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  • PCB Design Freelancer Rules

    I am wondering if you have experiences freelancing as PCB designer? If so, can you have a look at the following questions:
    1) which format you do finally report to the customer, original PCB or some mask data, or PDF?
    2) who is responsible for the software license?
    3) what about lib and footprint data, shall we pass it to the customer?
    4) who is responsible if a licensing issue happens?

  • #2
    Hi,

    well it depends a bit on who you work for too..
    i have been designing of and on for a few companies on the side.
    luckily i could use my old license for that.. but still stuck at altium 17.X because of that..
    for me this is fine..

    1) i generate all the clients requests. if the customer is unexperienced in PCB ordering i help generate a full desing package (design.zip) and take care of questions from manufacturing as part of the deal. i mean thats what they are paying for right? one thing i do not share with manufacturer is the PCB spec file in word.. i only give them the PDF verison of that.
    2) not really an issue, but if the clients have an altium license i use that. if not i use my own.. but i do wonder how to get a license on the go for each project..
    3) i always give the customer their lib files. i mean.. i keep the parts for my self too.. but i always include them with the full design files. same goes for my outputjob files... it makes it easier to continue next time after a while..
    4) what could happen? do you have an example?

    hope this helps.
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Paul van Avesaath , thank you for the answers, about "4) what could happen? do you have an example?" have no idea, frankly. Can Altium go and knock on the clinet door because their contractor violating rules? or, is there any license trace in the design and output files?

      PS- about your report folders; do you create them manually or a outjob is creating it automatically?

      Comment


      • #4
        so on the first one.. i doubt they will trace it to a license number or a hacked version or whatever.. its probably possible.. but who would want to make a living doing stuff like that.. i would think that they better things to do than that.. (like fixing program bugs)

        on the output files. yes and no.. yes you can set it that it creates the outputfiles in folders like that.. (its takes some time to get it correct) but i haven't found a good way to structure it so i end up doing it manually when i group all data to the client... this way i can check and clean the files up (like removing history files / not needed project files etc. ) the manufacturing packet folder is just some of those folders zipped together so nothing fancy or anything..

        like i mentioned i am stuk at altium 17 for now.. untill my new job starts i wont have access to 20 or higher.. i hope there have been some improvements in the outpujob files.. i know i once looked at scripting the output job to generate all the needed files and then do a copy file / transfer file to a specific location on the server.. it worked, but i could not get the output job to start doing all the generating one after the other.. so in the end it was automated but i had to manually click generate 6 or 7 times to be able to do the last transfer of the needed files to the server..

        if i ever generate something easier i will share it in the forum.

        Comment


        • #5
          1) which format you do finally report to the customer, original PCB or some mask data, or PDF?
          - all manufacturing data they need to build the boards by themselves (without any need to contact me later) + original project files (e.g. altium) + anything they want and pay for

          2) who is responsible for the software license?
          - some companies will provide license, some companies do not own the licenses (so you need to have them). For example when I was doing simulations, this was done through clients licenses (but you still may need to double check if the license allows that)

          3) what about lib and footprint data, shall we pass it to the customer?
          - I do not do that, e.g. in Altium, they can generate libraries from the project by themselves.

          4) who is responsible if a licensing issue happens?
          - I am not sure what kind of licensing issue

          Comment


          • #6
            robertferanec , thank you for your response.

            1) "....(without any need to contact me later)..."
            But in reality, it happens, and the client may come back with a question or an update request. The update request is clear and you may charge them, but the question is not clear, how far they can go by questions? Do you sign a contract?

            2) who is responsible for the software license?
            The question is mostly cost, do you include license cost?

            4) who is responsible if a licensing issue happens?
            - I am not sure what kind of licensing issue
            Let's rephrase my question, it is possible to trace the license validity by looking at the project file and generated results?
            Suppose license was not valid, between client and freelancer, who is legally responsible?

            5) Is this true that ownership and copyright belong to the client, not the freelancer?

            Comment


            • #7
              2: Generally no. The only time this could be done is when the client request to use a specific tool.

              4: If you do not want to get into a licensing issue, use KiCad.
              I have never seen anything that could trace ECAD output back to a license. I can trace back to a tool+version - "Generated with Altium 21".
              As a company it is your responsibility to have the licenses in order. You could use the license of the client if they allow it.
              When I worked as a freelancer for a company, I always used their license and their PC. This prevents/limits classified data on my own systems.
              I worked mainly onsite.

              5: ownership / copyright / IP (Intellectual Property) is always problematic. Best have it in a contract.
              One of the difficulties for it is that the IP of the "problem" is of the client, but the IP of the "solution" can be for the contractor. I would not say freelancer in this context. This dual IP situation is what causes the difficulty/conflict. If you make this clear to your customer, in most cases it will not be a problem as the customer then understand that his idea is protected too.

              Comment


              • #8
                how far they can go by questions?
                1) Yes, sometimes happen they can ask questions - it's tricky to say them no. I try to be diplomatic and make it clear from beginning, that any extra work or support has to be paid extra.

                The question is mostly cost, do you include license cost?
                2) No. Why they would pay it if you keep it?

                5) As qdrives pointed out, this is tricky. I am not a lawyer, but I understand, that when someone creates something the work (the thing what he/she creates) belongs to the creator. However, if they are creating it based on instructions of someone else, then it gets tricky. So if you are a company outsourcing some work, it is always safe to have a contract with clear specification how IP and the work is licensed.

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