New MacroFab PCB Ruler Design

Back in the old slack channel we where talking about making a new PCB ruler for MacroFab swag giveaways. I want to bring back that discussion.

Here is the old design I just scanned back in.

This was a 3" long keychain style ruler with a metric scale, some random footprints, silkscreen sizing, and NPTH holes for sizing.

Here is the digikey ruler which I would say is the de facto standard in PCB rulers. I have a lot of different brands at home I can scan in as well.

I think the new one should be 6" long or should the keychain form factor preferred?

What features are must haves?

  • PTH and NPTH holes to clearance sizing of fasteners and components
  • MF Logo of course. Maybe we add MAC to it?
  • Silkscreen text sizes to see if text is readable.
    • Preferred Fonts?
  • I don’t think component footprints are useful
    • Exception is chip component footprint size comparisons
  • Ruler edge (duh!)
  • Pitch Scale
    • 0.4mm to 1mm

Any other ideas? I would prefer not to just copy feature sets of other rulers. No reason to do so :slight_smile:

Current render.

Could I talk you into a protector instead?

Asking for very selfish reasons.

A protractor? I think you mean?


(The half-circle one)

Here are some PCB ruler / Protractors I found as examples.


This one doesn’t seem particularly useful.

Some more examples. Hmm. I like the lanyard slot they have on the first 2. I figure a protractor is more useful when the edge is curved.


What if in addition to the ruler. We do a protractor that has two parts. Can do a SMT threaded hole (SMT Threaded Standoff) for the swing arm to pivot on.



I wonder how well a pcb fab holds a 90 degree cut. Could have the board be a 90 gage.

as well.

This would be easy to add to the ruler one. I think we do 2 designs!

Here are some scans of other PCB rules I have kicking around.

The eevblog one is probably the most useless one lol.

Don’t like the EEVBlog one that much, agreed. Why not just put the footprints down instead of giving all of the dimensions? I go to a PCB ruler to eyeball something quickly, all the precision work gets done in the EDA tool.
I’m a sucker for quick reference tables with odd domain-specific units/measurements.
Not as dense as the ampacity chart on the digikey one, but even though that one’s a little hard to read I’ve glanced at it before.
If it had footprints, I agree, common passive chip footprints would be handy. On my dream ruler, I’d have footprints for chip caps/resistors/inductors, diodes (can never keep them straight), SMD electrolytics, and maybe tantalums. Oh, power inductors too, but those cases are all over the place.
Stunting with funky little designs is fun, but I think that’s better suited to a business card.
Here’s one I got from 2J when I was at one of their labs last year:

No, haven’t thrown the antenna on the VNA yet to check their claim. :slight_smile:

The two-part protractor is definitely the winner for me.

Yeah protractor sounds like a winner. Have to finish the ruler though.

Here is the ruler idea concept with @Stephen.K 's 90 degree gauge idea.

Thinking of duplicating the imperial measurements where the metric scale is at. Then on the backside add tick marks on the 90 degree gauge area. Then just make a metric version of the same ruler.

Then just have fitment holes for SAE fastners on the imperial ruler and Metric fastners on the metric ruler.

What we thinking? I like the form factor here. Different from every other PCB ruler for sure.

I have an idea. Instead of a ruler on each side, one of the sides could have castellations that match wire gauge size so you could put a wire in it to find out its gauge.

It could also be holes in the middle

The idea is to add gauges for fastners. I can see if there is space for wire gauges.

This is looking great. Have an empty spot on the bottom side that needs something :slight_smile:

Ok this is where I am at with the design today. Will let people comment before wrapping it up.

Love the outline. Striking.
Couple of thoughts:

  1. Land patterns for passives are sufficient for eyeballing purposes. Don’t think the silkscreen blocks showing actual component size are all that useful.
  2. Text height is excellent, but you’re varying linewidth. Having that info would be helpful. Including that info would cram too much in. See #3.
  3. Proposal: Delete the passive outlines, turn it into a silkscreen linewidth gauge. Already have those lines that butt up against that section, just vary them accordingly too. Delete the silkscreen indicating measurement increments on the angle gauge too, you already have quick references for the graduations on that side. Frees up space if you need it.
  4. Love the wire gauge measurement, never seen it implemented that way before.
  5. Small typo spotted: “Fastner size” should read “Fastener size”
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Have an empty spot on the bottom side that needs something

“Intentionally left blank”

And it should have an easter egg, similar to the Digikey ruler’s buried via :wink:.
Maybe a trace that shows an example of an acute angle.

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