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PCB Board Design Tool - RF Cafe Forums

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Below are all of the forum threads, including all the responses to the original posts.


 Post subject: PCB Board Design Tool
Posted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:44 pm 
 
Colonel
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:40 am
Posts: 35
Can anyone suggest a relatively cheap PCB design tool that has a schematic capture along with it? One that is inexpensive (relatively speaking) with little or no "limitations"? I'm a consultant and could use a tool but can't really afford something like Altium (formerly Protel).

Any ideas?

Thanks

jom


 
   
 
 Post subject:
Posted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:28 pm 
 
Site Admin
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Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:02 pm
Posts: 423
Location: Germany
You can try Eagle from CadSoft. From what I have seen it is used by companies with low budget so this might suit your budget.

http://www.cadsoft.de/

The prices are cheap:

http://www.cadsoftusa.com/prices.htm


 
   
 
 Post subject:
Posted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:10 pm 
 
Colonel
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Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:40 am
Posts: 35
Thanks for that....

After reading about Eagle (and a couple of others) I don't quite get why anyone would want a more expensive software program. You can get DipTrace (which I just found yesterday) and Eagle at or below $1000. Compared to some like Altium or Mentor that is VERY cheap. So I guess the question really is what do the more expensive packages have that, say, Eagle doesn't? I don't see any size or layer limitations (unless you get the free version) and they seem to have plenty of libraries (you can always build you own as you go). So what's the deal? I must be missing something here...

jom


 
   
 
 Post subject:
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:53 am 
 
Site Admin
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Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:02 pm
Posts: 423
Location: Germany
I guess it is all about the brand - the manufacturer reputation. I also have a very good example from RF simulation SW which I recently purchased in a low price and is capable to do the same as MUCH more expensive equivalent packages.


 
   
 
 Post subject:
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:30 pm 
 
General
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Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 11:47 am
Posts: 101
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
You should also look at KiCad. It has been getting better as time goes on.

http://kicad.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

It has a very attractive price: $0.
There is a very active yahoo group where you can ask questions:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kicad-users


 
   
 
 Post subject:
Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:24 pm 
 
Colonel
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Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:40 am
Posts: 35
kpainter: Thanks for that. I'll look it up.

IR: Care to elaborate on this SW package you speak of? :D

I've found Eagle to be a bit difficult to use. Mainly, they seem to base much of their GUI on command-line rather than keyboard/mouse. The annotation thing (connectivity) is annoying also.

DipTrace doesn't really look very professional (not that much of a problem) but the library creation is like pulling teeth (same with eagle it seems).

I guess my main problem is that I don't have a lot of PCB design experience (none actually :D ) so maybe I'm being a bit harsh.

jom


 
   
 
 Post subject:
Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:27 pm 
 
General
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Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 11:47 am
Posts: 101
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
No, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. They all pretty much suck in their own unique way. You learn to work around each package's warts.


 
   
 
 Post subject:
Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2008 8:44 am 
 
Site Admin
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Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:02 pm
Posts: 423
Location: Germany
Sure. The SW is LINC2 from ACS www.appliedmicrowave.com

It is a linear simulator with a rich variety of synthesis tools capable to analyze and simulate any linear netowrk. The price is affordable for people like us and the performances really exceed the expectations.

Good luck!


 
   
 
 Post subject: Re: PCB Board Design Tool
Posted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:22 pm 
 
Lieutenant

Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 11:40 am
Posts: 2
Excellent. Thanks for sharing.

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 Post subject: Re: PCB Board Design Tool
Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:50 pm 
 
Colonel

Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:07 am
Posts: 48
Altium IS on sale. It is the cheapest the full range professional packages out there. I have also heard good stuff on Eagle, but it does not sound like the full package of tricks.

Pads was a microwave industry standard, but it is just sky high in price...people are jumping ship.

_________________
Rich
Maguffin Microwave Consulting
www.MaguffinMicrowave.com


 
   
 
 Post subject: Re: PCB Board Design Tool
Posted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:51 pm 
 
Captain
 

Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:22 pm
Posts: 13
Location: Overland Park, KS
+1 for Altium. I have been using it for 16 years. I don't do huge digital circuits, but mainly high density GHz RF layout and mixed signal (FPGAs, DAC, etc..). It's easy to use but let's you tweak it enough (via the design rules) to get a clean DRC with lot's of arbitrary metal. You can assign nets to polygons which is very helpful. It also imports PADS, which Microwave Office exports, so it's easy to pull in RF artwork as true polygons, not as a Gerber file with a gazillion tracks. The 3D features are excellent for checking mechanical interference to housings.


 
   
 
 Post subject: Re: PCB Board Design Tool
Posted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:10 pm 
 
General
User avatar

Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 11:47 am
Posts: 101
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
We use Altium where I work. We have 12 seats. They wanted $12K/per seat. We renewed our current seats and bought a couple of new ones but let them know that this was going to be the end of the line with them (not that we knew what we would replace them with). A couple of months later, we got this really interesting letter from the CEO stating a price drop to $3,995 for a perpetual license. That is still too much for me to buy a personal license but we may pick up some more licenses at work.


 
   
 
 Post subject: Re: PCB Board Design Tool
Posted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 2:48 pm 
 
Colonel
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:40 am
Posts: 35
I thought I would bring this up again. What we need now is a software package that handle both PCB design AND hybrid design. By hybrid I mean a package that has bare die and bond wires. We've used AutoCAD for the drawing part but had to translate it to DipTrace so we could have LVS done. But the overall control of drawings is pretty much a disaster as AutoCAD is hard to use and not very well suited to electronics design.

What do most use out there? The expensive Cadence or PADS? argh.

jom


 
   
 
 Post subject: Re: PCB Board Design Tool
Posted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:01 pm 
 
Lieutenant

Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:50 pm
Posts: 4
I've been looking into this issue. I'm working to make Eagle work for RF PCB design. PADS is just so complicated and without a dedicated user, it didn't make sense. Eagle seems easy enough to use and has an extensive library, the trick is getting transmission line matching structures from the EM simulators via. DXF files, in and out of Eagle. Once I get it figured out, I might write my own tutorial as I have not found a good one yet.






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