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Prevention of illegal use of PCB Layout software?

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treez

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Hello,
Its well known that application Software is copied in various countries on an enormous scale.

However, PCB Layout software is very rarely copied.

For example, undercover "industrial spys" went to China and were not able to buy bootlegged copies of Altium, Cadstar, Pads, Pulsonix, Mentor Graphics.
-they were able to buy plenty of other bootlegged software.

Is the reason that the above softwares are not bootlegged in China (for example) because there are no "idiot's guides" to the above softwares?

In other words, if one uses any of the above softwares, then one is highly likely to encounter serious difficulties in using the software, and due to the fact that the User Manuals are kept , shall we say, "not that crystal clear", then if you get stuck using one of these PCB Layout packages, then quite often, the only way to get round your problem is to seek help directly from the PCB Layout software company itself........when you do request help from them, they can then check that you have payed your license fee.

..In this way, the aforementioned PCB Layout softwares manage to avoid having their PCB Layout software getting bootlegged.

Is this true?

Its just that I notice that in the case of the above mentioned softwares, there are no manuals or tutorials etc which aren't originated by the designers of the software itself.

In the case of the Eagle PCB layout software, which *IS* widely used in China, there are loads of "idiots guides" for it, authored by "every man and his dog"...not only that, but the limited version of eagle is free, so nobody has to copy it, as its free anyway.

So is this the reason why there are no crystal clear "idiot's guides" to PCB Layout Software's mentioned above?...ie because they are worried about getting the software bootlegged?

And why are there no learning materials for the aforementioned pcb layout softare packages that are authored externally to the actual software designer company?
That is, why are there no externally authored learning materials for eg Altium, Cadstar, Pads, Mentor graphics, pulsonix, Orcad, etc etc?
 
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barry

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This is a very strange question, indeed. Are you LOOKING for bootlegged PCB layout software? Are you thinking about SELLING bootlegged software? Are you looking for users manuals for this software?

Very strange.
 
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I have a payed up eagle pro licence.
Eagle has loads of "idiots guides".

I wouldn't buy bootlegged version of the more commercial software packages........why?....because I wouldn't know how to use it....there are no idiots guides for the more commercial ones.....so I cant use them......I could ring up the company and ask for apps support......but they would ask me "do you have a licence".

do you see what I mean now?

....simplification of pcb packages will benefit all of us...because electronics companies will be more productive and give more jobs and pay more tax.

Why should companies have to call out apps engineers?......a pcb is a simple structure...shouldn't a pcb layout package be simple?
Howcome pcb layout contractors charge £40 per hour?...shoudnt there job be easy?...shouldn't lots of people be able to do it?

You need to get with me on this.....you can benefit from your countries electronics companies being more effective.

Lets have our governemtn paying for these idiots guides......they will be reimbursed by increased productivity, and higher tax payments.

This is about getting UK plc into a fit and healthy state (or whichever country you are from).

This is going to help you , and your children.

I say Get with me on this, its you that benefits
 

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I don't where to begin to refute just about everything you've said.

1) You don't need "idiots guides"; there is plenty of information on the web, users groups, etc. where nobody is going to ask for your license. Furthermore, most PCB software has help files BUILT IN.
2) A PCB is NOT a simple structure.
3) Properly laying out a complex PCB is NOT easy.
4) What? You want the government involved in PCB layout? To benefit my children?
 
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ZASto

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EDA software is "copied" the same way as the "application software" (whatever you put under this name).
Chinese developers have produced the software which is similar to OCR - it recognises the photographed/scanned PCB and creates almost identical layout for top/bottom layer. Middle layers are copied differently.
Altium announced their new version of AD14, legalising techniques will come out very shortly. The same stands for other EDA software producers/vendors.
EDA tools are sold on much smaller scale than other types of software, like office suites, and besides hardware developers PCB manufacturers are the other part of EDA market.
Altium is, unfortunately, starting to bloat their suite with unneeded code.
PCB designer does not need VHDL or other stuff that is not related with getting the product (PCB) on the market. Schematic capture should be free.
This stands, also, for other EDA vendors.
Fortunately, there some free Schematic/PCB packages that are evolving on almost daily basis, like KiCAD.

Anyhow, "bootlegged" software, as you name it, is always available on-line, noone has to "buy" it.
 
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Mattylad

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People pay £40 per hour for a PCB guy because it is a skilled task they are doing, PCB layout is not just a case of slapping the components on the board and joining them together.
If you do your board wrong then your entire product is wrong and productivity is wrong, your time to market is wrong.

