Author Topic: Pondering a move to CircuitStudio. I have questions.  (Read 806 times)

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Offline knotlogic

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Pondering a move to CircuitStudio. I have questions.
« on: March 20, 2017, 05:40:16 PM »
I'm currently sitting on the fence about picking up a copy of  CircuitStudio during the promo period.  I've currently got the trial version installed and am going through the starter documents on their website, but I doubt I'll have time to explore it as well as I'd like before the promo period ends.

Also, for reference, I'm coming from having used EAGLE for the past few years.  With the direction Autodesk is taking it I figured now's a good time to get out.  :scared:

So for those who have experience with CircuitStudio, I was hoping to ask you some questions...

How easy is it to create libraries of your own components?  I know EAGLE's part creation gets a lot of flak, though personally I haven't had too many problems with it.  (It helps that EAGLE finally added the capability for arbitrary pad shapes.)

If we don't stick to the maintenance subscription, do we lose access to the vault?  Is the vault a significant advantage if we can create our own libraries?

How powerful is the PCB layout aspect of CircuitStudio?  One of the projects I'd like to do down the road has a bunch of LEDs laid out in a ring, all rotated to be radially aligned.  I know I can do this in EAGLE with a script and move/rotate commands, and I'm wondering if it's as easy to do in CircuitStudio.

I'm sure I'll have more questions, I just need more time with the program.

Edit:  Spelling mistake in the title.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 01:02:28 AM by knotlogic »
 

Offline evb149

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuiStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2017, 06:13:21 PM »
Take with a grain of doubt because I'm not a CS user, but have been an Altium user and have studied some of the AD to CS comparisons while thinking of getting CS myself.
As far as I recall I think I read that the CS does not have the complex multiple grid system that AD supports.  One of the AD grid modes is a polar grid.  In general with full AD you can define grid geometry (cartesian, polar) as well as major/minor intervals and what offsets / regions the grids cover.  Anyway long story short with AD one way to align LEDs in a ring could be to manually define a polar grid with the right division units to match the device placement pitch and then to place the parts snapped to the grid.  AFAIK CS brochure said it did not support that kind of grid use in some aspects. 

With full AD another way to place parts would be to somehow determine (by manual calculation, script, or whatever) the rotation angle and X,Y placement coordinate for each LED.  Then in the part properties for each LED you edit the X, Y, and rotation settings to match the values you calculated.  Full AD you can even write a "make a ring of LEDs" script if you do that a lot.  Full AD has more advanced parameter manager editing for multiple parts matching certain filter experessions or whatever so you can select all the parts and then edit those parameters.  Maybe even paste in some parameters from a spreadsheet's rows/colums that match the part parameter manager row/colums.  I think scripting, advanced filtering / searching / classes, parameter manager functions of some kinds etc. are all said by some brochure to be areas where CS may not be as capable as full AD.  "Smart paste" anyway, I'm not sure about how exactly the parameter editing is limited in which ways.  Surely you can for any particular part still control the X,Y placement coordinates and rotation value (I hope) with CS but maybe such manual manipulation is the only way to do the LED ring?  I'd like to hear about other options also if I am wrong and CS is less limited than I have inferred from my research.  If CS lacks scripts then that is one area where it is vastly less powerful than AD or EAGLE.  Of course I don't much like the full AD Delphi / whatever scripting languages so do not use them much even though there is considerable promise if one devoted time to do it.

Creating components: Full AD has a PCB component creation wizard, an IPC component creation wizard also for PCB footprints, and then a simple fully manual library symbol editor for PCB footprints.  Of the three ways full AD supports I think it was said that CS lacks the IPC compatible footprint creation wizard (a shame).  It may or may not have any kind of PCB footprint creation wizard.  Of course you can manually create footprints placing pads and mechanical lines etc.  So compared to EAGLE I guess it is pretty easy or comparable to create PCB library parts AFAIK about CS but still not as easy as with full AD.  Even full AD does not have that great "wizard" modes for creating schematic library symbols IMHO.  Ok, but could be a lot better.  Missing the "smart paste" if it is indeed not in CS is an inconvenience if you want to paste a lot of library part or project part properties from Excel or something which is a common way to facilitate parametric population in full AD.

In full AD you can again use the advanced grids to make creating some PCB footprint features in the right places but maybe not possible in CS. 

In full AD you have some rudimentary mechanical dimensioning support and the ability to define "snap points", "snap lines" etc. to facilitate mechanical placements when making footprints.  I don't know if CS can do any of that.

People complained a lot about the altium component vault and its limits / bugs in CS.  I guess they have improved that somewhat in the past couple releases, ask around about the vault's usability now.  I assume even out of subscription you could use the free content vault but maybe not, I can't say I've seen a definitive statement. 

