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Contents


Creating an account

To upload your own data to ecad.io you’ll need to create an Autodesk account if you don’t already have one. An Autodesk account is quick to create and completely free.

If you've not already created an account, simply click the Log In or Create Account button at the top right of the site and follow the instructions. You'll be sent an email to confirm your email address and activate the account. Once your account has been activated, click the Log in or Create Account button at the top right of the site to log in.


Uploading your first ECAD file

Once you're logged in, you're ready to upload your first ECAD file. ecad.io currently supports IDF 2.0, IDF 3.0, Eagle v6 on and IPC 2581 files. If you're not sure about which files you need or how to get them from your ECAD system, then please take a look at our Systems and Formats information.

The most common ECAD file format we support is IDF 2.0/3.0, so we'll use a an IDF 3.0 file for this overview.

To upload a your ECAD file, select File and then Upload ECAD file... from the menu. Click the 'Choose File' button on the dialog and browse to an ECAD file on your computer. If you select an IDF Board file as we've done here, ecad.io will prompt you for the second or Library part of the file as shown (there's more information about two-part IDF files in the File Formats section).

Click Open on the Upload dialog to upload and open the file. This may take a few minutes depending on the speed of your internet connection and the size of the file.


Viewing your Board in 3D

Assuming ecad.io was able to correctly process the file, a 3D preview of it will now be visible on the webpage. The preview can be moved and rotated as required using the following controls.

Using a mouse:

On a touchscreen device:

ecad.io also has a View Cube in the top right of the preview to easily and quickly show the board in standard orientations. Try dragging the view cube to rotate it, or clicking on a face, edge or corner of the cube to orientate the 3D view. The small cube icon visible to the left of the view cube when the mouse is over it allows the user to easily toggle between top and bottom views of the board.


Hiding unwanted items

Often ECAD data contains items that might not be required in the MCAD model. Sometimes you might want to hide a specific item, sometimes you might want to hide all items of a certain type or under a certain size. ecad.io contains tools to achieve both:


Hiding/Showing a single item

It's currently only possible to hide components using this method. To hide a component, select it in the graphics area by clicking on it. The component will highlight and the Properties Panel will appear. On the Properties Panel, click 'Hide Component'. Click off the component to deselect it, and the component will be hidden from view.

To show an item that's been previously hidden, click on the drop-down menu icon at the bottom right of the view cube and select Show Hidden Components. Any hidden components will be displayed with a translucent effect. Click on the hidden component you wish to show, and then click Show Component in the Properties Panel.

Clicking on Hide Hidden Components on the view cube drop down menu will toggle the display of hidden components between visible/translucent and invisible.


Hiding/Showing groups of items

It's also possible to hide groups of items by type or by size using the Show/Hide Tool. To use the tool, select Tools > Show/Hide Items... from the menu. The Show/Hide Tool will be displayed as a floating dialog on top of the graphics area. The dialog can be dragged around the graphics area if required.

The Show/Hide Tool allows you to show or hide items by type. Simply check the box next to the item or items you wish to hide. To hide the board for example, simply check the 'Hide Boards' checkbox.

It's also possible to show or hide components based on their height. This tool is useful if you're creating an MCAD model to check space constraints - you can remove the smaller components to reduce the size and complexity of your model and leave the taller components.

To hide all components under a certain height for example, check the 'Hide below height' checkbox in the 'Show/Hide Components' group, and either enter a value in the corresponding numeric value box, or use the +/- buttons to increase or decrease the height below which components will be hidden. Depending on the setting of the 'Show Hidden Items' toggle, the smaller components will either disappear or go translucent.

The current units (mm or mil) are shown alongside the checkbox. Clicking the units will toggle between imperial and metric units for this and other dialogs in ecad.io.


