Printed Circuit Board Router - T-Tech QC-J5

Quick Links

How to Generate Gerber Files Using EagleCAD • think[box] Eagle CAM File • Design Guidelines and How To Submit Your Files


Introduction

The circuit board router allows lab users to prototype single or double layer circuit boards. The T-Tech QC-J5 circuit board drills holes and cuts isolation paths from a full sheet of single- or double-sided copper clad material, leaving behind the traces, pads, vias and pin holes for components to be attached. Because this is a subtractive machining process, designs should try to minimize the amount of copper removed, not the amount remaining on the final board.

Important Note: Because this is a labor-intensive machine run by student workers, we are currently only able to offer this service for prototypes, for a maximum of two boards. For larger quantity production, we encourage users to take advantage of commercial fabrication companies such as Advanced Circuits, OSH Park, or Seeed Studio.




How to Start

  1. Read the PCB Guidelines to gain an understanding of how to create a design that can be fabricated on this machine. If you don't read the guidelines, you will not be able to submit your boards. If your design needs features not offered by the T-Tech QC-J5, please use a professional production company. Also if you need more than our maximum of 2 circuit boards, please use a professional production company.
     
  2. Use your preferred software to design your circuit board.  Please note that think[box] does not offer assistance in circuit board design, that is your responsibility. Most users design their circuit boards using the free version of EagleCAD (Windows AND Mac). RPC Electronics has made an excellent YouTube Series of EagleCAD Tutorials that you may find useful, also Instructables has a great online guide for PCB Creation with EagleCAD for Beginners. Although EagleCAD is commonly used, you may use any software that can generate Gerber files.
     
  3. Run a Design Rule Check (DRC) to verify that you have actually designed a board according to the necessary design constraints. Different software packages have different ways of doing this. If you are using EagleCAD, you can follow the "DRC" portion of this tutorial to learn how to perform a Design Rule Check in EagleCAD - however you must use the think[box] design constraints and not the ones in that tutorial.
     
  4. Generate Gerber files for the top copper layer, bottom copper layer, drill file, and board outline file. If you are using EagleCAD you can follow our Guide to Generating Gerber Files from EagleCAD.
     
  5. Open your Gerber files using this online gerber viewer and check to ensure that the gerber files look like your circuit board design. It is common for the wrong layers or corrupted files to be submitted.
     
  6. Upload your Gerber files using our online form.
     
  7. WAIT. You will receive a confirmation email within 72 hours, to verify your submission was received.  Your board will typically be finished and ready to pick up in 3 to 5 days.
     
  8. If you need a faster service, try the BareBones special from Advanced Circuits, and let them know you are a student so you will get the best possible pricing with no minimum order size. 
     
  9. If you have any questions about the capabilities of the PCB router, you may email thinkbox@case.edu. Please note staff are not available to help you design your circuit board or learn how to use your design software.
     

File Format 

The router takes Gerber 274X files and Excellon drill files, the standard file formats used in industry.  All of your files should be in Gerber 274X format, except for your Drill File which should be in Excellon format.

Please use the following file names for your layers.  Your software may assign file extensions, but these are of no use to us.  Please name your files correctly, and without extensions (e.g., "TopLayer", NOT "TopLayer.cmp").  

• Top Copper Layer: "TopLayer"
• Bottom Copper Layer: "BottomLayer"
• Drill Layer: "DrillUnplated"
• Outline Layer: "BoardOutline"

For a two-sided board, you’ll need 4 files.  

For a single-sided board, you will have only one Copper layer. It is necessary to specify which copper layer in the file name, or your board may be mirrored.  Single-sided bottom boards are common for designs that use all or mostly through-hole components, whereas single-sided top boards are common for designs that use mostly surface-mount components.  

Neither the top nor bottom layers should appear mirrored when you preview; the stack of layers should appear as though being viewed from the top side of the board, even when viewing the bottom layer.  The board router's software handles the mirroring necessary for milling the bottom layer.  

All files must be compressed into a .ZIP archive; other archive formats are not acceptable.  


Material

1 ounce copper-clad FR4, single or double sided, nominally 1/16" thick

Circuit Board Router Prices:
Option Price
Single Sided Copper (FR4) $0.25 per square inch
Double Sided Copper (FR4) $0.50 per square inch

Technical Details

Read the PCB Guidelines for technical details.