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Old 13th July 2008, 06:11 PM   #11
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Default Diptrace for me

My favourite so far has been Diptrace. I found it easiest to use and more instantly accessable than Eagle. i suspect that I have yet to learn all that it can do for me, but found I could make a board up in an afternoon, print and develop it without reading the instructions!

As said before you can get it in the freeware version which is 250holes max. However they also do a 30 day trial which you can use for that one off project with more holes if need be.

It outputs to Gerber, and various other formats. The only bit I have found so far has been Gerber output. But I think that I have worked it out.

Hobby licence is for 1000 holes, fully featured for $125 which I think is not bad.
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Old 13th July 2008, 06:38 PM   #12
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PCB Express is pretty easy to use. They don't charge for the software, but tend to charge you a little more on your orders.
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Old 13th July 2008, 08:27 PM   #13
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Proteus is a good tool for quick-and-dirty, or at least, the version (4) I'm using is. It's a bit lightweight for fullscale CAD-CAM but they're up to version 7 so it's probably improved a lot. It costs about UKP140 for the entry-level 500-pin (it's pin-limited not area-) educational package. It has a good UI, you can figure out how to do everything without a manual, and the schematics are easily produced and are second-to-none in readability (unlike SPICE which is naff). It's straightforward to create new devices and packages and select them into your design. I have experience of PCAD (now Altium Designer), Orcad, and Mentor Graphics and I can tell you that this is not always the case. I find Eagle a bit idiosyncratic too... If I have to dig too far to get started, I lose patience. On principle.

I just completed a 32 * 9 inch ss layout in Proteus with ~50 1.5 * 10mm side-firing LEDs at various angles that slot into a lasercut perspex lightguide with virtually zero tolerance, using an imported Autocad dxf for positional reference. We've etched the board in 3 pieces using laser-printed transparencies, and the fit is good. We're going to mill it for production.

500 pins is fine if you're not doing larger digital stuff.

If you can find a copy of even an old DOS-based program, these are often still perfectly adequate to most purposes.

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Old 13th July 2008, 09:13 PM   #14
AuroraB is offline AuroraB  Norway
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Location: Norway, -north of the moral circle..
I apologize if this is sidetracking, but last year somebody referred to a PCB program that could import a picture file, to trace a new PCB from an old one..
For the best of me, I cannot recall the name of the program.....anyone have a clue ??
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Old 14th July 2008, 06:53 AM   #15
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Default Picture import


Eagle can import BMP files..... but you have to be careful and scale it correctly.

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Old 14th July 2008, 01:45 PM   #16
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Location: Canandaigua, NY USA
TinyCAD and FreePCB are free Sourceforge projects. They don't have any artificial pin, layer or size limits. The learning curve isn't too bad, and FreePCB generates Gerber files that can be used by anybody. I've dumped my quirky mid priced "hobby" programs and use these two for everything now.
I may be barking up the wrong tree, but at least I'm barking!
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Old 14th July 2008, 04:46 PM   #17
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audiowize, Trout,
zigzagflux, conrad hoffmann,

thanks for the hint ... to pcbexpress !

This software is really great ... i downloaded it and got a small pcb done in 2 1/2 hours !

Click the image to open in full size.

I tryed starting with eagle a few times, but in my eyes / understanding it's not intuitive as pcb express ... for this small project it's approved outreaching from my side ... 10 Point's from me ... well done.

Draw the schematic and it shows in pcb where to connect wires when using the correct ID ... great ... autoroute would be a nice to have ... whatever ... for free it's much what you get.

How do you create gerbers with it ? When exporting dxf i only get the silk screen out of the proggie ...

best regards
the truth is somewere
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Old 14th July 2008, 06:25 PM   #18
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You can't generate gerbers with pcbexpress, as far as I know.

The reason the software is free is that the output format is proprietary to pcbexpress' fab service. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a conversion tool out there somewhere, though.

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Old 14th July 2008, 06:51 PM   #19
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Ups i see on the second view ... conrad mentioned FreePCB ... ... i just mailed pcbexpress before because the library isn't really huge and i'm missing for example OPA1632 LM4562 and specially LM4780 and many others ... and they do not have more than that. Are there other librarys from other proggies who could match into pcbexpress ?
The lib of for example Altium Designer is huge but there's definetly a need of taking a course or many lessons getting into it ... to difficult for now ... maybe i should sit down a while and try eagle again ... or however start to make custom components with pcbexpress ... it's possible ... but if it's as easy as drawing a pcb with pcbexpress ? donno wouldbeverynice

Any suggestions or experiences out here ?

Cheers & thx
the truth is somewere
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Old 14th July 2008, 07:18 PM   #20
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My suggestion? If you're not willing to pay for Eagle, start off with a free but harder to learn program, like gEDA/PCB or kicad. I say this because once you've run up against the artificial complexity limits of whatever shareware/crippled software you chose to start out with, you're now back at square one at the very bottom of the learning curve with new (free) software, software that you could've started out with in the first place.

None of these packages are particularly complicated, and once you're accustomed to their various quirks, you'll be a master in no time. I know for certain that both Eagle and kicad have respectable HOWTOs and tutorials in the public domain.

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