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PCB Layout Software Sucking

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Richard Harris, Jan 25, 2005.

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  1. Hi,
    anyone here using a good board layout software, I have looked around and
    they all seem rubish, overly complicated interfaces that just slow you down
    and make the task far to time consuming and complex. The only one I have
    come accross that comes near to being usable is Express PCB. Also Im looking
    for any C/C++ WIN32 API developers that may be interested in working on a
    joint project to create a simple layout editor.

  2. Omair

    Omair Guest

    I am a grade 12 student. I used Express PCB in my Computer Engineering
    class too. I had to design PCBs with it and then had to export it to
    photoshop to line it up and print out multiple copies. Except for that,
    i think it was simple enough. What do you have in mind when you say
    that the software makes the process complex and time consuming?
  3. See my notes and links to some 60 ECAD programs at

    Terry Pinnell
    Hobbyist, West Sussex, UK
  4. Most pacakges (Not Express PCB) require you to do about 4 mouse clicks just
    to draw a single trace. And before that you have to setup trace sizes etc.

    When you try to do double layer PCB's with Express PCB you can't print the
    out withou lots of grid markers and grey background, If you want to do
    double layer PCB's you have to make two designs and then try line them up.
  5. Jeroen

    Jeroen Guest

    If you are easily frustated, don't ever try Orcad Layout. Though, after a
    few years working with it you'll learn its quirks.

  6. Say Rich,
    Ya seem to be in a bit of a hurry?
    The stuff you are dealing with is not quite as straightforward as first
    glance. Without going into "Little Grasshopper" type jokes I would
    recommend a little more "lurking" and theoretical study before making
    sweeping statements. Don't always take the stuff you have been fed in study
    as absolute !!
    Best wishes in your efforts in an engrossing subject.
  7. PeteS

    PeteS Guest

    There's a horrible rule with layout (and capture) software: The more
    power you want, the harder it is to use :)

    If you want support for 36+ layers, multi gigahertz routing, advanced
    autorouting, spice integration and all the other bells and whistles of
    high end solutions, then the simple fact of it being so configurable is
    going to make it hard (initially) to use.

    Even Allegro Expert can be simple - once it is set up. Get the board
    up, position the cursor, Shift+F1 and start drawing a trace. I will
    admit it takes days to set up a new board though, once everything is

    So the answer to your question is: If you have a simple board, yes it's
    difficult; but vendors don't see much money in the low end. As noted
    elsewhere in the thread, there are plenty of free- and share-ware
    solutions if you just have a simple board to do.

  8. So much to learn. So much to understand.

    I have a habit of hitting some thing new head on. Presistance.
  9. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    PADS is pretty good. But PCB layout is inherently complex, at least if
    you're doing semi-serious stuff like surface mount, multilayers, all
    that. Schematic netlist input/check is mandatory, support for changes,
    back annotation, ref desig resequencing, part library maintanance, pad
    stack editing, poured shapes, design rules and connectivity
    checking... you need all that stuff. PC layout is NOT just drawing;
    try using Autocad and see.

  10. Genome

    Genome Guest

    Are you a 'C/C++ WIN32 API developer'?

  11. peterken

    peterken Guest

    Well, I'm a professional R&D design engineer, including PCB-routing
    and yes, layout is more complex as it appears at first glance, many things
    to be taken into account
    I've been using PCad the early years (upto V6), it was a magnificent package
    to even begin to understand layouts
    (PCad now taken over by I believe Altium - Protel? They made it real rubbish
    Latest I've been using Orcad Layout Plus, Capture CIS and Orcad Smartroute
    and even if not perfect it's far out one of the best and most intuitive
    having most of the high-end features
    Anything less than that is almost to be considered "junk usable for simple

    I've seen Express-PCB once, looks a bit like Ultiboard to me... good for a
    hobbyist, but it all depends on your needs of course

    And yes, starting a new layout-software project might be tempting, but
    already there are too many free things around.... it only takes the time to
    actually SEE how layout works

    a bad masonrist ALWAYS accuses his tools for any faults you know....
  12. Yes.
  13. Genome

    Genome Guest

    I'm not sure I understand.

    You have identified the problems and you have the skills.


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