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Questions relating to designing PCBs
By rdpzycho
NleahciM wrote:
rdpzycho wrote:Eagle may not be suitable for complex professional will just take more time..

but for companies, or self employed professionals with products that doesn't have to deal with too much fine pitched ICs, ball grid ones then Eagle is a good software for the price (or even the free one)..our company and I belong to this category..

the bigger companies with the bigger products that use complicated ICs will always have a shorter lead time for the designer requiring a quicker time to market..that is where the high end suites come in with all the features which take into consideration all factors in rapid development..some PCB design companies even have proprietary softwares that suit their style of routing and designing (and most use Linux)..though, doing that will surely need a budget much more than $3000 on programmer hours.. :wink:
That doesn't really make sense... In the professional world - an engineer's time costs money. The figure I've heard is that an engineer typically costs their company around $1K/day once you factor in everything (salary, benefits, non-technical support staff, etc.). So let's say one ECAD program costs $10K while another is free, but the free one slows the engineer by 10% After working for 5 months with the free program, the slow program has already cost the company $10K.

I would guess I'm 50% faster or so with AD then I am with Eagle, and I spent a whole lot more time with Eagle than I have now with AD. Remember that you also have all the down time where you just have to learn the ECAD program. A completely non-intuitive program further costs the money due to the extended learning period.

But all this goes out the window for the hobbyist.
what I mean with smaller products is that something that can be done with Eagle in a short possible time (no fine pitched SMD components, BGA) of my partners works for a PCB Company (who does motherboards, DVD players, DDR3 modules, and other internal prototypes not yet on the market) and he can easily adapt to Eagle even without the features of the high end products..if we factor in the price difference if ever we bought a high end suite and him doing our PCB on Eagle for us, the latter is much more advantageous to us, we can even make him use some really free and so crude software and still does the work on time correctly (yes, a very crude one without a net)..

we always take into consideration time factor as always, TIME = MONEY and BETTER SOFTWARE = LESS TIME in DEVELOPMENT in the Engineering world..and Eagle is one of those softwares that will give a hard time using in a large enterprise (which makes me think why TI always give footprints in Eagle CAD format)..a lot of friends find Pulsonix fitting their enterprises and a lot of them have a lot of complaints on OrCad though they can cope with it..

by the way, we don't have any non technical we are only a start p company with nearly $12500 only as startup capital so the PCB suite will consume nearly half of our resources...though we can use an ally company's OrCAD if we need a little more better software..Eagle can do much to us 'for now' then we have our prototypes milled in house.. :wink:

we are much more like hobbyists and earning money from it..we are the ones who get paid with our work so we are forced to work on minimal time and not force other people to work on minimal time because we are paying them..we work the long hours and get satisfaction from it with or without the pay.. :wink:
By jmdesign
Just as a matter of question, what do you use for your in-house prototyping (milling)? LPKF, Roland, another manufacturer, custom? I use an older Roland and a custom bigger CNC with a precision head on it.

Just curious as I've found many companies don't do milled prototypes, usually etched. It's always interesting to hear from another company which does in-house milling of prototypes.
By rdpzycho
custom CNC..some ready (and free) PCB milling programs would left some unconnected islands (that were supposed to be etched away when) that may cause trouble especially in high speed designs..I modify the codes so what remains would be the exact PCB as the layout..I am planning to do an automated program to modify the codes but still doesn't have the time..I still have lots of hardware to attend to..

the machine also doubles for prototyping of enclosures and engraving, and even milling of aluminum push buttons.. :lol:
User avatar
By ohararp
So, there has been a lot of debate over "which flavor" everyone likes best. How bout this to add to the mix: ... fm#starter
Checkout the PCB Design Starter Kit for about $300. I have used this for quite sometime and it is pretty awesome! The cool part is that there are a ton of microprocessors that are supported and you can actually simulate much of your code and interaction with other device virtually in the schematic side of the house!

I have been able to add an external gps device, run it through the com port and run my code on the "virtual" pic. Way cool development tool. I know a number of counterparts that will build up a virtual model (complete with glcd) and show it to the customer without ever building anything. They also have usb comms and a ton of other features available as well. You get most of these features in the "basic" package which is nice too.

When you are ready to layout your board you can do that too will all the necessary connectivity as defined by the schematic.