Why do brain surgeons get paid a lot? because they are skilled at what they do and know the risks involved and how to prevent them.
Slightly different scale - but a PCB layout engineer is a skilled person too, they don't just learn for 3 years at uni and then stop learning its a constantly updating industry thet needs constant learning
and the ability to change to every individuals needs. Thats why they cost £40 an hour.

Or if you want, knock up your own board with DDR3 routing on, do it wrong and go through several prototypes, perhaps send a rocket to the moon based on an idiots guide?
Or pay £40 an hour and get it right first time. :)

As for idiot guides, the people doing a PCB are not idiots, they are supposed to be skilled electronic engineers.
AFAIK all PCB packages provide manuals and how to guides, yes they could be more "user friendly", "dummies guide" like but the information is still there and available.
TBH no-one actually reads the manuals, the support guys become glorified help readers/explainers sometimes.

Any complex and technical package (and this includes a great many that have nothing to do with PCB's) need more than a simple guide can provide, they need training to be attended where the trainer can impart information that just cannot be written down in simple guides. Then you use the guides that are available to backup the knowledge gained in the training.

I can likely run rings around you with how to use CADSTAR, I have over 20+ years experience of using it however you put Altium in front of me or even Eagle and I too would struggle until I either read the manuals fully or went on training.

Governments? are you on drugs? (can I have some too?) What has this got to do with them? They can hardly manage themselves let alone this.
I do recall a college setting up PCB design courses (Newbury I think) but am not sure thats still going.
There is even an NVQ lvl3 in PCB design, I am one of the few in the UK with one but IMO its not so much about PCB layout as following paper pushing procedures.
The government are not going to help with this.

And your looking in the wrong place for hookey copies of the software, its ALL available if you know where to look and your people that went to china just went to the wrong markets.
But legit companies will not use non legit software, nor will they want to use shareware or free software with no support/backup.
By having maintained software, if something goes wrong there is someone to help them fix it within the hour rather than taking a few weeks or redoing it all as there would be with non maintained software.

Have you perhaps tried to use one of these big packages in the past, without training and simply failed with it? Your previous comments about them would suggest so.

P.S. look at how many posts there are here about people asking simple thing - for Eagle too. Why are these not in Eagle idiots guides? lol
 

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treez

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People pay £40 per hour for a PCB guy because it is a skilled task they are doing, PCB layout is not just a case of slapping the components on the board and joining them together.

Im not sure I disagree with anything that you've said. Im not sure that you really disagree with me.

I find in most companies, the PCB guy doesn't actually know how to lay out pcbs from an electrical viewpoint, but relies on the electrical engineer to eg point out the power switch loop of an smps, and direct him in laying it out.
Usually the pcb guy is the guy with the IT skills needed to find all the features on a big software package...not the electrical skills.
-I reckon it'd be better if pcb layout packages had idiots guides so that the electric engineer could do the pcb layout for the tricky bits like the power switch loop etc.
electric engineers usually just don't have the time to get into the pcb package, as it takes too long due to the lack of idiots guides. Electrical engineers time is too precious, he/she just doesn't have time to get into these opaque pcb layout packages.

Eagle is different due to the idiots guides all over the place for it.

I used eagle and layed out a perfectly working 4 layer board with 64 pin micro, lots analog stuff, and 2 smps, and it was straightforward, simple.
Why cant all pcb layout packages be made this simple?

I previously used Altium, cadstar & pulsonix.

I found those far, far more difficult to use than eagle. There was no general help on google etc for those three.
With eagle I can sniff round the web, and quickly solve my problem in eagle.

With the other three, I was stuck much much longer.

I am not saying those three are worse than eagle.
They may well be better, they certainly have more features.
But they were much harder to use.
I think the creation of idiots guides for altium etc , just like is done for eagle, would be a benefit to all of us.

I'm sure you appreciate that not all PCBs have DDR3 routing. Vast amounts of PCBs are simpler than that, but one generally wont have a simple time routing them with the more commercial pcb layout packages.

(Im sure you appreciate that when I say "idiots guides" I am not inferring that electrical engineers are idiots.)
 
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that one problem many pcb cad user think that it real pcb guy ,and copy datasheet reference design and rely on electrical engineer for tell what do .. and use lot of autorouter for noting ..

the hard thing was not to route all track ,it was to pass certification first time ,and reduce production cost and have low failure rate in field

i own and run a pcb assembly shop (was C.I.D to ) and i know who have draw a pcb only by looking it
most people think that assembly shop charge to much ,but most of time problem come from design itself .

trust me that guy that route pcb for apple not rely on electrical engineer for knot what it doing
and it actually the electrical engineer during the initial design phase that ask what think the pcb guy ..
and appel not use eagle to ;-)

so if your pcb guy need some one for tell think like ground bounce and return patch , it you not have a pcb right pcb guy ..
 
