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Eagle vs Protel

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Wilhelm Lehmann, Aug 15, 2005.

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  1. Hi,

    I am up to the point where I must now purchase my PCB software because the
    complexity of the boards exceed the capabilities of Eagle Lite. (ie can only
    do double sided boards of limited size)

    I see there are a few posts about Protel, and I was wondering if I can have
    some coments about the two. As to what I should invest in. (keeping in mind
    I know eagle quite well)

    For starters Eagle don't have auto placement of components, but the auto
    router works great.


  2. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Auto placement is unnecessary, and doesn't work well even in high-end
    versions, and makes ugly boards. People are better at this. Hell,
    people are better at routing.

  3. Bob Stephens

    Bob Stephens Guest

    I agree. I can't comment on the high end stuff, but AutoPlacement in Protel
    is worse than useless.

  4. John  Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    If you use a bunch of FPGAs or RAMs, placement interacts with pin
    assignments and bussing strategies, and that's iterative. Then there
    are thermal/ground loop/isolation/pour/bypassing/impedance and lots of
    other issues. Software isn't any good at this. Besides, this part is

    We don't autoplace or autoroute anything, and I bet we come out ahead.
    The boards look better for sure.

  5. The Auto-placement "feature" was invented by the marketing department,
    and is not really useful in most (all?) PCB programs. I may have
    tried Protel's autoplacement once or twice, just for laughs, but have
    never used it for real work.

    I haven't used Eagle myself, but would suggest that if another version
    of Eagle will do what you need, you should probably stick to that
    product line, to make use of your experience with Eagle Lite (assuming
    that user interface, file formats, etc. are consistent through the
    product line).

    I'm a long-time Protel user, but haven't upgraded to the latest
    version - 99SE is still adequate for my work.

    Peter Bennett, VE7CEI
    peterbb4 (at)
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  6. maxfoo

    maxfoo Guest

    I've been using Eagle lite freeware version for home projects for 5 years now,
    (at work we use Orcad), If you can get through Eagle's quirkiness its not bad.
    Heck go for it and send me a copy ;)
  7. Fun ?
    Well, not always ;)

    But I completly agrees. Autoplacement is useless. If you did the
    schematics or at least have a good overview of what you're doing you
    should probably have a good view at how to dispose stuff correctly.
    I don't like autorouting either because I never really "like" what it
    produces, I just route everything by hand.

    I never used protel but I use eagle for some times now and I like it. It
    has some limitations but with some scripts to help, you can do some nice

    I'd say that if you uses eagle and you don't have major problems with
    it, keep it. Learning a new tool in depth can take sometime. And eagle
    is available for Win32/Linux x86/MacOS X ;)

  8. Wilhelm, I have purchased a full-blown license of Eagle and have never
    regretted it.
    I have also used Protel for one specific customer and it has about the
    same learning curve as Eagle does. You have to learn different things
    but there is a learning curve. I'm not a huge Protel user but what I
    have heard from others is that Protel constantly gets to a version that
    is just usable with lots of outstanding bugs and then the next version
    comes out that is not usuable due to a huge number of bugs. It just
    gets fixed to the point where its just usable and then a new one comes
    I have never used auto-placement in previous places even when it was
    available. If you're happy with the auto-router and its performance
    then stick with Eagle. In my opinion its by far the best value for your
    money. I've used Protel, Orcad, CadStar, ViewLogic (or whatever they
    are called today), ...


  9. Bo

    Bo Guest

    Protel99SE wins hands-down. I've used both. Admittedly, Protel more--but
    Eagle has some features that I loathe. Like hard linking schematic to board.
    Yeah it's theoretically the right thing to do--but if something becomes
    amiss between the two files, you're sscrewed....

    My $0.02 worth....

    Don't know about later Protel versions. Understand they've gotten
    ridiculously $$$$....
    So budget may be your primary concern.

  10. My experience too - Protel is a tricky beast - you adapt to it, not vice
    versa. So if you have put in the hours to learn the Eagle quirks, stick to

    Roger Lascelles
  11. Ban

    Ban Guest

    Wilhelm, a non commercial medium version of Eagle costs 150Euro.
    Protel costs 9995$. Did you know that?
  12. You get what you pay for. Look at the industry:
    Small - Eagle (hobby ???)
    Medium - Protel
    Large - Cadence
  13. Thanks guys,

    I think eagle is then the way to go, and since I know it quite well and are
    very happy with it, it makes the choice just so much easier.

    I never used an autoplacement, and based on the comments, I can't justify
    the higher expense and learning curve of Protel.

    Eagle served me well, and works even on my small Linux box ....


  14. Used Eagle more than Protel98, but.... Don't like Protel at all, user
    is crap compared to Eagle.
  15. Guest

    As everyone else has pointed out, autoplacement blows. I've never seen
    a situation where it produces useful results. That said, the feature is
    there for a reason and I suppose someone out there has a use for it.

    Protel is a very good package and is no more or less clunky than any
    other PCB layout software. The UI is a bit more modern than its
    competitors and I found the learning curve to be a bit easier than
    Orcad and other packages.

    However, Eagle is cheap. A license of Protel is something like an order
    of magnitude more than Eagle.

    Something else to consider is that Protel and Orcad are pretty much the
    industry standard tools, depending on which part of the world you do
    business in. Unless you design motherboards or complex microwave stuff,
    one of those two packages is likely to be your tool of choice.

  16. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Ban,
    If Wilhelm wants to use it commercially it'll be $798 if you only buy
    schematic and layout and not the autorouter. I don't know the Euro
    prices. The autorouter is $399 in the US. That would be the professional
    edition, 16 signal layers, boards almost up to the size of a mattress,
    the works.

    Regards, Joerg
  17. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Andy,
    Err, not necessarily. Almost all my clients use OrCad, small, medium and
    large companies. I switched to Eagle when they started jacking up the
    prices. Except for the lack of hierarchical design I didn't find
    anything I'd miss from my OrCad days. Oh, and what bugs me a little is
    that Eagle uses "cut" where every other program says "copy". But that's
    a minor inconvenience, like having to drive in lefthand traffic.

    I haven't seen Protel in a long time. Cadence I saw only once and that
    was a company that designs mostly CMOS chips, not boards.

    Regards, Joerg
  18. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Chris,
    In the western US I would think the de facto standard is OrCad. If
    Cadsoft would advertise more they could capture more market share.

    Regards, Joerg
  19. Orcad is owned by Cadence now.
  20. keith

    keith Guest

    At least the high end FPGAs have lotsa routing resources these days.
    Designing the FPGA to make the board simple is the best way to at least
    start. If the FPGA gets strangled then push IOs around.
    You haven't done complicated enough boards. ;-) I've seen many that
    couldn't be hand routed with 10x the personel. Boards measuring in the
    high-digit square feet, with fifty to a hundred layers, all packed to the
    gills. Only overflows (perhaps hundreds to thousands) were hand routed.
    Many of those overflows were done with surface wiring (twisted pair).

    Chips aren't hand routed these days either, except when there is no other
    way to meet timing (BTDT-GTS). Do you hand place-n-route your FPGAs?
    Boards have been known to be just as complicated.
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