They also give great student discounts. All of my products are done with this product. Of course there are woes with the product like all the others, but I have been very happy with my decision to date. I would prefer Proteus to Eagle anyday!
By jmdesign
rdpzycho wrote:custom CNC..some ready (and free) PCB milling programs would left some unconnected islands (that were supposed to be etched away when) that may cause trouble especially in high speed designs..I modify the codes so what remains would be the exact PCB as the layout..I am planning to do an automated program to modify the codes but still doesn't have the time..I still have lots of hardware to attend to..

the machine also doubles for prototyping of enclosures and engraving, and even milling of aluminum push buttons.. :lol:
Custom is good, I have a custom knee-sized CNC that does both boards with a high-speed cutting head and like you say - buttons, enclosures, etc. I'm always curious because like I said, not many people mill their boards.
By rdpzycho
I always find it amusing watching the machine milling my design while I find etching a boring thing and always gives me worries if the etched PCB's going to be fine (I am not good at doing photo exposures so I always preferred milling)..

my manager at the former company also preferred etching where I wanted to modify an old milling machine, laying around unused for a decade, to mill our PCB's..I don't exactly know why only a few managers want their PCB's milled (and can be done on their desktop) and prefer the method of etching where you may need to monitor what's happening with the chemicals..
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By ohararp
so the big question is then how do you do your thru hole via for two-sided designs? I am pretty interested in this , but the via thing is killing me. I haven't seen two many plating tank setups other than what lpkf if offering. Their lowest cost solution is $9K!
By rdpzycho
when the prototype is needed immediately, we use wires (sometimes even intentionally including traces just for these "wire" vias)..I normally sand all of them to a flat before placing every other component, simply because I don't like the appearance of the board when I see wire bumps all around.. :lol:

there are also some rivet-like methods..they make a lot more professional look than the wires do..tin plating the board after the rivet-like via makes it look like it was plated..

I am currently talking with chemical engineer friends if they can help me build a plating setup for hobby far, no further response from them..

if we need a board that will need a high quality via from the start (RF ones and high speed digital devices), then we outsource it and wait..though we can test the rough functionality of each module by doing in house prototyping..
By solodex
Thought I would chime in on this.

I do PCB design for a living. At my day job, we use Altium Designer 2.6. It has an incredible feature set and is very good for what I need it to do. I design high speed RF boards so I need the matched pair routing, impedance matching, BGA fanout/design, etc. that Altium offers. With Eagle I just can't do these boards.

I also do a bit of side work for local colleges, others, etc. in which I am designing boards that at most have a CPLD on them, but often times are more mundane boards. I use Eagle Professional for this and it works out great. 4 Layer boards are not a problem. I like the simplicity of Eagle because I don't need all of the extra features Altium has. Also, the fact that I have customization control over many of Eagles features is wonderful. The User Language interface gives me the ability to add a lot of customization and automation to my design process. My only complaint is I wish that they had a ASCII, open file format to allow for easy scripting.

I find that I can do simple boards (Max 4 layers, no high speed, no bga's, <400 components) much faster in Eagle than in Altium Designer. However, forget High Speed or dense BGA boards in Eagle. Just not possible in any reasonable time period. That said, each of them has there place. Both produce "Professional" boards, but bear in mind that not all professional boards must be high speed with an FPGA...

Eagle is different from high end packages. Cadsoft has a different target audience then Altium or Pulsonix does. They tailor their package to what their average customer needs. Why try to get into the high end market late and compete with the big players when you can fill a major gap that exists on the low end. You cannot really compare the two because of this.

Look at the feature sets, price, productivity, etc. of each package and decide what will best fill your needs. If you can use a low end package and be productive with it, do it. If you don't need trace matching, FPGA design tools, impedence matching, etc. then why pay for it?
By Philba
wow, solodex. that was a well said piece.
By joelotz
I agree, solid information solodex! Thanks!!

This thread has run it's course, so let's call it good. :lol:
By winston
Incidentally, I see the term 'high speed' bandied about: what are you considering the threshold for 'high speed' to be?
User avatar
By leon_heller
It's a bit vague, but I'd say it was speeds where impedance, crosstalk and track length matter. The sort of stuff where one would use FPGAs running at 200 MHz or more with critical timing requirements.

By Lucien
joelotz wrote:I agree, solid information solodex! Thanks!!

This thread has run it's course, so let's call it good. :lol:
At the risk of ruining a perfectly good thread...

Leon, do you have any experience with Easy-PC? I understand that shares some DNA with Pulsonix.

I've been toying with the idea of getting a copy of EAGLE schematic+layout modules - high end software like Pulsonix is more than I need, and out of my budget. But for Eagle, v5 has been released, and their prices have jumped 30%, putting it head to head with the entry level Easy-PC.

That said, I've gotten pretty decent with EAGLE, though some things still bug me, like not being able to bring up properties of a track in the layout editor and be able to type in corrected values. I wonder if they've added that in the latest version.
User avatar
By leon_heller
I used EasyPC for 20 years until Pulsonix came along. It is very easy to use, with excellent support. They are both produced by Westdev, EasyPC is more for hobbyists and educational users, whilst Pulsonix is a full professional package. They share many features.

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