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The thing that i notice is small electronics companies, who only do simple pcbs (not 'computer motherboard' type pcbs) having difficulty in laying out simple PCBs.
the reasons that a company who only does simple pcbs will choose a complex pcb package is as follows....

1…The more simple PCB Layout Software packages may lack a certain feature which is needed (this is often the “3D” facility, which is only available in the more complex PCB Layout Software packages. Also, some of the simpler PCB Layout Software packages often lack a “dxf import” facility)
2….Very often, companies who currently design only simple PCBs often think that in future, they may well expand, and start making much more complex PCBs. Therefore, in anticipation of such predicted growth, they choose to use a complex PCB Layout Software package, thinking that it will be good & ready to use if/when they ever start designing much more complex PCBs.
3…..The decision on which PCB Layout Software package to buy often depends on consideration of a large number of required PCB Layout Software package features. Company Managers are often worried that their Staff may forget to consider all of the features that are going to be needed, so, just to be on the safe side, they go ahead and buy an “all singing, all dancing” , complex PCB Layout Software package, which has a huge number of features.
4…Companies want to buy a PCB Layout Software package from a company which is not likely to go bust in the near future. Therefore they often buy one of the big, popular, complex PCB Layout Software packages in the belief that due to their increased income & turnover, they are more likely to stay in business.
Often this means that companies who design only simple PCBs end up using a PCB Layout Software package which is far more complex than their needs dictate.
5…An Engineer may advise his/her company to use a top-of-the-range, complex PCB Layout Software package because that Engineer feels that having exposure to that PCB Layout Software package will be good for their personal CV.



I believe that if the major pcb layout software companies produced idiots guides then they would see massive improvement in their profits.

It is the production of idiots guides that allow people to layout simple pcbs with complex pcb layout packages that is needed.

This would massively increase the pay and profits of all those connected with the major pcb layout software package companys.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Years ago I was working as an Electronic Engineer in a particular company. We were designing a new, small, simple Switch Mode Power Supply product.

The Engineering Manager wanted the Engineers to examine lots of possible solution circuits, and come up with the best one.
The Manager insisted that we each produce working prototypes of our circuit designs, so that he could actually see the circuits in operation, and compare them.

Unfotunately, none of the Engineers was able to use the company’s PCB Layout Software package, (due to the fact that sufficient , effective “idiot’s guides” did not exist for it) so the Manager insisted that the prototype circuits were built by buying “demo” PCBs from semiconductor companies, and then modifying these such that they were turned into the actual solution circuits being designed.

This was a very time consuming process, and in some cases , effectively modifying the purchased “demo” PCBs was not possible, or possible, but very unsatisfactory.

This situation would have been alleviated if the Electronics Engineers concerned had been able to use the company’s PCB Layout Software package, -then they could have simply layed out their prototype solution circuits as required.

If sufficient, effective “idiots guides” existed for the PCB Layout Software package concerned, then these Engineers would have been able to quickly lay out there circuit designs.

TBH no-one actually reads the manuals, the support guys become glorified help readers/explainers sometimes.
..well, I do agree with you here, at least in part, because , at first, I used to read the manuals of the more complex pcb layout packages, but stopped as I was getting nowhere..i found it more productive to use eagle and hunt for help on the general internet....of course, the major pcb layout packages don't have general help available from the internet...at least not from "external" sources.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

BTW , in case you wondered, I have no connection with eagle, -if eagle disappeared overnight, and idiots guides (like are currently available for eagle)became available for altium, cadstar, pads, pulsonix, mentor etc, then i'd be jumping for joy...and so would pcb layout companies with improved profits, and engineering managers seeing greater productivity.
This is a win:win suggestion, without doubt.

Please remember that i'm not talking about complex pcb layout packages being used for "computer motherboard" type pcbs here.....im talking of complex pcb layout packages being used for simple PCBs..

That is, idiots guides being made available so that simple PCBs can quickly and effectively be layed out using complex pcb layout packages.
 
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Why are you so hung up on "idiots guides"? The fact that engineers were "unable" to use the company's existing software is hard to believe. Who WAS able to use it? Maybe THEY should have laid out the boards? Maybe your company needed better engineers or fewer idiots (thus negating the need for idiots guides.)
 