Adding detailed components to the board

ecad.io has a library of detailed component models that can replace the simple component shapes created by most ECAD file formats. Replacing simple component shapes with detailed models has many advantages including:

However, as detailed component models contain many times more graphical data than simple component shapes, bear in mind that using them will reduce the performance of ecad.io and will result in much larger MCAD file sizes. In some cases, simple component models may be preferable. For example:

If you do want to use detailed component models in your board, then there are two ways of adding them - automatically, or manually.


Adding a detailed component manually

To replace a component's simple shape with a detailed component shape first select it in the graphics area. The component will highlight in the graphics area and the Properties Panel will be shown.

Click 'Choose Component Package...' on the Properties Panel and ecad.io will generate a short list of detailed component models it thinks may be suitable. The content of this list is based on the component's size and type as well as previous choices made by users of ecad.io.

If the correct detailed model is in the list of suggestions, then simply click on it to insert it in the graphics area and replace the simple component representation.

If the component you require isn't listed, then click on the More Components... button to open the full Component Package Library. The Component Package Library contains all the detailed component models in ecad.io listed by category. Browse to the component you want to insert, select it in the right-hand panel of the Library dialog and click on Use Component to insert the component in the graphics area.

If the component you require isn't in the Component Package Library then it’s possible to upload your own 3D model. Just select the category you wish to add the component to and click on the Upload a Component to this Category button. If you don’t have a model then please contact us with a data sheet and we'll try our best to include the component in the Library as soon as possible.


Adding multiple detailed components automatically

To save time it's also possible to add detailed components to your board automatically. In the menu bar, select Tools > Insert Detailed Components. ecad.io will look at each simple component on the current board and attempt to find a detailed component to insert in its place. A progress bar is displayed during this process, which may take a few minutes on larger boards. When insertion is complete, ecad.io will report how many components it managed to replace.

On your first few uses of ecad.io you'll notice that this command will fail to find detailed component matches for most or even all of the components in your model. This is because ecad.io needs to be 'taught' which components to use to prevent it inserting incorrect components. ecad.io learns which components to use during the manual component insertion process described above. Once you've manually inserted a detailed component to replace a specific simple component, then ecad.io will remember that relationship and use it when automatically inserting detailed components in future.

This methodology means that ecad.io gets more efficient the more you use it. Once it knows which detailed component to use for a specific simple component footprint, it will continue to use it in future in any boards you upload.


Replacing a detailed component with a simple component

After inserting a detailed component you may change your mind and decide to go back to the simple shape from the ECAD data. To do this, simply select the detailed component in the graphics area to display the Properties Panel. On the Properties Panel click Use shape from ECAD data to return to the simple component shape.


Adjusting the position of a detailed component

When inserting a detailed component for the first time in ecad.io it may be initially positioned incorrectly. This is because the detailed component model in ecad.io may not be modelled relative to the same origin as the corresponding component in your ECAD data. We may have used an IC's 'Pin 1' as our origin for example, while your ECAD system may use the component's center or another location. Unfortunately there's no standard for component origin locations between ECAD systems or even between users using the same ECAD system.

To attempt to solve this problem, ecad.io attempts to 'best fit' its detailed component models to the component shapes in your ECAD data when they're first inserted. However, it won't get it exactly right every time. A component may be initially inserted rotated 180 degrees out for example.

To correct the detailed component's position, select it to show the Properties Panel. On the Properties Panel, select 'Package Offset' to reveal the component's offset information. This is the offset ecad.io needs to apply to match its detailed component model to your ECAD component footprint. You can increase or decrease the X,Y,Z and Rotational offsets manually, or use the 'Center Component' and 'Rotate and Center' buttons to automatically attempt to align the component. Once you're happy with the position, click 'Apply' to apply the new offset information. The updated information will be stored and applied every time that component is inserted in future, so you should only have to correct the offset information once for each component you use.


Creating an MCAD file

Once you're happy with the way the board looks in the 3D Preview, you can create a Mechanical CAD file of it in the popular STEP format. Most Mechanical CAD Packages will support STEP files.

There are two ways to create an MCAD file from within ecad.io. You can either select File > Create MCAD File... from the menu in the 3D Preview, or you can create MCAD files from within My ecad.io. This second method is covered in the next section.

