Author Topic: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions  (Read 56887 times)

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Offline mux

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #150 on: June 20, 2015, 06:26:29 pm »
Just a little bit of comment on the 'oh requiring the internet at all times is fine'-argument.

I live in one of the top-5 broadband penetration countries in the world, we have fiber in ~50% of the country and very fast cable (for cheap prices) elsewhere. Yet.

A friend of mine is looking at buying an office and workspace, to do his milling/lathing/dirty stuff as well as his computery/electronicky stuff. Even in the absolute middle of the country, in a new (built in 2007-2008) industrial area, a significant proportion of the properties have no better internet connection than the copper phone line. A bunch of properties don't even have that and charge extra to have a line dug for you. Even then, the best you'll ever get is DSL. Or 4G.

This isn't unique to the properties he's been looking at. A company I used to have as a client had their office in a renovated warehouse complex. Adjacent, maybe 100m further down the road, apartment buildings had fiber. They had nothing. They had to pay €4000 upfront to extend the fiber, because all their operations are internet-based.

There are still a lot of reasons, especially for small businesses, not to want something that relies at its core on internet access and just stops working the moment your connection fails. Even in the best of countries when it comes to broadband penetration.
 

Offline george graves

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #151 on: June 20, 2015, 07:09:17 pm »
A friend of mine is looking at buying an office and workspace, to do his milling/lathing/dirty stuff......just stops working the moment your connection fails. Even in the best of countries when it comes to broadband penetration.

I'd still think it's a small percentage - I'd be generous if I said it's 1% for the US.  No?  And I can't imagine running any kind of company in this day-and-age, without internet.  That would be impossible.  A machine shop, like you said, might just be one of the few that could.

With that said, I think it sucks that whole countries might be left in the dark for using CM, but it's not the only game in town right?  Such is life. (I really believe internet should now be a basic human right - just as much as freedom of the press once was - so don't get me wrong - but that's another topic for another day - so you can put that away)

There's going to be a vocal minority with bad internet connections that will hate it.  But that's a small percentage of people.  They have to make it an online only tool, and force the project files to the public so that it won't eat into AD sales.

Nope, they just have to set sensible limits. Their problem here is that they gave practically everything away for free. That's both noble and completely stupid.

Dave, you're not thinking like a marketing guy!  Duh!  (CS - not worth mentioning - we would both agree that's dead in the water) The whole brilliant idea is that they destroy/interrupt/shake-up the 0$ market for low end, and position themselves as the OSHW and educational king. (I'm not saying that's what's good for everyone, I'm just looking at it as a business decision) - their cost to give away CM is nothing compared to the fanfare they will get.  Again, looking at it as a smart business decision.

RE: "sensible limits" Yea, they could have made $50 here, or $100 there on upgrading to a 4 layer or "bigger-then-an-arduino-sheild"/eurocard layout. (for a company that is use to 10k-100k orders, $100 bucks is an annoying about of money to have to book keep)  But here's the rub.....once you take people's money, they want support, and they will be forever emailing you why their software that "THEY PAID GOOD MONEY FOR" doesn't work.  You give it away, start a forum, and all of the sudden people are happy to support the product on their own.  You just saved yourself ($200k? At least!) a year in customer support personal.

Chris Anderson, in his book "Free: The Future of a Radical Price" is a great read, if you haven't already read it.  The psychology of "free" is a powerful thing. I think if you get it on audio book, he personally he reads it(or I might be thinking of his other book).  Give it 1-2 chapters in, it's very interesting.

Anyways, you video review of it(CM) was awesome(it'll be on HAD later today) - would love to see you do a start to finish capture-to-layout-to-gerbers of something simple like your uCurrent. 

