Custom PCB layout in Fritzing

During the development of Bike Pixels we are using Frizing to design all sketches and PCBs. In some cases, like during the creation of our prototype of the BikePixels Rear, you may want to use a custom shape of a PCB instead of the default rectangular shape.

Image of a custom PCB design in Fritzing
BikePixel rear prototype custom PCB design loaded in Fritzing

Fritzing enables to import custom designs of boards based on vector SVG images. Basically the process is divided into two main steps. First it is necessary to create your own board design in a vector drawing application like Inkscape or and after that you will want to import this design into Fritzing.

Drawing the board

We always try to use open source software when it is possible. To create the design of the button holding board that we’ve added in the prototype of Bike Pixel Rear we’ve used Inkscape. The main difficulty of the entire process it is the layer configuration. At first you must to create a main layer and then add two sub-layers:

  • The board layer. Where you should draw a path in the shape that you want for your board. The shape should be setup as filled and with no stroke. Note that you must to have a single merged shape in one piece.
  • And a silkscreen layer with a copy of the path you’ve just drew over the layer board but this time with no fill and with white stroke of 8 mm.

The final step it is to make sure the silkscreen layer is arranged at the top. Remember to set the “id” attribute to “silkscreen”, not the “layer” attribute. Inscape users, please note. When we say set the “id” to ‘silkscreen’ or ‘board’ or ‘boardoutline’ we do not mean the ‘label‘ attribute. The ‘id’ is the very first text input area in the Object Properties dialog–the label is the second. You can also set this using the XML editor under Inkscape’s Edit menu.

Importing intro Fritzing

To use the designed board in Fritzing in order to create a PCB you must to import it as a new component. 6. Drag a plain PCB to the PCB View.
7. In the Inspector, select “import shape” from the shape drop down menu, navigate to the SVG file and press “Open”. Your custom PCB shape is ready to use!
You can ge inspect this sample shape to get a further sense of the details. Note again the use of the “id” attribute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.