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Apogee 3rd May 2002 09:11 PM

PCB Layout Software
I am looking at purchasing a PCB layout package. I really want something that will be fully functional for less than $750 if possible...

I believe that I've narrowed to two packages:


CircuitMaker 2000

Does anyone have experience with either of these two? Which of the two would you recommend? Is there some other reasonably priced package that's fully functional that I've missed?

I've used ExpressPCB but the problem is the cost of boards larger than their "deal" size. Also the lack of Gerber output makes it a problem to send stuff to other vendors...(not an accident I'm sure)...

I'd really like something that does Spice as well as layout and Gerber exports and is well integrated... I'd love a copy of Protel but the price is just too far beyond my means at this point...

Any help/thoughts would be much appreciated!!!



kristijan-k 3rd May 2002 09:36 PM


I tried CircuitMaker 2000 and I can tell that it is OK. It is much cheaper than Protel, and it have Gerber output.

Also, you should try the P-Cad 2001, it is an excellent software for
designing the PCBs.

Kristijan Kljucaric

seangoesbonk 3rd May 2002 10:30 PM

A few comments:

I have Circuitmaker 2000, and do not really like much about it. Traxmaker, which is the included PCB layout program works relatively well, although the autorouting lacks something to be desired. Circuitmaker itself is only good for drawing schematics and simulating digital circuits.(although I am not sure how accurately it simulates race conditions, etc) The analog simulation is so unaccurate that I don't even use it anymore.

I am in my last year of Electronics Engineering, so I talked to literally hundreds of instructors and students, and I would say 95% of them like Protel better than CircuitMaker.

That being said, Traxmaker is decent, but not worth having to pay for Circuitmaker too. If you want a simulator, Electronics Workbench would definately be something to look at.

Anyway, if you are spending that much money on software, YOU MUST TRY IT OUT FIRST!!! My teacher loves a PCB layout program called Ares Proteus (from the UK, I think) but I find the interface very cumbersome to use. So try out as many programs as you can, and don't rush the decision. I hope this helps you more than it confuses you.

So good luck!!!

jleaman 4th May 2002 01:03 AM

What about..
I like protel 98 AH hem free one lol haha

I like protel for doing schematics it is pritty basic but still dont know hot to do pcb's.. any one know hot to do pcb drawings..


jackinnj 4th May 2002 02:19 AM

Well, I paid for it, own it so I am stuck with it. That being said, you can take a schematic from Multisim and go directly to Ultiboard. It does nice autorouting. You can pick the "net" and assign a trace thickness and it does the rest, groundplanes etc. There is a 700 pin limit with the amateur version of Ultiboard which I own, and surprisingly I have exceeded this on a couple occasions (never mind, I wrote a software patch which merges two design files together.) At some point I will take the Ultiboard library of device outlines and post them to my website, The device outline complement is pretty thorough, and the device editor is not difficult to use in creating components (the LM18200 and LM3875 with their 67 mil pin spacing come to mind.) Sometimes the folks from ElectronicsWorkbench in Canada can be good to deal with, at other times they will take a week to get back to you.

BrianGT 4th May 2002 02:47 AM

I made my layout with Protel99. It worked great. It is much easier to use then Orcad Layout, which I spent several hours reading the manuals and trying to learn. I was able to pick up Protel99 in about one hour, and I am happy with the results. You can see the pictures of the layout and the finished boards in the Pass Labs forum. I am not sure how much it costs though. I just used the free trial.

EDIT: nevermind.. I did not realize the great cost of this program ~$8000 is insane! I guess I will be looking for a new program, once the trial is over.


jleaman 4th May 2002 03:08 AM



JohnG 4th May 2002 03:14 AM

I have a colleague at work who does some board layout for me a few times a year. FWIW, he has grown to hate Circuitmaker with a passion.

I have used the free version of Eagle (Cadsoft) for some G-jobs and was quite pleased. I would suggest doing a few small layouts in Eagle to get a feel for it. I think the free version does up to 100mm x 80mm. It's not perfect, but what is? I had some work to do to get the stuff out to an LPKF board mill, but we got it there.

I liked it enough that we are now beginning to use the Professional version ($800 without autorouter). No complaints so far, but have not finished a board with it yet.

If you want combined Spice capability, I can't help. We have Orcad at work, but frankly, I think the interface sucks. It's powerful, and I know people who like it, but I don't. You will spend a LOT of time with the manuals (and there are a lot of them) if you use Orcad.


BrianGT 4th May 2002 05:42 AM


I know that you can simply search on and find a crack for the trial of Protel, but that is not the point of this discussion. There are people who actually like having legit software.


I spent a long time with the Orcad manuals, and I was still very confused about using Layout. I know how to use pspice (the text version and graphical.. I personally prefer the old text based entry method better). I was able to make a circuit and generate a netlist and proceed to layout using the netlist, but from that point, I was lost with the interface of layout. It seems powerful, but at the same time overcomplex. Of the packages that I have looked at, Protel seems the easiest and best suited for making simple amplifier boards and generating gerber files.


jleaman 4th May 2002 06:50 AM

I know what you mean
I do know what you mean but not all of us are ritch and cant afford 8000 software but i doo buy all my o,s ( Linux).. all i am trying to say is that protel witch is a good company and all they should atleast make a version that people can have to use for free and parts like extentions should be packs that they can buy to add on eg PCB soft to build pcb's boards. and ect ect the basic part that just alowes you to do schematics should be the free part..


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