« Last Edit: June 20, 2015, 07:16:15 pm by george graves »
 

Offline garlicbread

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #152 on: June 20, 2015, 07:53:09 pm »
I remember it being said that the file format is different than that of the original Altium, that might be a good thing
I've discovered a way to read the files as plain text, so in theory you could import those plain text files into another app

With 7zip installed by right clicking on the schematic or pcb file, then selecting "Extract Here"
For a schematic this will lead to 3 files
FileHeader - appears to contain the schematic in plain text
Additional - true header describing the file format
Storage - used for icons / graphics data

with the pcb files it seems to extract out to a bunch of directories with plain text inside I think for different layers
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #153 on: June 20, 2015, 09:51:21 pm »
Dave, you're not thinking like a marketing guy!  Duh!  (CS - not worth mentioning - we would both agree that's dead in the water) The whole brilliant idea is that they destroy/interrupt/shake-up the 0$ market for low end, and position themselves as the OSHW and educational king. (I'm not saying that's what's good for everyone, I'm just looking at it as a business decision) - their cost to give away CM is nothing compared to the fanfare they will get.  Again, looking at it as a smart business decision.

If that's the case then that will likely fail in it's objective to eventually get more seats in their higher end product(s) as people upgrade. And to dominate the entire PCB space from top to bottom.
Publicity isn't worth squat if it doesn't ultimately (directly or indirectly) lead to people buying your product and the company makes it's compounded profit that the shareholders expect.
In the CAD tool market, numbers of seats is everything. Nothing else matters.
You can have low end seats that are free, and that works great if it ultimately gets a percentage into the more expensive seats.
And if you are going free, then you do it so you absolutely dominate the market giving the majority of people no sensible alternative. If you do a half arsed poorly thought out attempt (as Altium are currently doing) then odds are you won't dominate and the product will just become a burden instead of a driver of further company growth.

Quote
RE: "sensible limits" Yea, they could have made $50 here, or $100 there on upgrading to a 4 layer or "bigger-then-an-arduino-sheild"/eurocard layout. (for a company that is use to 10k-100k orders, $100 bucks is an annoying about of money to have to book keep) 

You don't book keep it, you use PayPal only and transfer in one large lump sum every month. One entry in your books. Pretty simple.

Quote
But here's the rub.....once you take people's money, they want support, and they will be forever emailing you why their software that "THEY PAID GOOD MONEY FOR" doesn't work. 

You make it very clear IN BIG BOLD LETTERS THERE IS NO SUPPORT. But you set up a support email account anyway for the idiots that auto answers with a long spiel on why they are idiots for expecting support and direct them to the community support forum.
Also, you build the support forum right into the software, like they have essentially already done. Even the idiots will quickly learn they will get faster support from an active community forum.
 

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #154 on: June 20, 2015, 11:29:28 pm »
Did anyone try to actually work with this? IDK, maybe I expect too much, but it was a pain. I tried placing a 7805 from TI and some 0603 1K resistors. Searching for the resistor was a pain. Then I got 1000 results 990 without footprint. What the hell? Like how much effort would it take to get a full assortment of E192 Vishay generic 0603-0805-1206 resistors up in one  library and make it search-able? Like MCS series, I dont really care. To be able to place something I can select from my own library in 5 seconds, here I wasnt able to do it in 10 minutes, and I had to go to freaking Digikey to search for part numbers and datasheets.
I mean the good thing in Altium, I can finish a simple project in few hours. Knowledge is there, parts are there, I save time by using the shortkeys, and what do you know, when the board arrived the components actually will fit onto their footprint. Here, not so much. I dont want to spend as much time selecting a resistor as I usually do selecting an opamp or a microcontroller. Or click on the ribbon every time -god forbid- I want to place a track or a wire.
Productivity down the drain. Thanks, but no thanks.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #155 on: June 21, 2015, 03:44:47 am »
@NANDBlog, they do have a check box for "Has Model" that will filter on the parts that have footprints.

But I agree, the part selection is horrible. Someone in the CM Forum mentioned that no one works with the actual parts preselected before building a circuit, well I kind of do and try to use what I have at hand but I agree that's not the best way.

