Simple panelization

Hello all,

I would like to make a simple panelization. Idea is following:

  1. open pcbnew
  2. append all the boards and arrange them
  3. move all lines from Edge.Cut to F.SilkS or B.SilkS (or even both)
  4. draw new square Edge.Cut

I have already done steps 1 and 2, but I have a problem with step 3. I know there were some suggestions to use kicad.action.tools. but I have no idea whatsoever how to install or use it. Can someone explain step-by-step so a novice might understand?

I think something like that should be accepted by JLCPCB.

Best regards.

I had a simple board that fit a 50mm X 100mm space so I duplicated it, drew an edge cut line down the middle and put “VSCORE” as a comment. They accepted that. If these are different designs they may not accept it. I’ve read complaining helps. :wink:

Well there are actually four different designs. And everything I need can stand on only ONE 10x10cm panel. I was thinking about staying low and avoiding VSCORE, instead just cutting the result myself using a dremel. Worth a try.

According to this https://support.jlcpcb.com/article/49-pcb-panelization, you can put several different boards together, as long as this does not complicate the production. In my case there is no complication for them.

Make sure you KNOW your dust extraction and safety equipment before doing this. FR4 is fiber glass and you really don’t want that in your lungs.

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Shit. You should have told me that before. I have already cut about dozens of prototype boards in my life, with no concern whatsoever.

But back to my question: how to move Edge.Cut lines into SilkS?

Edit the line properties (hotkey e or right click context menu)

That would took me an hour.

What I did was open the file in Notepad++. Fortunately all of Edge.Cuts were grouped in one place, so I could easily copy them. I renamed original Edge.Cuts to F.SilkS and copied Edge.Cuts to B.SilkS. The detail of the result is here: https://i.ibb.co/C2X5Fhp/Untitled.png

I am aware that I could even write a Python script, which would be even easier, but then I don’t know where to write it and how to run it, so I was playing safe.

I plotted drill files and gerber files and uploaded to JLCPCB and it was immediately accepted. I hope I got everything right because it is my first project ever…

Huh? How many edge cut lines do you have? If you are having trouble selecting the line you may find R to L sweep for rectangle select useful. It will select objects that partly fall within the rectangle. Easier than trying to zoom in enough to click on the line.

Around 70. 14 boards and 3 of them are not completely rectangular.

Selecting is a challenge, and then you have to make approximately 5 clicks to change layer. One hour is an understatement.

I have no idea whatsoever what is “R to L sweep”. I that a some command in pcbnew?

Instead of drawing a selection area by holding down the button while moving from left to right, do it in the opposite direction.

Thanks for the idea, I will test it next time.

BTW; one unrelated question for everybody, if I may. I already uploaded my board to JLCPCB, but now I realised that AllPCB does one board (plus shipping) per month for free. Is that for real?

I mean, I do couple of prototype boards per year. It would be actually easier to design a (free) board in KiCAD than to figure out how to connect elements on the prototype board.

I wrote this javascript tool which makes panelization pretty simple:
https://climbers.net/sbc/kicad-pcb-panelization-javascript/

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Interesting, I found that page. Why not give it a try? It’s a very, nay extremely, competitive business in China with multiple PCB fabs battling it out. I usually find that the shipping is the greatest part of the landed cost, I end up paying about $1.5 - $2 per board in quantity 10. I’m willing to wait 3-4 weeks instead of paying expedited shipping.

Well a prototyping board is used to experiment and verify the circuit idea. You should be fairly confident the design works when you commit to PCB, because of the long turnaround. Then too you spend time soldering and you don’t really want to discover a design error after you have assembled the board.

Edit: I registered an account and found that the free offer is for 5 boards, < 100x100 mm, 2 layer, 1.6 mm FR4, other settings normal, including green soldermask and white silkscreen and surprisingly, or maybe not, HASL lead free. Any deviation from these values and it’s not free any more. Also the lead time is 20 days when the norm is 2-3 days. So my surmise is that they are offering this by using the unused areas on their large panels of paid orders, hence the 20 days wait until some free area becomes available. Maybe the 20 days is an overestimate, but beggars can’t be choosers.

If you can accept the wait, then great. Otherwise there are many other houses promoting $2 for 5 boards, shipping on top, and you can have other soldermask colours.

Thanks for the suggestion. I guess that a proper panelization with several designs will not be accepted for the cheapest $2 JLCPCB offer. Or you have other experiences?

Sorry, multiple designs on the same panel isn’t something I’ve looked into. But JLCPCB support is pretty good at fast, helpful replies in my experience so worth asking them?

Last time I tried, JLCPCB considered two designs on one panel that were not electrically connected to be two separate boards and charged separately. YMMV