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Old 23rd February 2010, 08:15 PM   #11
iko is offline iko  Canada
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I've recently looked for a pcb design software, not necessarily free. But I wanted it to work in a certain way, that would be conducive to my own taste. I was willing to pay money for it too. Drive tested free ones as well as commercial ones. I ended up with kicad, and not because it was free. Very quirky interface (but then again, I found most of them quirky, probably designed by people from another dimension), wasn't happy with the default footprints for any component, but I put some effort into building myself a small library of components the way I want them, and got to be pretty efficient at it. kicad is free, has a schematic capture component too, generates gerber files. Here's an example.

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Old 23rd February 2010, 09:08 PM   #12
gootee is offline gootee  United States
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There is a lot of good information, in this thread. To dig deeper, or maybe get some help with a particular package, people might want to also look at the Homebrew_PCBs discussion group, hosted at yahoogroups.com .

Some consideration should probably also be given to the "safety in numbers" idea, i.e. choosing the software that is used by the most people. Advantages might be better support and a larger pool of other users who might be able to answer your questions or offer help of some kind. I think that Eagle was extremely popular but my information is a few years old, at least.

Once you have gerber files in hand, I highly recommend submitting them to the free, completely-automated "FreeDFM FileCheck" utility, at 4pcb.com . (I had boards made by them in the past, and they are truly great, especially if it's your first time having PCBs made. They use lasers to make holes, too, and have no drill-size restrictions at all. Remember to try changing the QUANTITY in the quote that is automatically emailed, too. You can usually get ten (or more) times as many boards for almost the same total cost.)

Cheers,

Tom Gootee

P.S. I used Easy PC, from Number One Systems, and really loved it (not saying much, since it was the only one I ever really learned well). But it wasn't free, at least for the version I was using. I just noticed that they have a free trial version for download, at Number One Systems :: Software Download Request .

Last edited by gootee; 23rd February 2010 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:41 AM   #13
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the 613 is from the 613 commandments of the Torah.

not all linux software is comand line based, as you can see from the screen shots of the gEDA schematic capture and PCB layout GUI interfaces shown below...

most modern distributions of linux have GUI interfaces much like windows and can even be made to behave much like the windows interface. i am using slackware, which, while having a lot of GUI based apps, has it's share of configuration, etc that is still done by CLI (command line interface), but even when i was using windows, i still did a lot of stuff through open DOS windows. there are distributions of linux that have virtually eliminated the need for a CLI for anything a "normal" user would want to do. the view of linux being a command line based environment is pretty much a thing of the past
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Old 24th February 2010, 03:38 AM   #14
gootee is offline gootee  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unclejed613 View Post
the 613 is from the 613 commandments of the Torah.

not all linux software is comand line based, as you can see from the screen shots of the gEDA schematic capture and PCB layout GUI interfaces shown below...

most modern distributions of linux have GUI interfaces much like windows and can even be made to behave much like the windows interface. i am using slackware, which, while having a lot of GUI based apps, has it's share of configuration, etc that is still done by CLI (command line interface), but even when i was using windows, i still did a lot of stuff through open DOS windows. there are distributions of linux that have virtually eliminated the need for a CLI for anything a "normal" user would want to do. the view of linux being a command line based environment is pretty much a thing of the past
For sure, for sure.

Redhat is a very nice Linux distribution, too.

And there's WINE running on Linux, to run MS Windows apps. (Interestingly, the WINE acronym stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator. [Luckily, "Wine" is not all caps, there, or it would be recursive <grin>.])

Linux, and Unix in general, are just so much better than Windows. I remember back in the late 1980s(!) [having used Unix starting in 1975 at Purdue], with SCO Unix on my home office machines, being amazed that I could open several windows on my PC (with X-Windows, back then), with each window running a program on a different machine in my network of PCs. And that was on just one of the twelve "virtual consoles" that I could pop between with the function keys.

Of course, they are only fundamentally better than Windows. But Windows is, unfortunately, where the market is, which means it's where the most people and the most applications are, by far, and the most of everything that goes along with them (support, new development, etc, i.e. momentum). As much as I wish I could, I just can't see a compelling reason for a casual user to adopt Linux instead of Windows. However, a dual-boot option is very nice. If I recall correctly, Redhat set that up for me, automatically, when it installed itself.

Last edited by gootee; 24th February 2010 at 04:01 AM.
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Old 24th February 2010, 05:04 AM   #15
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Default It's old, but...

I'm new around here... I'll throw this out there: a "bunch" of us still use the DOS version of Orcad (Orcad 386+) to do both Capture and PCB layout. It "used" to be that you had to use a specific video card and a Win98, XP or run "Dosbox" to use it but there is a new video driver that a member contributed that allows the software to run in Windows with no special requirements. I use Orcad 9.1 to do schematic Capture and "PCB" to do all my PCB design work in DOS. IF you have dual monitors it is a great way to work. You have to get used to the interface (it is not, emphasize, not Windows) but once you get used to it is very fast and very accurate. I have been using it since it was "new" and a 386 was the fastest processor available. It looks a little stark when started, but as I said once you get used to it is great.

