Affordable PCB Layout Software ???

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Um ... has there been some kind of conspiracy at work over
the past few years to totally drain the marketplace of
decent PCB layout/routing software ???

Circuitmaker, Protel, Traxmaker ... the sub-$200 kind of
goodies that combined all the good features with intuitive
no-BS interfaces - gone. Seems they've all been bought-up
and destroyed by Altium - which will now generously sell you
their "complete system" for more than your slightly-used
SUV will get you at trade-in nowadays.

Well, I don't *need* a "complete system" ... I just need to
be able to blast out smallish PCBs using mostly manual routing
and create files that the cheap commercial boardmakers can
use with their latest machines (lately we seem to see a lot
more boards produced by milling technology).

Oh sure, some of those boardmakers will generously let you
use THEIR layout software ... "theirs" in that they've tweaked
it so you can only send the design to THEIR company instead
of a competitors - unless you want to toss all your old
designs and start from scratch.

Conspiracy, or racket ?

For now I'm using my creaky old TraxMaker-3 program. GREAT
package, EASY to use, LOTS of options, point-n-click and
spin and drag stuff anywhere you want ... but it's OLD and
can't do the trick for milled boards. OK if I want to make
phototemplates and do a few prototype boards myself, but ...

I've looked at some of free/cheap stuff - Vutrax, Pad2Pad,
Eagle etc and frankly they STINK. Not intuitive or overly
attached to autorouting or miniscule component libraries
or mostly some combo of "all of the above".

Is there some middle ground left out there SOMEWHERE ?
I'd love something that has much the look & feel & ease
of Traxmaker but a more modern selection of capabilities,
libraries and export options. My wallet isn't that deep
however... I could afford maybe $250-$350, somewhere in
there.

Is there any hope ? Something I've missed ? Winders ? Linux ?
Address of the "Society For The Prevention of Software Rip-Offs" ???


Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
Cadsoft: EAGLE

For free in use for private, noncommercial and with limited capabilites in
PCB-size and layers. I use it professionayl at work in a payed-for version
able to do bigger PCBs and more layers than the outer two.

Blackwater wrote:

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Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
In this BOOK

http://dev.emcelettronica.com/pcb

see the "PCB Design CAD" page

Emanuele

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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Yeah, although many of them still work OK under Windows XP if you can find a
copy.

Beside Eagle and KiCAD that others mentioned, gEDA is the "heavyweight" of
100% free schematic capture/PCB layout software.  Probably doesn't fit your
"good features with intuitive no-BS interfaces," but you might check it out
anyway (it's more "tons of features, interface requires a fair learning curve,
it won't necessarily be easy, but it does get the job done...").

Pulsonix has been slowly upping their prices as they've added features, but
their "performance per dollar" ratio is still quite good -- certainly many
times that of something like OrCAD.  (Although some of their "upping the
price" apparently has to do with the weakness of the U.S. dollar...)

This topic comes up regularly here (and on sci.electronics.cad) -- if you
search the archives you'll find long threads discussing the various packages,
pricing, etc.

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Some of them (e.g., Advanced Circuits) will give or sell you the regular
Gerber files after you've placed an order through them.

Many packages let you import files from other packages, although it's often a
less-than-perfect translation based on the differing feature sets in each
package (and just bugs in the code that does the import).

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Schematic capture/PCB layout is a nichey enough market that I think it's
rather difficult to make a living if you're selling the software for a couple
hundred bucks.  You do have the occasional individual and small company (e.g.,
Eaglesoft) that's noticeably more efficient than most and can do so, but if
you just round up a bunch of average programmers these days and ask them to
write EDA tools it's not surprising to me what sorts of prices you get by the
time they're done.

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My only comment here is that "intuitive" is somewhat subjective and "miniscule
component libraries" might actually be a plus -- in most cases you'd want to
build your own component library anyway. :-)

---Joel



Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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Eaglesoft writes *flight simulator* software.

The company that produces
the Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor
(acronym: EAGLE--all caps) is *Cadsoft*.

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http://groups.google.com/groups/search?q=ingroup:electronics+KiCAD+intitle:PCB&scoring=d&filter=0&num10%0

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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Oops!  Thanks for the correction, Jeff. :-)

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I didn't know it was an acronym before either.

---Joel



Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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EasyPC: http://www.numberone.com

Leon

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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I've done several boards with Sprint-Layout 5.0.

http://www.abacom-online.de/uk/html/sprint-layout.html

39 Euros, download and go.

(sPlan, their schematic editor, is available for the same
price, but I haven't used it.)

I like Sprint-Layout quite a lot.  Particularly, I find the
menus and functions clear, fast, and logical.  It's compact,
and easy to make footprints, outputs Gerbers, etc. Control
of trace widths and pads is wonderfully simple.

I've never had it hang or crash.

Its only failing so far is the pin-to-pin autorouter,
which does crappy routings.  Protel's EasyTrax did that
very well, and I miss it, but hand-routing isn't difficult.

I love the rubber-banded wiring feature: quickly click
in wires you plan to place and a blue trace appears to
remind you to make each connection.

