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The scoop on PCB layout software

Discussion in 'Circuit Simulation & PCB Design' started by keny, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. keny

    keny New Member

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    Hey there! I have been absent from the forums recently but am back for a bit! I need to establish a system that is forward compatible with future projects and I am trying to get an understanding of how PCB layout software is being used in the industry.

    Specifically, I am making prototypes now that will be printed later. The prototypes are hand made, but the real deal ones might get manufactured if things get that far. I also want to incorporate a lot of elements into my PCB designs so I need a software that is pretty robust.

    So that appeases my visual need, but I also have heard about the software simulating the circuit as well.

    So my questions are:

    1. What are the manufacturers using? Is it accessible to a non-business?

    2. Is the simulation software the same as the PCB layout software, or is that some kind of tandem suite of software sort of like adobe cs?

    3. If stuff is ridiculously expensive, what are the hobbyists using to get this kind of stuff done???

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

    Regards,
    Keny
     
  2. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    Draft of a stick on this subject

    If ANYONE would like to contribute please post to this thread. Your short summary will be included with the bulleted name of the package.

    Most Popular Packages
    The results of two ETO polls indicate hobbyists and small engineering houses most often use the following two packages. The downside is that they will not share schematics. You have to enter the schematic twice to use both.

    • Linear Technology - Design Simulation and Device Models

    • http://www.cadsoftusa.com
      The EAGLE Light Edition can be used for free!
      Limitations to the EAGLE Light Edition in general:
      • The useable board area is limited to 100 x 80 mm (4 x 3.2 inches).
      • Only two signal layers can be used (Top and Bottom).
      • The schematic editor can only create one sheet.
    Professional Packages
    For people with deep pockets there are high end packages. With these you can design a single schematic and use it for both simulation and PCB layout.

    • LabCenters's Proteus
    • Altium – Providers of Altium Designer (formerly Protel) and P-CAD (retired June 30, 2008).
    • Cadence OrCad
    • Mentor Graphics
    • Seetrax Ranger2
      Provides a demo version limited to 32 parts, 2000 points, 2 signal layers and 2 power plane or split power plane layers.
    Open source or no charge PCB layout packages.

    • KICAD An integrated environment with schematic capture, bill of materials, and PCB layout. See post #8.
    • DesignSpark According to the author: The World's Most Powerful Free of Charge PCB Design Tool. Imports Eagle files and has none of Eagle Lights limits.
    Non free PCB layout packages.

    • Sprint-Layout Users love its flexibility. In terms of PCB layout it may be the most power reasonably priced layout package. It lacks schematic capture
    • DipTrace Schematic Capture, PCB Editor. Full featured 30-day trial and 300-pin Freeware versions are available for evaluation.
    • TINA Circuit simulation and PCB design software package for analyzing, designing, and real time testing of analog, digital, VHDL, MCU, and mixed electronic circuits and their PCB layouts. Analyze SMPS, RF, communication, and optoelectronic circuits.
    Free to use packages associated with PCB board houses, you must use them to make the PCBs.

    • ExpressPCB - Free PCB layout software - Low cost circuit boards - Top quality PCB manufacturing
    • PCB123 Create new PCB designs quickly; offering freedom and flexibility in your schematic and layout editing.

    Sources: Wikipedia
    Contributors: 3v0
    10/27/2010 Added TINA and link for KICAD
    11/09/2010 Added Atrium
    01/08/2012 Added Seetrax Ramger2
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012
  3. ibyk30

    ibyk30 New Member

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    i use kicad and after day or so of working in and getting used to, i love it, it's small, no limitations and works great...
    i needed few boards about 8x10", dual layer, silkscreen etc. nothing too fancy.
    some of the components i used were not in library so i had to create them.
    i was a bit nervous to see first set of boards (done by outside shop) but when they arrived, they looked simply amazing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
    • Like Like x 2
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. Laen

    Laen New Member

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    I've been playing with DesignSpark recently as an alternative to Eagle. It's _nice_ and has the ability to import eagle designs and libraries with a little help.

    THe best part is that it has no practical limitations on board dimensions or layers. This is my ticket to 4-layer boards, baby!

    -Laen, PCB Order | DorkbotPDX
     
  6. picbits

    picbits Well-Known Member

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    I use Sprint Layout - only once had an issue with it (printing problem) and I had a response from Tech Support within a couple of hours.

    Its fast, its stable, designing new parts is a piece of cake and its simple. Oh and its reasonably cheap.

