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The scoop on PCB layout software

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

  1. William Salinas

    William Salinas New Member

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    From my recent experience I recommend kiCAD, it facilitates the design of schemetics for electronic circuit and their conversion to PCBs design. It is easy to use & cheaper too. Even you can also use Dip-trace & Eagle.
     
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  2. Flyback

    Flyback Well-Known Member

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  3. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    I have used ExpressPCB. It is simple yet powerful enough in both Schematic & PCB design with tools for creating your own part, pads with no size limitation. You can easily covert point to point when switching from schematics to pcb and move things around to suit your needs. It is easy to modify on the spot and send to your laser printer for wink wink manufacturing. That said Advance Circuit, as another user mentioned, does manufacture pcb's using their own software. A bit pricey for low quantity and prototyping but a great finished product for higher quantity.

    On another note, I did discover a group of people who not only looked at some of these free pcb programs but also shopped around for manufacturing prices for pcbs and shared their info to be integrated into a lookup like pricing software/site! They have created a great for comparing prices in USA, UK, Europe, and China. Worth exploring. "PCBShopper"

    Cheers,
    Rom
     
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  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    Hi Rom,

    I'm not sure if I mentioned this yet in this thread, but I started off with ExpressPCB but quickly moved to Eagle. Drawing in ExpressPCB was like drawing in Microsoft Paint. I had to make sure all the lines were straight manually and I didn't like the monochromatic look of it. It was difficult to tell where the wire ended and the components started. I also don't like how they force you to use their board house. Sure, it may be relatively cheap but its limitations made it very inconvenient for me. I enjoyed Eagle much more and the process went a lot smoother for me. I have since moved to Altium (which I use at work) and love it, but it is very expensive and has a very steep learning curve.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
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  6. Mikebits

    Mikebits Well-Known Member

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    If I understand correctly, element 14 purchased Cadsoft, and they also have Altium Circuit Maker and Studio. Rumor has it that most support on future upgrades will be more focused on Altium.
     
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  7. jpanhalt

    jpanhalt Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    That is not necessarily bad. No new glitches, no changed icons just for the sake of change, no removing ULP's, no screwing up my personal library with upgrades -- just a short list.

    The only thing I have ever wanted in Eagle was a group move by command line. I can understand why it is not there and have a workaround where I take care of each coordinate by itself, so I am willing to forego that for the benefits of no change. A built in Gerber viewer would be nice, but viewing the Gerbers is such a small part of every project, it is not a big issue to me.

    John
     
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  8. MrDEB

    MrDEB Active Member

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    Expresspcb is easy to use but getting a board produced can be expensive since the files produced are not ordinary Gerber files.
    Eagle is an excellent program but a steep learning curve.
    Look at Dippcb. Very easy to learn and its free plus it outputs usable Gerber files to have a board made.
     
  9. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    I have never heard of Dippcb. Do you mean DipTrace?
     
  10. MrDEB

    MrDEB Active Member

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    Yes Diptrace. Have used alot and very happy.
     
  11. DerStrom8

    DerStrom8 Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    I'll be honest, I tried DipTrace a few times and it felt like a toy to me. Very clunky and I didn't like the part search function. The schematic editor looked terrible (I presume the color scheme can be changed, but the yellow-and-white default was very hard on the eyes) and I simply didn't like the controls. That's just my opinion though. As I always say, try a whole bunch of them and find out which one you prefer personally. If it works for you and suits your needs, then by all means, use it! :)
     
  12. JonSea

    JonSea Well-Known Member

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    Eagle does have a unique user interface to be sure. Whether you use the Windows, Linux or Mac version, it will take some getting used to.

    I put on a seminar for the local hacker space a couple years ago. Many people in the seminar had tried Eagle and given up on it as too complicated to use (which was my first experience too). After two 2-hour sessions, everybody got the hang of it and was past the initial barrier.

    The presentation materials from the course are here. This material is based on version 5, but operation is same for the latest releases. If you've been frustrated by Eagle, take a look; this may help you get started.
     
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  13. throbscottle

    throbscottle Well-Known Member

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    I've been using Design Spark for long enough now to have found out the things I don't like about it. Time to give KiCad a try I think! Free version of Eagle has too restricted a board size, and I don't want to have to pay for it...
     
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  14. JonSea

    JonSea Well-Known Member

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    I use the pro version of Eagle (layout only) not because I do anything that complex but sonetimes I need physically large boards. I'm using version 5 because I don't want to pay the upgrade $$$.
     
  15. EvilGenius

    EvilGenius Member

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    Agree with you and Derstorm. I have not yet made any protypes with their company since it is not very cost efficient (5-10 times the price for small quantity compared to China). As for monochromatic and hard to draw straight lines: They may have improved it tons since you guys may I used it. You can create layer colors, and if trace is not connected to part, it turns different color or wont draw (your choice). All of these are addressed under the preferences. Their output files are not accepted by most standard pcb manufacturers. That said it is awesome for at-home prototyping projects. I pack the parts very close by modifying part layouts and pads to shrink and optimize the pcb. I am sure you can do the same with many of these programs.

    I had the urge to use Eagle but often my pcb project was larger than their max requirement size. I would love to test other programs mentioned in here. I am all for ease of use, ease of exporting and manufacturing!

    Cheers,
    Rom

    P.S.: Did I mention, I am also all for FREE! <Smile>
     
  16. MaxHeadRoom78

    MaxHeadRoom78 Active Member

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    I have used Kicad for some time and Itead for PC board supplier, they were OK, just waiting for a set of 10cm x 10cm boards from DirtyBoard PCB for comparison at $25.00/10.
    Max.
     
  17. Mikebits

    Mikebits Well-Known Member

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    There are new players in the lower cost EDA game namely Altium, Mentor Graphics, and I suppose you can add Multisim by NI. The low cost Altium version seems to be free but is web based, then they have circuit studio with no limitations, but a 1 year license jumps high. Mentor G has similar deal with their unlimited version costing $1200 USD/year. Multisim has similar deals, also they have a mouser Blue edition that is $399 USD per year. As far as pay software goes, the Eagle pro version may still be the way to go. It would be nice to see a shoot out.
    Things to look at are productivity, learning curve, symbol lib availability (which brings me to Libraries) Ultra lib has a free lib service and supports most of the major EDA progs with multisim not yet supported but may be in the works. Eagle is looking better all the time or perhaps KiCad, but there are just too many choices to try them all.
     
  18. oemcar

    oemcar Member

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    have you tried downloading via the .dxf route?
    if so, what version of autocad did you use?
    thx,
    jim
     
  19. eTech

    eTech Active Member

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    I don't know what you mean by "downloading". I imported a DXF board outline but its been a couple years.
     
  20. oemcar

    oemcar Member

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    perhaps I misspoke-not concerned with what the manufacturer supplies, rather what can be imported-
    have you experience in transferring your .dxf files to PC board designers?
     
  21. eTech

    eTech Active Member

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    I haven't done this for awhile so probably wouldn't be much help. For me, it was easier just to create the board outline using the native PCB design tools.
    Because, when creating the source of the .dxf file, you have to plan for appropriate layers, scaling, origin, units, etc., and be aware of the same for the target PCB design system. Otherwise a lot of time will be spent cleaning up the transferred data.

    BTW-
    back in the day, I once wrote a C program to extract PCB assembly data from a unix-based PCB Design database. It would generate a DXF file for use in creating an Autocad PCB assembly drawing, including the board outline and all parts in the correct placement location on the PCB and also create the bill of material on the drawing. Saved a lot of check time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016

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