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" ???