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I've been trying to print and make my own circuit using Altium (print it on film paper, iron it on copper-coated plastic and then dip it in Ferric Chloride etc.), using Gerber files. Only problem is, Gerber files don't show the holes (and obviously I can't print the drill file) and I can't print the PCB directly since that I can't separate the layers while printing the PCB. Any idea on how to print holes normally?

I've been looking for an answer for a long time but couldn't find anything that worked for me (looked mostly at this).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Export to DXF, maybe? \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon May 28 '15 at 21:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can print separate layers from Altium. \$\endgroup\$ – brhans May 28 '15 at 21:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can afford access to Altium but you can't afford 10 bucks to have a prototyping shop fabricate actual PCBs for you? \$\endgroup\$ – whatsisname May 28 '15 at 21:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Photon - how? I tried to make a pdf of the entire project but it doesn't separate the layers. brhans - I know, but only after creating a gerber... whatisname - I got the altium as a student... \$\endgroup\$ – FitzChivalry May 29 '15 at 2:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @whatsisname - please tell me where I can have a simple prototype PCB made in an hour or two for $10 \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton May 29 '15 at 19:20
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So you have got a drill file, in txt format. You can drag this txt and drop into the Altium Designer. You will get the following dialog:

enter image description here

Click OK and your drill file will be loaded like this:

enter image description here

Now, you can select \$ \textbf{File} \longrightarrow \textbf{Print}\$, set Print Scalling to \$ \textbf{User Scale = 1.0}\$. The page orientation can be set under the Printer Setup option.

enter image description here

As a demonstration I have just printed it as a PDF document, here is the output on an A4 sheet:

enter image description here

  • the board dimensions: 67.6mm x 149.25mm
  • the A4 sheet dimensions: 210mm x 297mm

According to this: \$ \frac{297mm}{149.25mm} = 1.9899 \$, there must be enough space along the height of the page for almost two printing.
It can be seen on the picture above that this condition is fulfilled(, if we place the printing at the edge of the sheet).

Consider it as a workaround, there could be much more sophisticated solutions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Really helpful, thank you, but I've tried that and the problem is that it's not in the correct scale (I've tried save drill and then import drill in the gerber) - I get 80cm*80cm drills while pcb is 11cm*11cm \$\endgroup\$ – FitzChivalry May 29 '15 at 2:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ So if I understand, Altium generates the gerber and the drill file with different scale? When generating them did you select the same unit? \$\endgroup\$ – Bence Kaulics May 29 '15 at 7:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ The print scale is 1:1? Maybe is "Fit to Document" \$\endgroup\$ – Butzke May 29 '15 at 13:28
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You have not stated how many layers you use, but I suppose that you use 2 layers. Top and bottom.

It is actually pretty easy to print the PCB on paper, through printer. You do not have to use Gerber files to output the PCB, but use print option and select printer to print on.

Here is an example, we will print top layer 1st, then bottom layer.>

  1. Open the PCB which needs to be printed.
  2. File>Page Setup... (Composite Properties window should pop up)
  3. On the Composite Properties set your paper and quality setting, also set these>
    • scale mode = Scaled Print
    • scale = 1.00
    • corrections x = y = 1.00
    • color set Mono
    • if you experiment with offset settings you can get both layers on one paper(!) enter image description here
  4. Go to Advanced...
  5. Delete all layers except top and multi layer (right click>delete) enter image description here
  6. Check holes and mirror (because top needs to be mirrored) > OK
  7. File > Print Preview... - make sure it looks like it need to be, all holes should be there (if not, reset Altium Designer)
  8. Print... > select your printer settings and print to the paper.
  9. We finished top layer. To print bottom layer, do all steps from 4 to 8, but make sure you add bottom layer (right click>insert), delete top layer and mirror is unchecked. enter image description here
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Altium won't print the drill holes on it's output options as anything other than white, so if you want a negative you need to place a small dot in the center of each through hole pad on an unused layer, set it to print that layer in black and move it to the topmost print.

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