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The great PCB software survey 2018 — Parallax Forums

The great PCB software survey 2018

Please respond in 2 parts,
1) Which PCB design software do you use right now, and
2) Which PCB software would you learn next, given time and incentive

This is relevant to current P2 design discussions



  • I better put my hat in the ring I guess
    1) Rimu
    2) Kicad
  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 18,069
    1. Protel 95 (with Protel 99SE loaded)
    2. KiCad (looked numerous times but the transition always seems too big when I just want a pcb now)
  • 1. Diptrace
    2. KiCad
  • 1. Eagle / Osmond
    2. Kicad
  • 1 protel 99se / diptrace
    2 kicad
  • 1. Diptrace
    2. KiCAD
  • 1) CADINT
    2) No need to change. CADINT is the best.

  • zappmanzappman Posts: 418
    edited 2018-06-16 04:08
    1) Kicad
    2) Kicad
  • jmgjmg Posts: 15,156

    1) Mentor PADS and KiCad

    2) Fluent in PADS, still ramping KiCad, using and testing/reporting on V5 nightlies.

  • AleAle Posts: 2,363
    1 KiCad (I abandoned Eagle)
    2 Altium Designer (is being used at work...)
  • 1) DipTrace, 2) KiCad, or something OS/free/cheap but reasonably capable (comprehensive functionality not needed)
  • 1) DipTrace
    2a) Since I assume this poll is including cost and open source as overly weighted dominate factors, an appropriate #2 vote is KiCAD.
    2b) If we are equally weighing all factors, then no contest: Altium, the respected flagship EDA software by professional designers.
  • TubularTubular Posts: 4,646
    edited 2018-06-16 07:04
    Progress scores...
    I've assigned 1/2 a vote to peoples second vote. Horribly unscientific i know
    Which means Phil's Cadint holds almost same share as Altium. Enjoy the moment, Phil!... it may not last


    944 x 309 - 33K
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230
    edited 2018-06-16 10:37
    1) SpinalHDL
    2) Verilog

    I don't ever want to design a PCB again :)

    Nobody using CADSTAR?

    I worked in the CADSTAR dev team at Racal-Redac for a couple of years way back when. I have not seen anyone using it since 1999 or so. I was amazed to find, a few years ago, that CADSTAR is still developed and there is a free version:

    Despite WBA consulting's suggestion that the requirement of open source is an overly weighted dominate factor I think KiCad is the way to go for a P2 reference design. As a reference it is important that it be be openly available to as many as possible, with as few hoops to jump through and as minimal cost as possible. If someone wants to use the luxury of their closed, expensive, familiar tool that is fine too, they can just import it.

  • RaymanRayman Posts: 14,156
    edited 2018-06-16 12:43
    1. Eagle
    2. Eagle KiCad
  • 1. DipTrace
    2. KiCad

    However, using ExpressPCB is kind of tempting because their PCB fabrication prices are a bit lower than what DipTrace offers.
  • RaymanRayman Posts: 14,156
    I think I may change my #2 to KiCad… Looks like Sparkfun and Digikey are moving to support it and they are two of my favorites...
  • 1) KiCad
    2) None - very happy with KiCad
  • Heater. wrote: »
    Nobody using CADSTAR?

    Not for a very long while. I did quite a few boards with it back 'in the day'.

    I *think* I've still got a set of install floppies down in the store. Plus my version which removed the parallel port dongle code.

  • 1)Easy-PC
    2)No reason to change so Easy-PC
  • SPRINT Layout - NO learning curve! You can start designing your PCB as soon as you finish installing the software. Features - Multi-layer, huge library, huge layout area, Gerber import & export, Excellon drill file, Pick & Place file, Ground plane, test DRC, isolation milling, auto router, much more - by ABACOM $50
  • 1:diptrace
    2:Altium CircuitStudio, bought it for $500, been a year not used it yet.

  • Altium exports numerous formats that fully support open source functionality in addition to multi-platform versatility. Open source designs do not require open source software.
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230
    WBA Consulting,
    Open source designs do not require open source software.
    Kind of true. I think there are limits though. If you Open Source your designs by publishing the design files of your proprietary under an open licence but there is no other software in the world that can read, process, edit it, then I would claim that you have not really opened anything.

    If you can export your designs from Altium in a format that other tools can make use of, open or closed, especially KiCad then all is good.

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230

    Wow, that is going back. It's quite possible those floppies were for some original PC version of CADSTAR. Are they 5¼-inch?

    Early CADSTAR was written in PL/M 86. It was amazing how we got so much code into machines with only 640K RAM. Making heavy use of overlays and the like. We could also drive some pretty huge monitors for the day.

    When I left Racal they were just starting a rewrite of CADSTAR in C/C++ for the Mac, which I guess ended up on Windows.

    I'd be really interested in a copy of your dedongled floppies, for the historical record, you understand.

  • TubularTubular Posts: 4,646
    edited 2018-06-16 21:02
    Progress chart...
    Couldn't resist this pie chart form, looks a little like a circuit board pad or via.


    1079 x 372 - 44K
  • jmgjmg Posts: 15,156
    edited 2018-06-16 22:17
    Altium exports numerous formats that fully support open source functionality in addition to multi-platform versatility. Open source designs do not require open source software.

    In theory, maybe.

    However, there is no direct path for Altium Schematics to KiCad.

    KiCad can load PCAD-PCB Accel ascii files, and that works ok on the PCB side, but that's only part of the problem...

    There may be a some-caveats two-hop path, via Eagle (eg this post), but I've not seen anyone prove that yet.
    KiCad has been improving the Eagle import, and that seems a good way to start.
  • jmgjmg Posts: 15,156
    Heater. wrote: »
    If you can export your designs from Altium in a format that other tools can make use of, open or closed, especially KiCad then all is good.
    I've not seen any cross-cad export/import that has 100% accuracy and conversion.
    They can be 'quite good', but drill down into things like net class and design rules, blocks and polylines and you find caveats.

    Sometimes, differing CAD packages simply do not have equivalent data base structures, so some mapping/guesses are used.

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230

    You do not surprise me.

    Back in the day, working on CADSTAR as I mentioned above, one of my last tasks there was to write an importer/exporter to/from PADS PCB. That was a pig of a job. I can only imagine things have more complex since then.

    And that did not include the schematics...

    Yes, exporter as well. The idea was to be able to show off how brilliant CADSTAR PCB with it's cunning autoplace/autoroute tools, was to PADS users.

    The idea was also to create such exporters/importers for a bunch of other PCB packages. I'm pretty sure that never happened.
  • I can't imagine that the most "cunning" autorouter could possibly grok the feng shui of PCB layout. I've never used an autorouter, and I never will. There's more to layout than just making connections. It's all about current paths and where to branch the power traces and and put "fences" in the ground plane to route those currents where you want them to go, e.g. past sensitive circuits instead of through them.

    PCB layout is an art, and a good layout is more than just functional: it's a thing of beauty.

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