At 07:46 AM 1/2/2002 -0500, Sean James wrote:
>Be careful with planes. I made a pallet of 2 boards, and two of the planes
>changed nets. If I didn't catch it reviewing the gerbers, BOOM! Instant

I want to underscore this. Protel is not set up to combine PCBs, the most 
serious problem being that inner plane layers are calculated layers, and a 
net is assigned to the plane itself as distinct from any primitives that 
might connect to the plane.

While it is possible to conceive of a way that the program could be written 
to deal with this, that way would also, I suspect, add more unwanted 
complications. With a negative plane, the plane itself (i.e., what is 
present in the absence of any primitives) is copper and must therefore have 
a net. If, when combining PCBs, the inner planes differ in net assignment, 
something obviously has to give.

Many of us have said it many times: panelization is a job to be done in the 
gerber, where net assignments are irrelevant. It is possible to set up PCB 
files so that panelization in gerber is a trivial exercise, so if you must 
control panelization, consider what I write below.

If each individual PCB design is offset from the origin by the appropriate 
distances, the files can be merged to create a final, panalized file. Files 
can be merged in CAMtastic or in Protel. I'd do it in Protel simply because 
I am more familiar with Protel, and the panelized plot files would be 
easily viewable. It *might* be possible to create a merged file containing 
all the layers with only two batch loads, but I have not experimented with 
this. I think it would work, though. If so, panelizing the gerber would be 
truly easy and fast.

Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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