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Strange thread...
I am a PCB contractor who gets called in by quite a few companies and by electrical engineers to lay out their PCBs because they want them laid out properly and to work not only electrically but pass all other tests (often very arduous). I have spent 28 years learning and relearning the disciplines I think I need to do a PCB properly (after a few years doing electronics at college).
Even simple PCBs can be complex, one prime example is a SMPS, or a high resolution analogue stage.
I think the whole area of PCB design is treated as though any idiot can do it and all we do is press buttons and use autorouters (never actually used on, all manual).
So no like there are no idiot guides to electronics there is no idiot guides to PCB design, learn all aspects such as how electronic signals get from a to b. Don't forget electrons only travel at about 0.1mm sec when conducting electricity.

And electronics engineers (whatever they may think) often make the worse PCB designers....As proven by their inability to get to grips with the software, never mind lay the boards out.
 
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I'm somehow helpless understanding the purpose of this thread.

At first sight it seems to reschedule a previous discussion under a - more or less - absurd title. https://www.edaboard.com/threads/297322/
"Poorly supported" can be read as another word for no "idiot guides" available.

I basically agree with those statements that focus on the art of PCB design in contrast to the look-and-feel of specific design tools.

Nevertheless, different categories of design tools are targetting to different typical users and have different learning curves. It's expected that professional PCB designers (see the previous thread for a definition) will spend more average time working with the software and usually have the opportunity to pass an initial training. They are paying for vendor support and appreciate it as a fast track to solve possible problems.

Despite of these natural differences, if you have a good understanding of PCB design principles, you can learn the basic handling of a new tool by working through the vendor tutorials and design examples. After that you mainly need a complete reference guide and getting involved with the specific concept details, e.g. how design rules can be inplemented. No room for idiot guides in my view.
 
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Thanks but of course, nobody has to read the idiot's guides if they don't want.

I think if we made a web page titled "simplification of complex PCB layout packages when used to create simple PCBs", then we would get a lot of support on that web page.

Seriously, many , many engineers would like to see someone who is good with these things, someone like MattyLad, be payed £100K per year for the rest of his life to disassociate from any pcb cad vendor and make idiots guides for all the major pcb layout packages...and set up a help forum for each one.

This would vastly improve the profits of all the pcb cad vendors, as companies would start buying multiple "seats" or licences. Their Apps support engineers would also benefit, and they would still have their high-end customers who are doing motherboard stuff to concentrate on.
It is a win:win:win situation.

Why should Eagle be the only simple one when the pcbs being created are simple?

I have worked in 20 different electronics companies, and my experience is that electronics engineers are frustrated with their lack of knowledge of which ever pcb layout package their company uses.
Of course, no electronics engineer ever admits he/she cant do something or finds difficulty with something.
In a great many companies, the mechanical CAD engineer gets lumped with the pcb layout job.....because he has to make the enclosure fit the pcb etc..and also, because mech CAD guys use autoCAD etc, they tend to be the IT wizard types who can just suss out pcb layout packages.

I've seen PhD electric drive guys sit before a pcb package for a week, get nowhere then ask to go on a course.

Eagle of course, is different, but as you know, very very few companies (outside of China) actually use eagle, even if they only do simple PCBs.
 

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seriously that go no-were and have no sense

and you bash all cad except eagle on 2 tread at the time ..

here if engineer what to do something relate to cad it come to my desk and simply ask me
and will make it ,or teach it how make. that simple and natural no ? so no one got frustrated

if become frustrated and pass one week on it screen it because no one on the shop knot the software
so maby here it problem ..

Qoute "I have worked in 20 different electronics companies" ok ;-)
 
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PCB design is a discipline on its own, and if engineers want to lay out PCBs they should learn about it (as should numerous so called PCB designers). It is like any skill you want to acquire you have to learn and put in the hard work to become proficient. I have taken the subject of PCB design seriously for the last 28 years, and it is that I have concentrated on improving my knowledge, the design package is just a tool, once you know the basics of PCB design finding the way to do it in any package is easier. Partly PCB design is treated in most of Europe as a dummy job, that anyone can do, not so, and the requirements are becoming more arduous with increased RF, high speed digital and EMC testing amongst other problems.
I work for numerous companies and Engineers, quite a few who insist that I do there layouts for them, and an engineer is better employed doing a job he is capable of, designing the circuit.
The reason there are so many part time PCB designers these days is because it is seen as a dummy job, so we are going to (have lost) a skill base that is critical to electronics, this skill base having moved to where 80% of electronics is done these days.

Mattylad writes guides for Cadstar, what he does is learn the functionality (read the manuals) and regurgitate it for general consumption in a less intimidating form, but its what he's good at writing Idiot guides.....But he wouldn't be able to handle more than one package, as these tools are complex these days, they have to be to match the complexity of todays PCBs.
 
