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General suggestions or questions about the SparkFun Electronics website
By bsodmike

I was wondering what program SFE uses to draw the schematics and lay the PCBs in?

By reklipz
Im pretty sure it's Eagle by CadSoft, don't quote me on that though, I think olimex uses them too...
By bsodmike
Tbh I doubt it. I've been using Eagle for years and everything looks different. I'm pretty sure it's something else...HRM!
By bsodmike
"I'm pretty sure Sparkfun does all their drawings using Protel. At the very least, that is what they use to make PCBs."

Olimex, SFE don't. The schems @ SFE are via Protel too then (obviously)...

Shame it costs so much - seems better than Eagle...
By reklipz
for more than 14x the price, it ought to be.
It's at least 14x better than Eagle... 8)

I have used Protel for my consulting business for years and luckily I "bought into" the program before it became outrageously expensive. I think I only paid $1995 for Protel 99SE as they had a special "upgrade price" for registered Orcad users. The regular price at the time was $4K-5K, already out of reach for a lot of people -- even "professionals".

I've tried almost every under $20K EDA package out there and I like Protel (Altium) the best (based on useful features, schematic entry and manual routing tools, quality of output and ease of use). I have nothing personal against Eagle but almost every aspect of the program is crude and unpolished compared to Protel/Altium. But it does work and it's at a price most people in all of their market segments can afford. So I understand why people use it...

It's a shame Altium thinks they are selling workstation-grade tools now and have bought into the "everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-so-it-must-be-worth-$10K" mindset. Their basic schematic entry and PCB layout tools are really excellent. All the other crap I can live without.

I have been telling them for years they should sell a version that just does schematic entry and PCB layout (like Eagle Professional) and sell it for $1995. They would sell a ton of seats. But alas, I suspect it would cut into their sales of $10K seats for suckers that will pay that much just to use the schematic entry and PCB layout tools.
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By sparky
Most of the older SFE schematics are Protel. All Olimex schematics are Eagle I believe. Our newer products (starting around May of this year) are Eagle based.

I used Protel SE for a couple years, then DXP. Finally, we looked into the Altium suite. $12k was what we were quoted and was way too much.

We moved to Eagle. It was like learning a new language. Once I learned the verbs though, it does everything I ever asked of Protel, only faster. I (heart) Eagle. Protel had lots of problems, bugs, etc. Eagle is crude yes, but stable. And once you get over the learning curve, Eagle is pretty slick. And I think it was $1200 for *3* seats ($400 per license)! Not too shabby.

I dream of posting the SFE eagle library someday. Just gotta find some free time.

By Caffeine
DXP2004 is many thousands of times more stable than 99SE, but yes the price is steep...
I've never had any stability problems with Protel99SE SP6, in fact I can't ever remember it crashing while working on a design (Schematic or PCB).

About the only problem I have with it is that it doesn't play well with Adobe Acrobat, but this manifests itself as Protel99SE hanging on exit. Killing the process with task manager fixes that easily. I just don't run Acrobat and Protel99SE at the same time anymore.

I've heard that AD6 is a big improvement on DXP2004 too. They've finally done enough SPs that it's usable without too many bugs and workarounds.

I'd like to upgrade but I just can't see coughing up ~$6-8K to upgrade for the few new features I'd really like to have. For what I do -- lots of schematics and manual PCB layout -- Protel99SE continues to work well.
By Caffeine
Well, AD6 is just DXP2004 SP4 anyway :)
yeah, more or less... but you can't have a big price increase without a name change!

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