Schematic/PCB Tools

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The last time I used schematic capture and PCB layout packages was 1996, and
back then it was PCAD for PCB and OrCAD for schematic.  Since then I've been
in an cushy environment where all that was just taken care of by some
wonderful people.

Now, I've got to perform this function again.  I'm told that "OrCAD is being
de-emphasized" by Mentor, and what they think appropriate to replace it (and
provide PCB functionality) is a *low end* tool for about $20K.  PCAD is also
clearly not the mainstream.  So, I'm nowhere.

So, for independent consultants who have to work in this area, what're the
most common tools?  I need to deal with pqfp's, tqfp's, and bga's.  These
are beyond what we called "fine pitch" in 1996, if that distinction even
still exists.

Any feedback would be very helpful!

Re: Schematic/PCB Tools

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Being on a tight budget, I aquired the "standard" license for Eagle
( $400.
Although it has some deficiencies, I can work quite well with it.
One important advantage for me is the availability for WIN and Linux.


Re: Schematic/PCB Tools
Hi Michael,

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We use Eagle too, and I'm very happy with it. However, what is the
smallest-pitch package you use? I have not had much luck with routing
MBGA packages.

Re: Schematic/PCB Tools

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I also use Eagle, I recently laid out a board using a 0.8mm pitch BGA very
successfully, it was the first time I had laid out a BGA. I manually
routed most of the BGA pads out of the package, and then let the auto
router run for the rest of the board.

About two years ago I needed a schematic/PCB package, I spent a few days
searching the web and downloading evaluation versions of a whole bunch of
packages. I installed each one, played with it for a few hours, and then
moved onto the next. What a total waste of time, the only way one can
really evaluate a package is to develop a moderately complex or complex
project from schematic to PCB including creating library parts, a few
hours using one of these a packages doesn't even scratch the surface. So I
threw caution to the wind and decided to purchase Eagle. I decided on
Eagle because it is reasonably priced, and runs on Linux as well as

I can definitely recommend Eagle, it is not perfect, but it does the job.
There may be better packages out their, but for the price, and the OS
independence, I don't think that you can go wrong with Eagle.

Bundu Technology Ltd.
Custom hardware & software design and development.
Windows, Palm, Linux & Embedded microcontrollers.

Re: Schematic/PCB Tools

too, and I'm very happy with it. However, what is the
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How does OrCAD compare with Eagle?


Re: Schematic/PCB Tools

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I use Pulsonix:

Starts at about $1,000 for schematic capture and PCB design (500 pin limit).
I've got the full version with the Bartels router and SPICE.

Leon Heller, G1HSM
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Re: Schematic/PCB Tools
Thanks for the input.. I've gotten a lot of input here and also spoken with
a number of board houses, many of which now take project files from various
CAD vendors in addition to gerber data.

Does anyone have experience of Protel versus Eagle?

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