    I've tried kicad in the past (a long time ago) and Eagle but didn't get on with them. Every time I hit a problem it took me far too long to sort. They might have changed since but I'm pretty happy with Sprint.
     
  7. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    I understand you like it because it does not have the limitations. Can you elaborate on nice ? How does it differ and why it is better. I would like to add info regarding designSpark to the sticky I have started below.
     
  8. mvs sarma

    mvs sarma Well-Known Member

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    with PCB123, I could change size of any single pad of any chip or device
    like making pin1 of an IC to a square, etc., It is not that simple in EAGLE.
     
  9. MadWolfX694

    MadWolfX694 New Member

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    First off this is a great forum!
    I have been using KiCad and so far it has been good so far. I like the schematic capture and how it links to the layout software. Using dual monitors with the schematic open on 1 screen and the layout on another when you select a part in the layout the schematic automatically centers the schematic on that part of the circuit. This is very nice so you know what the part is doing and allows better judgement for the components placement.

    Creating new components took a few minutes to get used to but now only takes me a couple of minutes to make a new one, including a footprint if needed. A good hint is changing the units from mm to inch or inch to mm and changing the grid to the pin/pad spacing to match the pitch of the part. Then it's only a matter of placing pads on the grid line. It is also possible to edit a pad or pads for a component in a layout with out having to edit the footprint itself.
    Routing manually is quite simple as is laying copper pours to any net in the schematic.
    It is possible to have multiple pages of schematics if needed for larger projects and so far I haven't had any issues with it.
    As with using any software for the first time there is a bit of a learning curve but just gong through the "quick start" document get's you up and running pretty fast. Note that learning and using the keyboard shortcuts will save a huge amount of time and mouse clicking.

    I used to use WinQCad which it pretty nice but the free version has a few limitation (pin count comes to mind) and otherwise isn't really any easier to use than KiCad, but it is fairly inexpensive and from my use seems pretty bug free.

    Haven't heard of DesignSpark but will give it a try to see how it works.
     
  10. alphaai

    alphaai New Member

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    No one has mentioned MultiSim and ultiboard, how does that one compare to the ones you've mentioned.
     
  11. jpanhalt

    jpanhalt Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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  12. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    Cadence has been added.
     
  13. MrDEB

    MrDEB Active Member

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    ONLINE
    Dip-Trace is a FREE download
    Very similar to Eagle but much easier to use.
     
  14. 3v0

    3v0 Coop Build Coordinator Forum Supporter

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    That is like saying your baby is ugly. It would be nice if you were to tell us how or why it is easier to use.
     
  15. lurkepus

    lurkepus Member

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    i'm a linux user and have found gEDA to be a good option, I didn't have any experience with electronic design but i found gEDA to be a good tool , it's easy to make and add things like footprints and symbols ..
     
  16. unclejed613

    unclejed613 Well-Known Member

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    it might be worth mentioning that gEDA is a collection of tools, including a few tools for creating schematic symbols and PCB footprints for all kinds of ICs, including very large BGA chips from the pinout data in the IC's data sheet. other tools include a gerber file reader, and a SPICE simulator, and verilog
     
  17. Little Ghostman

    Little Ghostman Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    it has been mentioned before but not added multi sim is powerful but easy to use nice schematic software and easy to use pcb layout only thing i dont like is the libs they are not as easy to use as some.
     
  18. panic mode

    panic mode Well-Known Member

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    personally i am using KiCad, it does the job well and i am quite happy with it. it is a work in progress and open source, anyone is welcome to contribute.
    one thing that may be interesting for those using breadboard is Fritzing.
    there is a comparison of various EDA products on Wiki:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_EDA_software
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  19. canadaelk

    canadaelk Active Member

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    Chek-out the free Fritzing at www.fritzing.org
    A different approach! From brfedboard to circuit to pcb to Gerber. E
     
  20. 4pyros

    4pyros Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    That looks cool.
     
  21. throbscottle

    throbscottle Well-Known Member

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    Experiences so far of being new to cad and simulation.

    A free version of Tina is available - you can get it from TI with loads of models of TI parts. Not quite as easy to use as LTSpice.

    Been struggling with pcb layout stuff. Didn't want to start making footprints for software I've never used before. Finally found Design Spark pcb contains footprints I need, so does free version of Eagle, but Eagle was too restricted.

    Fritzing looks very promising but too limited.

    Gschem seems very good as a drawing tool, but the learning curve to actually simulate anything is too steep.

    Logisim is a very promising looking logic simulator, not tried anything much with it yet but I like it.
     
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