Gerber PCB Help

1. Reading Gerber Files

1.1 Auto

Auto Menu

Feature is based on file name rules.
Rules file access via: Windows-Start-Button / Programs / ZofzPCB / CAM_Load_Rules.txt

Steps:

  1. Command: File / Compose New / Auto
  2. Select Folder ( and mask, if needed)
    Summary of matching files is displayed on the right side of the dialog.
  3. press "Auto Load" (You may be asked to allow erase of the current project data)
Auto-Browse
  1. Layer Stackup is displayed - check Gerber files assignment to particular layers.
    • Some layers are negative - check.
    • Drill Plates allow for different drill deepness (e.g. top-btm or top-copper2)
    • In some cases, it is necessary to set up file format and aperture file.
      Refer to section 1.3
    • If you wish to make more serious changes (like new layers)
      start Stackup / Manual Compose.
      Refer to section 1.2
    • BoardOutline is a special layer, containing drawing of the board.
      If there is no board shape drawing, program automatically generates
      hypothetical rectangle based on the Gerber data.
      Additionally, BoardOutline allows to display and edit board thickness.
      There can only be one BoardOutline layer.
Layers
  1. Press [OK: - Read & Render]
    Your board will be flattened (negative and positive drawings are converted to flat shape)
    then triangulated (so the Direct3D can handle it) and displayed.
    This is complex process; problems - Refer to section 1.4

 

1.2 Manual Compose

Command: File / Compose New / Manual
This command clears current project data. (You may be asked to allow erase of the current project data)
Additionally, it is possible to return to the manual compose (e.g. after rendering)
Command: Stackup / Manual Compose

  1. Left side of the dialog is a file explorer interface. Right side of the dialog is a Layer Stack list and a Drill Plates list.
    Selected files from the left dialog are inserted as layers on the right stackup, by pressing buttons in the between.
    There is also "void" button, inserting core or prepreg layers (not associated with any Gerber drawing file)
  2. Layers parameters and type can be edited after selecting.
    Multi-select is also possible. (e.g. setting the same thickness to all copper layers).
    There is a group of controls appearing, when a layer is selected.
  3. Drill Plates parameters are settable after selecting the one of interest.
  4. In some cases, it is necessary to set up file format and aperture file.
    Refer to section 1.3
Manual Compose
  1. OK: - Read & Render
    Your board will be flattened (negative and positive drawings are converted to flat shape)
    then triangulated (so the Direct3D can handle it)
    and displayed.
    This is complex process; problems - Refer to section 1.4

 

1.3 File format and aperture file.

  1. Gerber file options
    Contemporary format RS-274-X should define own apertures and all parameters needed to create layer drawing.
    Sometimes, only subset of parameters is defined by the Gerber file.
    Very rarely we will have to deal with pure "D" format, where there are many settings to define by the operator.
    There is a "default parameter set" accessible by pressing [RS27D] button. (left from [OK: Read & Render] button)
    Parameters set in the associated dialog are "default" in this sense, that if there are explicit
    definitions in the Gerber file, those override the defaults.
    "Negative" default parameter is defined per layer, in the Layer Stack list.
  2. Aperture file
    if needed, can be added as additional layer. Aperture file format is expected to be the same as RS-274-X apertures.
    Aperture file scope extends to all files below, in the Layer Stack. Apertures can be overwritten by
    apertures embedded in other Gerber or aperture files (below).
  3. Excellon file options
    Here we have less parameters, but state of standard is even weaker.
    I hope "Guess" option will do the work for you. If not, please send me your examples.
    The Guess option uses statistical approach, format of numbers given in header / drill size
    and format parameters from parsed Gerber files.
    In the last instance, guessing is done by matching and scaling drills to pads.
  4. Problems
    In this state of the program life, I am expecting feedback from you.
    It will let me adjust my concepts of user interface, new features and debug.
    Please write to bug@zofzpcb.com please include the log file:
     %APPDATA%\ZofzPCB\ZofzDebugLogFile.txt

 

