Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Inkscape to draw PCBs

Of course, drawing PCBs with Inkscape is an utterly ridiculous idea. After all, that's what ExpressPCB is for, right?

Well, 99.9% of the time, we'd agree with that. ExpressPCB is indeed a brilliant bit of PCB design/layout software. It encourages you to lay things out in a nice, neat grid, with perfectly perpendicular lines and 45 degree elbows on all your joins. It's great for making professional-looking boards with 90 and 45 degree angles.

But for this one particular project, that's a bit of  a restriction.
We're looking to put 12 hall sensors around a ring. Which means we want to space them at 30 degree intervals. And ExpressPCB doesn't like rotating anything that isn't 90 (or 180) degrees. So we had to try something else.

Which is where Inkscrape came in.
Using ExpressPCB to get the dimensions of our components the right size, I "printed" the document to a PDF document (using the excellent CutePDF virtual printer) and imported that into Inkscape. From there, I could add and embellish as much as I liked to get the final PCB design!


And suddenly, without the constraints of 45 degrees, the artwork started to get a little bit more... well, arty. I think I've been hanging around artists and designers too long this month!