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Topic: Seeking a recommendation for PCB fabrication and design, fritzing dead ? (Read 292 times) previous topic - next topic

Longtoke

Hi all,

A few years back now I used to use fritzing to design custom shield PCB's, I even had a small batch of 5 made ( using the fabrication service attached to it ), so I went and had a look at fritzing again.

Disappointing to see it hasn't been updated in 2 years and it looks like it's all but abandoned. So what are people using these days for small custom PCB design that easily incorporates arduino device footprints, main boards and circuit diagrams ?

Has anyone used the fritzing PCB fabrication service recently and is able to clarify if it's still an option for small volume PCB's ?

Put simply, i'm looking for an all-in-one software package for PCB design and fabrication that very arduino orientated, an alternative to what fritzing used to be. Suggestions ?

Or is fritzing still viable for this even though its apparently dead ?

pert

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i'm looking for an all-in-one software package for PCB design and fabrication
Why on earth would you actually seek that? That's just a recipe for getting screwed on your board prices. My understanding is the Fritzing boards were astronomically priced. In this article it's reported to be almost 3X the price of OSHpark, and OSHpark has high prices!

Just spend some time learning KiCad or Eagle like everyone else and then you're free to use any PCB manufacturer you like and bounce to a new one if they don't treat you well.

That said, if you were happy with Fritzing few years back, why wouldn't you still be happy with it?

Longtoke

Back when I did my pcb's, eagle and fritzing were the only 2 contenders for hobbyists, and fritzing fabrication was the easy solution for small volume, while also supporting the open source aspect financially. Back then fritzing just made sense. You could also use your fritzing designed pcb image with a third party fabricator, if you could find one suitable.

These days though fritzing appears dead, though the fabrication side still seems to be going. The main advantage of fritzing was its rapid prototyping, you could design a pcb that was 100% arduino friendly in minutes, something eagle couldn't do.

I guess the best question to ask is what are people most commonly using these days for pcb design and who is a good producer of small volume pcb's ?


pert

By far, the top two hobbyist choices for EDA software now are KiCad and Eagle.

As for small volume PCB manufacturing services, there are plenty of choices.

OSHpark is popular because they provide high quality boards made in the US (so it's fast if you live in the US). Their prices per square inch are higher than the Chinese companies but if you only need a few small boards it's really not going to be a big deal.

If you want to go with the Chinese then you have a lot of options. You'll find a lot of them clustered around a certain low price point. The quality may not be perfect but as long as you don't push right to the edge of their minimum sizes and aren't picky about the silkscreen being super crisp then they should work fine no matter which you choose. A couple years back when I was shopping around dirtypcbs looked like a good deal of all that offered custom solder mask colors but it's likely which company has the best price will change frequently so don't consider that information of much value. I'm sure others will chime in with their favorites. The free shipping from China is slow and if you want to pay for the fast shipping it's going to make your boards significantly more expensive.

I use easyeda.com
Very decent web based software to draw the schematic and the PCB fabrication is ok for the level I work.
The only problem that I have, and I believe that is because I'm ignorant is finding the right package for the component I want.
The cheap shipping from China takes forever and the only other alternative is DHL, which I'll never use again.
Price is good, 5US$ for 5 boards (10 in some situations, not sure why).
--
You never learn anything by doing it right.

westfw

There are "Arduino footprints" for most of the "real" CAD packages these days.

Fritzing is sorta nice if you want illustration-quality semi-photo-realistic drawings of Arduinos an Protoboards, but I found it extremely frustrating when I tried to do anything more complex...
(and it's in that "difficult valley" where improving it in meaningful ways will likely make it much more difficult to use.)


Longtoke

There are "Arduino footprints" for most of the "real" CAD packages these days.

Fritzing is sorta nice if you want illustration-quality semi-photo-realistic drawings of Arduinos an Protoboards, but I found it extremely frustrating when I tried to do anything more complex...
(and it's in that "difficult valley" where improving it in meaningful ways will likely make it much more difficult to use.)


You have masterfully decoded my gibberish yet again westfw, I tip my hat to you good sir ;)

"arduino footprints" ( and compatible devices ) is the best term to describe what I used fritzing for originally and its what i'm primarily looking for in PCB design software. I do incorperate component level circuit designs on some of my shields, but more often than not it's simply a neat way for me to take my projects off the breadboard. The modular aspect of arduino in general is golden.

I need the ability to drag and drop said main board footprints ( and the various standard footprints of numerous sensory / devices ) into the PCB design as all I use it for is making custom shields. Having to measure and try to replicate exactly the existing footprints is tedious and invites its own problems, this is also whats making fritzing less attractive due to the lack of updates.

At this stage I think i'm going to have to learn Eagle PCB, it's disappointing it's now owned by autodesk and charged at a premium price, but such is the nature of the beast sometimes I guess.

As far as PCB prototyping goes, https://www.pcbcart.com/pcb-fab/pcb-prototype.html is one iv'e found thats looking like the go for me due to myself being in Australia and them offering fast turn around to my location. From what i'm reading here and in other related forums, their pricing is on the mid to high end of things, but the service they offer may make it reasonable. If anyone here has used them before, please drop a message here to let me know how you went.

