Simple pcb design program

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b1gtuna
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Re: Simple pcb design program

Post by b1gtuna » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:48 pm

I have been getting to know Altium's Circuit Maker - http://www.circuitmaker.com

It is 100% free, geared toward makers and hobbyists. Its component library is directly linked to ciiva (https://ciiva.com).
So you can search parts with very specific descriptions.

I think the tool is easy enough to learn. And the forum is quite active. And additionally you can export your projects in gerbers. So You are not locked to use a specific PCB manufacturer.

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mediatechnology
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Re: Simple pcb design program

Post by mediatechnology » Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:58 am

Is there a complexity or size limit of the free version?
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b1gtuna
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Re: Simple pcb design program

Post by b1gtuna » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:15 am

mediatechnology wrote:Is there a complexity or size limit of the free version?
As far as I'm concerned, no there is no limit. The only limit is that all your projects are `public`.

Jeffin90620
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Re: Simple pcb design program

Post by Jeffin90620 » Mon Sep 21, 2015 2:39 am

I use PCB123. It is free and, yes, its files are proprietary to Sunstone (a PCB manufacturer in Oregon), but they will sell you the Gerbers for either $50 or $100 if you want to use another manufacturer (I've seen both prices, but don't know the criteria).

Learning it was fairly intuitive and their customer support is reasonably quick via e-mail (plus 24 hour phone support, but the people answering the phone are not always as expert as I'd like).

It supports 18" x 18" boards up to 6 layers and has a high quality Artwork output to check or document your work.


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dirkwright
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Re: Simple pcb design program

Post by dirkwright » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:34 pm

Unless you are going to manufacture your own boards, I don't see a reason to have a PCB layout software and Gerber file generator myself. You'll still have to pay the minimum set up fee and other costs with any of the PCB manufacturers out there. I use Pad2pad. It is very easy to use, and they have treated me very well. I often order 8 boards, and the send me 10 (2 for free), for example. They have been very responsive to my questions and problems as well.

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mediatechnology
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ExpressPCB Gerbers

Post by mediatechnology » Fri Dec 16, 2016 3:57 pm

Just found out from their web page that ExpressPCB allows you to convert your prototype layouts to Gerbers: https://www.expresspcb.com/shop/

For "non-members" there's a $60 charge. For "members," which start at $99 annually, the Gerbers are free with every order.

DFMNow http://www.numericalinnovations.com/pag ... ber-viewer has a free Gerber viewer.

It looks like you can use ExpressPCB at no charge, do a prototype short run order, then buy your Gerbers for volume orders and view them for free.
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Re: Simple pcb design program

Post by terkio » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:59 pm

I see these software are mostly locked to: Output = Ordering PCBs to a specific manufacturer.
PCB express has a netlist file, how could it not have it, however I found no way to import or export to LTspice for instance. Gerber files, same thing.

Is there a true free software, open to alternate software tools ?

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mediatechnology
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ExpressPCB now includes Gerber files with every order

Post by mediatechnology » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:15 pm

ExpressPCB now includes Gerber files with every order no matter how small.
You're only locked into buying the first set of boards and it can be a super-small order.
I've opened their Gerbers in DFMNow! and they work just fine.

Some PCB manufacturers use different file extensions but that is fixed by a simple rename.

The Gerbers are attached to your email/invoice when the boards ship.
There's a tickbox to obtain them in V7.8.
EXPCB had to upgrade from to 7.8 for PKI encryption of online ordering and added a bunch of board options.

There's also a newer development fork called Express PCB Plus.

Once you get the Gerbers from EXPCB anyone can make your boards.
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lsburden
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Re: Simple pcb design program

Post by lsburden » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:41 am

I have used OrCAD (very old version), PCAD, PADs, Altium, Eagle, Diptrace, Circuit Maker, and Kicad.

There were things that I liked and disliked about each one.

At work I use Altium but we farm out PCB Design so I am not familiar with that side of it. I really like the schematic capture side. I tried, and liked Circuit Maker because it was very familiar (since it is essentially a stripped down version of Altium...very stripped). The problem I had with it was that your projects are public.

I used Eagle and Diptrace for personal projects for quite a while. I never cared for Eagle - too clunky. I liked Diptrace for what it was. In the end the limitations were getting in my way. Diptrace only allows 300 pin pairs and 2 layers. I am looking to move into ADC/DAC converter and microcontroller designs and those limitations will not work. I could pay for more layers, or more pin pairs, or more board area, etc.; but I don't like either of them well enough to pay for it.

If I was to buy a PCB design program I would seriously consider Circuit Studio. Again, the folks at Altium are behind this one so I am very familiar with the environment. Only $500 for perpetual licence. At this point though I can't justify spending money on something like this unless I can generate income from it, even if just enough so it can pay for itself.

That said, I recently started using kicad now. It's free. It's a little clunky but no more that Eagle or Diptrace. No limitations and it's free.
Did I mention its free? Yeah, I can deal with clunky for now.

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