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plz reco: PCB design tool

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  • plz reco: PCB design tool


    I'm considering a splurge on a PCB design setup for home.
    It's been a decade (or two) since I was in the field, and I'm not sure what's good/bad/passe', etc

    I'm interested in PCB's up to about 8x10 inches, thru-hole and SMD, two signal layers at a mo\in (I'd like 4),
    floodable power/ground areas on signal layers (and patterns like a crosshatch, not just solid copper).

    PC-based (sorry Apple, but "No")
    Good interactive tools are a must.

    A nice library of pre-existing parts, with minimal need for tweeking.
    Very flexible silkscreen layer tools (not just text, but graphics also).

    I don't mind technically dense tools...
    I worked in the PCB Division at Mentor Graphics in the 90's.

    Any suggestions would be great,

    Blind Doc Jones' Pickles....Cures What Ails Ya

  • #2
    Eagle CAD is widely used and probably has about the largest amount of free libraries. There is a free version but it is limited to 4x6 inches (approx).

    Everyone says the learning curve is steep on Eagle but it isn't really when you compare it to other cad programs, and there are many dozens of tutorials available online that show how to use it.

    It is also easy to create your own parts in Eagle, and I find this a very useful feature, especially when dealing with odd sized wah inductors and similar parts.

    regards, Jack
    Guitar Effects Explained
    Guitar Effects Blog


    • #3
      You need to choose the software that you’re most comfortable with since it’ll be you spending time using the software not me. However, I will highlight some software for you. If you intend on reading a lot of tutorials and can use a software which doesn’t have a very attractive interface, Eagle CAD is the way to go. It is the most used software in this field. If you need something free which is close to paid software and has a user friendly interface, use design-spark. OrCAD is the most suitable software for beginners who can pay for PCB design and layout.

      ​assembly board
      Last edited by vedat; 09-05-2014, 01:12 PM.


      • #4
        first you better doit in CAD so you can check if is working and have a good idea hows it going to look like



        • #5
          There is also TINA with schematic capture, simulation, and PCB layout.


          • #6
            Thanks for keeping this thread alive for me.

            I still haven't settled on a product, but I'm getting much closer.
            Due to financial constraints, I'm probably going to delay my choice until August or so.

            To tarablackburn: don't worry, it'll start out as a CAE schematic. My years at MGC gave me great appreciation for netlists and design verification. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be let down by the tools I can afford, as I plan to create a lot of testpoints, multiple pads-per-pin and jumpers (where multiple net/node-names will be found on either side of the jumper-component, but need to have logical 'aliases' to allow for proper netlist extraction and DRC checking ). At MGC, we had all these things were pretty well sussed out, bitd, but I see that a number of the simpler packages don't have this kind of support.

            Right now, finding a tool that allows compound pads is high on my list.
            E.G. I need the flexibility to define a capacitor's padstack as 0603, 1206 (both SMD) AND as a .5 inch standard throughhole .
            This way, I can have them laid out in parallel (with appropriate soldermask and pinched copper between the pads to avoid tombstoning) and use one of three different component types, depending on whether I decide to use a ceramic SMD, a PTE polyester SMD cap, or a polystyrene conventional throughhole cap. In know, I know, "MAKE UP YER FOOKING MIND !!!" ... but at least for the prototype run, I need to be able to swap these types and assess for noise and other criteria at critical points.

            Blind Doc Jones' Pickles....Cures What Ails Ya


            • #7
              I recommend Altium Designer! Its my favorite tool for EDA, its very intuitive and powerful. Mentor Graphics PADS is also a great tool for really complex stuff, it has a powerful autorouter too.
              My Band:


              • #8
                Unfortunately I can't afford either Altium or PADS...this is just for a home/hobby setup.

                I'd even take an old copy of the Mentor Board Station I worked on back in the mid-90s.
                I guess it's far too late to hit up their old .customerbase and see if a copy of 8.4 on a HP 825 is skulking around in a closet somewhere.

                Oh well; I'll probably settle for the lowest-cost (not the freeware) EAGLE. I can deal with the less-than-stellar UI.
                I wanna be able to sell anythinI make with a clear conscience.
                Blind Doc Jones' Pickles....Cures What Ails Ya


                • #9
                  you can always get to websites like pirate bay and get the software for free or you can always get trial version usually they are complete



                  • #10
                    Express PCB is free, and dead easy to use:
                    The only hassle is you have to use them to fabricate your board, but if you are not planning on mass production their price is OK.
                    Darren "Mac" McDougall

                    Watch the video on my MIDI Line-Lump that transforms 2-finger keyboard playing into seriously good work.
                    *** WARNING *** Do not operate the Note Toucher BTH1 inside a naked flame or next to a sulfuric acid throwing machine.