PCB designer, Microwave

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Hy!

I would like to ask everybody, what kind of PCB designer software are you using? I use the Protel 99. I think it is good, but it has many mistake. What do you think which is the best software?
I have an another question: I would like to design PCB in 2,4GHz project. How scholud I do it? How can I get something about 2,4 GHz PCB design?
Thanks a lot!

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Én az EAGLE-t használom, www.cadsoftusa.com. Korlátozott képességekkel, nem üzleti célra ingyenes, és nem találtam benne hibát.
U.i.: Nem ismer ATMEL IC-kről magyar nyelvű leírást valahol?

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I will try it!

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Hi Ratkai.
Eagle from Cadsoft is very popular (just search in news groups on google). You can download a free trial version 8x10cm, 2 layers for free on www.cadsoft.de

Eagle freeware version consist of Manual PCB editor, Autorouter and Schematic editor.
When you place a component on the schematic it will at the excatly same time be placed on the PCB. So there is a very closed releationship between Schematic and PCB. The schematic have different netclasses meaning you can define the thickness of each of the PCB tracks that are routed by the autorouter. This is good when routing analog circuits.

Eagle is supported by different other companies.

B2spice from beigebag.com have a Eagle compatible Spice simulator with 25000 spice models. A special library is made for Eagle.

Connecteda.com have a specctra compatible autorouter for Eagle with extreme high performance. You can route vital parts manually in Eagle and then let Electra route the rest. It is about 6-50 times faster than Eagle autorouter. I have attatched a picture of a Eagle design autorouted by Electra.

Cadsoft have a non-profit version at a price around 125 Euro. PCB size 10x16cm 4 signal layers and unlimited schematic. This is enourgh for many hobby users.

Br
Jan

admin's test signature
 

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Eagle for sure!

also vgs-vt.com has a great beginner's guide for Eagle.

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>Eagle for sure!

Absolutely.

>also www.vgs-vt.com has a great beginner's guide for Eagle.

Except for the fact that it's horribly wrong !! :shock:
Do NOT follow that guide to library creation ! You'll end up with a bunch of unusable components ! :(

/Jesper
http://www.yampp.com
The quick black AVR jumped over the lazy PIC.
What boots up, must come down.

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Jesper was right... I found the problem was in the way that they placed their pins when they were making the guide. I let them know and I got a shout-out on the website (truuuu). Thanks Jesper.

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2.4GHz ugyben nezz szet az analog.com oldalon. Van egy rakat AppNote a nagyfrekis tervezeshez.

VFX.
vfx.hu

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I use QCad (www.winqcad.com). I like it, because it's realy easy to understand, not big, consists of Schematic design, PCB design (automatic too), Autorouter (autotrace), PartLib design, Footprint design).
And You can use it for free, to design PCB's 6x6 cm. Larger PCB You can make, but You can't print...

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circad is the best program I have ever used.
www.holophase.com
free full function evaluation - just can't output the final gerber files

they don't have an autorouter if that is important to you...

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I would recommend not using Qcad. I have had a lot of problems with their software. I have heard good things about PCB Express, and PCB123 but I am just starting to learn them.

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Quote:
I would recommend not using Qcad. I have had a lot of problems with their software.

Would you mind telling what kind of problems you experienced?

After having been ripped off by Ultimate/EWB for 8 years (Multicap7 is unusable, Ultiboard7 works ok) we're finally looking for alternatives, so I'm sort of curious ...

Andreas

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Hi,

I've used QCad - results not amazing I found. It IS very small and not bloatware, which is very nice to see.

I've used an older version (like 21.0), since you have to pay for updates and did not want to pay. However for that version you could not go back and forth between the auto-router and hand router too easily - it made it a huge hassle whenever you were using the autorouter and wanted to change a few things.

Right now I'm using AutoTRAX - it has a very beta feel to it though and some functions aren't implimented.

The search continues...

-Colin

EDIT: It was older than 21.0 sorry, 21.0 has that feature

Last Edited: Mon. May 10, 2004 - 11:46 PM
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I imagine this thread is long dead and buried. But still: I have tried Qcad after reading on these fora, several months ago. someone recommended it. Well, so far it is the best tool for me. It has quirks, like the lack of undo but it still generates nice schematics and PCBs, and is, indeed, logical to use and fairly easy to expand with your own parts.

