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I've got my circuit completely routed properly, and printed it out to test the layout. After that worked, I applied a ground fill to it and printed it again. I discovered that the ground fill also filled the vias that are connected to ground. If I use that for etching, the ground vias will be solid copper, and I fear that they won't drill properly. Is there any way to get the ground fill to not mess up the vias?
Here's what a section of the circuit looks like before the fill:
Here's the same section after the fill:
The drill holes are preserved. In fact, when exporting to gerber, all the connectors are drawn filled anyway--even if there is no ground fill--because the drill information is kept in a separate file.
I'm confused about what you mean by "The drill holes are preserved." The image I posted is taken directly from the exported PDF for etching. Clearly, the drill holes are not preserved after the ground fill.
Since I'm just doing a single board, I'm etching and drilling this myself, which means I'll be using a drill press, and I'm worried about the bit wandering off-center.
Didn't realize you were etching and drilling yourself--that's why the mention of gerber. For now, for your purposes, I would use a plain copper fill rather than a ground fill. We'l look into fixing this for the next release.
Thanks, Jonathan! I actually went ahead with the ground fill, because I wanted a ground plane under some of the chips I'm using. After doing the toner transfer, I used a dental pick to open up the centers of those pads. Not ideal, but since it's a single small board it wasn't too bad, and worked alright. Looking forward to that getting fixed in a future release.
Thanks for the update. One question. We got a request in the forum recently to add mask layer output files when exporting etchable pdf. These files would be in addition to the copper and silkscreen output files that currently are generated. Would it have helped you to have a separate drill output pdf file?
I honestly have no idea. This is the first board I've ever done, so I'm still a beginner. What would the drill output file be? How would it be used?
It would be another pdf, just containing holes, which perhaps you could use as a template for drilling.
I was able to drill the holes today. I don't think a drill output file would be very useful for me. The bit (in a rotary tool press) definitely self-centered on the holes in the copper, and I don't think I could have drilled them accurately enough without that.
Thanks for the info.