LTspice/Kicad/etc, etc

JaredC79

Banned
2015-09-02 4:32 am
NJ
I have LTspice however I am not a huge fan because I don't use many of linears parts and it's a hassle to cross reference everything. Mouser has multi sim or blue sim, I also have the simulation and testing/webbench support from TI which would probably be more of a better asset for me.

What freeware will allow me to open Gerber files and then use them to create home etched PCBs? I noticed some programs are not cross compatible like eagle and kicad or one of the several I have been experimenting with so what is ultimately the most flexible program out of all of them for developing home etched PCBs and possibly running simulations on? I would ideally like to stay all within 1 or 2 programs that mesh well together to prevent file and cross program conflicts. I don't mind spending some cash for a better program provided the benefits are there and learning curve isn't steep.

One of the larges hassles with any of the programs I have played with has been adding components and didn't know if there was a trick to load a large BOM into a sim program or pcb cad program.

Like always any help is greatly appreciated.
 
jaredc79,
are you looking for a package with integrated schematic capture/simulation/pcb layout?
you won't find that in a legally free package, although as i think about it now, i suppose "free pcb" + "ltspice hits" that target. a previous user named andyc wrote some tips on importing "lt spice" schematics into "free pcb".

try the simulator of your choice and "dip trace". here's a link on importing gerbers in dip trace to find errors (I'm sure there are other links addressing your specific need): DipTrace Forum • View topic - importing gerbers & overlay over actual layout

cjuried:
"...Eagle ... is described as the most ... user-friendly pcb design software around"

jury is still out on that one
:)
i'd recommend personally trying out try out eagle, then try out dip trace before settling on a tool. searches will provide some useful comments; no need to rehash here.

good luck ,
mlloyd1
 
A lot of times with tools it's more about what you like using rather than what comes with the biggest libraries or most features in one piece of software. Also trying to lock into one piece of software can be more of a limitation, especially if everything is in a proprietary format.

There is one free piece of software that covers schematic capture, simulation, PCB layout etc which is gEDA.

Personally I think KiCad is a nice piece of software, given it is free. There are library parts available for it but creating parts is no big problem and sometimes it just has to be done if you want to make a circuit/PCB. I prefer to use SiMetrix Intro for smaller simulations but LTSpice is good and has some nice features. There are others out there I have not tried such as Qucs.

When you get Gerbers out for PCBs any decent software compatible with Gerber files will open them, KiCad can or gerbv as a standalone piece of software, or free commerical software like GraphiCode GC-Prevue.

Depending on how far you want to get into electronic/PCB design it can be useful to build up a selection of software you use, and to know when to use it.
 
I use Multisim for schematic capture and simulation. I will be jumping into Eagle for board design as it is described as the most versatile and user-friendly pcb design software around. I am open to other options, however, if the forum has other viable options.
I see you have a commercial parts site. Beware that the (rather limited) free version of Eagle forbids business use.
 
Having used Cadence Orcad earlier, I have completed a design with Kicad finding it doing a similar job for free, with satisfaction. Attached is a screendump of the 3D-viewer.
 

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JaredC79

Banned
2015-09-02 4:32 am
NJ
Basically I'm looking for something that doesn't have a huge learning curve and pretty self explanatory laid out nice and clean - to make an analogy if anyone here is familiar with recording sort of like protools (it just makes sense) but for mocking up a circuit fast and running a sim on it. Ability to import Gerbers and edit them would be a nice feature but I don't know if they "locked down" like a PDF or not and redrawing isn't much of an issue typically. It would be nice if it was smart enough to recommend something like changing the value of a resistor during the sim. Ideally I would do everything point to point but sometimes I may need to do a board and would like to easily dump a sketch after sim into something that allows me to take my drawing import it easily or click a button to go to pcb design stage and have then make whatever changes need to be made then use the copper clad to test it here before I order a run of something I don't like. I don't mind adding parts manually if they aren't in the library and basically use the same parts over and over since I literally purchased them by the 1000 packs for the most part except for my output transistors which I may change but the package will be identical only difference would be the voltage needs for the wattage desired. LTSpice doesn't help since basically any opamp or "chip" is typically from TI or one of their holdings. I don't mind using two different or even 3 different pieces of software for that matter as long as they play nicely together with importing files and adding parts is easy.