What's everybodys' favourite PCB layout software at the moment ?
1 - I don't mind paying, but not lot !
2 - single-sided is fine
3 - Must print out to A4 correct size
4 - Schematic package and layout conversion from schem a bonus
5 - Straighforward and intuitive, esp wrt posititioning of components
6 - A good library of standard components, socketry, etc
7 - Easy to define new components, or adapt layout of library ones' pads (ie 'drag').
It depends a lot on your requirements. I guess you are planning on printing out the pattern and making your own PCBs (see point 3 above). One I have come across that is very intuitive and has a reasonable component library is Novarm Diptrace. There are several versions available including freeware but limited to layers, pin / pad count and no gerber export.Very quick and easy to create custom components / footprints. Definitely worth a look. I haven't actually made any boards with this software yet but have had a bit of a play around with it.
PCB Wizard is another that is very quick and easy to get simple boards done, but one huge drawback....no SMT, only through hole.
I don't think you'd want to rely on the autoplace facility of either though, or autoroute unless it really doesn't matter where traces go :)
Really it's a matter of personal preference though and you do have a lot to choose from (dependent on your requirements).
__________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 4559 (20091030) __________
Well done!. I usually agonise for a couple of days but following your fine upstanding lead, I've also 'gone for it' and bought the front panel designer, which I'd noticed only when copying the PCB link :)
Unfortunately you cannot export, print, convert etc. etc with the demo version to make sure its all good - you have to purchase the packge before you know for certain its full capabilities. I take your point re gerber. I have been designing ccts and pcbs since the days of making artwork using tape! - I recall how wonderfull it was to produce a PA amplifier using PCBs in 1962 - its was like rocket science then! How 'quickly' one could manufacture a complete product compared with point to point wiring. However I digress, sometimes the Chinese manufacturers have to be taken be the hand and have things spelt out carefully before they nod their head and say 'oh yes, we can do' and then generally do a fine job.