He/She further suggested to let us use a generic component and set the values and tolerances for that component so later on CM could use those values as part of the filter to actually find the actual part in question. That would make a huge difference and I hope Altium replies to his requests and agrees on implementing it.

Also a voting system for user created footprints would be nice to know if a part made by someone else and committed to the vault is any good.
 

Offline Bud

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #156 on: June 21, 2015, 03:13:10 pm »
I do not understand how's selecting specific parts can be considered a nice feature. Parts become obsolete and delisted by distributers all the time. ICs survive for longer time but smt caps/resistors vanish often. Two years from now many of components in your design will point to nowhere. For one time projects it may be ok, design select go and forget, but for projects that need maintenance or further development it is a bad idea. I do not need stinking part number in my schematic for passives, all i need is the value and footprint. The BOM exists and gets updated separately.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #157 on: June 21, 2015, 06:14:37 pm »
I do not understand how's selecting specific parts can be considered a nice feature. Parts become obsolete and delisted by distributers all the time. ICs survive for longer time but smt caps/resistors vanish often. Two years from now many of components in your design will point to nowhere. For one time projects it may be ok, design select go and forget, but for projects that need maintenance or further development it is a bad idea. I do not need stinking part number in my schematic for passives, all i need is the value and footprint. The BOM exists and gets updated separately.
Absolutely. It's nuts to have part numbers for passives in the design, unless as an auxilliary property of the part. It should be package type with a value paramater. At design time you may well have no clue what actual part will get ordered.
Having library parts for every different value is just ridiculous.
If they were clever, at least for resistors,  there would be a mechanism to provide a part number template, which would get auto-filled from the value, as most resistor part numbers include the value in the part number.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2015, 06:16:33 pm by mikeselectricstuff »
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Offline george graves

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #158 on: June 21, 2015, 08:54:59 pm »
You make it very clear IN BIG BOLD LETTERS THERE IS NO SUPPORT.

If only idiots read BIG BOLD LETTERS.  And even if they did, it's an emotional thing of handing over money - viscerally(is that a word?), you expect something back..  Read the book I referenced - (I'm not saying that to be a smart ass) - it's actually really interesting read, and explains a lot about about how consumers make a chose between free and not-free.  Even if that not free is $1. 

Offline Poe

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #159 on: June 21, 2015, 11:38:27 pm »
Was the $3800 with or without the support contract?
With.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #160 on: June 22, 2015, 07:18:10 am »
I'm still happy with CM, as a hobbyist I don't need to do very complex things, but it's great to make little modules that can be recreated just based on the Gerbers or ODB++ files.
And as someone else mentioned you can drag and drop files into it, so you could have local backups.

Also I noticed that you can open your built in components in AD.

But CM suits my needs, but I'm pretty sure I work differently than others, for example I do look for the MCU that I want to use, check the datasheet for how to decouple what needs to be decoupled, look for parts at findchips.com or octoparts, order them based on specs and price and then do the design.

But I agree that it should allow to let you put the values in the schematic and even generic footprints on the board layout. And when you need to create the BOM then it can use the parameters to filter what is available.

I did find it easy to derive new components based on other that had models. For example I did create the MUC(based on a similar MUC that shared the same pinout from the same manufacturer), the 40 pin male headers (based on an existing 20 pin one from the same manufacturer) and the bigger 0805 caps that I already had at hand. And I'm happy with the result:





I actually found it fairly easy to use.

 

Offline omglol

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #161 on: June 23, 2015, 02:38:26 am »
A bit off-topic, but: How do you rotate when you are in 3D view? If I left-click and move the mouse it says "this action is only supported in 2D mode".
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #162 on: June 23, 2015, 02:47:08 am »
A bit off-topic, but: How do you rotate when you are in 3D view? If I left-click and move the mouse it says "this action is only supported in 2D mode".

I'm not at home so I cant try, but I think you hold the control key and use the right mouse.

Depending where you put the cursor on the rotation ball it will do different things. Center dot is free rotation, concentric circular arrows is along the you and the monitor. left right arrows will rotate along the monitor's y axis, up down along the x axis.
 