Just to clarify where I'm coming from: Tango and OrCad inthe old days, more recently Protel and PCAD. Protel is the tool I would use for my own projects if I could afford it, and if I had the necessary Atmel libs (could not find them for Protel 99). However, Qcad compares very favourably to Protel in several ways. Qcad is also very stable, and has a decent autorouter. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it does not seem to have any bugs. And, it makes working with projects really easy. The help contains a good tutorial that will get you started in no time. Yeah, that's one thing I could definitely encourage in the other EDAs: a tutorial right smack in the help file.

I tried Eagle, too, but I have issues with it's interface. The most anoying feature is that pointer that doesn't, apparently, perform any function. I mean, if you can't do anything with that pointer before selecting a command, why bother displaying it, at all? "Look ma', my mouse works!" Sorry, I just don't get it. Just get rid of that pointer while it performs no function.

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Hi,

Has QCad fixed the one thing that drove me crazy (and is why I dumped it):

Placing parts on the board is done, then the board is routed. If you want to move parts or place a newpart in the board, you have to clear all the routing in the board. This made it a big hassle to use.

BTW - I just got a 4-layer board with AutoTRAX made. It is REALLY not ready for that yet as I found it - took a lot of Gerber editing (with text editor - I don't have a real Gerber editor!) to get the board to look like it might work.

Ilija (AutoTRAX author) says that the latest version (version 3.0) of AutoTRAX should be out in a month or so, with almost every bug fixed (he has an online bug tracker so that is what he is going by).

Regards,

-Colin

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c_oflynn wrote:
Hi,

Has QCad fixed the one thing that drove me crazy (and is why I dumped it):

Placing parts on the board is done, then the board is routed. If you want to move parts or place a newpart in the board, you have to clear all the routing in the board. This made it a big hassle to use.

BTW - I just got a 4-layer board with AutoTRAX made. It is REALLY not ready for that yet as I found it - took a lot of Gerber editing (with text editor - I don't have a real Gerber editor!) to get the board to look like it might work.

Ilija (AutoTRAX author) says that the latest version (version 3.0) of AutoTRAX should be out in a month or so, with almost every bug fixed (he has an online bug tracker so that is what he is going by).

If you mean by "clear the routing on the board" that the copper tracks are removed, yes, that's still the case. But if by routing you mean the actual netlist ("ratnest"), that one is there. I can see how this could be a hassle, but it is not for me: I just move the components around and then re-lauch the auto-router, and check the results. What you would like to do, I presume, is to drag the components and have the copper follow the part, yes? That would be cool, I agree. But I don't find it crucial in ay way. I can still edit the copper layers. I tend to fogive the lack of this feature because the rest is so good.

I tried AutoTRAX, and I was deeply disappointed. I deleted it from my computer, and have 0 hope it will ever improve to the level I could use it. If you can design a 4-layer PCB with AutoTRAX, you really have no right to hold a grudge against Qcad.

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Hi,

Yes the copper disappearing is what I mean. The reason it drove me crazy is that the Autorouter is only so good - as it (and any other) always will be. There is always some traces you don't want autorouted (power normally) or for high-speed nets. So when you change one part you need to reroute these...

Quote:
I deleted it from my computer, and have 0 hope it will ever improve to the level I could use it.

The schematic part of it seems pretty solid now, and in PCB there is lots of footprints added. It seems that it will improve to a useable level IMHO eventually.

I like AutoTRAX because I feel that it is just "designed right". The user interface is excellent, and it seems to have room for a lot of features as well as already having a lot of features. This is why I continue to use it - because I can see that there is the ability for almost unlimited growth.

It just needs to get the PCB editor working properly and it will be good :?

The other reason I dumped QCad is there is limited free upgrades. After a while you have to pay for the upgrade, and it is pretty expensive. I have used QCad for a fairly large board (my Al-bot project actually) and thought it was pretty good. But then the next version had some handy features that I thought would make QCad even better - but I would have needed to pay for the upgrade. It is even made by a guy who lives within a few hours of my area too!

