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schematics and PCB design software. what's best?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Fernando Peral Pérez, Jun 7, 2007.

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  1. Hi.

    i'm using OrCAD for mid-low complexity design. I'm thinking of changing.
    What alternatives there are? what are the most used form professional
    development? Some free quality software?

  2. D from BC

    D from BC Guest

    I won't go any lower than MS-Paint :)
    D from BC
  3. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    I switched from OrCad a few years ago. Tried the free demo version from
    this company, liked it and bought a license:

    Also, the manager for their US office (Ed) is fluent in Spanish as far
    as I know, in case that's easier. There is also a short manual for an
    older version in Spanish on the download area, the new version isn't
    much different.
  4. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    Cadsoft used to be in the CAD business.
    They are now also in the DRM business.*-*-*-*-*

    Before re-using anyone else's library,*-*-*-projects-could-no-longer-be-opened
    find out how to un-DRM the documents that are created with it.
    Investigate gEDA and KiCAD.
    Each was created by engineers "scratching an itch".
  5. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    That's about schematics generated with a cracked copy. Not an issue for
    me since I never copy parts of schematics from anywhere. Copying stuff
    and then using it for commercial purposes is, well, not quite within my
    understanding of ethics and etiquette.

    This has generated some noise among Cadsoft users since it does
    inconvenience hobby users. But ok, they've got to do something against
    hackers ripping them off. I doubt that their software engineers are
    working for free. Unlike many other CAD packages Eagle does not require
    those dreaded dongles. That is a serious plus in my eyes.

    BTW libraries are another serious upside for Eagle. Other comnpanies
    want serious Dollars for a new library. Cadsoft lets you download it for
    free. It's give and take, with most libraries contributed by users.
    Which also means you must take them with a grain of salt and thoroughly
    check things like footprints before using a part from a foreign library.
    I adopted the habit of creating my own parts.

    Eagle is also remarkably inexpensive compared to products such as OrCad.
    That was one serious motivator for me to switch. But the main motivator
    was the support which is absolutely stellar.
    My experience with open source software is, to put it mildly, mixed. I
    haven't tried these two yet but I am not going to switch again. Support
    is also a dicey topic when it comes to open source products.
  6. MooseFET

    MooseFET Guest

    On Jun 7, 5:34 pm, Joerg

    Orcad: Basically none
    gEDA: Basically none

    I've learned the old DOS orcad. I may learn gEDA one of these days
    but the DOS Orcad still does what I need.
  7. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    This either means (1) you think commercial support is dicey also (I
    agree), or (2) you've never asked for help on the gEDA mailing list.

    Or both.

    For many open source projects, however, if you consider the mailing
    list to be support then yes, it's dicey - because you're asking
    volunteers to spend their time on your problems, usually without
    giving enough back to make it worth their time. However, you can
    usually pay for commercial support for open source projects, which is
    no worse than commercial support for proprietary software.

    Red Hat, for example, has very good support for what is essentially an
    open source project. Would you be willing to pay for commercial
    support for gEDA? Isn't it nice that you can pay YOUR choice of
    contractor, instead of relying on the manufacturer to support it?
  8. Matt

    Matt Guest

    Eagle from raisonance.
  9. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    *Specifically* it's about the software not warning a **legit** user
    AS HE IS DOING SOMETHING **in good faith**
    that he is about to do something against the rules
    then LATER finding that he has been locked out of his work product.
    The only way to avoid this nonsense--besides avoiding Cadsoft
    Library parts?? C'mon.
    One of the big selling points of EAGLE (years back)
    was that you could distribute your files
    and others could use the demo version to *view* and/or *print* them.
    Really great for hobbyists (and the pros who publish projects)
    --until Cadsoft shot themselves in the foot.
    COMPLETELY evades the point.
    As usual with DRM, the crackers find ways around the limitations
    and the legit, fully-paid customers are the ones who get screwed.
    I used to agree
    --until they started spitting on their paid customers in other ways.
    I used to agree.
    ....if you want to play Russian Roulette.
    Again: How do you know that the library isn't infected?
    How do you get assurance BEFORE THE FACT
    that you won't be locked out of your documents by using it?
    The *least* of your problems with an EAGLE *.LBR these days.
    ....and it is now the ONLY way to *assure* no DRM madness.
    If, by "support" you mean **a newsgroup** (2 groups, actually): Yes.

    If you mean **A software company that helps fully-paid users
    to get past company-induced problems (which they didn't sign up for
    when they plunked down their cash)**, I say "Hogwash".
    Markus' sad story is testament.
    ....until Cadsoft pulls its other hand from behind its back
    and reveals its next even-more-draconian edict??

    ISTM that in-the-know folks are getting tired of all this
    Dubious Restrictions Malarkey
    and are now willing to consider open source to get away from it.

    ....and the *Eschew Brokenware* thing is moving beyond individuals:
    When compared to the *old* Cadsoft, I would say "Perhaps".

    When compared to the *new* DRM-laden Cadsoft,
    which is in the process of becoming like so many other software
    I would say "It's a wash".
    I find that with software of all stripes, you end up relying on
    volunteers A LOT.
  10. Matt

    Matt Guest

    Whoops, Eagle is not made by Raisonance.
  11. By opening the freshly-downloaded library, exporting it as a script and
    re-importing it.

    It is easy to protect yourself against Eagle's anti-piracy policy, but you
    have to know how and when to do it.

    I agree, though, that those who experience the bad surprises are exclusively
    the legitimate paying customers. I don't think their policy has stopped
    anyone from ripping off their product. Who needs to pirate EAGLE anyhow,
    seeing that there is a free version for hobbyists and a fine-grained palette
    of differently priced options for various levels of professional use? People
    who design boards with more than 4 layers or larger than Euro certainly can
    afford the ~1000 bucks for a decent CAD package.

