Go Down

Topic: Understanding PCB Design Softwares (Read 606 times) previous topic - next topic

gauman1981

Hello,

***I hope this is right forum to post this query**

My enthusiasm is pushing me to explore PCB Designing.

I understand electronics only from Arduino Programming. I have very less understanding when it comes to actual hardware. 

I found several PCB designing softwares, but all are very very costly and very few are opensource of free.
Costly softwares have free versions but they have some limitations. I am not sure if those limitations will restrict us to design for boards like Arduino or Raspberry pi. 

I am unable to understand (mainly because of unfamiliar terminology):

1. Steps involved in PCB design from Concept to Manufacturing?
2. What is missing in Opensource tools which is present in costly softwares like Cadence orCad, Altium, Eagle etc. Is there any comparison chart? And on what parameters the comparison can be done?
3. Is it impossible to achieve Paid Software's quality using an opensource software?
4. What are steps involved in PCB manufacturing and components assembly?
5. How to select material of the PCB and other factors to be considered?
6. Please suggest a best opensource software which can be used by Solopreneurs for small projects.  

Please help me with above. If there is any online organised documentation availaible about the above process, please share.

Thanks.
Highly motivated Product Manager with a strong desire to
build world-class products.

westfw

Quote
1. Steps involved in PCB design from Concept to Manufacturing?

There are lots of tutorials for lots of packages out there on the WWW.  You should note that designing something to build yourself by hand can be significantly different than designing something to be manufactured commercially (and the latter involves a bunch of additional steps.)

Quote
2. What is missing in Opensource tools which is present in costly softwares like Cadence orCad, Altium, Eagle etc. Is there any comparison chart? And on what parameters the comparison can be done?
I'm sure that there are lots of comparison charts.  Note there there is a big difference between $10k for OrCAD and $2k for a full version of EAGLE (and <$100 for a minimal "commercial" version of EAGLE.)  Some of the oft-mentioned high-end features include better autorouting and manual routing aids, controlled impedance, 3d modeling, automatic BGA breakout, better component libraries, integrated electrical modeling (SPICE, etc), greater control over pad and trace shape, and of course "support."  Like programming languages, people tend to become experts at one or two tools; I don't think I've seen anyone who has claimed to have used "all" of the popular packages and compared them.  Most packages have some problems that their users really hate.


Quote
3. Is it impossible to achieve Paid Software's quality using an opensource software?
I'll go ahead and say "no."   It hasn't happened yet, anyway; no one claims that the various open-source tools approach the capabilities of the $10k/seat packages.  Now, there are a lot of cheaper commercial packages, and a fair number of people think that KICAD is equal or better than some of the cheaper commercial packages.  Most people will admit that the current crop of OSSW (KICAD and gEDA, primarily) are "good enough" for a lot of things.


Quote
5. How to select material of the PCB and other factors to be considered?
I don't think you have to worry about PCB material until you get into REALLY EXOTIC RF or flex circuit designs.  Almost everything I've seen in hobby or commercial land (from single-sided boards drawn with a sharpie and etched with vinegar to 20-layer boards in $100k commercial products) is FR4-like fiberglass.


Quote
6. Please suggest a best opensource software which can be used by Solopreneurs for small projects. 
KICAD seems to be the leader in OSSW for PCBs.   I don't much care about "open", and I've been really happy with EAGLE.  I like their pricing structure, I like their features, I like their combination of company and community support, and I don't mind their "weird" verb/noun user interface (and I like other things about their UI, like its scriptability.)  I like that it runs on my Mac (and I admired the way that they achieved that.)  I currently have their "non-profit" license (6 layers, 100x160mm, $169 (although I paid about $100 during a sale.))  It makes me extremely comfortable to know that I could accept a for-profit job and pay as little as $69 to be "official."
I've tried KICAD (rather a long time ago), and couldn't get it to work.  I find descriptions of the workflow to be "odd" (in particular, the fact that you don't pick component specifics till PCB time), but I've never gotten that far.  There are not many packages that run on Macs :-(



gauman1981

@westfw,

Thank you for the detailed explaination.

I had already made my mind to try KiCAD and Eagle as those were the only ones available for MAC :).
After reading your insights, now I am more serious to do that.

The PCB Design Softwares should shift to SAAS based models now.

Also, what do you think about:

1. upverter.com (Browser Based. I dont know how to compare features. SAAS Model. $100/month, which is not bad. )
2.  easyeda.com (Browser Based. I dont know how to compare features. SAAS Model. $20/Month. Pretty cool!)

Highly motivated Product Manager with a strong desire to
build world-class products.

CrossRoads

I am also an Eagle fan. I have the full-up Pro license and do designs for hire.

What is your hardware design background and electronics experience? It takes more than enthusiasm to come up with good PCB designs.
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.

gauman1981

@CrossRoads,
Yes, I agree it will take alot more than just enthusiasm to come up with Professional level PCB Design.
It may take several months or more too :).
My intention is not to become a Professional PCB Designer of now.
This art/skill-set fascinates me, and that's the reason I would like to attempt it.
Highly motivated Product Manager with a strong desire to
build world-class products.

westfw

Quote
Browser Based.
I don't like or trust browser-based solutions; I haven't tried them, and I won't.


CrossRoads

Check http://www.digikey.com/en/resources/design-tools/design-tools
I only use Eagle and put a lot of thinking into my designs. Newark sometimes has symbols for the parts I need, often not.
Eagle includes many parts.  Sparkfun and Adafruit libraries also have many parts.  And you can export parts from an Arduino design.
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.

liudr

I don't like or trust browser-based solutions; I haven't tried them, and I won't.


I second that! It's not unheard of that some companies would discontinue free or paid online services or leave them to rot under various circumstances. What if this happens to you and you invested so much time and effort to design so many things. They just pull the plug. Poof. I insist on perpetual licenses on everything and local copies of everything although it is harder and harder to buy a license. Everyone is selling subscriptions and online services like Office365. I don't like google docs/forms etc. for the same reason. Someone you collaborate with deletes a form, now it's gone. All your "backups" are just 1KB-size links to the now deleted database that you used to call a form. You think it's equivalent to an MS excel file and it's not! I'd use open office if I didn't have MS excel, never google forms.
Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter

liudr

I've had EAGLE LITE licenses for 6-7 years. I recommend it highly. Same board size as free version but commercial, for $70ish. I have purchased a full edu license but alas now they are completely free. Having a size limit such as 80mm*100mm isn't a bad thing. It makes you more aware of board size and try to optimize your board size instead of just using larger and larger size board. Sometimes I design 100mm*100mm board in EAGLE because I need to size to reach all PCB mounting bosses. As long as routing is limited within 80*100, EAGLE doesn't object larger boards.
Serial LCD keypad panel,phi_prompt user interface library,SDI-12 USB Adapter

Go Up
 


Please enter a valid email to subscribe

Confirm your email address

We need to confirm your email address.
To complete the subscription, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Thank you for subscribing!

Arduino
via Egeo 16
Torino, 10131
Italy