Regards,

-Colin

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c_oflynn wrote:
Hi,

The other reason I dumped QCad is there is limited free upgrades. After a while you have to pay for the upgrade, and it is pretty expensive. I have used QCad for a fairly large board (my Al-bot project actually) and thought it was pretty good. But then the next version had some handy features that I thought would make QCad even better - but I would have needed to pay for the upgrade. It is even made by a guy who lives within a few hours of my area too!

-Colin

Yeah, that sucks royally. I still haven't made up my mind about a deeper investment into Qcad. I didn't look very carefully, I thought if you get the unlimited version you would get free updates, too. Guess I was wrong.

I'll have another got at AutoTRAX when the new version comes out. Ever the adventurer, I may just do that, but it really rubbed with me pretty unfavourably.

Have a nice week-end.

mario

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First off let me say I have no relationship with Qcad other than as a happy user.

I have used Qcad for several years now. Having a schematic capture, board layout, and full spectra autorouter in one package at the price Winqcad sells for is great! Qcad lets you import Orcad and Protel libraries, and to create your own parts A LOT easier that Orcad.

In addition, you can buy just as much capability as you want with Qcad, which is what I did. But the best reason to consider Qcad is that the software designer answers your email! Several times I have emailed the designer with questions or complaints and gotten answers back in hours. Qcad also has a user board to track problems and give advise about using the software. Also all the databases are in ASCII. I just finished a project where after drafting in about 1000 pins the customer told me that he wanted to change pin nomenclature. I was using Orcad at their request and almost cried knowing that with Qcad I could have just created a script to edit the database.

Minor software upgrades have been free, at least my password is still unlocking the minor patches for the last 3-4 months.

About the only thing that could be improved is the user manual is embedded in the software instead of being a stand alone file.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

Will Wasson

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Hi,

The passwords are changed every so often, see http://www.winqcad.com/download.... and look at the bottom of the page.

As well the support is supposed to be only 5 free inquires (not sure if the guy actually follows that), after that it is $20 per inquiry (see http://www.winqcad.com/support.html).

IMHO WinQCad has some good software (Protel import, very good Autorouter, very small program size, stable, etc) but it is the support that kills it for me. As someone pointed out to me there is the ability to export to handroute while keeping current tracks, but that is in a version that I couldn't get at, so useless for me (note: I can't actually remember if maybe I was able to get that at the end - its been a while). I know on the board I was doing I needed to autoroute a lot of them, so I might have been forced to rip up the entire board when I changed stuff.

Once I pay for software I like to have updates for it for free - not be forced to pay. If there was free updates I would still be using WinQCad I'm sure. Without that though, I can't afford to keep paying updates.

BTW AutoTRAX has text editable files as well (you can export and import XML) for easy scripting, so I know how handy it can be!.

Regards,

-Colin

EDIT: PS: In case you are interested: I purchased it in September 2001 for $179.00 (Canadian). To update to the new version would be $210 (this was in December 2002 when I asked). No thank you! It was mainly because of this support system meaning I couldn't get new fixes, and not the problem with needing to re-route boards which is why I dropped it. To be honest it was a long time ago since I used it, so I can't remember exactly what it had or didn't have. It might have been for another reason I stopped using it feature-wise, but the main one was the support system.

The AutoTRAX author has indicated updates will always be free, and in fact he even has a Student version (which is free). The product might need some work, but I know I will always be able to get the latest fixes so I stick with it.

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(Okay I edited my last message about 5 times, so I started a new one):

IMHO The whole idea of paying for updates really sucks. The problem is you get some people who are using an old version, and other people with newer versions.

I would never recommend WinQCad, because my experience is with the older version. So you start to get that to happen - people can only show other people the older version, or have only used it and disliked it. Especially this is the case with WinQCad, where there is no real distinction between versions. For example WinXP is a pay upgrade basically of Win2000 (or whatever, you know what I mean). BUT It is sufficently different that most people wouldn't base WindowsXP on Windows98.

For a tool like WinQCad, people don't differentiate the versions really. Its always WinQCad.

