PCB layout and schematic software

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medelec35
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PCB layout and schematic software

Postby medelec35 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:47 pm

There has been talk of different packages on these forums recently e.g Eagle & Designs spark spring to mind.

But which is the best free or cheap package out there (perhaps from free to £200) to use as an all in one?

Would anyone who has had experience with one ore more package please mention how good/bad it is.

That way we me be able to draw a conclusion to which is the best to use, and would benefit other's wondering the same question.

Thanks.

Martin
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Benj » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:37 pm

Hi Martin,

We use Proteus here, it is mid priced and fairly flexible and good for generating bill of materials lists etc. It is a bit weird to use though it has got a lot better recently. It also has an upside that it can simulate PIC chips in circuit, in fact at Uni I made my own HP488 dev board using Proteus because I couldn't afford to buy one of my own. Ended up handing it out to the entire embedded department :D

I have also used Protel which is also very good and easy to use but much more expensive then Proteus.

I have also dabbled with Eagle and I know that this is very popular with the online community but I struggled with doing some specific things with it. To be fair I didn't really spend long enough to see what it was really capable of.

In summation I would maybe give the free versions of Eagle and Proteus a go and see what you find to work better for you.

Maybe someone else has some other suggestions to try.
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby JohnCrow » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:40 pm

Ive just downloaded a program called DipTrace

Not had a chance to do very much apart from a quick look at it so far first impressions it looks good.

http://www.diptrace.com/

They do a free non profit licence (500pins & 2 layers)
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Steve001 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:55 pm

http://www.vutrax.co.uk/

free version limit 256 holes

price list here and limiations (old)

http://www.vutrax.co.uk/pricing.htm

Vutrax is not the best & not intuitive in any way. I used it back in 1998 & it hasn't changed much since.
There are better systems out there in my view the symbol libary as standard is limited, cerating symbols is
not easy and the rats nest tool is very difficult.


using eagle free version at the moment, have found the online forums quite helpfull although the in built tutorials are not very helpfull
some good stuff on you tube tho to help you get working.

making your own symbol not too bad after watching you tube again. There is quite a large online libary of symbols but bbe carefull of those
have downloaded some that are rubish.

The free version of eagle has a design limit tho on the size of the pcb's which has just recantly caught me out :(

pricing and limits here


http://www.cadsoftusa.com/shop/pricing/?language=en


design spark the gui is very simaler to eagle although the libarys are not interchangable and the output file pcb size is huge ! in the free version



http://www.sonsivri.com [useful forum for cad systems]


hope this of some use

steve
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby medelec35 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:14 pm

Thanks for your reply’s I have found them useful and interesting.
I have had tried Proteus.
What I have found useful for creating new PCB objects is place cursor in the centre of a pad, using O to set cursor to 0, 0 then if I need a pad that’s has to be exactly 5.08 mm to the right then right click on the new pad select Move to and just enter 0 for Y and 5.08 for X
If imperial measurements are up you can ether change to metric, or type 5.08mm.
The only disadvantages are if there is a group of tracks and I would like to change them all to say T40 then even though the group maybe selected you can only change one track at a time. Unless you can, but I can’t see how?
Also I could not see a way to use a key to snap to centre of a selected object. It looks like you need to move cursor un till snap looks about centre.

Overall Proteus is a great package, but support is not as good as Matrix.

About 4ish years ago I tried Eagle, but was not impressed. It maybe better now, so not sure if worth trying it again or not?

Same with Diptrace. There is something that put me off from using the product. Maybe I'm just too fussy in my old age :P
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby dazz » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:06 pm

Im find eagle to be the best once you get the hang of it, kicad is free and open source
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby dazz » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:31 pm

Surprised no one has mentioned tina, downloadable demo from the forums main site hth
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby medelec35 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:47 pm

dazz wrote:Surprised no one has mentioned tina, downloadable demo from the forums main site hth

Now that is a point, I own a copy of tina, I bought the home version the same time as I bought Flowcode V3.

