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PCB Design & Layout on a Budget

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tekochip
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Platinum
Re: cad packages
tekochip   11/23/2013 8:38:35 AM
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DOD, Days of DOS.
 
I used PADS back then, and my favorite part of the package was that it had an animated splash screen at the start of the program.  The animation must have been coded with loop delays because whenever I bought a faster computer the animation would speed up.  The last machine I used with PADS was a 486/50Mhz, and the animation was flying by so fast that you couldn't see the little arrows anymore.  Oooooh, yea, my blinding, fast 486/50.


Orin Laney
User Rank
Silver
cad packages
Orin Laney   11/21/2013 2:30:08 AM
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Oracd has been my choice of schematic capture since the days of DOS.  I'm on 9.2 at the moment.  Tried the 16.2 capture demo and found little that I didn't already have.  Orcad lets me export a netlist to anything that'll take one (which is every professional tool), and a netlist is also at times a customer deliverable, so this is a gotta have feature. 

For PWB layout (it's not a PCB until components are added), I've done very well with FreePCB after learning how to add to and maintain the library files.  I'd go to PADS but I'm already happy.

Tried Autotrax but the schematic symbols are goofy and it's a closed system in terms of netlists. I stay the heck away from tools, free or not, that not only can't export or import a netlist between capture and layout but also lock you into one PWB vendor.

 

dmckenney
User Rank
Iron
PCB layout
dmckenney   11/19/2013 11:15:48 AM
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I work for a small company and we've been using Autotrax DEX.  It has been fun using the tool as it has grown and added capabilities.  It is great for simple boards, and can handle complex boards.  It has an awesome 3D capability that enables accurate mechanical enclosure design around it.  It exports the boards to 3D formats that enable selling tools for products as well.  It is a great, inexpensive package.

oldguywithtoys
User Rank
Silver
Re: Simple Works
oldguywithtoys   11/19/2013 10:22:10 AM
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In a similar vein, I started with OrCAD for schematics back when it was available for under $500 from a "quick ad" at the back of Electronic Design.  I stayed with it for my own use, buying their "Layout Limited" (no autorouter) at release 7. I'm currently at release 9 for schematics, still at 7 for layout (they dropped the "Limited" version, making it too expensive to upgrade), after which I simply stopped upgrading: it had gotten too expensive. Meanwhile my employer used, at first, CadStar.  It was too expensive for them to give each engineer a seat, so we drew schematics with pencil-on-vellum, which a dedicated CAD draftsman would copy into CadStar.  When I started turning in printed pages of my OrCAD-drawn schematics and comparing OrCAD-generated netlists with CadStar netlists (rather than comparing schematics and using a yellow hi-liter) to check the draftsman's work, our VP of Engineering bought OrCAD for all the EEs.  Meanwhile, I'd learned to use CadStar board layout.  Then we went to PADS for board layout and I learned that.  A change in employers brought me to Altium.

It's fairly easy to move one's skillset from one schematic/PCB package to another, difficult to move actual designs without redrawing them or spending a lot on translation software (sometimes more than the CAD package itself).  The expensive CAD providers seem to go out of their way to make it difficult.  I look at Eagle's pricing with lust in my heart, but I have 30+ years of legacy designs in OrCAD to maintain.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Simple Works
tekochip   11/18/2013 9:26:38 AM
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I've been using Eagle for more years that I should admit to.  I've never needed 3D modeling on my circuit boards, and any simulation is usually performed by another software package, or even off of vendor's websites.  I'm sometimes generating a design a week, and Eagle has never left me with an unconnected node or an unseen overlap.  The tool is cheap enough that I was able to buy a seat for everyone in the company, and for the more adventurous you can even write your own scripts and user language programs.
 
There are certainly glitzier tools, but you could probably learn to create a schematic and generate Gerbers in less than a day with Eagle.


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