Offline Iwanushka

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #163 on: June 23, 2015, 03:46:02 am »
Guys,

Altium guys have a video that there are some shortcuts in the PCB editor, but non of them are working for me, has anyone got 'em working? Without them this thing is 999,999 times slower than a freakin' paint....

EDIT: supid me, looks like it's not enough to click on the part,  you need to hold mouse down for the shortcut to work.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2015, 03:56:46 am by Iwanushka »
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Offline NANDBlog

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #164 on: June 23, 2015, 05:32:50 am »
A bit off-topic, but: How do you rotate when you are in 3D view? If I left-click and move the mouse it says "this action is only supported in 2D mode".
Move with right click+move mouse, rotate/spin with shift+right click+move mouse. You are supposed to work with one hand on the keyboard. That is why I'm pissed off about the hotkeys.
 

Offline Isaac000

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #165 on: June 23, 2015, 07:10:33 am »
The more I think about this - I think Altium is onto something here with their plan.

No one will want to use CM for "business use" with projects being forced to be public - so it won't cut into their corporate-type sales - and at the same time, the OSHW community should eat it up - it will be a robust, professional tool, without limits, and no commercial restrictions.  Just what OSHW people have been asking for.  And if they keep the back end of the software the same as AD - it's not going to be a burden on the company to keep up to date.
Yup, great plan, except they forgot for the OSHW community, there are alternatives. You could argue better or worse than CM, but most are good enough to get the job done. In fact, most are good enough and have a far easier learning curve, work fast, runs without network, etc.
Quote
All that, and at the same time, they are talking a page out of Apple's old playbook of putting the tools in the hands of students.  Students who will flock to CM knowing that it will look good on their resume(well better then Eagle Cad would I suppose).  And I have to assume even though the interface is different then AD, it's not going to be a huge leap to move from CM to AD when it comes time to get a job.
Right, because as a student, I actually know all about what is in use in the industry, right? And even though I can't afford AD, I just know it's got to be similar to CM, right? Right? That's why they named it differently and not AD "Lite" or AD "Open Edition" or something so people can easily make the connection, right?

Quote
There's going to be a vocal minority with bad internet connections that will hate it.  But that's a small percentage of people.  They have to make it an online only tool, and force the project files to the public so that it won't eat into AD sales.
It isn't just the internet connection that's a problem, there's all sorts of other usability issues. It's already eating into AD sales because, well, if I've never used AD and assuming I know the connection between CM and AD, CM is not making me want to upgrade to AD!

Who knows, maybe they will win if their mighty marketing machine manages to convince people that CM is the only game in town and everyone flocks to it. I kind of doubt it. A lot of competitors got into this space well before they did.
 

Offline Muxr

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #166 on: June 25, 2015, 02:59:05 am »
The thing with CAD software like PCB design software is you have to spend time with them to really learn all the quirks and become proficient at it.

I went with the open source route personally. Because my time is valuable to me. And if I am going to dedicate time to learning a product, it better be around for a long time. I have a feeling KiCad isn't going anywhere, it's gaining a lot of traction in the hobbyist and OSH circles and it's supported by people like CERN.

But let me tell you, it is not an easy software to get into. KiCad has a bunch of quirks.

Luckily they aren't the type of quirks that get in the way once you work around them. It's mostly about setting up your project libraries. The keyboard shortcuts are well thought out and once you do a few boards, it becomes pretty easy. You just gotta plow through it.

I mean I only do it in my spare time and I started a few months ago but now I feel I can design PCBs for my use without issues. Some features are probably missing compared to a full featured commercial product, but I find all the essentials are there. And I don't feel restricted. I also love the file format it uses as it makes it very easy to script. So for instance I can automate certain integrations.

I attached a screenshot of the project I am working on.
 

Offline Rene

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #167 on: June 25, 2015, 06:05:33 am »
Besides the fact that cloud services like this require you to always be online (not cool), there are other issues that are important to consider (in my humble opinion).