Is the free content vault an advantage?  Well if it is buggy and poorly designed it is less so.  If it is 100% "debugged" but just limited in content as well as some desired options, well, you be the judge if it is useful.    Speaking for myself in full AD I would custom make symbols and footprints about 95% of the time or rely on custom library part that has been previously custom made.  Only maybe 5% of the time would I use a altium content value part.  And most of the time I did use an altium content vault part I would somehow end up hating the schematic symbol design style and maybe also questioning aspects of the PCB footprint enough that I would check it out manually anyway.  So overall not much time savings for me to use vault parts (in the maybe 5% chance the right part even existed in the vault).
Even in low capability PCB packages like Eagle or DesignSpark of Kicad I usually create self made libraries maybe 100% of the time even if another option exists because of style, confidence, consistency, design rule compatibility, etc. etc.  So I suggest this may be a good way with CS. 

CS is said to be limited in some of the high speed layout and other advanced layout tools that full AD has.  Length tuning for differential pairs, net classes and design rules for SI etc. etc.  Dissapointment to me anyway.

Part of where I got my information that may help.  I question if it is up to date in all ways though since the versions I saw were still from some time ago.
https://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-76216/l/circuitstudio-by-altium-vs-altium-designer-feature-and-specification-comparison


   
I'm currently sitting on the fence about picking up a copy of  CircuitStudio during the promo period.  I've currently got the trial version installed and am going through the starter documents on their website, but I doubt I'll have time to explore it as well as I'd like before the promo period ends.

Also, for reference, I'm coming from having used EAGLE for the past few years.  With the direction Autodesk is taking it I figured now's a good time to get out.  :scared:

So for those who have experience with CircuitStudio, I was hoping to ask you some questions...

How easy is it to create libraries of your own components?  I know EAGLE's part creation gets a lot of flak, though personally I haven't had too many problems with it.  (It helps that EAGLE finally added the capability for arbitrary pad shapes.)

If we don't stick to the maintenance subscription, do we lose access to the vault?  Is the vault a significant advantage if we can create our own libraries?

How powerful is the PCB layout aspect of CircuitStudio?  One of the projects I'd like to do down the road has a bunch of LEDs laid out in a ring, all rotated to be radially aligned.  I know I can do this in EAGLE with a script and move/rotate commands, and I'm wondering if it's as easy to do in CircuitStudio.

I'm sure I'll have more questions, I just need more time with the program.
 

Offline ebclr

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuiStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 06:36:13 PM »
If you came from eagle

Give Kicad an opportunity, it's free and it's decent

Circuit Studio is cool but is expensive,  and license is server controlled, if Altium goes bankrupt you no more have access, But Circuit Studio is one reasonable option, especially if you want end with Altium pro
 

Online kaz911

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuiStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 06:50:13 PM »
If you came from eagle

Give Kicad an opportunity, it's free and it's decent

Circuit Studio is cool but is expensive,  and license is server controlled, if Altium goes bankrupt you no more have access, But Circuit Studio is one reasonable option, especially if you want end with Altium pro

Altium supports license files that installs and reside on your computer - no internet needed. And at the current prices I would not all CS expensive. Maybe compared to KiCad but not for what you get IMHO.
 

Offline hammy

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuiStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2017, 12:09:53 AM »
Circuit Studio is cool but is expensive,  and license is server controlled, if Altium goes bankrupt you no more have access.

You can export your perpetual license into a file.
 

Offline GlowingGhoul

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuiStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2017, 07:16:44 AM »
If you came from eagle

Give Kicad an opportunity, it's free and it's decent

Circuit Studio is cool but is expensive,  and license is server controlled, if Altium goes bankrupt you no more have access, But Circuit Studio is one reasonable option, especially if you want end with Altium pro

Circuit Studio costs less than Microsoft Office. The license is perpetual, you can install it without going online.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuiStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 07:47:09 AM »
With full AD another way to place parts would be to somehow determine (by manual calculation, script, or whatever) the rotation angle and X,Y placement coordinate for each LED.  Then in the part properties for each LED you edit the X, Y, and rotation settings to match the values you calculated.  Full AD you can even write a "make a ring of LEDs" script if you do that a lot.  Full AD has more advanced parameter manager editing for multiple parts matching certain filter experessions or whatever so you can select all the parts and then edit those parameters.  Maybe even paste in some parameters from a spreadsheet's rows/colums that match the part parameter manager row/colums.  I think scripting, advanced filtering / searching / classes, parameter manager functions of some kinds etc. are all said by some brochure to be areas where CS may not be as capable as full AD.  "Smart paste" anyway, I'm not sure about how exactly the parameter editing is limited in which ways.  Surely you can for any particular part still control the X,Y placement coordinates and rotation value (I hope) with CS but maybe such manual manipulation is the only way to do the LED ring?  I'd like to hear about other options ...
From Altium the scripting is good for processes that you will repeat on different projects, but for polar arrays there has been a way to abuse the way origins are handled in cut/paste operations:
  • change the rotation angle that the spacebar steps through to the angle between each component/group in the ring
  • set the origin of the board to the middle of the polar array
  • layout the first component that lies on a vertical/horizontal
  • copy either the component (if you don't mind renumbering them all later), or a track leading to the component pad, but...
  • after the entity is highlighted/selected move the cursor to the origin before you select copy
  • now when you paste it will be with translations from the origin, so you press paste then spacebar, and repeat until the array is filled
 
