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Using Arduino => General Electronics => Topic started by: Jane1 on Jan 09, 2014, 07:08 am

Title: What PCB design software
Post by: Jane1 on Jan 09, 2014, 07:08 am
I would like to learn PCB design software to be able to design my own BGA stencil.
Can you please reply to my questions:

What PCB design software   you use and why
What PCB design software you would suggest to start with
Are there any GOOD tutorials for that kind of PCB design software
Are there any support forums for that kind of PCB design software
?

Thank you for your help
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: Coding Badly on Jan 09, 2014, 07:27 am
What PCB design software   you use and why


Eagle.  I tried ... I think it was five ... others.  They were: buggy, limited, difficult to use.

Don't misunderstand me.  I really dislike Eagle.  But, it works, it has not yet crashed, and I have found a plethora of libraries for it.

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What PCB design software you would suggest to start with


If you plan to design one thing over the next few months spend a few minutes to an hour with as many as you can then use the one that worked the best for you.  If you plan to design three or more things over the next few months use Eagle.

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Are there any GOOD tutorials for that kind of PCB design software


I found several on blogs and instructables.com that help me a great deal.

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Are there any support forums for that kind of PCB design software


You can probably get some help here.  Beyond that I have no idea.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: Grumpy_Mike on Jan 09, 2014, 08:21 am
This one is free:-
http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/KiCad+EDA+Software+Suite (http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/KiCad+EDA+Software+Suite)
I like it much better than Eagle and there are lots of tutorials for it.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: westfw on Jan 09, 2014, 08:40 am
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What PCB design software   you use and why

EAGLE.  Initially because it was free (for the  limited version) and ran on X11/linux.  Later because it ran on a Mac.  And since then because ... it keeps getting better, and community support is very good.  And because even the non-free versions are "within reach" price-wise if I were to decide I wanted to do a for-profit design.

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What PCB design software you would suggest to start with

I hear that they ALL "suck" to start with.  PCB/Schematic drawing has a meta-structure not present in traditional drawings, and it takes a while to get used to figuring out which parts of that are important, and how it is done in that particular program.   People keep expecting something like "Windows Paint", and I don't think that that is even possible.
Your desire to work with BGAs is relatively advanced; you'll probably need to start out simpler...

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Are there any GOOD tutorials for that kind of PCB design software

There are a LOT of EAGLE tutorials.

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Are there any support forums for that kind of PCB design software?

EAGLE gets questions (and answers) posted on several forums (Arduino, Sparkfun, AdaFruit, EEVBlog), has at least one yahoo "group", and has an active vendor-provided set of newsgroups.

All that said, EAGLE is usually rated much inferior to true professional-level PCB packages (Altium, Mentor Graphics, Cadance, etc)
As you should expect give that it's price is also very much lower.  If you work for someone who is willing to throw $100k at a PCB design solution, you shouldn't be looking at EAGLE, and you shouldn't be asking *here*!
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: mmcp42 on Jan 09, 2014, 08:51 am
EAGLE every time
All software has a learning curve
But EAGLE is great once you pass that point!
It's free and even the bought versions are good value
They give bigger board sizes and more layers
There's plenty of forumites who can help when you get stuck
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: CrossRoads on Jan 09, 2014, 05:14 pm
Sparkfun has Eagle tutorials as well, whole series on using it.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: ralphd on Jan 09, 2014, 05:33 pm
KiCad has my vote since it's open source and does not have the limits of the free edition of Eagle.  One thing in Eagle's favor is it came with a bigger parts library than KiCad.
Neither package does a good job autorouting traces, IMHO.

Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: CrossRoads on Jan 09, 2014, 05:50 pm
I think Eagle does just fine autorouting. If you pay attention to parts placement, it does quite well. With good placement, all that is typically needed is finishing up some ground connections. Move a trace or two a little, add a Gnd via or two, usually not too much more is needed.  Maybe add 45 degree bend to some right angle corners.
If your parts placement stinks, the autorouting will really struggle.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: Thorsten on Feb 07, 2014, 08:26 am
always a good question to dicuss, and the same answer every time  :) in my eyes cadsoft eagle (http://www.cadsoftusa.com/) is the best pcb design software. best tutorials, a very good support, a lot of forum-discussion. we use it in university, never had any problems.
the free version is also excellent for beginners.

greets
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: polymorph on Feb 07, 2014, 01:30 pm
I found DipTrace much simpler to get started with than Eagle and comparable for price. However, there is a lot smaller pool of people to ask for help, and a lot smaller pool of tutorials.

It is just so blasted easy to use compared to Eagle! For both Eagle and DipTrace, you are not supposed to use the free versions for commercial use. KiCAD does not have that limitation.

You can import Eagle schematics and PCBs into DipTrace. The limitation for the free version of Eagle is board size, for DipTrace it is the number of pins.

