I've got a small hobby project I'd like to do. I've been working with evaluation kits from vendors, but now I'm ready to move onto a real board of my own.
Can anybody recommend design services for the hobbyist? I'm looking for someone to take my parts selection, and a high-level design, and turn it into a schematic and PCB layout. I'd like to then take the PCB layout to my PCB house of choice (say somebody like ExpressPCB or PCB123) to have the boards made. I can solder myself, so that isn't an issue.
I thought ExpressPCB will sell you the Gerbers for $60 or something like that?
And PCB123 will give you the Gerbers after you pay them to build your protos?
It (and gEDA) tend to have a somewhat steeper learning curve than Express PCB's package, though. Places like ExpressPCB survive for the same reason that 7-11 does: Sometimes you want quick and easy, even if it costs noticeably more.
My understanding is similar. If you get it right the 1st time and never alter the PCB, this could work. Using their software to change the design later means you have to jump thru the hoop again. No, thanks.
You pays your money and you takes your choice. (All $0 initially.) Those folks who don't know what "Gerber" means may have unpleasant surprizes down the road. Joerg touched on lock-in-ware and scaling up in this thread.
Yup. It takes all kinds to make a world. There are "easy" girls as well. They aren't necessarily the ones you want to marry.
Yeah, although to him I'd say that -- at least for small, simple boards like the one the O.P. is discussing -- finding that, crap!, you used lock-in ware and end up having to re-enter the schematic into a different/better tool is going to comsume a miniscule amount of funding & effort relative to getting the thing in production anyway.
But I am all for trying to help people know what they're getting themselves into, and your post is definitely helpful is that regard.
Yeah, but few people want to get married without having gone on plenty of dates with those easy girls first. :-)
As far as marriage goes, stuff like Eagle and Pulsonix are still quite easy on the wallet anyway. It's things like ORCAD that's a nasty-looking made-up lady who's going to want breast augmentations, facelifts, and a new car every time you turn around and still won't be nearly as good to you as that girl your knew next door in high school. A marraige to ORCAD very much should end in divorce for any self-respecting fellow!
True. If he wants something fast, anything is ok. Re-entering a schematic is easy, my layouter has to do that most of the time because our systems aren't compatible. It's done in a jiffy because his version doesn't have to become "publish-pretty". Transcribing a layout will be a major bear though. The sheer amount of work making package models is going to frustrate. At least for me because in the analog world there are lots of rather weird parts that the typical libraries won't have. Then the odd tapped "trace inductor" and stuff like that.
But don't you guys use OrCad? I used to, but not anymore.
Heck, is Autotrax still around? That used to be pretty good and I bet it won't be expensive anymore.
Yeah, for production stuff we do. I definitely don't *like* that fact, but we're in the (not so uncommon) situation that we have a number of ORCAD licenses that were purchased years ago so switching requires...
1) Outlay of "new purchase price" for the alternative rather than just shelling out maintenance every year
2) Conversion of current library parts over to new system
3) Re-training of engineers & techs to use the new system
ORCAD is spendy enough that #1 isn't too big of a problem, and our libraries still only have hundreds (not thousands) of symbols in them so changeover there isn't too bad (I wouldn't imagine it'd be more than a month's effort), but #3 is difficult to get by some people since they're so used to ORCAD, they don't really see its shortcomings, and they're not personally footing the bill for it. (I think there's often a "bell curve of happiness" associated with mediocre software... new users have problems with everything, regular but undemanding users are happy because they don't stress the tool much so it works OK, whereas advanced/demanding users are unhappy again because they realize that there are so many better options out there).
Sometime this year I'm planning on making a proper (formal) presentation comparing ORCAD with, e.g., Pulsonix. We'll see what happens...
Autotrax or AutoTRAX? Wikipedia discusses two of them:
P.S. -- Vaguely related story about software quality: I have a friend who works for a Big Software Company. In general he says that their most sophisticated users and bug reports come from Europe. They had one guy in the U.K. who was constantly filling bug reports with them -- it was almost uncanny how "good" he was at discovering them. At some point it dawned on them that... hey... this would be a very useful guy to hire! They offered, he accepted, and now he's working here in Oregon. It turns out this fellow has been using the software package in question for longer than anyone who's currently on staff at the company (!), and he has an excellent memory, being able to provide in-depth comparisons and contrasts of the package and what's been changed and fixed/broken in it for the past decade. Amazing...