thanks to all who responded.  i've absorbed some of it and i'm still 
chewing on the rest.

the one comment that i just tell the board shop not to solder mask it
is going to work.  i called advanced circuits (hope i'm not breaking the
rules by mentioning them) and they said not only was it no problem,
but since i've already gone thru the proto run, they would not charge me
for nonrecurring engineering costs on the production run, even though
there is this slight change.

and i cringed when a few suggested that i just cut it out of the gerbers,
because other than changing a bit of silkscreening and simply reviewing
other files, i know very little about gerbers and how to manipulate them.
i was relieved when someone finally gave me the "gerber for dummies"
advice to delete the GTS file (turned out the top is all i need to get rid
of)
and add a comment noting its absence in a readme file.

there was also talk about just deleting the mask where the heat sink
goes, and a polygon "pour" or "fill" was suggested here.  i have never
done this before.  i'll have to dig into the documentation and find out how
thats done.

again, thanks to everyone for helping.

miker

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Thompson [SMTP:[EMAIL PROTECTED]]
> Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2001 3:39 AM
> To:   Protel EDA Forum
> Subject:      Re: [PEDA] eliminating solder mask ??
> 
> 
> > production is having trouble getting some heat sinks to stay "glued" to
> > the solder mask on some prototype boards.  the decision has been 
> > made to not use a solder mask.  the boards will be conformal coated
> > anyway.
> > 
>       >>
>       We normally just add a fill to the solder mask layer to remove mask
> from the area under the heatsink and leave mask over everthing else (it is
> very useful to stop shorts etc)  seems to work ok for us on many boards.
> asuming of course no tracks running under the heatsink ;-)
> 
>       Rich

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