Protel Autotrax companion programs

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UPDATED 7/23/2023 - Revision 4.6
  1. Fixed bug where no d-code was being issued if the first element in a Gerber file was a string.
  2. Added a feature to create QFN footprints.
UPDATED 12-30-2021 - Revision 4.5
  1. Fixed bug related to wrong dcode being used after a fill.
UPDATED 4-27-2021 - Revision 4.4
  1. Fixed some more bugs which had snuck in the past few versions.
  2. Added create 3D (cityscape) DXF file from .PCB file.
  3. Added global component text resize.
UPDATED 3-3-2021 - Revision 4.2
  1. Fixed some bugs which had suck in the past few versions.
  2. SMD Pads with no holes did not get apertures (rev 3.9).
  3. GDD and GDG had invalid aperture D codes.
UPDATED 2-25-2021 - Revision 4.1
  1. Added section to create RS274X files from Tango PCB file.
UPDATED 5-24-2020 - Tutorial added
  1. Added brief tutorial on how to use PCB to gerber function. Link to PCB ==> GERBER tutorial
  2. Added brief tutorial about Gerber files. Link to Gerber file tutorial
UPDATED 4-2-2020 - Revision 4.0
  1. Fixed bug where SMD pads with a hole size would corrupt drill drawing and NC drill files.
  2. Added function to build one Autotrax library file containing all of the components needed for a PCB design, from multiple library files, .
UPDATED 8-15-2019 - Revision 3.9
  1. Added option for polygon or flash fill draw.
UPDATED 8-11-2019 - Revision 3.8
  1. Fixed 2 bugs:
    1. Sometimes a reference designator could be attached to the component outline.
    2. In a situation where a track of aperture A is plotted, followed by a string with aperture B, followed by a second track of aperture A, the second track was plotted with aperture B.
UPDATED 2-8-2015 - Revision 3.7
  1. Added option for 2.3 or 2.4 NC drill file format in PCB --> RS274X function for OSH PARK PCB's requirements.
UPDATED 1-8-2015 - Revision 3.6
  1. Added support for shapes "ROUND" and "SQUARE" in RS274D --> RS274X function. 
UPDATED 9-4-2014 - Revision 3.5
  1. Discovered a situation where the aperture files were in mills and the Gerber files were in mm.  This caused problems with the RS274D --> RS274X function.  Added a selection for aperture file units to take care of this problem.
  2. Rewrote the function which parsed lines from the aperture file. Should be more generic and able to handle a broader range of formats.
UPDATED 9-27-2013 - Revision 3.4
  1. Fixed bug related to measuring the outside dimensions of the board.  If the board did not have a square outline the dimensions on the drill drawing could be wrong.
UPDATED 7-19-2013 - Revision 3.3
  1. Fixed bug related to multi layer pads with a 0 hole size.
  2. Fixed a bug where text was not always rendered with the correct D code.
  3. Added code to limit the length of lines in the gerber file when drawing text.

UPDATED 4-12-2013 - Revision 3.2
  1. Added option to print a board layer plot.  This was in response to request from a user.

UPDATED 2-25-2013 - Revision 3.1
  1. Fixed a bug with power and ground plane layers.  If you draw any tracks on the power or ground planes, if you wanted to create a split ground plane or multiple planes, the tracks were not put in the Gerber files.  All of the normal power/ground plane elements were working correctly.  Plane files have a negative image flag.

UPDATED 9-15-2012 - Revision 3.0
This is a major re-write.
  1. Major improvement of how copper pours are handled.
  2. Minor cosmetic improvements.

UPDATED 8-29-2012 - Revision 2.9
I discovered two bugs, which have been fixed in rev 2.9.
  1. When the pads are written to the Gerber file using D03, GCPrevue was issuing a warning.  Adding a D02 before each XxxYxxD03 solves this issue.  It did not cause any issues with boards, it just caused GCPrevue to issue a warning.
  2. When a track changed width the Gerber file could be incorrect, causing a missing track on the board.  This would normally only happen if you layed down a track with several segments, then went back and edited the width of a single segment.

UPDATED 1-31-2012 - Revision 2.8

Peter Wells from New Zealand discovered a bug in version 2.7.  The solder mask was only enlarged on the top of the board.  This has been remedied in 2.8.  In addition there were issues in the poured fill function.  The gerber file could have been created with intersecting cut ins.  This error did not show up in any of the gerber viewers I tried, but when I had boards fabricated at Advanced Circuits a large area was covered in copper pour, which was not supposed the be poured.  The fill function has been corrected to prevent intersecting cut ins, but I have not fabricated any more boards using that function.  This only occurred when using the pours created by drawing a one mill line around the perimeter of an area containing pads.

Cadcentric (Make RS274X gerbers, external poured fills, and other utilities)

I also highly recommend this online gerber viewer as it does the best job showing the poured fill errors.

