PCB Layout Software

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fluoronator
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PCB Layout Software

Post by fluoronator » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:18 am

There are lots of free PCB layout software packages on the web. Since learning a new software package is an investment of time and brain cells I'd like to start-out with the "best" package. Of course the "best" is very subjective. I'd like to know if there is a certain package that is predominant among hobbyists. This maximizes the odds of being able to find tips and examples online and also to be able to share files.

Dean Huster
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by Dean Huster » Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:27 pm

At the bottom of the heap is a program called "PCBoards", I think out of Alabama somewhere. It's the only one I've ever used and I've always liked it. Fully manual. No autorouter. No schematic capture. You plan the board. You know or find the pinouts. You draw the board manually. But I loathe spending the time learning a massive program only to find that it has too many quirks to suit me. Or that I need a by-by-side tutor to learn it. So, PCBoards has made me a happy camper since about 1985 when it was only available on 5.25" diskettes.
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

Robert Reed
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by Robert Reed » Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:56 pm

My choice is Express PCB-simple and to the point with a quick learning curve. I don't even use their library as you can build up your own custom library quickly. plus the final schematic looks like a professionally drawn one with out all the distracting garbage. I should add that I use it 90% of the time for schematics only just for my original designs to put into file. One thing I wish I could add to any of these programs are the little cartoon characters that Tektronics used in the 50's thru 70's. :smile:

Bygar
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by Bygar » Sun May 01, 2011 12:39 pm

The price was right for Eagle PCB software.
It is available as freeware. Although limited to board size and only
two layers. It works for me. It does have a fairly steep learning curve.
Most PCB software does! It produces great positive artworks.
There are many small tricks to achieve good results to numerous
to list here.
Hope this helps
Bygar

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haklesup
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by haklesup » Thu May 05, 2011 2:59 pm

So I went to ESC today (Embedded systems Conference) you uController guys would have loved it. I got a couple Dev kits and a whole bunch of fabric shopping bags :)

Along the way I was Handed a CDROM with free PCB layout software including autorouter and schematic capture from a company called PCB Pool. Here is a link to their download and this page also has links to an unusually comprehensive list of other PCB software in the Free, low cost and full cost categories.

http://www.pcb-pool.com/ppuk/service_downloads.html

I haven't tried this program but in general, I would be looking for gerber file output. Anything that dosen't make gerber files will limit the vendors whom you can get boards made. I also recommend a CAM viewer like the one they recommend (GC Preview) to look at the files you are sending to fab to check them for errors in software more similar to what the FAB uses as opposed to your design tool (PCB layout tool).

Unfortunately the tool above says on their page
"•Output only for PCB-POOL®
•For all online orders you will now receive the Gerber data (RS-274X format) for free, in order to proceed to a Series production if required."

This is similar to the way PCB123 does business, So I don't seriously recommend it but their link page is worth a look. If you find their prices suitable, it might be worth a try

I find that after you have learned 2-3 schematic and layout packages, you have learned most of them (DOS-ish and Windows native being the prime differentiator for the GUIs). The skills and thought process is the same for all of them, only the UI and libraries change. And libraries generally don't have what you need, I don't care what package you get or what you are designing, library component creation at the beginning of a project is a fact of life for designers.

psycho
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by psycho » Thu May 05, 2011 9:16 pm

I want to go to ESC Chicago so bad... Unfortunately it falls in the first week of the summer semester :sad: I did sign up for a free expo pass and I hope I can actually go but I highly doubt I will (just like last year).

Can you elaborate on what freebies (dev kits) they had there? What companies were in the expo portion?

Thanks,
Kevin

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haklesup
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by haklesup » Fri May 06, 2011 5:07 pm

Well, you can check the website for who is attrending your show, mostly I was looking at chip vendors for uController apps. Nothing for work really but more personal interest and maybe someday work apps. I really need to get past my fear of the C learning curve. I know I can read code, I just need to convince myself I can write code using example libraries for the most part.

As for freebies, there was the case you get when you get to the show when it opens. I think that had an Atmel Dev kit (ATMega). I got that last year but came later this year. On the floor, ST Micro had both 2 different dev kits. STM8 and STM32 I think. All you need to do is talk to the guy and tell him I was getting into using these and wanted to try it out etc. I went in twice and of course they didn't recognize me the 2nd time.

Numerous vendors had some kind of sample, trial or even full software versions. I didn't really look at those as most are quite advanced debuggers, Compilers and libraries for hardware these companies sell.

Like last year, Atmel and ST had the products most accessible to me. Atmel has a very full featured free IDE with C compiler included (many you have to search for a 3rd party compiler and they supply all the other tools, some free, others paid and enhanced)

TI had a number of things and they did have a trade in for a dev kit for a cronos or MPS430 kit which I think are neat. I didn't have anything to trade in. Now I think I should have gone to the ST booth again and swapped it for a TI but that would have been a little low.

However if you are into any of the wireless technologes, there was lots of those vendors too as well as any kind of module or baord you can stuff into a larger product, audio and video modules etc.

And don't forget the full size dinosaur skeleton greeting you at the door. No need for a museum for that Gal. THere were also the usual generic trade show giveaways.

At least one day ran as late as 7PM. So if you're not too far, you may make it after class. I know its not advised to skip the first 1 or 2 classes of any course even if you are a master of the subject.

psycho
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by psycho » Fri May 06, 2011 9:23 pm

It sounds like a load of fun (and a bunch of free goodies). I am taking two summer classes and one of them is taught by a teacher who will have no problem if I miss a day for that. I will have to think a lot about going. It will take me 3 hours (at least) each way to get there but like I said I have wanted to go for a while now.

All the uC's I have used have been from Microchip so I would love to check out some other platforms.

And, sorry to have kind of hijacked this thread :shock:

Thanks!
Kevin

Bygar
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by Bygar » Mon May 30, 2011 10:49 pm

I know this is not the correct place for my query.
Could not find any place to ask, How do you upload a schematic
or other drawing to this forum?
Thanks.

dyarker
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by dyarker » Tue May 31, 2011 12:01 am

You need to upload the image to a server (there are free image hosts on-line), or the server for your own domain if you have one.

The URL to the image is put between the img tags you get when you click the IMG button on a "Post a reply" page. The forum doesn't store images, but lets you link to images stored elsewhere.

Cheers,
Dale Y

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CeaSaR
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Re: PCB Layout Software

Post by CeaSaR » Tue May 31, 2011 2:58 am

Bygar wrote:I know this is not the correct place for my query.
If there isn't a "correct place" for your question, start a new thread in "General"
and the Moderators will move it if necessary.

Here's a link to a site search on this topic. Also, at the top of this forum (General)
is a post on how to underline links as this board is bizarre on it's handling thereof.

CeaSaR
Hey, what do I know?

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