How to Use SimpCB App - A Simple printed Circuit Board auto router

To use SimpCB, start by downloading the Windows app to your Windows computer.

Download SimpCB (SimpCB15.zip) for 16-bit Windows (should work on 32-bit Windows)

SimpCB (Simple printed Circuit Board) is a circuit board auto router that might be helpful to the hobbyist who wishes to design and etch their own electronic printed circuit boards (PCB). A printed circuit can replace all hand wired circuitry with copper traces etched on a board. SimpCB only allows a resolution of 0.05 inch, but defaults to 0.1 inch, which should allow the use of most discrete components and DIP and SIP chips. Also, a resolution of 0.05 inch is about the finest resolution that can be successfully etched by hand and 0.1 inch is about the resolution that can be etched easily. The current implementation allows you to control the size of the circuit board, up to 12.8" x 4.0" with 0.1 inch resolution or 6.4" x 4.0" with 0.05 inch resolution. The current implementation also expects the board to be a double sided circuit board.

Disclaimer, Comments on Shareware, and Copyright

SimpCB is distributed 'as is', so the user bears all responsibility for testing that the functionality is acceptable. Use SimpCB at your own risk. If this software has undesired effects, your sole recourse is to discontinue use of it. That said, we hope you enjoy using this software and are able to get some practical work accomplished with it. Feel free to write to us if you have questions, suggestions, feeback, or bug reports regarding it. Contact us at teraKUHN.

SimpCB is a shareware program. Please help more people learn about it by pointing friends, classmates, and co-workers at the download location for them to try it. Please do not redistribute it on your own. If you use SimpCB on a regular basis, you are required to register it. With a registration you will receive an email notification when the next version of the software is available. To register through PayPal send $5.50 US to teraKUHN@yahoo.com with the program name 'SimpCB' in the note to seller. Alternatively send a check for $5.00 US payable to R. J. Kuhn and a note with your email address and the program name 'SimpCB' to:
PO Box 372
Redmond, WA 98052

Copyright (C) 1993 - 2000, 2020 R. J. Kuhn - All Rights Reserved

SimpCB help

Writing the Layout file

SimpCB uses two text files to describe the circuit board that you want to route. The *.lay file describes the layout of the components on the circuit board. The *.lay file contains a list of components, one per line, that are described with the following syntax:


where all fields in [] are required and have the following meaning:
D indicates a Dual Inline Package (DIP) component
E indicates an Edge connector
S indicates a Single Inline Package (SIP) component
C indicates a 2 lead discrete Component (resistor, capacitor, etc.)
P indicates a contact Pad (used to form unique components)
R indicates a Reserved location (used to help the router)
[name] is a unique name representing the component
[hor-pos] indicates the horizontal position in 0.1" units
[ver-pos] indicates the vertical position in 0.1" units
[points] is the number of connections the component has
[width] is the width between the 2 contacts or rows of contacts in a DIP
[direction] orientation of component which can be Up, Down, Left, or Right
[surface] is the surface of the circuit board which can be Top, or Bottom
In addition to directly editing the *.lay file, components can be placed on the board by double clicking the left mouse button on an unoccupied cell at the location where the new component is to be placed. This will bring up a dialog that the remaining information about the component needs to be entered in. Once this information is provided, SimpCB will then update the *.lay file and the board window with the new component. When using the Generate Layout (previously Full Layout) command rather than the Layout command, the hor-pos and ver-pos values for D, Z, S, and C component types are ignored and generated by SimpCB dynamically. There must still be a value for these fields in the file, but since they are ignored they can be set to zero.

Writing the Route file

SimpCB uses two text files to describe the circuit board that you want to route. The *.rou file contains the net list which describes how the components are to be connected. The *.rou file contains lines indicating each component pin designation in a node followed by a line with N and optionally the name of the electrical node. Each additional electrical node is automatically started after the previous is ended. The last line of the file should contain an N. Describe each node with the following syntax:


where all fields in [] are required and have the following meaning:
[component-type] is one of D, E, S, C, P, or R where:
D indicates a Dual Inline Package (DIP) component
E indicates an Edge connector
S indicates a Single Inline Package (SIP) component
C indicates a 2 lead discrete Component (resistor, capacitor, etc.)
P indicates a contact Pad (used to form unique components)
R indicates a Reserved location (used to help the router)
[name] is a unique name representing the component
[contact] the specific pin or contact number of the component
In addition to directly editing the *.rou file, component pin designations can be added to the end of the *.rou file by double clicking the left mouse button on an occupied cell. However, you must first run the Layout command to create a clean circuit board with your components on it. Then when a component pin is double clicked the designation for it will be added to the end of the *.rou file. It is still necessary to directly edit the *.rou file to indicate the nodes and may be necessary to directly edit it to place the designation in the correct node.