  • What if my account gets hacked due to a security issue with the service provider or due to some virus that infected my computer? How would I recover my account? Is it possible that the hacker could take over my account to the point where my account is unrecoverable? How fast would I be able to recover the account if it were possible?
  • What if my account gets canceled because my board traces ended up having the shape of a penis and the service provider finds that to be so offensive they decide to cancel my account? What if I am developing an innovative and legitimus electronic sex toy and they find that offensive too and cancel my account? What other "criteria" would qualify for account cancelation? Where is the line drawn? What would I do then? How much begging and supplication will I need to do to recuperate the account?
  • Privacy concerns are also an issue. What if the service provider decides to make a business out of providing potential employers a history of all my designs so that the potential employer is able to determine if I am worth the trouble or not by having a look at my designs? What if the service provider creates some algorithm that profile my design skills based on the products I have created and sells the info to recruiting companies?

Yes, yes, yes I know, I need to wear a tin hat blah, blah, blah, Altium would never, ever, ever do something as horrible as that, never, ever, ever. Hey, you are probalby right, but free is never free with products like this, there is always a hidden agenda.
 

Offline george graves

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #168 on: June 25, 2015, 09:51:30 pm »
What if the world ends?   :scared:

Offline Wilksey

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #169 on: June 25, 2015, 10:13:45 pm »
What if the world ends?   :scared:

You're right, we should "collaborate" and build a open source hardware space shuttle that we can each get made and fly to the moon before that happens!
We should store the design in Altiums' cloud and then if it all goes horribly wrong and their cloud goes down, we can blame Altium for us not being safe at the end of the world.
 

Offline CM800

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #170 on: June 27, 2015, 03:25:37 am »
I would really recommend checking out and maybe doing a review of this software, Quadcept:

http://www.quadcept.com/en/

I think it's really quite impressive!
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #171 on: June 27, 2015, 04:04:53 am »
I would really recommend checking out and maybe doing a review of this software, Quadcept:

http://www.quadcept.com/en/

I think it's really quite impressive!

Pay per month/year just to access your software? So you can't access your designs if you don't? Fuck that, hard.
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Offline sonic

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #172 on: June 29, 2015, 01:44:46 am »
They are not the same, CircuitStudio is the offline version of CircuitMaker and misses some of the high end parts of Altium: CAM tools, Signal Integrity, FPGA integration, Hierarchical Schematics, ...others?

So this hierarchical DipTrace schematic can't be done with CM/CS? I guess I'll pay the $125 for DipTrace then.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2015, 01:47:18 am by sonic »
 

Offline CM800

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #173 on: June 29, 2015, 04:57:50 am »
I would really recommend checking out and maybe doing a review of this software, Quadcept:

http://www.quadcept.com/en/

I think it's really quite impressive!

Pay per month/year just to access your software? So you can't access your designs if you don't? Fuck that, hard.

Haha, I think its actually really quite clever and good. Especially for companies.

Think about it like this:

You have 10 engineers, however you often contract out some of the job, your contractors come in and you can just buy however many licenses for them for x months, much cheaper then the huge cost of each license for traditional schemes. This also includes the standard support, updates etc. that most companies pay huge amounts for yearly.

While it may not be great for hobbiests, I think it would be good for business, I wonder what Dave thinks...
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #174 on: June 29, 2015, 05:20:05 am »
That model works well for Adobe with their Creative Cloud. But they still offer the full version with no time limits.

Also Photoshop, etc offered is an industry standard pretty much so it makes sense.

The quadcept model is not quite the same, they don't offer a product that you can use without keeping on paying, and they are not established well enough to do a monthly offer.
If at least they allowed you to export the circuit design and the PCB design so it could be used with other programs, then maybe.

For a company it doesn't make sense either because you will need to train your engineers to use a new tool that might actually hurt their future employment because I dont see a position requiring knowledge in Quadcept any time soon.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2015, 06:14:39 am by miguelvp »
 


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