Creating PCB Projects with Eagle

Creating PCBs Automatically from your Eagle .BRD and .SCH Files

To create PCBs using Eagle files, the easiest method is to upload the eagle .BRD and .SCH files.  The MacroFab platform will automatically extract the list of components from the SCH file, and will extract the Gerber data and parts placement data from the BRD file.  To use the automatic method, first make sure that the PCB parameters are set correctly (pay special attention to layer count) on the PCB Specifications tab, then go to the Design Files tab.  In the Design Files tab, simply drag-and-drop your BRD and SCH file into the file upload target.

Once the files have been uploaded, you can verify that the files have been correctly identified as Eagle Board and Schematic files. If you specified a layer count higher than 2, the file upload screen will then prompt you to specify which layers are your inner routing layers.  You must correctly identify any inner layers for the Gerber extraction process to work automatically.

 

Multi-Layer Eagle Projects: If you are building a multi-layer PCB (4, 6, or 8 layers) you must select the correct number of layers on the PCB Specifications tab before uploading, otherwise the inner layers will not automatically be extracted!

drag-and-drop

 

file-type-layers

 

Design Rule Checking in Eagle

For best results, it is important to run design rule checks (DRC) in Eagle before submitting your order.  Design Rule Checks ensure that your design is within manufacturing specifications, while also identifying critical, but easy to miss, errors.  To make life easier on you, we’ve prepared a number of design rule files for Eagle, which can be found on our GitHub page. Download the DRU file which corresponds to the number of layers in your board and the manufacturing specifications you are using.

To perform a DRC check, first open your board layout in the Eagle editor, and then choose the DRC icon from the tool tray, or type drc in the Eagle command line. Once the DRC has loaded, you will see the following screen:

 

DRC_Window

 

Press the Load button, and locate the DRU file you downloaded from our GitHub page. After executing the DRC, a DRC Errors screen will pop up.  If any errors occur, you will need to correct them before submitting your files for production.  If no errors are found, then you are ready to submit your files!

Creating PCBs Manually Using Eagle

If you’d rather not rely on the automatic extraction capabilities of the MacroFab platform, you’re not comfortable sending us your original source files, or if you’d like to make some changes to your data before uploading, you can export the Gerbers and XYRS (combined Placement and Bill of Materials data) file needed for production using the Eagle CAM and ULP files we provide.

Running Eagle CAM Manually

The CAM processor in Eagle generates the Gerber CAM files needed to manufacture the board. To generate the correct files for our process we have prepared CAM jobs that match to the number of layers in your design, and whether you’re using Eagle version 6.x or Eagle version 7.x.  We have provided CAM jobs for 2, 4, 6, and 8 layer designs.

 

Eagle Versions: Make sure you use the CAM job that matches to your version of Eagle, using a V7 job on Eagle V6, or vice-versa may result in silent failures to your design.

Once you’ve downloaded the correct CAM job file, click on the CAM processor icon in the tool tray.  After the CAM job window opens, click on File and then Open to load the downloaded CAM file.  Loading this file will properly set all Gerber options to work with MacroFab.  After you’ve loaded the CAM job, click Process Job to generate the Gerber files.  The output files will be saved in a subdirectory called “camfiles” inside your Eagle project directory. You may need to create this directory if Eagle can not.

Exporting XYRS Data Manually

To export the placement and bill of materials data manually, we have provided a custom ULP script for Eagle to export the required data in the proper format.  After it has been exported, you can open the generated .XYRS file in your favorite spreadsheet tool, as a tab-delimited file, make any changes, re-save it as a tab-delimited file, and then upload it directly to your PCB project. The script looks for two attributes on each part to fill out the Populate and MPN fields. These are optional.

Select the Run ULP… menu option from the File menu and find the MF_Eagle_Placement.ulp script you downloaded. This will generate a .XYRS file in the directory the .brd file was in.