Gridrunner: a custom part for measuring in Eagle CAD

[Koogar] came up with a useful tool for checking the measurements of your layouts in Eagle CAD. He calls it the Gridrunner; a custom part that adds a 200mm ruler to your design. Tick marks are in 1/10th of a millimeter increments for great accuracy when used with the zoom feature of Eagle. Once you’ve got the layout just right, delete the ruler from your design and export it for fabrication. [Koogar] does mention that the beta version of Eagle 6 has a new measuring tool, but he still thinks the Gridrunner offers some things that the built-in tool doesn’t. See just how handy it is in the video after the break. The measuring starts about 1:40 into it.

We found it interesting that [Koogar] is using Eagle for quite a bit more than PCB design. We’ve used it for laying out a drilling template for face plates before, but he’s going far beyond that. He uses the library editor to recreate the parts of his CNC machine which he says are then really easy to align. From there, he exports the CAM files for mounting brackets. Do you use Eagle for something other than PCB design? Let us know about it by leaving a comment.

[Thanks Rupert]

21 thoughts on “Gridrunner: a custom part for measuring in Eagle CAD

  1. I’ve had very good luck using EAGLE with the CAM processor to build simple parts for laser cutting. The 2D drawing functionality seems ideally well suited for case / mounting bracket design and the ability to export as HPGL saves me the nightmare that is going from SVG to something nicely dimensioned.

  2. Great idea! I used Eagle for making parts for my RepRap 3D printer. Imported the drawings from PDF into Eagle with the import-BMP.ulp and exported to gerbers and milled a 4mm MDF sheet on a PCB router ;-)
    I am planning to use Eagle another time to do face plates for enclosures.

  3. We’ve had something similar in our tool library for years. We do all our work in mils instead of mm, and ours forms a right angle so we don’t need to rotate it. We also have a 360 degree compass for quickly checking angles.

  4. I’ve tried to exploit the functionality of the schematic editor in conjunction with a custom parts library but as of version 5.11, the schematic files are unusable and the net lists lack essential information.
    LTSpice is much more suitable for such a task, you can specify custom parts such as logic gates easily in plain text, generate .cir schematics and the netlists (ExpressPCB export) contain references to the parts used. Anyone who needs serious ciruitry, both analog and digital should give it a try.
    When it comes to PCB production, I’ve been working with eagle for several years now. It gets the job done.

  5. I’ve used Eagle to generate front panel art in Gerber format for use with an LPKF ProtoMat PCB milling machine. Here’s a trial run which started rough and ended looking pretty good after a process of finding the proper routing depth:

    Eagle makes a credible vector drawing tool, but I’d prefer to use xfig or Inkscape if either of those could meet the LPKF halfway.

    1. You used the LPKF to mill the front surface of the aluminum ? Cool! – Which model ? I have the Protomat C60 at my disposal at the local Hackerspace. I wasn’t aware that the tools were hard enough to engrave Aluminum…. Anyway, having the tool depth too high is not a problem, just mark up the problem areas i Boardmaster and do a second run ontop of the other – works a treat !

      1. we’ve got the C60 at work. amazing little machine – if a bit on the noisy side with the vacuum running at the same time.
        plus we’ve got an out-of-date version of software for it that insists on running the drill up for 3 minutes at the start. AND its too easy to snap the bits too

    1. It does have measure and measure-delta, but as with most of the functionality, most users never get beyond the “SparkFun tutorials”, and thus they do not really know how to use EagleCad properly.

      (With that said, the SparkFun-tut’s are very good, considering the target audience)

  6. This is a ProtoMat 92s. It has a large table but I think it’s somewhat older than the C60. For tooling in this case I actually used the shank of a broken carbide PCB drill. After chipping a few times the stub wound up in a reasonably effective shape. The big problem with aluminum is its ductility; it easily clogs tooling and doesn’t mill cleanly unless speed and feed rate are just right.

    Good tip about the multiple runs! For something like a faceplace, however, it’s important to get everything right the first time (or define a test area). The spindle rides on a steel collar over the workpiece to guarantee tool depth, so there’s usually a burnished area around the path. This gets worse with multiple passes and there were noticeable marks in the anodized aluminum I used.

    Congratulations on your access to one of these fine machines! The resolution and accuracy are unreal–the manual for the 92s claims 0.0079375mm per step.

      1. Yeah, our machine uses a steel collar too. Maybe you could cover the alu. sheet with a large sticker or foil, and cut trough that, that would solve your problem. The finest resolution the C60 can do is 8 mil spacing (that’s the smallest tool diameter – 0,2mm) so that sets the limits for how small i can make stuff. A standard 0,5mm pitch component should be doable – i’ll find out tomorrow milling a TSOP40/DIP40 adaptor.

    1. Agree on that, the built-in measurement system are not very good at all. I used Protel before eagle, and measuring in that is way better that Eagle will ever be. I have not tried the new Eagle 6 yet, so i can’t comment on that.

    1. The MARK command isn’t that great I found for lines that are off grid?
      And yes it is a large component I have a smaller version as well
      If you use an alternate (ALT) grid of say the finest you can align the ruler with that it’s all very quick and convenient great for beginners.

  7. Using the ‘mark’ command, you can not only measure distances, but utilize the marked location as origin for working with coordinates. It’s a shame that it seems so many (even on this site!) are unaware of this.

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