This may be flamebait though, so don't flood the forum ;-)

Regards,

-Colin

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Have you guys ever tried the function "Call PcbEdit WHILE PRESERVING THE CURRNET ROUTING", available from the File Menu in HandRoute. By calling PcbEdit from HandRoute, the user can move or place new components while preserving ALL the rotues, just contrary to what Mr. Colin wrote. Maybe this function is not well exposed, but it is self-explanatory and it has been available for years.

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I use Protel DXP

It has more features than a Leatherman, but is a prone to crashing,

But I like the way I can tie things together... ie Schematics, Schematic Libaries, PCBs, PCB libaries etc, when you get used to it it can gel quite well.

If you are a student you may still be able to get a free 1 month evaluation copy too!

It is strange to read this thread as up until now I assumed that protel was the be all and end all.

odd.

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i also think that eagle cad is a great peice of software. i have used it with many designs. the thing i like most, is how easy it is to convert schematics to a PCB. i used it with PCB POOL to get a PCB done profesionaly, and they had no problem with the board i produced using eagle cad, and they were fairly inexpensive.

hope i was of some help.
-Nick

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I'm using Protel 99SE - haven't made the $$ decision to move to DXP/2004 yet. $$$ dang. I like 99SE, and can do a lot with it very quickly. Comes from experience I suppose.

That's the trouble with changing - past experience. There is so much muscle-memory and habit in what you do in an EDA package, that changing is very tough. It also make it very hard to un-biasedly evaluate other packages.

Aside from DXP/2004 which has extremely nice and clean integration, I would say Pulsonix is probably at the top of the list - it's fairly cheap, and has a nice clean interface. It's still missing radial positioning of parts though, which I've used several times in 99SE. Doing that manually or via a kludge would be painful ... And screen panning is opposite, blast it. I want to put a finger on the page and drag it around, like 99SE. Pulsonix does the point-where-you-want-to-pan-to method, which I find counter-intuitive - the screen moves opposite the direction you expect. Or at least for me :)

Mentor Graphics PADS (PowerLogic/PowerPCB) looks interesting - does anyone know of any good tutorials or video howtos for it ? CadStar does a series that are very informative.

Dean.

Dean 94TT
"Life is just one damn thing after another" Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

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oddbudman wrote:

It is strange to read this thread as up until now I assumed that protel was the be all and end all.

Protel is FAR from the end-all/be-all. We use Protel here, but are looking at moving away from it due to the limitations of the router and the complexity of our boards. Though 2004 has made signifigant improvements over DXP (which was worse than 99se). I would now consider 2004 to be an upgrade from 99SE, where DXP was really a downgrade in terms of the router. we used to export designs from DXP back to 99se just to be able to route them.

Currently we are looking at the Expedition package from Mentor Graphics, it appears to have some very nice routing features that should work for us, though the cost is WAY out there 20K+/seat. At that price Protel seems like a bargain ;)

If you are looking for what people use most, OrCAD appears to be what most are using (at least in my area it appears to be). There are lot's of other options out there too, PADS, Board Station, P-Cad, and many others in the commercial arena. You just need to find the one that has the features and support that you need.

Writing code is like having sex.... make one little mistake, and you're supporting it for life.

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It seems Mr. Colin is very angry because, many years ago, we did not give him the upgrades for free. We did not give him the upgrades for free because those upgrades included the whole Schematic Editor. First he said that he dumped Qcad because it is not possible to move components without re-routing the whole board. Everyone can see that it is possible by calling PcbEdit from HandRoute File menu. Then, he corrected himself saying he can't remember but that he would never recommend buying WinQcad because it is not possible to know the current version purchased. But, if that is important at all, the version number is displayed both in the Start Menu and in the title bar of the main Qcad program, in other words, at the most exposed place in the program. Mr Colin is talking about Qcad 16.1, he bought many years ago and the current version is 29.0 His comment is like "I can't remember why, but I would not recommend buying Qcad 16.1", as if someone can buy Qcad 16.1. It is not possible, even theoretically, to buy anything but the latest version. Mr. Colin can't even remember the name of the program, it is Qcad not WinQcad. He only remembers "the upgrades are not free", but everyone who has 10 seconds of spare time can click at www.winqcad.com/download.html and see (at the bottom of the page) that the authentication codes have not changed for almost a year, which means the upgrades have been free for the same period of time. Of course, some time limit must exist. Free technical support is also limited. Some small companies may promise whatever they find convenient to take money from a foolish customer, but who is really interested to spend thousands of hours without being paid a cent?

