Noobie Quick Questions

Why not export gerber and go from there?

I am sure there are gerber -> gcode converters. Or some gerber viewer can export it to dxf or something similar. (Or at least to something that a gcode converter can use)

Hi Rene,

ExpressPCB only exports to its’ own file format, not gerber.



That in itself is a good reason to drop it as a bad idea. It’s a lock-in to exclusively use their PCB fab services.

For only $60, ExpressPCB will send you the Gerbers :slight_smile:

I remember many years ago looking for hobby level ECAD, the shortlist was something like ExpressPCB, Eagle or KiCad. Overall I’m glad I stuck with KiCad, despite occasional pain.

Not now apparently. You can only get gerbers if you buy board fabrication from them (according to their support)

I guess that’s their business model.

That at least gives you placement info, for manual PCB trace entry.
Do you have a schematic or netlist for this board ?

Did you try making layers not-copper, to export, or is that doorway closed too ?

Hi PCB_wiz,

Yes, I do have the schematic. The netlist is hidden within ExpressSCH. I can’t get the layers not-copper.

I do have the placement info though which I can import into PCBnew. So, replace the component outlines with footprints?

I have just completed the first tutorial so have a simple 555 timer schematic. Quite easy really. OK, so now to start placing the footprints (?) in PCBnew.



i had to help one of my college juniors last year… odd procedure but you can get dxf…

  1. install any pdf printer e.g. primopdf
  2. print your expresspcb board as a pdf… remember to print at 1:1 scale
  3. import that pdf as editable in inkscape
  4. as its imported as editable, you can delete unwanted segments, tags, texts, titles, page numbers, etc.
  5. inkscape can save the file as dxf
  6. import the dxf in kicad pcbnew

Hi Apurvdate,

That did it. I have the pcb imported. The tracks are all lines and the pads are missing but that should not be a problem. I’ll check out some tutorials re footprints, etc,



Hi Apurvdate,

I have successfully milled a pcb, albeit just the track with no pads. I have written out the proceedure I followed in case your students may find this helpful. In section #3, the dxf imported the traces but no pads. This is not a real problem, I just drilled through the end of each track. I am now going to recreate the boards’ schematic in KiCAD to do the job properly, however, do you know how (in PCBnew) I can add the pads directly onto the B.Cu layer?





  1. ExpressPCB

Install the CutePDF printer (FOC)
Print the bottom copper layer to PDF - make sure the ‘print to colour’ box is unchecked.

  1. Inkscape

Install Inkscape (FOC)
Import the PDF - Select Internal Import, maximum precision, no fonts/images, save as a .dxf file (no checkboxes selected)

NOTE: You may also use

  1. PCBnew

Install KiCAD (FOC)
Run PCBnew
Import .dxf file into dwgs.user layer - this is automatically set for the import but worth checking
Select B.Cu layer
Draw in tracks using the dxf traces as a guide - you may have to set the available track widths in the ‘Global Design Rules’ section
Select PLOT - choose the output directory for the file and B.Cu only, now plot the pcb.

  1. View the Gerber file

Run Gerbview and open the gerber file - check all is satisfactory

NOTE: You may also use

  1. PCBConverter

Install PCBConverter (FOC)
Run PCBConverter - open the gerber file, select the output directory and change the file name extention to .tap (MACH3 likes this), generate and write to file. Open the resulting .tap file in notepad. Delete lines #3 [“G92”] and #5[“M03S5000”]. MACH3 does not like these commands.

  1. Mill your new PCB!


I’ve had good results using KiCad and FlatCAM.

Plot the copper layers and Edge.Cuts to Gerber files and the drill positions to Excellon, as usual, then

  • import a Gerber file
  • generate geometry
  • generate toolpath
  • export toolpath

this gives you GCode. If you use the same bit for routing the PCB outline and drilling, you can combine the toolpaths for these steps in FlatCAM before exporting.

Protip: use the same origin point for Gerber and Excellon export – either the page corner or the auxiliary origin for both.

1 Like

You can use THT & SMD test points as individual pads. You can edit the layer properties as well as pad size, drill size, etc.
Using proper THT pads will also show you proper drill locations instead of erroneous drills at end of track/segments
Make sure you’re using proper grid so that pads are placed at proper spacings similar to actual component footprints

Hi GyrosGeier,

That is excellent, thank you. I’ll give that a try today



Hi apurvdate,

Thanks. That will complete my existing PCB. Wioth all the help I have received from everyone, I now have a straight forward method for milling PCB’s :slight_smile:



Another option may be coppercam (google) it imports gerber files and produces g-code for exactly what you want. I have run some files through and it looks good to me, I have not tried to cut one yet.

Hi James,

Thanks. Coppercam looks easy to use. I’ll download a 25 contour trial.



How do you place via’s as pads? All KiCAD wants to do is draw more tracks. I can’t get the pads to show up on the B>Cu layer



I’ve used LineGrinder to make mill several PCBs from KiCAD gerbers. It will handle two-sided boards, which I’ve never tried. It’s free under an MIT license. You can find it here.

I am not 100% certain i understand that question.

Placing a via is done by using the “v” shortcut while in the track mode.

If you want to place more than one via or if you want to stitch together two planes you need to use a workaround (in kicad version 4. Version 5 i think comes with via stitching support.)

For the via stitching workaround have a look at: Protip: nicer via stitching

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