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PCB Software

Discussion in 'Circuit Simulation & PCB Design' started by ronv, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. MrDEB

    MrDEB Active Member

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    I downloaded the PCB shopper and check prices quite often. Working on three different boards and found using FreeDFM - A Service of Advanced Circuits a great help in designing a better board. I recall Jon posted the suggested link.
     
  2. Jack Thonet

    Jack Thonet New Member

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    Hi all,

    I must say I also settled on DesignSpark.
    For a few reasons.

    * First, there is a free AND unlimited version (up to 1 sq.m!). Eagle was limited in board size and this put me off.
    Happy with my decision, as my first two boards were 100mm * 150mm, well in excess of what Eagle lets you design for free.

    * Second the community online is huge. It was created by RS Components. One of the largest electronics components resellers.
    Now, that should ensure longevity, further developments, updates, and resolution of any software bugs!
    Also, there is a library of already designed part footprints and symbol.
    I personally make all parts from scratch to avoid surprises but it might be time-effective to rely on an existing library!

    * Third, the interface, very structured and logical with a schematic symbol, PCB footprint and component to link is really intuitive and structured.
    It really makes it easy enough to use.

    * Regarding capabilities, it is not anywhere near what Altium can do, but I'd for anything 4 layers or under, it is really suitable.
    There is a lot of customisation possible ( and necessary). You can set everything from silkscreen fonts and sizes, to annular rings, to all design rules spacings.
    There are also the keepout areas, poured areas, mechanical holes and special shapes. You can really do everything you need to do.

    * There are also the standard features of the software, which are not always present like Autorouter (I don't use it),
    schematic and PCB design are linked (easy to cross-probe), component creation wizards, 3D viewer (nice addition!).
    And also a lot of reporting and the very useful Design Rule Check feature !

    * production of manufacturing files (Gerber and Drill files)

    The con's or flaws of DesignSpark would be for me:
    - not all the features that Altium for example has
    - regularly the program will crash, easpecially for larger designs. There is no way out of this I believe, it will crash.
    But if you do save your work regularly, it shouldn't really be a big worry. Restart the program and you are good again.

    So all things considered, I think DesignSpark has a lot to offer.
    The few remaining software glitches, that probably only come up with larger designs, will certainly be solved in future versions.

    Eagle is probably good to have in order to to read some existing designs on the internet that are made with Eagle (.brd and .sch files)

    Pick whichever software package you want, but you know which side I'm on!
     
  3. Flyback

    Flyback Well-Known Member

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    ..My sentiments exactly....but I don't give a damn what the GUI looks like, all I care about is simplicity and speed of use, and eagle gives that in bundles.

    In my humble opinion, Eagle has more google-able and other web type support than any other pcb layout package.
    Also, Eagle is the PCB Layout package most commonly used in Industrial Germany and China, -two of the best engineering countries in the world. Though I would agree Eagle does not seem good for computer motherboard type PCBs...specifically, those PCBs that have multiple differential pair busses to route.
    Eagle also links in to Farnell, though I don't particularly care about that.

    I used 4 different pcb layout packages before coming to eagle, and struggled with them badly, but when I started using eagle, it was very very easy, much easier than the others.........Before I met eagle, I actually spent £2200 on a high-end pcb layout package, but had to just throw it aside as I couldn't use it quickly enough when doing contract jobs.....Eagle came to the rescue.

    BTW, I used the tangentsoft.net tutorials on eagle and found them brilliant
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. MCU88

    MCU88 Member

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    Well, my 2-cents...

    I have to swear by Protel / Circuit Maker 2000 since I know how to use it and get the job done. Protel was an AUD 4K software package early last decade turn of the century. Circuit Maker 2000 I paid $1,500 for back in 2001. It spits out industry standard gerber files for the nc drilling machine. Although I use an drill press an manually drill out my PCBs. In fact I do the whole lot myself from scratch. I used to use negative acting photoresist, which entails placing the film over the PCB, exposing it to UV light for a couple of minutes, then using developer (baking soda actually) -- to reveal the pads and tracks on the board. Then followed by using ammonium perlsuphate to etch the board. Next is stripper to remove the photo resist covering the artwork. Wash it. Guillotine it. Drill out the holes. Done!

    These days however I use the thermal transfer paper, and this eliminates the UV part of the process and uses acetone to remove the laser printer toner from the board. It is much cheaper than using photoresist, and the results are 'all there'
     
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  6. Flyback

    Flyback Well-Known Member

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    Altium say this, but Eagle do not say this. Eagle don't appear to deny it either.
    Does anybody know if its true?....I don't see how with a PCB with much copper pours, how is altium supposed to know what is copper pour, and what is track, and what is pad etc etc?..........
    How perfect is the Eagle-Altium transfer?, ...I just cant see that altium is going to know what layer things are on when it imports an eagle library...I mean, I personally use the "document" layer of eagle to do "construction lines" for my footprints, but how is altium going to know this?....on to which of its layers is it going to put my construction lines?.......Altiums layer structure is not as simple and transparent as eagle.
     