Using the first method, select File > Create MCAD File... from the menu in the 3D Preview. A dialog will be displayed asking the user to select an MCAD file type (only STEP is available currently).


Export options

Once the STEP format is selected, ecad.io may prompt you to choose how you would like to represent any traces and copper areas in the MCAD file. The choices are:

Note that there's no copper or silkscreen information present in IDF files. Currently these options will only be applicable when using ecad.io with the IPC2581 or Eagle file formats.

The first option will exclude traces and copper areas from the MCAD model ecad.io will create. This will result in a much smaller file size and much improved performance in your MCAD system. The user will still be able to download images of the top and bottom board surfaces showing copper and silkscreen features which can be applied as decals in most MCAD systems. This method allows the user to create a detailed looking board in their MCAD system, but with a vastly reduced file size.

Selecting the second option will prompt ecad.io to create the copper areas as extrusions in the MCAD file with a height. This will result in a much greater file size and reduced performance in your MCAD system. It's recommended that this option is only used for small boards, or boards where it's vital to have the copper modelled in the MCAD system - for use with thermal or electromagnetic analysis for example.

Once you've selected the MCAD file type and selected any applicable options, click Create to create the MCAD file.

The MCAD file may take a few minutes to create depending on its complexity. When it's ready to download it will be available in My ecad.io.


My ecad.io

My ecad.io is the area of ecad.io where uploaded board projects are securely stored. Up to five boards can be stored online at any time in My ecad.io by each user. Additional boards can still be uploaded when this limit is reached, but they won't be stored until space is cleared by removing one or more older boards from My ecad.io.

Each board project shows the board's name, a thumbnail image of the board and a history of the actions made on that board by ecad.io

From within My ecad.io the user can open stored boards in the 3D Viewer, create MCAD files, download MCAD files, send them to online MCAD systems like Onshape or cloud storage like Google Drive.


Opening a stored board in the 3D Viewer

Stored boards can be opened in the 3D Viewer either by clicking on the board's name to the right of the thumbnail preview or by selecting Show in Viewer from the Action menu on the board project.


Creating an MCAD file from a stored board

In the board project you wish to create an MCAD file of, select Action and then Create STEP Part File to create a STEP Part file. Note that this will only start the file creation process, you will still need to either download the file, or send it to cloud CAD or cloud storage separately.

Once MCAD file creation is underway, an action will be added to that board project's history saying Create STEP AP214 Part File or similar. The Status column will display Queuing while the file is waiting to be converted, Processing during conversion, and Completed & Email Sent once the file creation is complete.

Once file conversion is complete, follow the instructions below in Downloading an MCAD file to download the MCAD file.


Downloading an MCAD file

Before an MCAD file of a board can be downloaded it first needs to be created, either from within My ecad.io using the process above, or by using File > Create MCAD File... from the menu in the 3D Preview.

Expand the project history if necessary by clicking the + button next to the board thumbnail image. Select the history item that says Create STEP AP214 Assembly File (or the file format of your choice) and from the Action drop-down button alongside select either Download File to download just the uncompressed file, or Download as Zip to download a zip file containing the MCAD file and images of the top and bottom of the board for use in your MCAD system.

If no Download menu items are available in the Action drop-down button then check you've created an MCAD file to download by referring to the Creating an MCAD file from a stored board section.


Sending an MCAD file to Autodesk A360

A360 is a cloud-based destination that provides free on-line data storage and a powerful, secure set of tools designed to improve the way you design, visualise and simulate. To send an MCAD file to A360 you'll need an Autodesk A360 account available from https://360.autodesk.com/.

Before sending an MCAD file to Autodesk A360, it needs to be created first as described above in the Creating an MCAD file from a stored board section.

Once an MCAD file has been created, select Send to Autodesk A360 from the Action pull down button alongside the completed MCAD file in the Board Project History. An Autodesk Sign In pop-up will be opened. If you have a pop-up blocker enabled please allow the pop-up to display.

