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Old 14th July 2008, 08:37 PM   #21
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Yep... Diptrace! Seriously try it...

Click the image to open in full size.

You may not find every single component in the library, but you can make your own components, patterns etc.

Others post their own component files on the very active yahoo group. But I find ususally that I can make my own component quicker than it takes me to look online for one.

The manual is very good

Its free and you can output to Gerber...

Dont like to be too evangilistic about it , but its a seriously usefull tool
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Old 14th July 2008, 09:44 PM   #22
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Thanks to both of you ...

Quote:
Originally posted by koolatron
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.

--k
The crippled ones i like very much ... as first ... then when they are intutive and practically usefull ... then there's no matter to buy them ... 'cause mostly soft doesn't show the probs which really su** in free modus ... whatever ... yes i'll start many times on square 1 ... as i started with the first crippled version of cubase on the atari and the future proggie of steinberg is still in use here but payed in full. Well i had once downed kicad and erased it again ... drawing schematics was simply painful and ... yes maybe it's time for more patience ... but that's the opposite of creativity ... a good software needs to hold you in flow with working otherwise it's not worth at all ... better getting a sheet of paper/pencil/gum and design the circuit and then use expresspcb ... for that i exactly only need to design the missing footprints of the components beacuse there's no need for simulation for that orcad's pspice has the best "free" student archive of components ... that's why freepcb has a good flow for me to work with ...

justblair ... i'll have a look at diptrace ... thanks for the hint ... looks like an army preamp supplied with "bio" fuel cell ...

regards
artQuake
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Old 14th July 2008, 10:05 PM   #23
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Remember, as with every one of the packages that I have tried. You need to start with the schematic editor, and then "convert to pcb" that way you get all the ratsnest lines.

If you do it that way, the DRC checker will keep you right in terms of checking you have made all the connections.

I generally use the following process.

1. Produce my schemtic.

2. Check that all the items in the scehmatic have the correct pcb pattern attached. Where not I replace the attached pattern.

3. Convert to pcb.

4. Place the components on the empty work area so that the ratsnest lines are as easy to follow as possible. ie. not crossed if at all possible.

5. narrow the spacing between components.

6. go to the "autorouter" settings and select wether I want single sided, and change the settings.

7. Run the autorouter. (this will also set the board outline)

8. Edit the autorouted traces to my liking. I thicken the traces now.

9. Set up any ground planes

9. Double... No Tripple check absolutely everything (the longest part of the process)

10. Print to transparency, or export the Gerber files.

Sounds a lot, but in actual fact the process is pretty easy.
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Old 14th July 2008, 10:21 PM   #24
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Koolatron is right in one sense. None of these programs are very hard to get your head around, but the UI's can be very different.

On the other hand, learn one, learn 'em all. They all just automate some not-very-complicated parts of a complicated task.

It's the feature set that's critical, and support into the future. The UI is secondary. Your requirements in a feature set are probably quite basic though, you probably don't need e.g. pick-and-place points.

From the support of view gEDA looks slightly better than kicad, since it has a developer community, and has already changed hands, where kicad is the work of one person. The 3D rendering in kicad looks nice, but stuff like that adds to the complexity of the package definitions, although you may be able to skip some bits at the cost of no 3D.

gEDA is only available under unix, whereas kicad will run under Windows.

Both are under the GPL, so if the worst comes to the worst you have access to the source code. If you can't fix it yourself, you can probably get it fixed, if you can describe the problem.

I think charging for non-commercial use of any SC/PCB program is mean and possibly short-sighted.

w

The last time I tried auto-place and auto-route, admittedly some years ago, they were a complete waste of time. They may have got better, but I'm pretty sure a skilled person can still do a better job.
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Old 14th July 2008, 10:43 PM   #25
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In diptrace the autoplace, I have never quite got to grips with, doesn't seem to do a good job, but then I have seen tutorials on using autoplace kicking about.

The autoroute though is a really good tool. It seems to do a pretty good job, though I would consider it a time saving way of getting a starting point. i always end up moving the traces a bit to my liking.
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Old 14th July 2008, 11:07 PM   #26
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I just had a look at TinyCAD and freePCB recommended by Conrad Hoffman.

They look OK. Free. Why look any further?

w
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Old 14th July 2008, 11:14 PM   #27
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I have not tried TinyCAD, but I've used FreePCB quite a bit. I highly recommend it. The tutorial and documentation are very well written, and they will guide you through not only coming up to speed on the software itself, but also on the whole process of getting PC boards from a vendor if you haven't done that before. There is also a very good forum at FreePCB.com, and Allan is very responsive to fixing bugs.

You'll need to download the freeware ViewMate Gerber viewer to inspect the Gerber output before sending it to the PCB fab house.
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Old 14th July 2008, 11:18 PM   #28
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Cause what one finds easy, others seem to struggle with. I tried TinyCad. i hated it. I hated eagle as well. Diptrace is defo the easiest for me to pick up and use.

I love that software in a way that is slightly unnatural!

Only time it has let me down was that Gerbers I sent to futurlec, apparently did not have the apertures included. I have to admit I am pretty ignorant whe it comes to gerber files, I thought that they were included in the format.

However I sent them N/C drill files and they are happy with that. prooof of the pudding will be when i get the boards. 8 working days they say and I can tell you more.
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Old 15th July 2008, 04:15 AM   #29
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We're all a bit different in what we like and dislike, and that's just fine. What I find amazing is that some very expensive packages seem as convoluted as if they were garageware. With PCB packages, you do not get what you pay for, so just find something you can live with and have at it.

If you do digital, the libraries may be pretty good, but every significant mistake I've ever had on an analog board has been due to using pre-made libraries. My first action now is to delete all library components and make my own. That way I have what I need, I know it's right, and it agrees with the requirements of the PCB house I'm going to send it to. You can eliminate about 90% of mistakes by checking semiconductor pinouts (regulators are just as often wrong as right), and hole sizes. If you think you might need a higher wattage resistor, put the right size pads and holes in from the start. Keep a folder of design notes- standard part sizes and holes, device pinouts, and PCB house requirements for the lowest cost boards. Put in the sizes for various mounting screws as well.
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Old 15th July 2008, 07:38 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally posted by Conrad Hoffman
We're all a bit different in what we like and dislike, and that's just fine. What I find amazing is that some very expensive packages seem as convoluted as if they were garageware. With PCB packages, you do not get what you pay for, so just find something you can live with and have at it.

If you do digital, the libraries may be pretty good, but every significant mistake I've ever had on an analog board has been due to using pre-made libraries. My first action now is to delete all library components and make my own. That way I have what I need, I know it's right, and it agrees with the requirements of the PCB house I'm going to send it to. You can eliminate about 90% of mistakes by checking semiconductor pinouts (regulators are just as often wrong as right), and hole sizes. If you think you might need a higher wattage resistor, put the right size pads and holes in from the start. Keep a folder of design notes- standard part sizes and holes, device pinouts, and PCB house requirements for the lowest cost boards. Put in the sizes for various mounting screws as well.

I second that. Tripple check to the datasheet. My big problems come with TO92 packages. in the datasheets some manufacturers print the top view and others the bottom view for pinouts... I always seem to end up with them mixed up.
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