Chapter 5


Both men2dxf and dxf2men can be launched from within BoardStation or Fablink if the optional Ample GUI code is purchased. This makes it very easy for the designer to both export and import DXF files. We license the Ample GUI as a department site license so you only need pay a low single fee, and every Mentor designer in your department can add the interface to their session of BoardStation.


The Ample GUI interface code should be located in a subdirectory named "mentor" under the directory where men2dxf and dxf2men are installed. For example, if you installed in a directory called /usr/cad_util/ then the Ample GUI files will be located by the ASM 550 INSTALL script.

Configuration Files: Names and Locations

The MEN2DXF Ample GUI reads and writes two ASCII resource files:
Adding the MEN2DXF Ample GUI to BoardStation In order for BoardStation and Fablink to find and use the MEN2DXF Ample GUI you must inform the programs to search the directory where the GUI code is stored. BoardStation reads a shell environment variable called AMPLE_PATH to determine where to find Ample code. You can determine the current value of AMPLE_PATH by typing:
$ echo $AMPLE_PATH
If nothing is returned then you have not yet set AMPLE_PATH. If a path is returned then AMPLE_PATH is already set. Setting the environment variable depends on the type of UNIX shell you run under:

Shell Path Example
Bourne /bin/sh $ AMPLE_PATH=/usr/cad_util/mentor
$ export AMPLE_PATH
C /bin/csh % seten v AMPLE_PATH /usr/cad_util/mentor
Korn /bin/ksh $ AMPLE_PATH=/usr/cad_util/mentor
$ export AMPLE_PATH

The MEN2DXF Ample GUI reads and writes two ASCII resource files:
If you invoke BoardStation without specifying a design file then the GUI will look in the current working directory for these two configuration files.

Making it Permanent

You will want to make the addition of the /usr/cad_util/mentor directory a permanent path in the AMPLE_PATH environment variable. This can be done by adding it either to the user’s start up file, or to a script that runs when BoardStation starts up.

Importing DXF into BoardStation

To import a DXF file into BoardStation use the pulldown:

File | Import | from DXF...

A configuration box will pop open. The values in the configuration box are read from the file dxf2men.cfg.

DXF File


The DXF file does not include the data units. You should enter the correct units - inches, mm, cm or mils.


DXF is a floating point database; Mentor is not. Select a resolution value consistent with that of your Mentor data base.

Default Thickness

Lines and Arcs

DXF lines and arcs have zero width. If we import them as zero width entities into Boardstation they would be invisible. Therefore you should set a reasonable value for the width of such entities.

Text Stroke

DXF text strokes have zero width. Importing text into BoardStation with zero width will make it invisible on the display. You should pick a reasonable value for text width so that it is both displayable and plots per your needs.


Ignore Hatch

Tells the dxf2men translator to ignore any hatch blocks in the DXF file. AutoCAD does not store hatch fills intelligently - it actually stores each and every stroke of the hatch fill. This can result in very large files and is normally not useful in BoardStation.

Ignore Dims

Tells the dxf2men translator to ignore any dimension blocks. If you have a very com-complicated drawing but do not wish to import the dimensions then check this box. If the dimensions seem to pass in spite of this setting it is because the AutoCAD designer used lines and text instead of the dimension command to create his dims.

Ignore Text

Check this box to tell dxf2men not to translate any text.

Clip Window

This parameter tells dxf2men to clip any data that crosses or falls outside of the specified window. We added it because BoardStation may crash upon importing a geom file that contains data whose coordinates are larger than expected. Since the BoardStation designer cannot be sure what data is contained in the DXF file (and often there may be small lines or points very far out in some AutoCAD drawings) we added this function to make the translation process more robust.

We strongly suggest that you use a reasonable value; it is very difficult to debug a geom import crash since BoardStation gives no information about why it crashes when importing a geom file.

DXF Input File

Specify the path and name of the DXF file you wish to import. You may use the Navigator button to pop open a file selection dialog.

Output Directory

Specify the path/directory where you wish the resulting geom file to be written.

Output Filename

Specify the name of the geom file

Assign Layers

Clicking on this button pops open a layer menu that enables you to control the mapping from the DXF layer names to the Mentor layer names.

The layer NULL has a special meaning. Any DXF layer mapped to NULL is deleted in the translation. Therefore, the NULL layer acts as a filter to remove unwanted data.

You can map multiple DXF layers to a single Mentor layer. This has the effect of merging the data on these layers.

Advanced Options

This dialog box enables the user to set additional options that normally are not changed from job to job.

Mentor Units

Sets the value of the units in the geom file.

Mentor Resolution

Sets the value of the geom database resolution.


If the Mentor units do not match the DXF file units checking this button will automatically apply the correct scale factor to all data.

Scale Factor

Apply an additional scale factor as needed.


If arcs in DXF need to be fractured for geom then the arcresolution determines the angle used to fracture the arcs. Default value is 9 degrees. Minimum is 1.5 degrees and maximum is 15 degrees.


This parameter is a different way of controlling how arcs are fractured - instead of specifying an angle, the arcsag is the maximum error between the ideal arc and the approximated arc. ARCSAG is a more useful parameter when the range of arc radii varies widely. Setting ARCSAG=0 disables this parameter.

Assign Fonts

DXF strings of text refer to a font file - so do BoardStation’s strings of text. This dialog enables one to assign up to three different DXF fonts to the desired BoardStation font.

Differences in the DXF fonts and BoardStation fonts may result in text leaking out slightly from the box that it was originally drawn in.

Exporting DXF from BoardStation or Fablink

To export a DXF file from BoardStation use the pulldown:

File | Export | to DXF ...

A configuration box will pop open. The values in the configuration box are read from the file men2dxf.cfg.

Input File

By default the Mentor geometry file will always be created in its entirety and is always translated. If you want your components to appear in the DXF file then check the Comps file box. If you want circuit traces to appear in the DXF file then check the Traces file box.

Detailed Log File?

Checking this box will tell the men2dxf translator to write a more detailed log file. In general, this is a good option to check as the log file is useful for both debugging purposes and is valuable to the receiptient of the DXF file.

Geometry Name to Insert

This field is the name of a geometry drawing that should be inserted at the “top” of the DXF entity list. Normally you enter your top level drawing name here but you could also enter the name of a secondary drawing such as a fab sheet. If you do not enter a name here the AutoCAD user may open his drawing to find nothing displayed and he will need to specifically insert the drawing to see and edit it.

Output Directory

Name of the directory where the DXF file will be written. If not present, will default to the current working directory.

DXF File Name

Name of the DXF file to write. Since many target systems are DOS or Windows you may wish to conform to the 8.3 filename conventions.

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