There is also a free package called Design Spark PCB. It is completely free for any use. I've downloaded it but have not tried it yet.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: SalomonSchwarz on Nov 04, 2015, 08:16 pm
I share the same opinion as Thorsten. I use Eagle for a few years an never had any problems. The excellent community and tutorials helped me a lot. But check it out yourself http://www.cadsoftusa.com/training-service/
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: DuaneDegn on Nov 04, 2015, 10:19 pm
I found DipTrace much simpler to get started with than Eagle and comparable for price.
I agree. I started with Eagle but it didn't take long for me to become much more proficient in DipTrace than I had ever been with Eagle.

I found Eagle aggravating to use. I find using DipTrace fun.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: DuaneDegn on Nov 04, 2015, 10:28 pm
Here's a link to a thread on the Parallax forum about their decision to switch from Eagle to DipTrace. (http://forums.parallax.com/discussion/128576/eagle-or-diptrace/p1)

They seemed so impressed with DipTrace, I decided to give it try. I was very glad I did. Switching from Eagle to DipTrace changed PCB design from an irritating chore to a very pleasant activity.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: CrossRoads on Nov 05, 2015, 05:51 am
I enjoy using Eagle. Not willing to put the time into learning another tool at this time.


@SalomonSchwarz (http://"http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?action=profile;u=417903"), check the date on stuff you respond to. This topic is like 18 months old.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: doughboy on Nov 05, 2015, 05:50 pm
there is no substitute to using a product (any product for that matter) that has a large user base. any problem you run into, you will find an answer by a simple google search. there is a good reason why a product becomes widely used. using another product just to be a contrarian will not get you a better result.

I use eagle.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: DuaneDegn on Nov 05, 2015, 07:12 pm
I enjoy using Eagle. Not willing to put the time into learning another tool at this time.
To be honest, I wish I enjoyed using Eagle. If I had enjoyed using Eagle, I'm sure I wouldn't have switched.

using another product just to be a contrarian will not get you a better result.
I concur. However I think it's always nice when there is an intrinsic value of doing something. If you can enjoy the process of making your circuit board as well as enjoy the resulting board, I think you're better off than if the only enjoyment came from the finished board.

Google works for DipTrace too. There might not be as many hits for a DipTrace search as an Eagle search but I've always been able to find the answer I'm looking for.

I also think Eagle has a large user base among people using the Arduino. I think this a large benefit to using Eagle.

I didn't want to like DipTrace. I wanted to like Eagle.

I use DipTrace because I tried both Eagle and DipTrace and I found I enjoyed using DipTrace much more than Eagle. For me, the pros of using DipTrace outweighed the cons.

There's a free version of both Eagle and DipTrace. It's pretty easy for people to decide for themselves which they prefer.

If had enjoyed using Eagle, I doubt I would have switched (I probably wouldn't have even tried DipTrace). I certainly don't suggest anyone who enjoys using Eagle (especially if they're already proficient with it), switch to DipTrace.

If I were new to PCB design, I'd make sure and also try KiCad (as suggested by Grumpy_Mike). Free and open source are huge advantages.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: dave-in-nj on Nov 17, 2015, 02:46 am
there is no substitute to using a product (any product for that matter) that has a large user base. any problem you run into, you will find an answer by a simple google search. there is a good reason why a product becomes widely used. using another product just to be a contrarian will not get you a better result.

I use eagle.
I have found that a huge mass following will have a unanimous agreement that some common sense things cannot be done, or done easily.  people take the steep learning curve because 'everyone' is doing it.  then come to realize that it is not very good.  but then are unwilling to waste the time invested and to get something else.
I  tried Eagle over a dozen years ago and gave up any hope of mastering the product.
I tried winQCad, the pcb software, but alas, the writer never made a go of a business, tried to be a one-man-band and was overwhelmed with the work.   does a fine job autorouting and exports CAD files that will etch the outline of the traces.
I would not recommend it as it is not current.
I have only seen one other person on here that would admit to using it.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: CrossRoads on Nov 17, 2015, 03:01 am
I enjoy using eagle (using 7.4 now). I even went so far as to get a pro license so I could do huge boards, like a 12" x 12" protoboard for a customer. Big!
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: jboyton on Nov 17, 2015, 03:03 am
I have found that a huge mass following will have a unanimous agreement that some common sense things cannot be done, or done easily.  people take the steep learning curve because 'everyone' is doing it.  then come to realize that it is not very good.  but then are unwilling to waste the time invested and to get something else.
An alternative?

I've been procrastinating on learning Eagle because based on the tiny amount of time I've spent trying to use it I can see that there will be a significant learning curve. So if there's a better way I'd love to hear about it. And whatever that is, if it exists, will for me have to be just as free and just as capable of running on OS X.