2. Navigation

Mouse and keyboard is involved

F1 quick help help
PgUp-PgDn CAM forward - backward forward backward
Up-Down,
Left-Right
CAM shift / hoover u-d-l-r
A-D, S-W CAM pan, tilt pan and tilt
Tab roll to level the floor level the floor
Space Bar nearest rectangular rectangular pos
Home initial position home
Left Mouse   Button CLICK center this PCB point click
Left Mouse   Button DRAG rotate around this PCB point click
Right Mouse   Button DRAG CAM pan - tilt pan and tilt

 

 

3. Layers

mouse wheel peals layers from the side of camera (also F3, F4 keys)

mouse wheel click switch between single layer and layer stack mode (also F5 key)

 

4. Measurements

4.1 Position Markers

There are 2 position markers used to measure distances.
Please hoover the mouse over a selected object, then click keyboard key:
H – Hole
P – Pad (must be a flash)
E – Edge of the copper or mask
ESC – reset markers

measurements

if you select more then 2 markers, first placed marker will stay on its place and 2nd will follow your next selections.
You can place the first marker again, by clicking object key twice in the same place or by resetting markers (ESC)
You can copy the dimension text to clipboard by pressing Ctrl-C

Similarly, you can use right mouse click and select the function from right-click-menu.
There, you can also select measurement units (mm or mil)

4.2 Net-Marker

Additionally If you use
N-Net, you can select a net (e.g. to find out where it is connected)

 

 

5. Colors

5.1 presets

There are several color presets under View / Color Presets

color presets

5.2 Color Picker

There is Color Picker dialog under View / Color Picker.
There are two color tables: one for each layer type (left), one for each Individual layer (right).

color box

You can use the slider (located on top) to mix colors from both tables in any proportion.
You can modify each table by selecting a table entry in the related drop down box.
The color is displayed on the radio button over the drop-down-box.
As usual, color can be selected either by R,G,B sliders or by H,S,V sliders.
There are some special items, existing only in the Layer Type table (e.g. background color)
Each table entry (in both tables) referring to object conducting current (copper, via)
also have adjustable a “Net Color” setting.
The slider is located above H,S,V sliders and appears only if such item is selected.
You can adjust how much of the Net Color is mixed into base color of Layer Type or Individual layer Layer.
Net Color is a random color selected for each detected net.
You can modify each net color (e.g. ground and power)
by hovering the mouse over it (on the PCB) and pressing N-Net key (see point4.2).

 

 

6. Connection between Program and Website

located under menu: F1-Help

6.1 On demand starting your Default Browser, directing it to:

6.1.1  www.zofzPCB.com

6.1.2 "on-line help" page www.zofzPCB.com/help.htm (this file)

6.2 Check for upgrade

no information is send to website except request for http://www.zofzPCB.com/version/info.txt file.
This remote file contains the current version number.

6.3 Send a Bug Report

This command starts external program, allowing you to send your message and your log file.
The log file is located at %APPDATA%\ZofzPCB\ZofzDebugLogFile.txt.
The log file can be revised before sending.
You can provide an email address, in case you expect feedback from me.
There is no other information send, than what is visible in the CrashReport.exe dialog-window.

 

6.4 Automatic version check

The 3D Gerber Viewer invokes automatically a request to check for the new version, every 5 days.
This request is to be confirmed by you. You can:
1. allow it, 2. allow it for ever, 3. disallow it this time.
You will get the information about the current version.
If there is a newer version, the default browser can be started to download the new program.

My internet provider counts accesses to the text file containing the current version number.
(As any other provider to any other file.)
That counter gives me some kind of feedback information.
Simply, if the counter counts too slow, I will consider to abandon the 3D Gerber Viewer support.
If it is counting fast, there will be more "post-design" tools or other software from ZofzPCB.

 

7. Bug Reports

Please do not hesitate to send me a bug report.
To debug the program I need to reproduce the bug at my debugging workbench.
In case when the bug is related to the input data, I would need some input data from you.
I understand the delicacy of the subject.
So, if you have time, reduce the gerbers to the affected region and layers or simply trust me.
use bug@zofzpcb.com for more direct contact.
List of known bugs, version log: bug list