Autotrax PCB Previewer

Once you have got a few PCB designs under your belt, you'll discover what a pain it is not to be able to try-before-you-buy.  If the only way to see what you have got is by opening the file - it can be a bit tedious.

This little utility associates a preview generator .DLL with .PCB files.  If you have another PCB program that also uses the .PCB extension and that has its own previewer, you probably don't want this.  However, when you realise just how fab Autotrax is compared to the other shite, you will no doubt dump the other shite in its favour and then you'll want this.  I expect.

Download the appropriate .DLL file for your system:

32-bit Windows
64-bit Windows

If you don't know which you've got then you're really a bit far back on the grid for this sort of thing but, nevertheless, here's how you find out.

a) Ask someone to tell you, or...
b) Open the Control Panel on your PC, typically Start->Settings->Control Panel.  Find and click System.  Mine says 'System type: 64-bit Operating System'.

Once you have downloaded the file, locate it and move it to somewhere more appropriate, such as the same place you put Autotrax.  It doesn't matter much.  Let's pretend you put it in C:\DOS\Autotrax

If you are using VirtualBox, you would need a shared drive or folder to be able to see the .PCB files in Windows 7 (say).

Then, create a new text file on your desktop by right-clicking and scrolling down to Text Document.  Rename it anything-you-like.bat
I use registerpreviewer.bat as a nice name.  Ignore the computer when it cautions you against changing the extension.  For pete's sake, who's in charge here?  Don't get me started.

Right click your new file and select Edit.  This will open it in Notepad.  Notepad is a really useful little program.  Type in:

regsvr32.exe "C:\DOS\Autotrax\AutotraxPreview.dll"

and then save the file.  Now, you don't really need me to tell you that, if you have put the .DLL file somewhere else, then you need to change the bit in the quotes to suit.

Save the file.  Close Notepad.  Right click on the file and select Run as administrator.  Click 'Yes' to the UAC warning if required.

You should get a nice confirmatory message.

To remove it, change the batch file to:

regsvr32.exe "C:\DOS\Autotrax\AutotraxPreview.dll"  /u

The '/u' tells regsvr32.exe to remove the entry.

You can download a sample batch file here to register and here to unregister.  You will still need to edit them to suit your PC!

1. I haven't tried this on Windows 10 yet.  Let's face it, why ride the Microsoft gravy train if you don't actually have to?
2. If the previewer .DLL shares the same directory as Autotrax, it will look for TRAXEDIT.DFT and use your colour scheme.
3. The previewer doesn't display component references or values just to avoid the thumbnail being too cluttered.