So what is the better alternative to Eagle?
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: CrossRoads on Nov 17, 2015, 03:11 am
Eagle is not that tough. Follow the tutorials at sparkfun. I've posted several times step by step directions on making your own symbols if you can't find one in the supplied files, or the sparkfun or adafruit libraries, or download one from Newark.com (after registering for free).
Download the Uno or Mega from the Products page as a starting point for a design.
After that, it's just practice, same as the other programs.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: DuaneDegn on Nov 17, 2015, 04:22 am
So what is the better alternative to Eagle?
I gave my opinion several times in this thread. Diptrace does have a Mac version.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: jboyton on Nov 17, 2015, 05:55 pm
Diptrace requires something called xquartz. What's that?

I don't mind a learning curve once I'm on it. For me it's like getting into the pool. Lots of hesitation and then once I've jumped in wondering why I took so long. But I'm probably only going to swim in one pool so it's nice to read opinions on the options.

A question: Other than the perceived difficulty of getting on board with Eagle, does it lack any capabilities that Diptrace has?
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: DuaneDegn on Nov 17, 2015, 06:13 pm
Diptrace requires something called xquartz. What's that?
I typed "xquartz" into Google and it's apparently open source software to allow one to run Windows programs on a Mac. I may have been too quick to say there's a Mac version of DipTrace. Apparently one can use xquartz to run the windows version on the Mac.

A question: Other than the perceived difficulty of getting on board with Eagle, does it lack any capabilities that Diptrace has?
I very much doubt there's anything DipTrace can do that Eagle can't.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: KeithRB on Nov 17, 2015, 10:20 pm
xQuartz is Xwindows for the Mac. Even though software might be unix based, it might not run because it requires the XWindows GUI. XQuartz requires that. I just had to install it for MatLab.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: polymorph on Nov 17, 2015, 11:10 pm
There is Designspark PCB. Free for commercial use, too. Unlimited.

It is integrated rather well with RS Online, but you aren't required to use them in order to use the software. Imports 3D objects from Designspark Mechanical, their free CAD program.

I have not used it myself, yet, but thought it was worth mentioning as it seems to be well integrated with their CAD software and is free. The free versions of Eagle and Diptrace are only free for noncommercial use.

http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/eng/page/designspark-pcb-home-page (http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/eng/page/designspark-pcb-home-page)

Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: outofoptions on Nov 18, 2015, 08:07 pm
there is no substitute to using a product (any product for that matter) that has a large user base. any problem you run into, you will find an answer by a simple google search. there is a good reason why a product becomes widely used. using another product just to be a contrarian will not get you a better result.

I use eagle.
By your theory we could never have a new product because the 'winner' has already been chosen and you can't start with a large installed user base.  PCB (part of the gEDA project) was painful to learn but much easier, for me anyways, to use.  Probably because it is developed and maintained by the people that actually to use it?  But then again, I used ORCAD back when you just typed an "r" and a resistor symbol popped up on the screen.  Now everything is buried in layers of menus, sub-menus, button choices and THEN "apply" whether they need to be or not.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: CrossRoads on Nov 18, 2015, 08:15 pm
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Now everything is buried in layers of menus, sub-menus, button choices and THEN "apply" whether they need to be or not.
Freaking Microsoft influence there.
Eagle is nice as the most common commands are displayed down the left side, and at the upper left in the toolbar area.

Remember the old IBM keyboards with all the function keys in 2 columns on the left hand side? Made using a schematic program like Futurenet real easy to use.

Like any tool, use it enough (practice, really) and it gets easier and becomes easier to use.  Any program will have stuff that is never used. Eagle has a bunch of script support - most I ever do is execute one to create a library part from a Newark.com download.  Or Export a while library from an existing board to get a part or two to use.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: doughboy on Nov 18, 2015, 08:45 pm
By your theory we could never have a new product because the 'winner' has already been chosen and you can't start with a large installed user base.  PCB (part of the gEDA project) was painful to learn but much easier, for me anyways, to use.  Probably because it is developed and maintained by the people that actually to use it?  But then again, I used ORCAD back when you just typed an "r" and a resistor symbol popped up on the screen.  Now everything is buried in layers of menus, sub-menus, button choices and THEN "apply" whether they need to be or not.
yes perhaps. but never say never. market share grows and shrinks. I am not loyal to a particular product. If another software comes along that becomes more widely used than eagle, then I'll switch.

the main point is, there is a very good reason a product becomes the most widely used in the category.

some people are just contrarian by nature and will just come up with any rationalization why the market leader is bad, etc and should use something else. I've seen a lot of iphone users switch to android only to switch back to iphone.
Title: Re: What PCB design software
Post by: DuaneDegn on Nov 18, 2015, 09:24 pm
some people are just contrarian by nature and will just come up with any rationalization why the market leader is bad
I agree this certainly can happen but I didn't see it in this thread. I'm certainly not using DipTrace to be a contrarian and I provided a link where a business had decided to switch to DipTrace. I don't think contrariness was their motivation either.