You can find out more and download all the files (for free) from the file area at OldDosOrcad : Old Dos Orcad Schematic, PCB layout

Good luck.

Mike Tripoli
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Old 24th February 2010, 01:05 PM   #16
Ivey is offline Ivey  United States
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Default Ikoflexer, Unclejed613, Gootee, and Mtripoli

Ikoflexer:

Kicad, is a great PCB package. One that I wished that I had gotten into years before. But I am a user of the power pcb packages like PADS, Protel 99SE, and DXP; plus Eagle Professional 4.16.

But my favorites are Autotrax, Protel Schematic 3.1, and CircuitMaker 2000 Pro.

All of my software was given to me by the firms that I work for, or the software makers reps. So I used them.

But lately, I have been seeking and using free software. I have testing and testing and designing footprints, symbols, and all types of things for software that was left on the internet as legacy software.

With a lot of time and trial and error. It is pretty good software.

My one fear, is that Kicad or others that are now free, may one day go commercial; as they become more common among the users.

Gootee:

You hit upon a great idea. We should ban together to form a group to share our ideas, knowledge, and experience in one or two pcb packages.

It should be pcb packages that uses only manual routing, copper fills, etc.
It should be simple enough to get the new comer up and running without him or her pulling their hairs and other body parts out.

With such a group we can create an atmosphere of comfort and security for all users, regardless of their level or levels of experience.

I like your BIG TEN thinking there Gootee.

Mtrikpoli and Unclejed613:

You gentlemen also have the right Idea.

Windows is a problem. I feel that all persons have a right to survive. But some of this software is too costly.

I use very few of the special features of most of my software. Because I do not want to lose control of my creation. I feel funny about clicking a button and everything appears, and I do not know or remember how it happen. I do not feel in command when I use all those special features. That is why I use Autotrax alot.

Linux is a great OS, and I will go back to it.

But I am a MSDOS guy. I have nine computers, including two 486DX 100mhz MSDOS units, that use for all my computer work, except the internet.

I use one 486DX for all my admin work. I run DOS 6.22, with PFS software.
I have gone to used book stores and have purchase everything written on PFS software. I am gooooooooooood at it. All 1986 software.

I run DOS and Windows 3.1 on the other 486DX. It runs IBM graphics programs. No longer available, but I have all the remaining and available software. It was and is 60 years ahead of its time.

I have my internet computer.

My 586 200mhz DOS 6.22, for Autotrax and Protel Schematic, with Win3.1, to run CircuitMaker 2000. Which I use for all my designs.

I have serveral computers from my career, that was given to me by the firms that I work for. Which have Protel and PADS softfware.

But I will return to Linux, some time soon.

Take Care

Ivey
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Old 24th February 2010, 01:36 PM   #17
soongsc is offline soongsc  Taiwan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivey View Post
Ikoflexer:


It should be pcb packages that uses only manual routing, copper fills, etc.
It should be simple enough to get the new comer up and running without him or her pulling their hairs and other body parts out.

...
Ivey
I like the idea. Additionally, I would like the traces to run and make turns like I want them instead of the angled turns. Do any of the packages allow this?
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Old 24th February 2010, 01:42 PM   #18
Ivey is offline Ivey  United States
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Default Soogsc:

Yes, some do. CircuitMaker 2000 does curves, as do HIWire, WinQcad, Target 30001, Orcad 386+, and a free Russian pcb software package.

Take Care

Ivey
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Old 24th February 2010, 09:11 PM   #19
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If you want to stay with DOS then I'd highly recommend a serious look at Orcad as I posted. There is no reason to run it in Windows other than you have to select the proper video driver to go with an "older" video card from a list (the list is pretty good). It will do anything that you want in a PCB layout package. I have done everything from single-sided paper phenolic boards to a 16 layer 5"x16" PC card (years ago). You'll need to read the docs as it isn't a "Windows" program and little "tips" won't pop out and tell you what to do.

This is (granted old) "pro" software. By that I mean you aren't advised to start a new board by placing pads and drawing lines between them (as I've seen some do; a recipe for disaster if you are serious about your time and money). You are well advised to start with a schematic, assign footprints to all components and generate a netlist. The netlist is read into the layout software which will load the footprints. You can then do a "live" ratsnest" to see where all the routes are. You can then arrange the parts as you like and begin routing. It pays to get used to the hotkeys (though you can do everything with the mouse). If you try and connect nets together that don't belong you will get an error message (comes in very handy). "Ground pours" are a matter of generating an outline; vias are a simple one key action.

I do "mostly" very tight analog stuff (low noise-high gain amps, audio amps, etc.) and like that nothing is trying to push things around for me. I've used many of the various packages over the years (necessary as a consultant) but when it's up to me I go right back to this package.

Mike Tripoli
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Old 24th February 2010, 10:28 PM   #20
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Agreed. OldDosOrcad is fantastic - another member here!

When I used it professionally, some 25 years ago, it was a true revolution.

Only problem is my stack of keyboard macros depends on Ctrl, Alt, Shift with Function keys to give 30 instant functions. Great when XT (remember them??) keyboards had 10 function keys on the left.

Such keyboards are unobtanium - Northgate died as well.
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