The pop-up will prompt you to sign in to your Autodesk account with your email address and password. Your log in information will remain hidden from ecad.io. Once logged in, close the pop-up page to start the connection to A360.

Once the connection to A360 is established, ecad.io will display the user's A360 projects and sub-projects. Select the required project folder and click 'Upload to Project'. Once the file transfer is complete, ecad.io will display a confirmation message and the file will be available within A360.


Sending an MCAD file to Autodesk Fusion 360

Autodesk Fusion 360 is next-generation 3D CAD solution combining advanced industrial and mechanical design tools with cloud-based data storage and collaboration. You can learn more about Fusion 360 here.

To send a file directly to Fusion 360, Fusion needs to be installed on the computer that is being used to access ecad.io (files can be sent to Fusion 360 on another computer using A360 as detailed above).

Once an MCAD file has been created, select Send to Fusion 360 from the Action pull down button alongside the completed MCAD file in the Board Project History. Fusion 360 will be launched and the board model displayed. This process may take several minutes, and no feedback will be displayed while the file is transferred.



Sending an MCAD file to Google Drive

Google Drive is file storage and synchronization service that allows users with a Google Account to store files in cloud storage and synchronize them with a local drive on their desktop PC if required. Ecad.io can copy files to your Google Drive Storage to allow you to use them with other online systems or for easy synchronization with a folder on a desktop PC.

Before sending an MCAD file to Google Drive, it needs to be created first as described above in the Creating an MCAD file from a stored board topic. You'll also need to create a Google Account first if you don't have one already.

Once an MCAD file has been created, select Send to Google Drive from the Action pull down button alongside the completed MCAD file in the Board Project History. A Google Drive pop-up will be opened. If you have a pop-up blocker enabled please allow the pop-up to display.

If you're not already logged into Google on your computer, Google will prompt you to choose an account and sign in. Once signed in, you'll be asked to grant ecad.io permission to manage the files it will add to your Google Drive. Ecad.io will have no access to any other files on your Google Drive, and your Google log in information will remain hidden from ecad.io

Click 'Accept' to grant ecad.io permission to copy files to your Google Drive. Ecad.io will display a dialog during the file transfer and notify the user when the transfer is complete.

Files sent from ecad.io to Google Drive will be placed in Google Drive in a folder called ECAD.IO.


Sending an MCAD file to Microsoft OneDrive

Like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive is file storage and synchronization service that allows users with a Microsoft account to store files in cloud storage and synchronize them their desktop PC if required. Ecad.io can copy files to Microsoft OneDrive Storage for use them with other online systems or for easy synchronization with a folder on a desktop PC.

Before sending an MCAD file to Microsoft OneDrive, it needs to be created first as described above in the Creating an MCAD file from a stored board topic. You'll also need to create a Microsoft Account first if you don't have one already.

Once an MCAD file has been created, select Send to Microsoft OneDrive from the Action pull down button alongside the completed MCAD file in the Board Project History. A Microsoft Sign In pop-up will be opened. If you have a pop-up blocker enabled please allow the pop-up to display.

The Microsoft Sign In pop-up will prompt you to sign in to your Microsoft account with your email address and password. Your log in information will remain hidden from ecad.io. Once logged into your Microsoft Account close the pop-up page to start the file transfer process. Ecad.io will display a dialog during the file transfer and notify the user when the transfer is complete.

Files sent from ecad.io to Microsoft OneDrive will be placed in the root folder.


Deleting a Board Project

Up to five Board Projects at a time can be stored in ecad.io. When a Board is no longer required it can be deleted from ecad.io to make space to allow other ECAD files to be uploaded.

To delete a Board Project, select Delete Project from the Action drop-down button. A confirmation message will be displayed. Click Delete to delete the Project and all its associated files and data completely from ecad.io.

Note that a project cannot be retrieved once it has been deleted from ecad.io. The original ECAD files will need to be reloaded into ecad.io if the project is required again.