Prototyping boards ??

Discussion in 'Homebrew and Kit Projects' started by AA7EJ, Nov 4, 2018.

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  1. AA7EJ

    AA7EJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been busy building basic PCB for my VNA project.
    Now EAGLE is sort of fun, but I keep running into "free software" limit of the basic board size.
    Since my project is sort of experimental / fix is as you go "dead bug style" I really do not want to limit the board size.
    Ideally I like to have "strip board" PCB - not just tons of individual pads.
    Found ONE small RS board ( in my junk collection box) which would work - but ONLY one!
    One sided board is OK, but I have bad experience with those phenol / paper boards from RS - they are very finicky to reuse the pads! They just lift up!

    Yes, there are RS resellers selling these boards - but look at the $ they are asking!

    Of course searched e-bay - only to find good looking fiber protoboards , but NO power / ground strips!

    Actually found none with common traces AKA power / ground at all.
    Yes, they exists but the price is unreasonable.
    Last time I ordered custom PCB it was $5 per square inch!
    OK, I am a ham , hence cheap...

    73 Shirley

    PS does ANYBODY even sells plain double-sided copper boards anymore?
  2. CX3CP

    CX3CP Ham Member QRZ Page

    HI, I personally use Proteus for my designs and prototyping, but I recommend to you EasyEDA from
    This company give a free design web or PC based app tool and also give support for making prototypes at suppose low prices.

    try it and then tell us how it is!

    good luck :)
  3. VK4HAT

    VK4HAT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Time to download and install KiCad and start on the steep learning curve :) Or Altium Circuit Maker.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
    K3KIC likes this.
  4. K3KIC

    K3KIC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm using KiCad. Working out well. They put an Eagle importer function in the latest version but reported bugs at the last minute. Should be worked out shortly.

    Shirley, check out SEEED Studios for PCBs. Might be an option. I've been building my protos on 100mm sq boards by subsections.

    I'd be interested in hearing about your VNA project. I started to design a single port circuit to be used for an antenna analyzer and maybe a future VNA. I was targeting about $100 total cost but then Rig Expert made the available so not sure if I want to proceed. I was planning to use an AD8302 in the front end.
  5. VK4HAT

    VK4HAT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have been doing the same. JLCpcb or PCBway, cheap as chips to do it that way and just connect things together using SMA edge connectors and coax pig tails.
    K3KIC likes this.
  6. EI7KS

    EI7KS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Double sided copper board material is often still available ( on the EU continent) at AR flea markets .
    Many moons ago I acquired a healthy stock of small and large sheets of the material which probably will be adequate for all of my homebrewing life .
    I also use the material for front panels of homebrewed equipment in existing metal and plastic enclosures and obviously also for circuit boards .
    For the latter I have a 5mm OD ring cutter (diamond dust covered ) cutting 5mm OD islands ( bought from the UK based GQRP Club sales) .
    The small islands ensure max RF ground area for "ugly construction" .
    All grounded components are soldered following drilled holes (soldering the ground connection at the back plane . The non-grounded component end can then also serve as a support for non grounded components Following completion of the circuit both copper planes are then bonded
    through a number of soldered drilled/wired connections .
    Any ICs are are fitted with "legs up" ,so called "dead bug".

    Also I have built circuits in ugly construction using 10 MOhm resistors as ground isolators , where circuit impedances are order(s) of magnitude lower.

    All the above methods result in simple low cost home brewing with excellent RF grounding.

    Single side multi-hole bread boards can be bought cheaply from Chinese online retailers and eBay.

    Frank , EI7KS
  7. AA7EJ

    AA7EJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    THAT IS the problem! None of these - and I started with Protel and OrCAD long time ago are very intuitive.
    Their claim to fame are "libraries" - but try to find 2n3904 in them is a challenge!
    I used EAGLE long time ago ( version 4 ) and then suggested to "them" to have a way to go from schematic to PCB and back. Now they are on 9.2.2 and STILL lacking this feature.

    Actually I wonder if it is still same company.

    Anyway - my "final answer" - use Rat Shack 276-168 board and start construction!

    somehow I did not post this.

    To me it all boils down to a choice
    If the "product" intend is to publish it and being easy to duplicate - then I would spend time "laying it out " . I think "auto routers" are THE COMPUTER APPLICATIONS!
    BUT that IMHO also requires bullet poof electrical and mechanical design.

    If the "product" is just single shot , for fun , and misteakes are tolerable - than I prefer decent breadboard , soldering and wire wrapping.
    Currently I degraded using EAGLE just to get the general layout idea, but if it is few parts pencil / eraser and paper are still viable.

    Would be curious how many PCB layout / schematic software "packages" are there and which one is preferred by hobbyist and or professionals.

    I did download kicad and found it rather odd to switch between schematic and layout.
  8. AG6QR

    AG6QR Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you want something like that, Adafruit sells similar prototyping boards of various sizes. Some of them are designed to mount to an Arduino or Raspberry Pi. one is designed to fit into an Altoids mint tin, with rounded corners. They're all well-made. Go to the Adafruit site and search for "perma-proto".
  9. AA7EJ

    AA7EJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I bought 5 Arduino Mega boards few months back . I think I payed less then $8!
    It would work, but it is too cramped - the AD9851 plus AD8302 plus AD converter plus the coupler ....
    Not much room to experiment.
    73 Shirley
  10. KX4OM

    KX4OM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Shirley, what do you mean "schematic to PCB and back?". I've been an Eagle user since Ver4.16, but I have not done much since Ver6.

    I still edit the BMP foils manually for hole sizes and some clearances, art work, legends, etc. Mostly use (free) in Windows due to better repetitive cut and paste capability over Gimp. I use it to edit and clean up boat anchor schematics as well.

    Also I found strip/Vero/Euro boards on eBay awhile back.

    Ted, KX4OM
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018

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