After so many months of development and waiting for Apple to get the problem resolved we finally managed to get 1.3 finished and uploaded to the Mac App Store. It should work fine from Yosemite to El Capitan.
However, it’s been hard to get this release done. Of course I did not rest while I waited for Apple to resolve the deploy issues I have been facing. And migrating all those various parts that I developed separately from each other has been a hard task. This might have caused bugs. I tried my best to validate everything works fine. But it’s hard as there are so many different board designs out there I cannot test them all.
So, please. If you have issues, just drop a line to email@example.com and add the .brd and .sch files if possible.
This is a high level list of what has changed and what we added in this release:
I have written a new document that exactly describes how to import a part and what the requirements are. Please have a look here.
Refactored Inspector UI
After I added the footprint analyzer and pick and place setup the part inspector got so cluttered that I decided to extract all 3d part stuff in it it’s own inspector. There are now two inspector tabs handling parts. The first one shows all part information like specs, footprint (2D) and various other settings. I also rearranged the sections of the inspector. This way the more steady sections (that have always the same height) keep their position and the specs that have different height for each part are now the last one. This way you can quickly compare parts without having to search the relevant section in the inspector all the time.
My last project I did failed because I made a mistake and added the wrong footprint for my part (QFN32 5×5 instead of QFN32 4×4). If I had double checked that I would have found the error with ease. To prevent such mistakes Copper now comes with a footprint analyzer. All you have to do is activate the (2D) part inspector and hover your mouse over pads of between them. Copper will measure the distance or size of the pad and displays the result near the mouse cursor. You can switch between various modes and units.
Opening the datasheet viewer like shown in the image below is a handy way of double checking your footprint. Navigate (or search) the recommended PCB land pattern in the datasheet, hover your mouse over the relevant parts in the footprint preview and you know if your land pattern matches that of the datasheet.
Centroids layer and part rotation
This is quite a complex topic and needs some documentation. It’s main purpose is to prepare your BOM for pick and place. There are numerous EAGLE ULPs that allow you to export files needed for P&P but they fail in a very important topic: part rotation. I will write a blog post in the next couple of weeks describing that feature in detail. As it’s not possible to export the relevant info at the moment (will come with 1.3.1) this feature is not very useful at the moment but will be and I wanted to add this user interface so I don’t have to change part inspector in the next release again. Hard enough you have to adjust your workflow once ;-).
Package and parts browser
You can now switch between packages and parts. Switch to packages lets you select all packages (say 0603) with one mouse click. This is mainly useful for pick and place setup in combination with the centroids and footprint rotation. As you will adjust the default part rotation by package rather than part it’s useful to be able to switch to packages list.
Another feature is searching for parts. This is so much more powerful. When you click in the search field of the part browser (search field is hidden in package mode!) you notice a small down arrow near the loupe icon. Press it and you find a few options like what is searched and if your query must exactly match or not. You can also use wildcards like * (all characters) or ? (one wildcard character). For example R* will find all parts that begin with r or R. R? will only find parts like R1, r2, R9 but will not find R12. Please around with that and you will get used to it very quickly. This is really useful and so much more powerful than the search before.
Numerous rendering bugs fixed
Copper had surprisingly many rendering bugs that were triggered in rare and very special cases. I used a lot of boards to fix those bugs. I also managed to fix quite a lot of bugs in texture generation for the 3D mode. The solder mask and silk screen will be much more precise now.