Some basics and make your own PCBs
Click here for some info on Basic Soldering, LCD interfacing and other stuff thanks to Everyday Practical Electronics . A very interesting engineering site in the UK, Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library, lots of links to sites in the UK that have hobby info.
FREE - PCB CAD Software Downloads
I have looked around for simple FREE programs to make small boards, and here's what I got... These files are ZIP'ed, (get Winzip at any place like download.com), just click on one of these files to download.
easyfree.zip (file located in our archive) This is Protel's old DOS freeware PCB designer (works fine under winDOS 95). It works great for small boards, outputs to plotters, printers and will create a GERBER output to send to a board house. See Protel's Web Site for their updated commercial versions.
camcad.zip (file located in our archive) This is Router Solutions' demo VIEWER, free to use, unlimited time, winDOS 95 interface, works great and reads GERBER just fine, but you can't print or save, but you can print and save in Protel's old PCB version anyway. This will allow you to check your GERBER output files before sending them off to a PCB house. Router Solutions also has some very good conversion programs, in case you want to convert one PCB file to another format, visit their web site.
Where to get boards
We have been doing prototype boards for years now, and use a few 'quick turn' 24 hour turn around shops. Here's some links for you to check out.
A-P Circuits in Canada, is just about the best and LEAST $$$$ for small protype runs in 24 hours. They are very good at checking your board artwork before it goes to production. One time, I had sent them GERBER and drill data that would have caused many pads on my board NOT to be drilled. Got a call from them, and they fixed it for me! One other time I had a short across several traces by a trace that was suposto be on the other layer, they told me promptly, and I sent them a new file, they saved my butt! I like places that take the extra time to help you get a good board! Get your file in by 7AM (CST) and your boards are shipped the next day FedX! They are well connected to the Net, you can E-Mail your files to them. Use A-P Circuits!
Quick Turn Circuits in Utah, they are a bit pricey, but I use them when I need soldermask and silkscreen in a short time. They are on the net, and accept boards by E-Mail.
Pacific Bonde Co. in Southern California, has pretty good prices for production runs, they are not on the Net for e-mail files, so you have to arrange file sending some other way.
Standard Printed Circuits in New York, also has pretty good prices for production runs, they are able to accept e-mail files.
EP Circuits in Canada, has very low prices for prototype runs, in 4 days, and has silkscreen / soldermask options. They are on the Net for e-mail files, can't tell you much more, haven't needed to use them yet.
PCB-Quote FREE one-step multiple quotes for PCB manufacturing. This service checks a bunch of houses for pricing and such. Interesting concept for the web.
Click This! If it works, this should take you to MetaCrawler, a search engine, with the keywords already entered for you! You will get a up to date list of quick turn circuit board houses!
IC Manufacturers and Info
Bitstream Technologies keeps a really good resource for Electronic Component Manufacturers on the Web , Electronic Component Distributors on the Web , Electronics Industry Publications on the Web , and Other Electronics Resources.
Fun Electronics Trip (cool places to visit, and swapmeet info)
A list of GREAT electronics stores I visited in the 'Silicon Valley' and Southern California areas, with a list of some Swapmeets that are nothing but fun. This may save you time when you want to visit these places. The San Jose 'Silicon Valley' area is amazing for picking up some low cost hobby or prototyping stuff! Click below to download the text file.
Steal Other People's Ideas!
Just KIDDING! Here's some links to places that have lots of schematics online. These are great references that can save you lots of time when designing your own projects. Most will accept schematics from you, so send yours in when you are done!
The Electronics Page - go to 'schematics', a VERY BIG list of schematics!
Electrical Engineering Circuits Archive - go to 'Circuits', also has links to other schematics
Electronics For You - go to the 'Circuits Lab'
Circuit Cookbook Archive
We Man's Page - all kinds of interesting stuff!
Wenzel Associates Circuits
Bitstream's list of Other Electronics Resources - a well maintained list
For those who are just getting started...
Harry's Homebrew Homepage Harry lives in Upplands V,sby, Sweden, situated 35Km north of Stockholm. He put together some interesting tips on electronics, including soldering and has some interesting projects to build. He also has a mirrior site, in case his main site is busy. Harry's Mirrior Site .
Have Questions? Need Answers?
Try reading or posting to this Web Based Discussion group, COMTECH ABQ HAM RADIO/Electronics Forum. This group has been around a while, and looks pretty active.
Try reading or posting Via USENET (using your NEWS reader, these should be clickable)
If you are new to this, PLEASE READ the posts first, to make sure you are in the right area. Don't just post to all the groups (Don't SPAM), pick one that suits your need. Some groups might not be available on your ISP's system (now you know why AOL sucks! ) , get a better Internet Service Provider! If you can't seem to access the NEWS at all, contact your ISP to set your DEFAULT news host.
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