Regards and special thanks to Mr. Gianmario, Mr. Wasson and others for their objectiveness. Microcad.

Last Edited: Thu. May 13, 2004 - 03:50 AM
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I tried Eagle CAD, Ultiboard and Pulsonix

Ultiboard 5.72
---------------------
Not as bad as many people say. If you take a look around you will see that it could be a lot worse. However, also I think that it is insufficient.

Pros:
- relatively cheap (About 300 Euro for a 500 pin version)
- Good support (if you call them)
- Good support for top-down design (isolated functional blocks with ports)
- Easy to understand. Easy to control
- Support for spaces and overline inverted signal names

Cons:
- parts editor is very very basic
- library management is complicated
- Crashed every now and then. Last changes won't be saved
- old version does not seem to be supported anymore. New version
is only sold as part of electronics workbench?

Eagle CAD
----------------
Has clearly been around for a while. Though it runs on windows a lot of controls and behaviour point to a unix like past. Shows some good experience. Very steep learning curve.

Pros:
- Very stable. hardly ever crashed on my computer
- relatively cheap. 800 Euro for a 1000 pin version
- Good graphics
- Parts editor has a lot of options
- Possible to use one part for different packages while keeping the original manufacturers type numbers including suffixes.
- Bulletin board for voluntarily library exchange
- possibility to handle parts as a whole so you don't drag the text instead of the part. This can also be switched off.

Cons:
- Counter intuïtive interface
- no direct support for drag and drop. Have to activate this.
- no direct keyboard support for copy and paste
- no support for top-down design (isolated functional blocks with ports)
- no support for spaces or invert overlines in text
- A pins shown name must be unique. Kind of nasty with IC with more GNDs like ATMEGA128
- No direct support from manufacturer (Only from other users through forum)
- Each libraries needs to define part, footprint and symbol. Footprints cannot be shared between libraries.
- No simple bus names possible. List of signals is the bus name.

Pulsonix
-------------
This is a relatively new package, designed from scratch. It seems that a lot of experienced electronics engineers took part in it. It is not expensive but certainly not cheap. (1500 Euro for a 1000 pin limited version) However for this money it gives a lot of useful features. If you can not afford it then don't take the demo because you will put yourselve into debts to get it.

Pros:
- Good support (by your local dealer, or by e-mail). Any bug is taken serously and will be fixed.
- Good support for top-down design (isolated functional blocks with ports)
- Easy to understand. Easy to control.
- Full support for all windows functions by mouse and keyboard
- Support for spaces in all texts
- Good graphics
- Parts editor has a lot of options
- seperate grids for components, tracks, vias and groups
- lot of plot options
- lot of report options
- everything can be adjusted to user preferences
- possible to link associated parts. I.e. socket for ICs, thermal pad for transistor.
- Flexible part naming
- easy to edit traces. Just draw a new trace at the right position and the old one disappears. Or drag it if you want.

Cons:
--------
- crashes relatively often. Always saves data before though.
- quite slow when accessing libraries for placing parts
- agressive license management. Have to take a dongle with you when working at other locations.
- No support for package specific part numbers.

I have to admit that I am very anti Eagle CAD (have a 1000 pin limited license for sale for 400 Euros) and Pro Pulsonix. I tried to as much as possible stick to the facts though. Use this info as you want.

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Quote:
"the upgrades are not free"

Is that not true? They are not free. There are some free upgrades, but not all of them. I even link to that exact spot myself and point out how the upgrades are only free for so long.

Quote:
would never recommend buying WinQcad because it is not possible to know the current version purchased

Uh I don't see where I say that either. I say that I prefer to have unlimited support for a product I purchased.

Please stop making up these things, I have simply stated some stuff I found out using WinQCad (call it that cause QCad is the name of another product by another company as well - makes the two different). Some good (I liked the autorouter), some stuff I didn't like. And please stop harrasing me via private message. (ie: " If those lies are not deleted immediately, my layeer will also sue you and you will be paying and paying for possible damages for the rest of your life. BTW, I have 250,000+ withnesess").

-Colin