Hmm where did I put the CD case? :lol:

I will give that a try thanks dazz.
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Steve001 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:54 am

here are the you tube links of the tutorials that i used

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG0O9LKH ... re=related

Custom part tutorial

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nijCcQQi ... re=related

Also farnell website has eagle libary symbols on some parts this is the little blue ic if you have noticed it.
but you need a farnell log in to be able to download them.


dazz wrote:Surprised no one has mentioned tina, downloadable demo from the forums main site hth



didn't know about that . . . . thought it was a simulation tool :o

Steve
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby KevinH » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:47 pm

Hi,

I have just completed my Design Sparks V3 PCB layout which I had manufactured by PCB-Pool. Everything worked first time, which was very pleasing at it was my first surface mount board layout. I found DS3 was very good once I had passed the normal learning curve entry point. Some users criticise the library content, but I found it easy to produce the components I required such as a SIL DC-DC converter package. There are good tutorials and videos available to speed up the initial learning steps. PCB-Pool were also good accepting the DS3 native files directly, i.e. removing going through the gerber and drill file generation steps. So, I will use this package again.

I have also used Proteous in the past and although relatively good, I really dislike the menu structure and indeed it takes time to become familiar with the basic steps, but it does seem powerful and for the higher packages more powerful than DS3. A big limitation with Proteous in my version was component positioning as you have to zoom in and actually place with the mouse, whereas DS allows the actual co-ordinates to be typed.

Target 3001! a free download from PCB-Pool is also full featured and allows double sided PCB's, but unfortunately the costs mount up as you move away from this. I did like the speed and ease of learning with this package.

Another package I use is Sprint-Layout version 5.0, this is a very simple double sided pcb layout package (no schematic), but it produces hpgl isolation plot files which I will use with my little pcb milling machine. Have tried with one design to test the process steps and shall test some more later, but all results good so far!

One general comment is people often complain about the library file content, however I have found as long as there is a look alike part e.g. a dual op amp in 8 pins and a suitable pcb footprint that can be used, you can edit names etc., to get what you require. As the parts become bigger and more unique then yes expect to use a library creator and the packages offer more features such as analysis, then yes you have more work to produce missing parts.
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby ericaleo » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:06 pm

pcbmaking.com would be the best option for printed circuit board. It designs professional PCB at cheaper price. You can place your order instantly and get free shipping. Its easy way to get your job done! Good luck!
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Brendan » Tue May 13, 2014 10:51 pm

My vote is with Proteus, and the optional annual upgrade service contract won't break the bank (roughly £40 for the level 1 package).

It does have little quirks, but they all do - even the mighty Altium. I tried Eagle only a couple of years back but cast it aside when it was just 'too' weird and confusing to drive, and my learn'ed colleague felt exactly the same way (and did the same). Doubtless OK if you have the time to develop familiarity with it, but I'd suggest Proteus is very much more intuitive and aligns much better with many other industrial packages you are likely to encounter in an engineering profession. I personally like the UI, plus bundled features/autorouter/libraries. Incidentally, component positioning in Ares layout can be optimised by holding the left mouse button (to drag) and hitting the arrow keys to position, with X,Y shown in the lower screen.

All the best,

Brendan
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby hyperion007 » Thu May 15, 2014 9:17 am

I use Diptrace as it was the only PCB design application that was intuative enough to just "get going". It has become better and if you use all parts of it, component creation, pattern creation, schematics and finally PCB design, then it is really nice and easy to use. And the newly updated 3D features makes it very easy to find accurate 3D models of components and to import them, and attach them to a pattern. You can also export the 3D PCB with components so that you can import it to a CAD program like Solidworks etc. Great for modelling enclosures to be printed in your 3D printer or other methods of production for that matter.

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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby EtsDriver » Sun Jun 29, 2014 4:53 pm

I have used at work and hobby PADS and Altium EDA, Proteus, Protel and KiCAD,Eagle and Multisim... All these have their pros and cons, and some of them are made for desingteams and some are for one-man-army guys... But so far, the best i found for my use as hobbyist is EagleCAD.