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Offline evb149

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuiStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2017, 01:19:19 PM »
Thank you, that is a good quick method to know, I wasn't aware of that technique.

From Altium the scripting is good for processes that you will repeat on different projects, but for polar arrays there has been a way to abuse the way origins are handled in cut/paste operations:
  • change the rotation angle that the spacebar steps through to the angle between each component/group in the ring
  • set the origin of the board to the middle of the polar array
  • layout the first component that lies on a vertical/horizontal
  • copy either the component (if you don't mind renumbering them all later), or a track leading to the component pad, but...
  • after the entity is highlighted/selected move the cursor to the origin before you select copy
  • now when you paste it will be with translations from the origin, so you press paste then spacebar, and repeat until the array is filled
 

Offline trophosphere

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuitStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2017, 01:47:10 PM »
I migrated from using FreePCB so I never had experience with anything related to Altium and it was fairly easy to get the hang of in terms of layout and footprint creation.
 

Offline negativ3

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuitStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2017, 04:07:41 AM »
Library parts are a straightforward process which gets easier with practice.

Good question regarding vault access.
 

Offline jmarkwolf

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuiStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2017, 11:11:00 PM »
Thank you, that is a good quick method to know, I wasn't aware of that technique.

From Altium the scripting is good for processes that you will repeat on different projects, but for polar arrays there has been a way to abuse the way origins are handled in cut/paste operations:
  • change the rotation angle that the spacebar steps through to the angle between each component/group in the ring
  • set the origin of the board to the middle of the polar array
  • layout the first component that lies on a vertical/horizontal
  • copy either the component (if you don't mind renumbering them all later), or a track leading to the component pad, but...
  • after the entity is highlighted/selected move the cursor to the origin before you select copy
  • now when you paste it will be with translations from the origin, so you press paste then spacebar, and repeat until the array is filled

I used to employ this practice back in the days before CAD packages had polar layout options!

Was disappointed to see that Circuit Studio doesn't have polar features, but the above procedure does indeed work, although I haven't tested it in Circuit Studio.
 

Offline knotlogic

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuitStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2017, 12:48:41 AM »
Thanks all!

I figure even if don't renew the subscription and lose access to the vault as a result, I'd be fine with that as long as I have my own local libraries and can add in my own parts.  That's what I've been doing in Eagle all along anyhow, with occasional dips into the provided libraries as references.

I'm also a little overwhelmed at the idea of having to choose one of out of multiple variants of the same part, eg a 0805 passive.  What strikes me is wouldn't the preferred footprint for some parts such as tiny 0402 passives be driven more by 'what works' for a particular assembly process rather than the manufacturers footprint?  I'm thinking of tweaking the footprint to minimise tombstoning.   (This is a purely academic question BTW since I'm using this for my own work.)

Good to know about that layout technique.  I'll have to make a note!

Does CS have a scripting capability?

 

Offline bugrobotics

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Re: Pondering a move to CircuitStudio. I have questions.
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2017, 12:40:00 AM »
I'd suggest downloading the trial.  Currently there are a few bugs with the most recent 1.4 release (no board define from 3D model, people experiencing component rotation bug, etc).  A good overview of the current issues can be found at the CircuitStudio forum (~objecttype~objecttype[thread]&filterID=contentstatus[published]%7Elanguage%7Elanguage%5Bcpl%5D]https://www.element14.com/community/community/manufacturers/altium/content?filterID=contentstatus[published]~objecttype~objecttype[thread]&filterID=contentstatus[published]%7Elanguage%7Elanguage%5Bcpl%5D). 

I've been suggesting to Altium (via the forum) that the Community vault, included for free with CircuitMaker, be added because the current vault is somewhat useless and annoying to use.  Haven't heard a response.  At the moment the software gets the job done (albeit clunky sometimes) and you can work around most issues.  I'm sure it will take some time for Altium to find an appropriate way to de-feature the software while still providing a good user experience.
 


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