Creating a PCB Image using Export

by gaussmarkov

Eagle PCB Image

If you want to etch a PCB with a layout in Eagle then you will need to create an image like this one to transfer your design. This brief tutorial explains how to set things up so that you can use the Eagle export command.

Let’s say you are starting with this layout. This is Joe Davisson’s Antiquity Fuzz from his Analog Alchemy site.

Eagle Board Layout

First, change the background to white by entering the command “set palette white;” and then the command “window;” (or press function key F2 to refresh to the screen and see the change. I get this:

Eagle's White Palette

Next, display only the traces and pads by entering the command “display none bottom pad via;” to get something like this:

Display Only Traces and Pads

If you have any ground pour, remember to run the “ratsnest;” command. For this layout, I ran the GND polygon all the way around the board so that I get

Fill in any Ground Pour

Finally, enter “export image pcb.png monochrome 600″ and you will create a .png format graphics file at 600DPI that looks like this

PCB Transfer Image

The file will have the name pcb.png and it will appear in the same subdirectory as your board file. You can print this file with MS Paint or insert it into MS Word and it will print to scale. This is true no matter what resolution you choose for your file. For example, 300DPI works well for PnP Blue transfers to copper clad boards.


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22 Responses to “Creating a PCB Image using Export”

  1. Maury McCown said:

    Hey man

    Long time, no chat — and I lost all the old emails where you were helping me with EAGLE! CRIPES!!

    Anyway, I’m missing some components in the libraries, namely non-polarized elec caps, and polystyrene caps. I know I can place polarized caps in the layout and just ignore the polarity, but I’d like to keep things accurate.

    I’m also needing 5.5x12mm poly caps with 2mm lead spacing (http://www.mouser.com/catalog/specsheets/23p.pdf).

    Are those not in your library, or am I just not seeing them?

    Thanks! Drop me an email, because I think I’m about to have to remember how to drop a via into my traces, and that always kicked my butt!

    Posted 10.05.2008 at 6:19 am

  2. Trevize said:

    I find that to print a good layout the better solution is to install a free pdf printer such as bullzip.

    Eagle prints in a vector format so you don’t have rasterization artifacts and if you print from Acrobat reader you don’t have to worry about scaling the layout.

    You can also open the layout in Inkscape (opensource rival of Illustrator) and modify it keeping the vector informations.

    Posted 28.05.2008 at 5:13 am

  3. gaussmarkov said:

    hey Trevize,

    thanks for the helpful comment.

    in addition, there is a direct way in eagle to produce vector format (EPS) images using the CAM utility. because EXPORT is a little more direct, i wrote this tutorial first. i am also going to add one about using the CAM processor.

    if anyone is itching to try that, from the layout window open the CAM Processor (under the File menu). in the CAM processor window open the Job layout2.cam. you can print the component side and/or the solder side.

    watch out for the file extensions. for example, the file extension for the solder side will be .sol, not .eps as you might expect. also you may want to uncheck the Mirror option.

    you can do this sort of printing for the schematic as well.

    cheers, paul

    Posted 28.05.2008 at 7:00 am

  4. Trevize said:

    great news! Thank you I’ll try that!

    Posted 05.06.2008 at 2:33 am

  5. gaussmarkov said:

    hey! update!!

    i was just reading through the changes in the latest version of eagle (5.0). the print command can produce PDF documents in 5.0. so no need to use the CAM processor.

    also, they have introduced a print preview.

    Posted 05.06.2008 at 6:10 am

  6. allan said:

    My board items are laid out in a real mess but every-time I try and move any items in my board window I get a warning that the process is unavailable due to the ‘light version license’ (?!) Is there something I’m not doing right?

    Posted 27.10.2008 at 2:37 pm

  7. gaussmarkov said:

    my guess is that you are trying to move items around outside of the board’s boundaries. that will give the message you quote. items must be moved onto the board and once they are there, they cannot be placed off the board.

    hope this helps.