Eagle is simple and not recource heavy, so you dont need SoLastWeek-HD-GPU to see all the eyecandy from it (Im looking at you, Altium. :twisted: ). Id recommend Eagle for hobbyist and small production use where one guy does all the desinging from schematic to desing, the UI is bit frustrating at first but you can always put some shortcuts to it.

But i have to say.. Still looking for the right PCB/schematic desing tool... :P
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Ill just keep the good work up!

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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby peterhalloway » Fri Dec 05, 2014 10:56 am

Martin what did you end up with? I have used Proteus for many years. It's a great package. Wish I could afford to add PIC's to it because it is a useful feature. I think I agree with someone else's comment. Labcenter do provide quite good support, but not as good as Matrix. Other package I have used is circuit wizard who are just about to launch v3. However, I would say this is more aimed at schools and the PCB side of things is not great. They use a programming environment similar to flowcode, but no where near as versatile and constrains you to their "Genie" range of chips (PIC's with a boot loader.)

Pete

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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Benj » Fri Dec 05, 2014 12:09 pm

Might be a bit off topic but I have recently built a small but capable CNC and have resorted to using Eagle as it has a free plugin called PCB GCODE which generates all the mill and drill code to create the board. Not managed to make any fully working PCBs yet but I have come quite close. Problem is my motor has a lot of play in the Z axis, mainly caused by me trying to get the original gear off it.

http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-printed-CNC-mill/

I agree that the Eagle UI is very poor but once you get the hang of it, it is workable and even better it's free. Lots of issues regarding changing things on the layout not being done due to restrictions of free version though but I get there in the end.

I have managed to do similar CNC toolpaths in the past using Proteus but this involved other 3rd party tools such as illustrator to get the vector paths and LazyCam to generate the gcode. Also my CNC was not up to scratch back then so might revisit this at some point if Eagle is driving me up the wall.
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Steve001 » Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:57 pm

Hi Benj,

Have you seen linux cnc and emc2 for pcb milling ? Works from eagle too

http://wiki.linuxcnc.org/cgi-bin/wiki.p ... ht-Probing

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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Benj » Fri Dec 05, 2014 4:02 pm

Cheers Steve,

I will investigate that tonight :D

Auto levelling would certainly be very handy calibration wise and is something I've been looking at for my 3D printer for a while.

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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Steve001 » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:21 pm

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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Steve001 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:27 pm

Whilst looking for something else i stumbled across this , not sure if online biased or not ( it is an autodesk product tho :( £££ $$$ )

http://123d.circuits.io/




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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby medelec35 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 12:57 pm

peterhalloway wrote:Martin what did you end up with?

Hi Peter,
I have not truly settled down with one package yet since any package appears to have it's ups and downs.
The two I am considering using is Designspark PCB
Since there are no restrictions
Free for commercial or non-commercial use, no limitations or licensing
and a lot of components are available to download on line (after registering) and its completely free.
Or DipTrace (mentioned by John).
I have read some really good reviews on this package to will be trying over the next few weeks, and hoping to compare both.
After creating circuits/PCBs from scratch, I have post finding if people will find it useful?

@John.
Just curious, how did you get on with diptrace?

Martin
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Steve001 » Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:19 am

saw this on elektor website.

http://www.fabstream.com/

Steve
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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby peterhalloway » Fri Dec 26, 2014 1:59 pm

Does anyone have the pdf for the instructables CNC mill please and are there any other files, I have access to a laser and 3D printer

Thanks

Pete

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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby Steve001 » Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:11 pm

have a look here not sure if they are all there or not

http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-CNC ... ter-Plans/

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Re: PCB layout and schematic software

Postby acestu » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:54 pm

Hi guys,

Only just seen this post, just what I wanted to know so thanks everyone

cheers
Stuart
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