you can delete just that
layer file afterwards using a zip management tool.
We used to recommend Winzip, but frankly
others these days they are better, and many are free.
||We are offering the conversion as a
service. We treat all files sent to us as confidential, and the
property of the designer, in the same way as files sent for PCB
| To convert
||Zip up your .PCB file, and email it to us at:
we'll convert your PCB to a Gerber file, as soon as we have time, and email it back