Layout of the Components

SimpCB uses two text files to describe the circuit board that you want to route. The first file, the *.lay file, describes the layout of the components on the circuit board. The other file, the *.rou file, contains the net list which describes how the components are to be connected. To route a circuit board you normally start by running the Layout command to create a clean circuit board with your components on it. However, if you want SimpCB to figure out where to place components on the board, use the Generate Layout (previously Full Layout) command instead of the Layout command. The *.lay file still needs to have component placement information in it, but it will be ignored for DIP, SIP, and simple Components. SimpCB will consider placing the components in different locations and analize the density of traces that would result. It then picks the the component layout that results in the lowest trace density.

Auto Routing the Circuit Board

SimpCB uses two text files to describe the circuit board that you want to route. The first file, the *.lay file, describes the layout of the components on the circuit board. The other file, the *.rou file, contains the net list which describes how the components are to be connected. Two commands are used to route the circuit board, the Layout command and the Router command. To route a circuit board you start by running the Layout command to create a clean circuit board with your components on it. The next step, to actually route the circuit board, is to run the Router command with the results from the just run Layout command. An hour glass will then appear, and as the router completes nodes it will update the board windows. When the auto router completes, the regular cursor will return and if any nodes failed to route, a log file will be displayed that lists the nodes that failed.

Manual Routing the Circuit Board

SimpCB is primarily an auto router and thus doesn't directly allow manual routing. However, you can use sequences of reserved cells to manually control a trace. To do this you need to create the reserved cells in the *.lay file, and you need to specify the reserved cells in the appropriate node in the *.rou file. The auto router will then include these cells in the trace for the node they are specified in. This will cause the auto router to follow these reserved cells and thus you can manually control the trace. In addition to directly editing the *.lay file and the *.rou file, sequences of reserved cells can be added to both files simultaneously by clicking down the left mouse button where a sequence is to start and letting up on the left mouse button where the sequence is to end. Note that either the X coordinate or the Y coordinate of the two points needs to stay constant. SimpCB will then update the *.lay file and the board window with the new reserved cells. The designation of the reserved cells will be added to the end of the *.rou file. It is still necessary to directly edit the *.rou file to place the designations in the correct node.

Generating Output from the Circuit Board

Once you have a routed circuit board (*.brd file) you can view it in SimpCB. You can also print the circuit board on any printer from SimpCB. To create your own circuit board, you should purchase a basic kit designed to supply the hobbyist with all materials necessary to construct a printed circuit board. The printed circuit replaces all hand wired circuitry with copper lines drawn on a board. Draw these lines using a resist ink pen on a copper board. To obtain copper lines, the board is immersed in an etching solution which dissolves all the copper not coated with the resist ink. When the resist ink dissolves, the printed circuit board remains. There are various methods to transfer the routed circuit to the copper board before etching. One way is to impress the circuit onto the board is by placing a piece of carbon paper face down between a print out of the routed circuit and the copper board, and then trace the circuit with a ball-point pen. Check the diagram to be sure all lines have been drawn. Then trace over the lines on your copper board, making a heavy dot where the holes are to be drilled. The ink will dry in a minute. Now retrace the lines with the resist ink pen to insure complete coverage. Allow time to dry.

Commands

File menu commands
The File menu offers the following commands:

New Creates a new document.
Open Opens an existing document.
Close Closes an opened document.
Save Saves an opened document using the same file name.
Save As Saves an opened document to a specified file name.
Print Prints a document.
Print Preview Displays the document on the screen as it would appear printed.
Print Setup Selects a printer and printer connection.
Exit Exits SimpCB.

Edit menu commands
The Edit menu offers the following commands:

Undo Reverse previous editing operation.
Cut Deletes data from the document and moves it to the clipboard.
Copy Copies data from the document to the clipboard.
Paste Pastes data from the clipboard into the document.
Delete Deletes data from the document.
Find Searches for characters or words in a document.
Replace Replaces characters or words in a documents.
Repeat Repeat the last search or replace.
Lay File Open and bring to the forground the Layout file.
Rou File Open and bring to the forground the Route file.

View menu commands
The View menu offers the following commands:

Toolbar Shows or hides the toolbar.
Status Bar Shows or hides the status bar.
Zoom Out Decrease magnification in the active circuit board view.
Zoom In Increase magnification in the active circuit board view.
Overlay Overlay top and bottom surface in the active circuit board view.

Project menu commands
The Project menu offers the following commands:

Options Set Circuit Board Options.
Layout Layout Circuit Board.
Generate Layout (previously Full Layout) Layout Circuit Board.
Router Route Circuit Board.
Generate DXF Run Brd2Dxf to create Dxf CAD file.
Generate CNC Run Brd2CNC to create Gerber files.

Window menu commands
The Window menu offers the following commands, which enable you to arrange multiple views of multiple documents in the application window:

New Window Creates a new window that views the same document.
Cascade Arranges windows in an overlapped fashion.
Tile Horizontal Arranges windows horizontally in non-overlapped tiles.
Tile Vertical Arranges windows vertically in non-overlapped tiles.
Arrange Icons Arranges icons of closed windows.
Window 1, 2, ... Goes to specified window.

Help menu commands
The Help menu offers the following commands, which provide you assistance with this application:

Online Help Offers you a link where you can get help.
About Displays the version number of this application.

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