More CAD but not OrCad


CAD software favourites is a popular topic and I was reminded today when obliged to carry out a new design on (yet another) CAD package.

I was dreading it. I find all CADs are a nightmare to start with. Learning to drive can be a real pain. For small designs I use Seetrax RangerXL Designer. It's easy , but could make better use of right-click and pop-ups. EasyPC is, bar a few areas where Ranger pees on it, a lot better.

Back to the plot:- For reasons of standardisation I was obliged to start a design using Proteus from Labcenter.

To start with it reminded me of a flashier version of EasyPC , but a bit cleverer.
And it has an enormous list of standard parts - maybe too many.
It also has some PICAXEs and the always-asked-for download jack socket :)

And, thank goodness, it has a good Help!

I'm not going to say it's better than Eagle as I don't like Eagle - therefore I would sound biased.
But it's not often that when faced with a new CAD that you are doing mulitlayer after a coffee break.
I will say that the GUI makes Eagle look a bit Olde Worlde , but hey-ho there we go.

But, if you have £150 to £3500 of pocket money set aside for a decent CAD then it's worth a look.
And, based on my huge experience (ironic haha) of using it for an hour it's one of the easiest and prettiest CADs I've used.
No, I'm not going to pretend it's as good as a £10k Big Boy but it's easily good enough for anyone here I'm fairly certain.
Have a look. (and no, I'm not on commission!)

Yet another CAD to go into the pot-of-things-too-expensive-that-I'd-like-for-Christmas.
If I find any nightmares I'll get back to you.
No you can't have a free copy :)

Pssst. Even OrCad does a few sillies.... but don't tell anyone.

John West

Senior Member
I use TinyCad for schematic drawings and FreePCB for the bd layout. I find totally free software with no built-in limitations to be far more desirable than the small degrees of added convenience and sophistication found in pricey CAD packages.

The more money we pay for software, the more folks will want to charge for it. Far better that programmers write code as a labor of love than to do it for filthy lucre.

Ask yourself, is it better to give my money to someone who wants to get a lot of it from me, or to just give a "thank you" to someone who has put a lot of selfless work into creating something for your free use?

I'm in favor of supporting the selfless sort.
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andy , I also use EasyPC.
You'd find Proteus a breeze , the similarities in button functionalities are striking.
Many of the actions would really "ring a bell" with you.

John, I understand what you are saying and I respect your opinion. Of course EVERYONE likes freebies. NSS.
Yes, there is some excellent freeware around. Written with a variety of motives and all fair enough.
But I think "small degrees of added convenience.." is a slight underestimate.
These paid for CADs , even the £150 ones pee all over freebies when you add all the aspects up.

As the late Mycroft (Al) regularly said: "TANSTAAFL".
For example; we are offered freebies like Eagle as a 'tempter'. OK, you and many here might find it (and similar) adequate for hobby use. That's fine and dandy.
But after you (generic plural) have done 100 circuits on it and want something bigger then you will tend towards buying the larger version from the same Authors. The 'Devil you know'. It's called good marketing.

The point I'm trying to make wrt Eagle etc. is that there would NOT be a free version if their wasn't a larger version making money to pay the programmers and technicians and web-writers and admin staff etc.

According to a support techie at NumberOne , Easy-PC V11 was over a million lines of actual high-level code . He told me that whilst he was giving me tuition over the phone for over an hour - and you expect a CAD of that quality that took years to write and the phone technical support for free?
I'll give you Bill Gate's number ;) .

John West

Senior Member
Late night rant:

IA few years back, I did a layout with the free version of EaglePCB. After building a working prototype of my circuit, writing the software for the project, doing the schematic drawing, importing the netlist, and doing 90% of the layout, I ended up being stymied by my failure to understand how to create the final footprint, an edge connector footprint with offset pads on both the top and bottom solder layers, (for a 25 pin D connector stuck on the bd edge.)

I read and reread Eagle's oddly worded documentation, searched through component libraries everywhere, tried to get on-line forum help, etc, yet never did figure out how to make that footprint in Eagle, and finally gave up on the project altogether. A good learning experience, but otherwise a month of my life wasted.

Further reason why I use FreePCB. I can now create such a part in a few minutes time. I could even do it in a text editor. The data files are stored in quite readable ASCII, and the source code for the pgm is available (also free.)

Over the years, I've grown bone-weary of paying good money for consumer or commercial "black-box" junk (both hardware and software) that I have precious little control over, and attempting to communicate with pay-per-minute "tech support" that hardly qualifies for either name. Or sitting on perpetual phone hold listening to nonstop advertisements or low fidelity muzak (or both) while waiting for "free" tech support.

What I want these days is control over every aspect of a project I can get, including the program code of the tools I use, if I can get it. That's why I'm building picaxe projects instead of shopping for consumer grade products that never do quite what I want done the way I want it done.

With FreePCB, if I need more sophisticated program features, I'll add them myself, (or beg the pgm's author, a very nice fellow, or one of his other forum members, to add them.) But the projects I'm doing layouts for these days just aren't very tricky, (just a picaxe and sensors and a few FET's,) so I find I have little use for the sophisticated features found in the outrageously priced PCB CAD products.

If that changes, I expect my income will be going up proportionally and I'll be able to afford one of the expensive, "full-featured" packages. Perhaps I'll even buy one. But I doubt it.

However, I'll still be buying picaxe's. Some things, I refuse to change.
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That's fair enough. My favourite saying "Horses for Courses".

I was simply adding another 'title' to the list of CADs that may be considered.
I'm just made a little uncomfortable by people expecting something for nothing all the time. I wonder what'll happen with Android?


Senior Member
I wonder what'll happen with Android?
You're surely joking Dippy? That's if you DO mean Android as in "Smart Phone"? In just a couple of years it's zoomed from nothing to become THE dominant mobile OS - and rightly so in my opinion.


I know all that Stan. Android is very clever.

I asked "What'll" i.e. what will the future hold for Android as an 'operating system'?

Everyone loves 'free' , everyone loves 'open' , everyone loves 'easy'.
Fair enough , but where is Google's income? Android and friends cost loads to produce - the OS magic wand hasn't been invented yet :)

And those qualities mean a serious take up, perfectly understandable. Once they have domination will I see pop-up ads on my phone? Will it shout "go and buy a sausage roll" as I walk by a participating butcher's shop?
A bit like that film with Tom Cruise.

So, again, I wonder...

John West

Senior Member
As Google is making scads of money, they are looking at long term hegemony in the information business. Whether or not they make immediate money on it, just about everything they do adds to the muscle they have, and hurts the bottom lines of their competitors.

Possessing deep pockets and providing a product "for free" or at a money losing price in order to bankrupt a competitor is a common corporate practice. First, IE was given away "free" to undercut Netscape, then more free programs like Foxfire and Chrome were created to try and undercut IE.

Dippy is very rightly wondering what Google is up to in the long run, as it's bound to involve something that makes them still more money, and the money has to come from someone, somewhere. We can easily guess who that will be.
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