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One of the tasks on the giant todo list was to fix the Super Bright Lights board. One of its traces is touching a pad, which is an error. It should be a quick thing to fix.

These boards were made in a program called pcb, a part of a suite of tools known as gEDA. It is not a very well known electronics design tool. There is a new fork of pcb called pcb-rnd. There are a few slight changes. Installing pcb-rnd on Mac is straight forward. Installing the other tools in gEDA is not. Specifically, we were looking to install gschem, the schematic editor. We tried brew, fink, but nothing was really working (broken dependencies).

Opening the board in gerbv, we can spot that the error does exist in the file, too. (That’s good news)

After some time re-orientating and remembering how to use pcb, here is the fix in pcb-rnd:

Then flip the board just to check nothing else moved:

Hey wait a second, there are question marks all over the board! The reference designators are all wiped out. Maybe something happened with the netlist, or some sort of properties file. We couldn’t figure out or remember how to edit the refdes in the new pcb-rnd. We can’t exactly send this board out knowing that there will be question marks printed all over it…

Here’s the errors that were given, justifying the new question marks on the board:

Anyway, we have an old version of pcb on one of our older computers, and we can make the fix using that. However, going forward, it will be wise if we switch from gEDA to Eagle or KiCAD, since the support for gEDA is very minimal at this point in time.