  7. Koenig

    Koenig New Member

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    i would recommend cadsoft eagle to you. easy to use for beginners. just my two cents ;)

    oh, just noticed: postet in this thread some months ago :banghead: haha, but i still recommend eagle :p
     
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  8. mikekeens

    mikekeens New Member

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  9. Flyback

    Flyback Well-Known Member

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    Apart from eagle, most of the expensive ones are made deliberately difficult so that many people have to keep asking the authors for help...then when you do that they check if you've got a licence.....and try and charge you a grand for an apps visit. Also, their apps guys are moonlighting as pcb layouters and so the last thing they want to do is genuinely help others in how to use the package.
     
  10. JonSea

    JonSea Well-Known Member

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    Wow, great outlook on life there!
     
  11. Flyback

    Flyback Well-Known Member

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    Sorry but your country (and mine) could be far more profitable if our engineering managers realised this.....we wouldn't have our trillions of debt. The Chinese and the Germans have heads-upped to it.
     
  12. SalomonSchwarz

    SalomonSchwarz New Member

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    I´d recommend CadSoft EAGLE. Version 7.5 was just released and "In recognition of the ever expanding needs of EAGLE’s large community user-base CadSoft has also added a second schematic sheet to the free edition of EAGLE v7.5". That comes in quite handy. On the website you´ll find a lot of tutorial stuff and a FAQ section... In the image below you´ll find more information about the free trial version. Also check YouTube for video-tutorials. Couldn´t find them on the website.

    Source Image:http://www.cadsoftusa.com/product-overview/
     

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  13. Mikebits

    Mikebits Well-Known Member

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    My license for Multisim Blue is coming to an end, so I think I will be making the switch to Eagle. Most likely Eagle Make Pro, as I do some commercial use work. Not sure what other diff there is between Make Personal and Pro. Actually the price for Pro is just slightly more than Multisim Blue Premium (which is really the NI Multisim Base version) but the Multisim is a annual subscription price.
     
  14. Mikebits

    Mikebits Well-Known Member

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    One more thing, does anyone know if there will be a simulator added to Eagle, at one point I had heard there would be.
    I should have looked at the website prior to posting my question. One thing I did not see is how to get this added feature as it was not listed under the price list.

    EAGLE Simulation and Signal Integrity (powered by PCBSim by Felicitas)Learn more
    PCBSim provides a complete circuit simulator with special extensions for signal integrity.
    The signal integrity function analyzes and corrects a design very early in the design cycle for signal integrity issues. This ensures that the signal integrity remains stable throughout the complete transmission path from sender to receiver IC. Available modules are Transmission Lines, S Parameter Models and IBIS models.
     
  15. MaxHeadRoom78

    MaxHeadRoom78 Active Member

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    Free Kicad runs pretty close to Orcad IMO.
    Excellent program and many tutorials out there.
    No restriction on size.
    Max.
     
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  16. aardyvarky

    aardyvarky Member

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    I tried most of the (at least free to try) s/w mentioned on this forum, those that could do the job and were not limited too much. For instance, PCBexpress is great but I can't afford $125 (about £100?) for my limited needs, and free version does not output Gerber files. Just couldn't get on with KiCad - I'm used to AutoCAD and I found it frustrating that it didn't behave the way I think it should. Tried DesignSpark, drew a very simple opamp cct using the library (as a test), and when I tried to convert it to pcb it "lost" the opamp leaving me with a board consisting of some resistors! Not impressed. Tried Fritzing but that seems dedicated to something called Arduino, bit like a toy program and I haven't been 12 for many years (er, decades). Have ended up with DipTrace, which works great, although I have had to add some patterns to some of the library components - no biggy. I emailed them and they kindly upgraded me to 500 pins/2 layers (just enough for me). My issue now is that the Gerber (what is the difference with GerberX2?) output files are all .GBR and EleCrow (other PCB fabs are available) wants .GTL .GBL .GTS etc. - should I just rename them?
     
  17. JonSea

    JonSea Well-Known Member

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    The convention Elecrow uses is com across most of the Chinese fab houses and many other places seem to be coming around to this. You can just rename the layers and things will work fine.

    The CAM processor in Eagle lets you redefine the file extensions - I don't know if this is an option in Diptrace.
     
  18. aardyvarky

    aardyvarky Member

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    Thank you Jon, I've uploaded renamed files to FreeDFM to see what they think.
     
  19. JonSea

    JonSea Well-Known Member

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    Very smart move. They have saved me from ordering screwed up boards a few times.
     
  20. Mikebits

    Mikebits Well-Known Member

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    Turns out my Multisim still works after my 1 year license, only thing I can't do now is get updates (They never updated the whole time I was licensed, seems the updates only come for new versions which is annual), so I will continue using multisim as I have become quite proficient with it. I also attended a Altium Seminar and got a crippled version out of it, as I need to get back into the job market I felt learning Altium would be a good resume builder...
    I can answer most Multisim questions, so anybody needing help with this tool feel free to post your questions here, I usually read the forum at least once a week.
     
  21. Superdat

    Superdat Member

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    Hi
    I tried a number of the Free PCB designers and found them to be either low in features or very difficult to use.
    Then I tried DipTrace, I found it to be very intuitive and figured out how to use most of it very quickly.
    The Free version for personal use has a pin limit but I find it more than enough for my projects.
    Double sided boards are supported.
     

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