    Posted 27.10.2008 at 4:03 pm

  8. allan said:

    Thanks, think I got it figured (a bit better anyhow!). I deleted the board file and made a new one and it came up much neater this time, not sure exactly what I did wrong in the first place.

    Posted 02.11.2008 at 7:45 am

  9. topebanjo said:

    please i need some one to help me on ways to create my own pcbs any on with useful materials can pls forward it to me via mail my mail address is topbanj@yahoo.com

    Posted 21.04.2009 at 11:36 pm

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    Posted 17.05.2009 at 10:08 pm

  11. deadlydoug said:

    well, just aswell cheap mobiles uk stock really cheap electronics products. Make me looking foward to xmas already :)

    Posted 02.08.2009 at 12:37 pm

  12. wrangler said:

    Wow, good site! I’ve been using 4.16 for a few years. I have always exported to bmp at 300 DPI and touched up anything in Photoshop. It never occured to me to use Bullzip. That’s the program I use to copy the tutorial!

    Posted 12.02.2010 at 4:22 pm

  13. Michael said:

    great tutorial. now i can go on with experimenting :)

    Posted 26.05.2010 at 8:03 pm

  14. emfi2r said:

    Forgive me if this should be a whole new article. But it does apply.

    I use Cute PDF Writer (Free version) http://www.cutepdf.com/ to get very nice layouts from Eagle 4.11 for Windows, Light Edition…

    You use Cute PDF Writer as a virtual printer, so the steps are; File, Print, click the Printer Button, then highlight CutePDF Writer and click the “Preferences” button.

    On the “Layout” tab, choose Landscape (usualy), then on the “Paper Quality” tab select “Black & White” then click the “Advanced” button.

    Under “Advanced” you can pick the paper size, and the dpi value (I like 2400dpi).

    I then Use GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/) to open the PDF file (It’s the only graphics program I have that opens PDF files, your favorite program may work).

    Select the artwork, then “file, cut, paste (CONTROL+V), then paste, then past again as many times as you need (depending on the size of the board) to have multiple boards on one page.

    If you save it as a .png, you can put different boards on one sheet!

    Posted 20.07.2010 at 1:21 pm

  15. Doug said:

    [quote]i am also going to add one about using the CAM processor.[/quote]
    Did you ever write and post it, I REALLY NEED it right now.
    It worked once only, and seconds later wouldn’t and has not worked again since. Help.

    Posted 29.07.2010 at 8:51 pm

  16. Doug said:

    “i am also going to add one about using the CAM processor.”

    Did you ever write and post it, I REALLY NEED it right now.
    It worked once only, and seconds later wouldn’t and has not worked again since. Help.

    Posted 29.07.2010 at 8:54 pm

  17. ASHWIN said:

    Hey,
    a very useful tutorial….
    plz tell how to print two layer pcb file…each layer being printed one by one…

    Posted 16.09.2010 at 11:07 am

  18. Jennifer Banks said:

    I have been looking for a PCB Sample. This looks great. I will have to order mine soon to get started!

    Posted 31.08.2011 at 8:32 am

  19. vivek said:

    hello…

    i am new to using eagle pcb. setting the dpi to 600 gives a very large image and the pad distances do not match the component pin spacing…also 150 dpi is too large..setting it to 100 dpi gives me the perfect spacing..what should i do?

    Posted 08.10.2011 at 8:56 pm

  20. Criação de PCB | … Apontamentos said:

    [...] Desenho e exportação do ficheiro no Eagle [...]

    Posted 06.11.2011 at 5:30 pm

  21. Luis said:

    Note: the DPI setting on the printer driver settings must match the resolution of the exported image, otherwise the scale will be off. I use this method for self/home made PCBs because the pad/via drill holes are properly preserved for ease of hand drilling. The Eagle 6.x print in black mode blackens the drill holes.

    Posted 11.01.2013 at 3:13 am

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