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Questions relating to designing PCBs
By Ampman
#43583
We've been using Cadence's ORCAD and don't like many of its "features". Tried Mentor's pricey Expedition.

What's an good but affordable PCB software package?
By NleahciM
#43585
The only programs I've used are Altium Designer and Cadsoft Eagle. I started with Eagle and used it for about 3-4 years before switching to Designer. Designer is multiple orders of magnitude better than Eagle.

Can't speak to Pulsonix (having never used it myself), but I can say that the industry standards seem to be OrCAD and Designer.
By inventore123
#43606
Well, at least try Eagle :lol: you can download a free but limited evaluation version, and then if you don't like it try the other that have been mentioned :D
In my opinion it is not bad :wink:
And it is the only pcb cad I know about that has a Windows/Linux/OSX version.
By khearn
#43632
If your definition of "affordable" is close to mine (i.e. "free"), then take a look at Eagle. If it's close to Leon's, then by all means take a look at Pulsonix. I can't see spending $3000 to design a few hobby PCBs that will cost me a total of less than $200. But if you make a living at it, that's a different story altogether. Get the best tools you can for your profession, get what you can justify for your hobby.

I'm using Eagle, and it's pretty decent, once you get used to it. There are plenty of non-intuitive bits in its interface, and the help system is, um, (how can I put this nicely?), sub-par. Once you get the hang of its interface, you can do a lot with it. But the learning curve is a bit steep at first. There are a few tutorials on the web (do a google search) that will help a lot to get you started. Also read the newsgroups hosted on CADSoft's website as well as this forum. Lots of good info and people who can (and will) help.

Hmmm, I just re-read this before posting, and I feel like I'm doing CADSoft an injustice. I don't mean to make it sound like Eagle isn't suitable for professional work. If I had to design PCBs for a living, I think I'd be happy using Eagle, now that I'm used to it. I've seen Leon mention that Pulsonix's autorouter is far better than Eagle's, and I can believe that. But I just run the autorouter for entertainment, then rip everything up and end up routing everything by hand anyway. :wink: Having never used Pulsonix, I can't say what else, if anything, it does that makes it worth $3000, as opposed to $400 for Eagle Professional. Eagle is a pretty darn good tool, and Pulsonix had better be pretty fantastic to justify costing 750% as much. Maybe it is. If I started doing this for a living I'd at least take a look, but I could certainly be satisfied with Eagle.

Keith
User avatar
By leon_heller
#43656
Pulsonix is *far* easier and faster to use than Eagle, and competes with more expensive packages like Altium Designer, PADS and OrCAD.

I actually compared Pulsonix and Eagle once, and found that equivalent operations were twice as fast with Pulsonix, primarily because of all the additional keystrokes and mouse clicks required with Eagle. Where I used to work a colleague of mine who knew Eagle very well took two weeks over a PCB that I could have done in a couple of days with Pulsonix.

Leon
By Kuroi Kenjin
#43662
If you want really cheap, I've had a great time with FreePCB. Although it might not have a parts library bigger than the other guys, it does have a very easy to use footprint editor. It doesn't interface with a schematic editor yet, that I know of, but I do remember reading plans to try and interface with TinyCAD (which is also free).
By NleahciM
#43706
khearn wrote: I don't mean to make it sound like Eagle isn't suitable for professional work. If I had to design PCBs for a living, I think I'd be happy using Eagle, now that I'm used to it.
That's because it is all you know. Eagle is not suitable for professional level work. Cadsoft has a brilliant marketing scheme, however: they give away a simple version for free so that people will learn it and then when they are more serious about ECAD they will buy a more complete version of the software.

I used to be of the same mindset that Eagle was suitable for just about anything. Now that I'm in the professional world, where my ECAD program was chosen for me, I thank my lucky stars every day that it wasn't Eagle that was chosen for me.
By Philba
#43710
I think this has gotten a bit off track. Unless I read the OP wrong, he's a hobbyist and not going to drop 3 large on a piece of software.

Given that, I'd say Eagle is really the best bet. None of the other packages in that class (low low cost) come close to eagle. I tried a couple of the packages like freepcb and they didn't come close to eagle. I think for even an advanced hobbyist, eagle is a very usable solution.
By b_w_
#43717
You may also have to define what 'professional' means because, correct me if Im wrong, but our very own sparkfun made the switch to eagle a couple years ago and I dont think theyre doing too bad.

Yes it is *** backwards for its interface sometimes but it works fair enough once over the learning curve. (Now if I could only figure out where that .0044 aperture is......)

Brian
By NleahciM
#43721
Philba wrote:I think this has gotten a bit off track. Unless I read the OP wrong, he's a hobbyist and not going to drop 3 large on a piece of software.

Given that, I'd say Eagle is really the best bet. None of the other packages in that class (low low cost) come close to eagle. I tried a couple of the packages like freepcb and they didn't come close to eagle. I think for even an advanced hobbyist, eagle is a very usable solution.
He's using OrCAD. Hobbyists typically don't use programs of that caliber. Note that he never mentioned being a hobbyist - you're just making an assumption. Going to a program like OrCAD or any of the other free CAD programs would be a *huge* step down for him.
By Azoore
#43735
FWIW, I have OrCAD and prefer Eagle functionally, although OrCAD does look prettier.
By winston
#43756
If you are a Linux, BSD or Mac user, then consider PCB. It's a very good PCB layout package - Free as in freedom, no limitations on PCB size or number of layers. It has open, documented text formatted files which means you can manipulate them with any scripting language you care to use.

http://pcb.sourceforge.net/

It also works with gEDA's gschem and netlisting tools for schematic capture to PCB.

In my opinion it's worth switching to Linux just to use PCB :-)
By smdFan
#43757
I have used Altium's software (forgotten its name) long time ago. I have a little experience with OrCAD too. These two are very high end software and cost well over $10K. Now I am learning EAGLE and I like its simplicity. It is rather easy comparing to the other two. Even its full version cost much less than the others (around $1K). It depends on what you are planning to do with it. If you are desiging a motherboard for a Dell laptop, then I think you might want to go with those high end packages. If you are designing something less complicated EAGLE will do it for you. Although, so far, I have no reason why you can not use EAGLE for complicated design such as a pc motherboard. I think all those PCBs that you see on Sparkfun, can very well be done with EAGLE. It all depends on what you want to do with it, how much you can spend on it, and how much time you want to spend on learning it. If you are a hobbiest, the free version of the EAGLE is just perfect. Long ago when I first encountered EAGLE, I did not even considered using it. But when I left the company and could not afford expensive softwares, I looked into EAGLE and now I like it. It is easy to learn comparatively, it is affordable, the best thing is you can run it from your Flash USB storage device. So you can take it anywhere. I hope it helps.
By Philba
#43766
NleahciM wrote:
Philba wrote:I think this has gotten a bit off track. Unless I read the OP wrong, he's a hobbyist and not going to drop 3 large on a piece of software.

Given that, I'd say Eagle is really the best bet. None of the other packages in that class (low low cost) come close to eagle. I tried a couple of the packages like freepcb and they didn't come close to eagle. I think for even an advanced hobbyist, eagle is a very usable solution.
He's using OrCAD. Hobbyists typically don't use programs of that caliber. Note that he never mentioned being a hobbyist - you're just making an assumption. Going to a program like OrCAD or any of the other free CAD programs would be a *huge* step down for him.
You are being argumentative so I'll respond in kind. Note that he said "pricey" and "affordable" in the OP. That says a lot more than what he was using. Not sure why you are being cranky but it isn't helping this discussion at all.

It probably would have been a good idea for the OP to specify his price range.
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