UPDATED 2-24-2011
Create RS274X gerbers directly from Protel Autotrax .PCB file.  Cadcentric now completly replaces Traxplot and generates RS274X gerbers, .GDD with dimentions, .TXT NC drill files with embedded tool sizes AND external poured fills!  Also Creates .CSV BOM files.

UPDATED 1-22-2011

PCB Rotator - Rotate an entire PCB
PAD Array - Create an array of pads
Cadcentric updated to identify DRC errors in the PCB file.
I Recomend Tinycad as a great free open source schematic capture program to use with Autotrax.

Protel Arc Maker
PADS to Protel Netlist converter
Cadcentric (Make rs274x gerbers from rs274d gerbers, and other utilities)
Gerber DRC
PCB Rotator
PAD Array
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This is a collection of utilites which I have created as needed over the last 20 years.
  1. Cadcentric - creates a list of component positions, board side, and rotation.  I created this to generate programming files for an assembly houses auto placement equipment.  All of the selections on cadcentrics main form are for this function.
  2. PCB --> APT - This reads a PCB file, and generates a list of apertures which TRAXPLOT can use to generate gerbers.  Be sure to set the soldermask oversize setting before creating the apertures.
  3. MAT --> APT - This reads the .MAT file created by TRAXPLOT and creates a neat, sorted aperture file (each entry only listed once).
  4. GERBER --> XGERBER - This is the most usefull utility in this program.  This combines an aperture file, and RS274D gerber file/s into one / many RS274X embedded aperture gerber files.
  5. DRC --> PCB - Highlights DRC violations on the PCB.
  6. PCB --> XGERBER - Replaces Traxplot.  Directly generates RS274X gerbers from .PCB.  Adds dimentions to .GDD file.  Embeds tool sizes in .TXT file.  Creates external poured fills by outlining the area to be filled with a .001 trace.
  7. .NET --> LIBRARY - Creates a .LIB file with all of the components found in a net list. Looks through all existing .LIB files to get components.
  8. .Build QFP - Creates a .PCB file which has pads for a QFP part. Pins are numbered. You must then define as a block and save as a component after loading file.
Main screen
NEW Added for version 3.0
This is a major re-write of the x-Gerber generation code.  I re-wrote the routine which writes each Gerber element to the output file.  This greatly simplified the function, and seems to have corrected some issues.
I also re-wrote how copper pours are created.  The old version used x-Gerber polygons, with cut outs for pads.  It did not support tracks inside of copper pour areas.  The new method writes all the the copper pours as x-Gerber polygons, then creates a negative layer in the same file to create room for pads and tracks.  Finally a third positive layer is added to the file with the pads and tracks.  You still define a copper pour by drawing a border around it with a .001 track.  Any multilayer pad will be attached to the pours on both sides of the board if either direct or relief is selected.  Thermals (reliefs) are handled as they should be.  Any surface mount pad "tagged to power" or "tagged to ground" will be attached to the pour on that side of the board with a thermal/relief.   There is a new setting in the choose PCB file screen to define the spacing between pads/tracks and the surrounding copper pour. 

In addition, the select PCB form popups now appear over the form, instead of in the middle of the screen, and the select PCB form remembers where it was last positioned.

This looks good in GC_Prevue, but I have not fabricated a board yet.

Ground pour

NEW Added for version 2.5

    Replaces Traxplot. 
    Directly generates RS274X gerbers from .PCB. 
    Adds dimentions to .GDD file. 
    Embeds tool sizes in .TXT file.
    Creates .CSV BOM reports.
    Creates external poured fills by outlining the area to be filled with a .001 trace.
Sample showing poured fill and dimentioned .gdd.                           poured fill

NEW Added for version 2.4

There is now a feature to read the DRC file generated by Autotrax, and highlight the prblem areas in the PCB file.
Much easier than creating printouts and going to each XY location to find the clearence violations.
This can be placed in a new pcb file, or added to the keepout layer for the acutual design:

Here is an image showing a clearance violation:                                 Layout+

I let autotrax generate a DRC file, then run the DRC --> PCB function.

Here is an image showing the highlights created on the keepout layer: sdffsv

And here is the combined image:                                                       d fsdv

I will be adding online help for this program eventualy.

cc1 cc3


This program has been abandoned as there are better free options avalable online.

drcs1      drcs2   drcs3

download PCB Rotator

This program will rotate an entire PCB.
The Sample shown here is the "bigdemo.pcb" sample supplied with autotrax rotated 25 degrees.
This program is great if you need a rotated component.
1) Place the component you need by itself in a new pcb.
2) Rotate the new PCB with this program.
3) Block read the rotated PCB into your design and you have a rotated component.
Of course, you can also rotate sections of your final design, or the entire PCB.
1) Text strings are still horizontal or vertical.
2) Square pads are still horizontal or vertical.

drcs1          drcs3

download PAD Array

This program generates an array of pads at any angle..

drcs1          drcs3

download Protel Arc Maker
screenshot ssa

download PADS to Autotrax Netlist converter
ss1 ss2 ss3

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