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Eagle of course, is different, but as you know, very very few companies (outside of China) actually use eagle, even if they only do simple PCBs.
This statement does not stand.
I've seen many companies that are using Eagle for their quite complex PCB's.
Good PCB design is ART, per se. Good PCB designer has to be VERY knowledgeable in workings of the elements that are placed on the PCB as well as how to do the design that the board can pass many rigorous tests.
Just for your mental gymnastics, try to design a GOOD front end of a 24bit AD :-D, or a GOOD DDR3 memory board.
 
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the complexity of todays PCBs
...lots of PCBs are not complex.
..lots of companies only do simple PCBs but use complex pcb layout packages.
We should make it easy to lay out simple PCBs with the complex PCB layout packages.

At the moment, its certainly easy to lay out simple PCBs with eagle.
However, I still say that few (UK, at least) companies use eagle.
...for a start,eagle lacks a 3D package link, and eagle doesn't do dxf import in a straightforward way.

As a reminder, I am not talking about complex PCBs, DDR3 routing , computer motherboards and all that......for those, granted, you are going to likely need application support etc.

If the dummys guides were done toward this end (making complex software easily usable for simple pcbs), then all would benefit
Apps engineers would benefit
PCB layout contractor would benefit
Electronics companies that lay out simple pcbs with complex layout packages would benefit.

..because UK plc would be more productive.

The fact that engineers were "unable" to use the company's existing software is hard to believe. Who WAS able to use it?
the guy who used it was a local guy who used to operate the companies pick and place solder machine.....they liked him cuzz he was local , and they assumed he would be at the company for years and years, unlike an electronic engineer, who may nip off and work somewhere else.
..you find it hard to believe, but I speak truthfully....this is in uk......I don't know what its like in USA....what is it like there?...are you overflowing with people who can use any pcb layout package with ease?
 
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If all you want is simple pcbs, a number of the PCB companies provide simplistic layout tools for FREE. (4pcb.com; expresspcb.com). There are also freeware packages for simple pcb layout (freepcb.com).

"If the dummys guides were don't toward this end, then all would benefit"

I have no idea what that means.
 
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ok thanks, ive corrected that now.

Barry I have to say that is not my point, you are quite right though.

What I am saying is that most companies, even companies who only do simple pcbs, they still choose to use complex pcb layout packages (see #9 for reason why).
So one has to use them because that's what they buy for their staff to use.

What we thus need, is guides to make it easy for lots of people to use complex pcb packages to layout simple pcbs.
It must be possible to do this......if its made easy in eagle, then why not in others, even complex ones.

Can anyone come up with a good reason why these simplifying guides should not be made for doing simple pcbs with complex pcb layout packages?
After all, there are no loosers, ony winners.
The increase in productivity for electronics co's will mean apps engineers, pcb cad vendors, contract pcb designers....all will gain.
 

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I work for numerous companies and Engineers, quite a few who insist that I do there layouts for them, and an engineer is better employed doing a job he is capable of, designing the circuit.
..I tend to disagree, its better if the hardware designer does the pcb layout aswell, especially the first prototype, when multiple changes are needed...in my last job, I whizzed a pcb off with eagle and every time I needed to change something (due to spec change etc), I was quickly able to do so...I didn't have to keep going up and hassling a pcb layout guy....because I was that guy.

And electronics engineers (whatever they may think) often make the worse PCB designers....As proven by their inability to get to grips with the software, never mind lay the boards out.
...if "dummys guides" were allowed to flourish on the web, then engineers would be able to use the pcb package for simple pcbs.

Its strange with eagle, the non eagle authored tutorials are the best I find. with the more complex pcb layout packages, very few tutorials exist that aren't authored by the CAD company itself.

regarding pcb layout electrical skills with simple smps's, an awful lot involves making sure pulse current loops, or loops with high rise time signals in them are made as narrow as possible.....small as possible loop area....and obviously things like not routing the ground in a power switch loop of an smps round the whole board, and through the control circuitry etc.



The increase in productivity for electronics co's will mean PCB apps engineers, pcb cad vendors, contract pcb designers....all will gain.

My message to the PCB CAD co's, and their Apps Engineers, and PCB layout contractors, is that when the complex pcb layout packages become as simple for laying out simple pcbs as eagle is now, then all of those people will profit massively. Their wages will go through the roof.
With Eagle, you an just sniff round the web generally and get a good tutorial on whatever area of difficulty you have...and as I said, its often those short tutorials made by hobbyists who've uploaded something to the web that are the best.

I didn't believe this till I met eagle......and layed out a 4 layer smps pcb that worked perfect ...and it was so, so, so, simple............believe me, when I used the more complex pcb layout packages....it was not simple, oh no.
 

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