I mean to try gEDA some time, but this is what I use now.

HTH,
James Arthur

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???

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Looks nice, but how about importing netlists from other schematic
editors?

--
Programmeren in Almere?
E-mail naar nico@nctdevpuntnl (punt=.)

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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I don't know.  In fact, I'm not even sure either package supports
netlists.  I poked around the menus and help, but couldn't find
"import."

That's not a drawback to me--I've been doing large layouts by
hand since I was a kid--but you might find it so.

The OP said he wanted to do quickie boards and get fab files
out.  Sprint-Layout does that great, the .EXE is just 2MB,
and it's flaming fast.  I love that.

Please don't consider mine the last word on the netlist thing--
I really don't know.

Cheers,
James Arthur

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???

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'Till your mention, hadn't come across it before.
Just trying the demo'. Seems fast, no fluff. I really like the milling and
HPGL stuff ,  though can't seem to find any  library items.



Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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The library is extensive, and super-easily accessed, extended,
and modified: items pop up in a toolbar on the right-hand side
of the screen.

Options-->Show Macro-Library.

(I'm not sure how much library you get with the demo.)

Oh, it's limited to four trace layers, if that's a problem
for some.  It's not for me. Large boards are fine, metric
or english units, etc.

I've more than recouped my 39 euros just in the time saved
learning the program and its ease of use -- it's logical and
clean to where I've scarcely needed to check the help files.
Just click the icons, and it does what I want. Fast.

It really is a sweet program.

Cheers,
James Arthur

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???



[...]
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Found it thanks!. Has all the bits I was looking for.
My specific needs tend to revolve around knocking up  (sodding!)
surface mount chip adapters, with maybe one or two  extra components
added for convenience.
For the sake of an hours work with the PC, printer and some etchant I
can have a prototype in hand.
My existing PCB prog'  is still  a ballache to use even though I've
done a dozen adapters on it over the past year.
Looks like I'll be spending cash on Sprint :)

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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You'll like the Footprint Wizard then.  Specify or design a pad,
enter horizontal and vertical spacings, number of rows and cols,
hit 'go', and the program generates the pattern, with perfect spacing.

Select the lot with the mouse, store it as a macro, and you've got
a new footprint.

Great for BGAs, SMD ICs, connectors, etc.

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Yep.  For that use and this price it's hard to go wrong.

Cheers,
James Arthur

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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I thought most if not all could do that - looks like I have been
overestimating
the development over the years....
I use my (own written back in the 80-s) graphics editor, selecting
some
stuff then repeating it like an array is a basic feature. Then
selecting some
objects and defining that as a block - insertable at various scale
factors
and angles - is also inherent...
Like you said you were used to I am doing all the routing by hand,
just
using the editor. Here is a demo-mess picture I did not so long ago,
shows
a board and my 20+ years old editor (runing under an old system
emulated
in a DPS window, though - much faster than back then):

http://tgi-sci.com/dsv/dsvdemo.gif

Didi

------------------------------------------------------
Dimiter Popoff               Transgalactic Instruments

http://www.tgi-sci.com
------------------------------------------------------
http://www.flickr.com/photos/didi_tgi/sets/72157600228621276 /

Original message:
http://groups.google.com/group/comp.arch.embedded/msg/0adb3774bdcf553e?dmode=source

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???

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 > editor, selecting some stuff then repeating it like
 > an array is a basic feature. Then selecting some
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 > at various scale factors and angles - is also inherent...
 >
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 > routing by hand, just using the editor. Here is a demo-mess
 > picture I did not so long ago, shows a board and my 20+ years
 > old editor (runing under an old system emulated
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That's very nice artwork Dimiter.  If it's your own
graphics editor, how do you get PCB fabrication information
out of it? (Gerber files, or photoplots, etc.)

Cheers,
James Arthur

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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Thanks, the PCB photos are indeed artworked over a DPS
screenshot - I did it just for ad purposes (my idea for that,
that is :-).

The graphics editor has Gerber, hpgl, Excellon and some other
(long dead) output formats. I remember reverse engineering the
Excellon format by looking at piece of punched tape back then
(the fact that is is so simple did help a lot, of course).
 It used to run on a 6809 based system - during the 80-s, the PC
based PCB stuff was just unusable compared to it. Now the emulated
incarnation is about 20 times faster (than the 2 x 2MHz 6809 it
used to run on) and is still quite good for my layouts, it waits
for me, I don't have to wait for it at all really.

Didi

------------------------------------------------------
Dimiter Popoff               Transgalactic Instruments

http://www.tgi-sci.com
------------------------------------------------------
http://www.flickr.com/photos/didi_tgi/sets/72157600228621276 /

Original message:
http://groups.google.com/group/comp.arch.embedded/msg/fcf94963a8a59e82?dmode=source

Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???

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[...]
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Yep. Bought one.
Did an adapter PCB. Pleasure to not need the help file.
Methinks Sprint and I will be friends.




Re: Affordable PCB Layout Software ???
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I'm curious, what does this package do that FreePCB doesn't?

Rick

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