Thanks heaps everyone for the responses, both current and future, as a hobbyist it's far to easy to go down an investigative route that results in wasted time learning / researching for various reasons ( like overly complex software that's incapable of easily producing what I need or in suitable formats ), I prefer to channel my time into the projects themselves rather than learning the multitude of CAD software options out there. Any suggestions and notes on personal experiences with PCB fabrication and design software are highly appreciated as they are helping me narrow my choices down.

westfw

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i'm going to have to learn Eagle PCB, it's disappointing it's now owned by autodesk and charged at a premium price, but such is the nature of the beast sometimes
Meh.  There's still a free version, and the prices aren't really that high compared to their old versions, assuming that they come out with new versions of SW that you want to upgrade to, within reasonable times.  ($100/y to $500/y, compared to versions that used to be up to about $1200?)
(OTOH, I'm still using the "non-profit" v7 version I bought in 2016 fo r$100 (on sale!)  It's approximately equivalent to the $100y current version, and I'm thinking it might be about time to shell out another $100.)
If I was starting over now, I'd probably look at KiCAD as my first choice.  But since I currently have over 1000 Eagle boards... not so tempting.:-(

Longtoke

Meh.  There's still a free version, and the prices aren't really that high compared to their old versions, assuming that they come out with new versions of SW that you want to upgrade to, within reasonable times.  ($100/y to $500/y, compared to versions that used to be up to about $1200?)
(OTOH, I'm still using the "non-profit" v7 version I bought in 2016 fo r$100 (on sale!)  It's approximately equivalent to the $100y current version, and I'm thinking it might be about time to shell out another $100.)
If I was starting over now, I'd probably look at KiCAD as my first choice.  But since I currently have over 1000 Eagle boards... not so tempting.:-(
This is confusing me the most currently : KiCAD vs Eagle.

My research has left me divided as to which is going to be best for my needs and attention span for learning lol. Both are overly complex for the small hobbyist.

I'm reluctant to go the KiCAD route because of the open source free aspect which has seen the death of fritzing, it's a risk with KiCAD ( though unlikely in the short to medium term at least ). Seeing as KiCAD is apparently a CERN funded initiative though and it's open source like fritzing, investing time to learn it may be a benefit as it's death is unlikely.

Then there's Eagle, not open source ( Yay for it potentially having a longer term life span ! ) but there seems to be a lack of hobbyist level pricing. I'd be fine with a pricing between the "free" and the $100 package, but i loathe this whole software as a service mentality that is part of subscriptions in general. Gone are the days of buying a product once and developers JUST improving on what they made, opting to instead add something just for the sake of adding it so they can claim a recurring fee is justified. But...the recurring fee may be justified if what iv'e learnt today is still relevant in say 5 yrs.

Did any of that make sense ? lol, Pro's and con's I guess, and there's a wide array of opinions on which is better, I'm just trying to avoid burning time by learning one to realize I should have gone with the other choice. Alas, I think i'm going to have to look into both extensively.

On a funnier side note, Iv'e already discovered iv'e been doing it wrong in the past apparently, coming across phrases like "friends don't let friends use fritzing". Much as it seems to be largely consigned to the "bad" category as far as PCB design software goes, I honestly loved it. If only I could find an equally simple PCB CAD program, i'd be set.

At least Iv'e managed to narrow it down to Eagle or KiCAD, for that I thank you all.


pert

#9
Jul 19, 2018, 05:28 am Last Edit: Jul 19, 2018, 05:28 am by pert Reason: Embed image
Much as it seems to be largely consigned to the "bad" category as far as PCB design software goes
That's the cause of the "death of Fritzing" (if that's actually true), not the fact that it was free open source software. A project like Fritzing or KiCad is only as strong as its community. Most experienced developers won't want to spend time working on Fritzing because they don't use Fritzing. That's not true with KiCad.

I think this screenshot gives a good idea of the Fritzing situation:

Lots of people reporting bugs (or likely more often just asking for help in the wrong place) and very few people submitting fixes/improvements.

It sounds like people are trying to revive Fritzing in the form of a web based application:
https://github.com/fritzing/fritzing-app/issues/3418

Longtoke

That's the cause of the "death of Fritzing" (if that's actually true), not the fact that it was free open source software. A project like Fritzing or KiCad is only as strong as its community. Most experienced developers won't want to spend time working on Fritzing because they don't use Fritzing. That's not true with KiCad.

I think this screenshot gives a good idea of the Fritzing situation:

Lots of people reporting bugs (or likely more often just asking for help in the wrong place) and very few people submitting fixes/improvements.

It sounds like people are trying to revive Fritzing in the form of a web based application:
https://github.com/fritzing/fritzing-app/issues/3418
Yeah, it's pretty much a complete mess currently. From everything iv'e read recently, the main devs have abandoned it back in 2016, with the community leaders trying to keep it going but they're unable to redistribute updated coding without devs being involved.

Basically there's some dedicated but not officially involved people wanting to update it, they are able to write the code to update it and have been noting bugs along with coding thier own bug fixes, but there's no sign of the official devs so they can't manage and do the distribution/updating.

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