Side topic … chip labels

Something I had also used to facilitate working with the 8052 SBC project was creating and applying “chip labels” to the DIP packages.  This is not an original thought of mine as I first saw Grant Searle using it on some of his projects.  However, I decided it was best to create a template using my older version of AuoCAD and applying the pin names from there.  What I provide here for anyone wishing to use it, is the “clean” template I used to create the chip labels for this project and the Z80 SBC project.  I will also explain how I added the pin-out text to the original template.

8052 SBC with Chip Labels

The Template:  The template provided is saved and available from this blog entry as a GIMP XCF and a PNG graphic file.

My choice in editing:  I am running Linux as my development system and decided to use GIMP.  GIMP is available for Linux, MAC OSX and WINDOWS®.  Since I found it easier to use GIMP as my graphics editor (as opposed to AutoCAD), I will describe the method(s) I used to add the chip pin names to the template.  Use your favorite graphics editor as you see fit.

Using GIMP to add the pin names to the template:  Open the chip label template (XCF) file and zoom in to the DIP outline you wish to add the pin-names to.

  1. Method 1:
    • extracting the pin names from a PDF file:  Under my distribution of Linux, I am using the MATE GUI and have a screen capture utility named “mate-screenshot“.  It allows me to take screen-shots of; 1) the “whole desktop”, 2) a “window” or 3) a select-able area.  I typically use “evince” to display PDF files.  Most OEM’s datasheets display the parts with pin 1 in the upper-left corner (vertical orientation).  When displaying the PDF file of the OEM’s datasheet of the part I wish to extract the pin names from, I maximize the zoom of the view so that the part’s appropriate outline is seen and then I capture the graphics of the pin names using the “select area” mode of the screen-capture tool.  It does not matter what the actual captured bitmap size and resolution is because all that can be scaled under GIMP.  I always have GIMP running before I use the screen capture.
    • adding the captured text:  In GIMP, use the file->Create->from clipboard function to create a new window from the  image captured from the PDF file.  With the new image now in GIMP, if necessary, select the “Rectangle Select Tool” from the main tool window and create a window around the imported text just a pixel or two away from the text.  From the menu, select Edit->copy to copy the text to the clipboard.  Select the window containing the chip label template and select Edit->paste.  Doing so will place a copy of the previously selected text (on a new layer) into the chip label window.  Drag it into place and adjust the size to fill the DIP outline.  If the copied text is not seen, you may have to zoom out, find the text, move it then zoom in to fine-place it.  Once placed, click anywhere in the window to leave it.
  2. Method 2:  
    • Using GIMP‘s “text tool” to add text:  I find this to be the most flexible method to use since I can control the font, font size, vertical and horizontal spacing. Once the appropriate zoom level of the desired DIP outline is viewed, select the “text tool“.  Create a window that is sized about 1 pixel position within each of the DIP outline’s four boundaries.  In the text tool’s editor window, tick the “Use select ed font” checkbox.  Set the font to a mono-spaced font such as “Monospace Bold”.  A 16 point font size is legible but 18 points would work just as well.  Type each pin name into the box from left to right.  For example, if you are working with a GAL22V10, pin 1 is “CLK” and pin 24 is “VCC”, so you would enter “CLK VCC” in the text editor window.  The text will immediately show up within the outline of the DIP package.  Add or subtract spaces in between so that the text does not wrap to the 2nd line.  If the text box needs to be adjusted down so that the 1st line of text aligns with pin 1 of the DIP outline, then do so and adjust the bottom of the text box accordingly.  In the text editor window, enter the next line of text, for example “WR  ALE”.  If the text does not align with the 2nd set of pins, then adjust the line spacing by using either the up and down arrows of the “adjust line spacing” dialog box under the main tool bar or manually enter a value.  I have found that entering the value is best because it allows you to adjust the line spacing in 0.1 point increments for fine tuning.  Enter the pin name text for each set of pins.  When finished, you can fine-tune the line spacing and adjust all the font parameters as you desire.  Notice that a new layer is created for each text box.

Continue to add the text for each DIP package you wish to use.  I recommend saving n between.  Although if a mistake is made, GIMP does supply a multi-level undo feature.  Once finished, print your work and measure it to insure that it is the correct size as sometimes, the print drivers stretch or shrink the graphics.  If an adjustment is needed, use the “Page Setup” tab in GIMPs print dialog box to adjust to the proper scaled print size.

After printing, cut out the outlines and glue them to the top of your DIP chips using a glue-stick.  I found that the glue in the glue-sticks is strong enough to hold the labels securely yet will allow the label to be easily removed in case a mistake is found or a change is required.

The links to the files are below.  For the XCF file, WORDPRESS does not allow me to reference it with its proper extension, so remove the PDF from the extension.

Peace and blessings.


2 thoughts on “Side topic … chip labels

  1. Back in the old 6502 days I would use a fine tipped pen to write the pin functions on a adhesive label on the good old 28 and 40 pin DIPS. I like your higher-class laser-printed approach more.


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