  12. MooseFET

    MooseFET Guest

    For Orcad I said "none" not to mean "dicey" but to mean something more
    like "none". Orcad got bought out. It was a little after that that
    they brought out PCB386. It was on PCB386 that I learned not to
    bother calling because they couldn't actually provide any real help.
    Once you got past the "Is it plugged in questions?" they had nothing
    more to offer.

    I was trying to layout a PCB. Because of a bug in PCB386, everytime I
    added a trace, the program would remove one at random somewhere else
    on the PCB.

    Currently the answer is "no". I'm not doing my own PCB layouts. If I
    start doing my own layouts again, going with gEDA is the most likely

    Yes this is a good thing.
  13. Altium ? (Protel, DXP and such)
    They evelove the package at a rather quick
    pace, but more often than not stick to the
    second and third-intuitive solution. Meaning
    it is workable but the learning curve is
    steep and is kept being this way.

  14. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Yes, they should have provided a mechanism that instantly beeps. AFAIK
    they now do but couldn't avoid that people have old files containing
    hacked stuff that used to work in 3.51 or whatever and now don't in
    4.16. That's because this copy protection stuff wasn't implemented in
    their older versions.
    I mentioned further below that library parts are freely distributed. In
    contrast to many, many other CAD packages where companies use that as a
    cash cow (and I consequently do not buy their CAD).
    Nope. If you use a hacked version for hobby that's one issue. But if you
    use a hacked version, say, as a consultant it'll be only a matter of
    time until a big egg flies into your face. That happens the instant a
    client wants to open your files on his legal copy. Now that would be
    quite an embarrassment, wouldn't it?

    Think of it like a bank. A robber manages to pry their money, runs off
    into the street and thinks he has it made. Gets into his car and POOF,
    indelible ink oozes all over the bills.
    Any more gripes besides this copyright thing? I don't have any, other
    than the fact that they don't seem to understand how important a
    hierarchical sheet structure is.

    AFAIK it's not libraries but schematics that get infected. Also, the
    libraries are posted on the Cadsoft server as a bonus service. Even with
    the freeware version you are allowed to use them. I never ran into this
    copyright issue but I'd assume anything infected just would not load
    into my licensed version. I don't think I can be locked out of my own
    docs when the only version I have and use is licensed by Cadsoft.
    Again, for some reason I never had a lib problem. Ever. Other than
    footprints I didn't like. But since I don't do layouts this doesn't
    matter that much.
    I doubt that any of the libs on the Cadsoft server are infested.
    It's more than two. English isn't the only language on the planet ;-)

    Cadsoft's support goes way beyond that. Whenever I had issues, usually
    with netlist ports to other companies' CAD systems, I received a
    detailed response from a Cadsoft engineer in under 24 hours. Considering
    that there is a 9h time zone difference that is nothing short of
    remarkable. And this is not the usual "Is it plugged in?" support, they
    provided a detailed answer that allowed me to fix the problem.

    The best: Their staff participates in the forums and they speak more
    than one language. More than once have they offered "Hey, if the
    schematic is confidential just send it directly to us and we'll analyze
    the problem outside this forum". Recently one even offered support in
    Spanish, realizing that the poster might feel more comfortable there.

    That will always be the case. But the only time I found a level of
    support like with Cadsoft was back in the old OrCad days. Got stuck with
    a printer driver in Europe, called the company on Oregon. Suddenly
    realized that it must be after hours there. Lo and behold someone picked
    up anyhow and she said she is just cleaning up but will relay my
    message, plus that I should explain it in a brief fax. Next day I had my
    answer, three days later a disk with new printer driver edit utilities.
    From what I understand those days seem to be gone.
  15. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    I've worked with Altium and it just sucks! Too many pop-ups and a very
    non-intuitive interface. I assume it is made by people who have
    absolutely no clue what the program is being used for.
  16. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Did they outsource that also?
  17. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    Over the years, i tried various versions of Eagle, and was never able
    to get any one of them to work; at best it was impossible to copy and/or
    place any simple part (spell resistor, please).
    So Eagle is totally out of the picture for me *unless* someone would
    create from scratch, a Win2K hard drive with a completely WORKING
    version of Eagle, and sell that to me.
    DipTrace (if i remember the name correctly) is *almost* exactly what
    i can use; it has some very nice features. But for small parts (SOT23-5
    etc) it is not useful.
  18. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    Robert Baer wrote:
    [Massive amount of unnecessarily re-posted crap snipped]
    EAGLE *does* have an un-Windows-like interface,
    but Baer is the only person I can remember who couldn't get it going.
    I would be surprized if that was the case.
    This is typical of the comments on DipTrace:
    --well, those that aren't SPAM by the author.

    It appears to be someone's hobby
    and is hardly a replacement for OrCAD.
  19. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    I must be getting better at this, then, because I usually think of the
    SOT23 size as "big".

    But then again, I'm the one who's insane enough to hand-solder 01005
  20. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    It just takes a little practice. For example, in Eagle-speak cut means
    copy and so on. For me the switch from OrCad to Eagle was similar to
    learning to drive a car in Scotland, with right-hand steering. After a
    couple of days it felt comfortable.

    Placing is easy. Click ADD, then pick a resistor you like from the
    discretes lib or from the SMT lib. If you have the German edition it
    would be called Widerstand. You can select EU style or US style, and all
    kinds of packages.

    C'mon, it ain't that hard. Mine does run on the Win2K PC but I can't
    sell you my PC because I need it. And I am not going to retire anytime
    soon ;-)

    Don't know that one. Eagle can do pretty much anything, even the teeny
    tiny SC-75 packages. But I usually don't do layouts myself.
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