Author Topic: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant  (Read 121024 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« on: September 26, 2013, 01:29:51 pm »
Altium have announced their intention to (finally!) offer a low cost "entry level" PCB design tool.
Dave naturally has his Top 5 Tips for Altium to ensure that they don't screw up this opportunity.
Souce:
http://www.altium.com/resources/investor_announcement/asx_releases/ASX_Announcement_Altium_Investor_Presentation_FY2014.pdf
Be sure to leave your comments on youtube or the blog site or the forum to tell Altium what you want. They will be watching.

 

Offline firewalker

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2013, 01:51:52 pm »
If they are going to design something new they should go Cross Platform. At least W.I.N.E. compatible.

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Offline andtfoot

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2013, 01:53:58 pm »
Yep, would definitely love to able to actually afford to buy Altium without having to saving up for months/years.

I'm still actually looking around (after several years as a hobbyist) trying to find a usable package for doing schematic and pcb design. I've tried the Eagle, KiCad, etc, but nothing seems as intuitive and easy to use as Altium. It is currently waaaaaaaaaay out of my reach at the moment though.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2013, 02:19:05 pm »
If they are going to design something new they should go Cross Platform. At least W.I.N.E. compatible.

I've heard a new tool from Embarcadero (Delphi) allows that.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2013, 02:31:22 pm »
Altium is being rewritten in c#
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2013, 02:32:51 pm »
Altium is being rewritten in c#

Seriously?
The thing has millions of lines of code...
 

Offline tanstaafl

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2013, 02:41:42 pm »
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2013, 02:47:46 pm »
From a business point of view: I wonder if offering a student version would be a way to attract people early in their careers. It seems that almost everyone offers a student/academic discount.
I know matlab's got me for life with a student version, it's just too damned useful to not have at home.
"This is a one line proof...if we start sufficiently far to the left."
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2013, 02:50:24 pm »
From a business point of view: I wonder if offering a student version would be a way to attract people early in their careers.

Yes, Altium have always done this, from the very early days. They have set up countless Altium equipped labs in schools.
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2013, 02:56:13 pm »
From a business point of view: I wonder if offering a student version would be a way to attract people early in their careers.

Yes, Altium have always done this, from the very early days. They have set up countless Altium equipped labs in schools.

Maybe I don't see it on their site, but I don't see a price or even an option for a student edition of their software.
"This is a one line proof...if we start sufficiently far to the left."
 

Offline leafi

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2013, 02:58:07 pm »
How much is Altiums package? I have been looking to get a copy of Orcad with PCB but I can not justify 6K for it especially since it is their low end package. I think if they priced the full package at no more than 2K it would be swing able.

They definitely want to get the package into the hands of students and those who tinker. They get experience on the tool and when they get into industry they push that tool as they are already familiar with it and will be more productive.

For now I will stick with Orcad as we use this at work however the license crap always pisses me off when others check out all of the licenses. That is why I want my own. Im tired of not having the tools I need to do my job!
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2013, 02:58:36 pm »
Maybe I don't see it on their site, but I don't see a price or even an option for a student edition of their software.

You have to ask.
IIRC it was about $100 a year for the full version.
 

Offline CesarEscudero

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2013, 03:04:03 pm »
I really think a multi platform solution is THE way to go, there are too much people working on great things on GNU Linux and Mac OS, I wonder why people just don't get it.
 

Offline TerminalJack505

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2013, 03:07:55 pm »
If they're rewriting the code then the next version will likely be full of bugs.  That could come at a bad time if they are trying to attract a bunch of new users with a more affordable version.  I hope they have a first-rate QA department.
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2013, 03:10:46 pm »
Maybe I don't see it on their site, but I don't see a price or even an option for a student edition of their software.

You have to ask.
IIRC it was about $100 a year for the full version.

Then I'd suggest they post it out in the open/advertise it to death and offer it for 100$ + valid until you graduate. I know a bunch of ECE people at my university who see "Eagle + Freeware" and just jump on that train because they just need a tool "now" and might only design a handful of PCBs.

On the other hand, matlab is basically the defacto standard for numerical analysis in physics here, and is quite common in chemistry/math/ece, and if your thesis is computational in nature, you can even do your entire thesis project using that single piece of software.
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Offline kbecker

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2013, 03:13:03 pm »
I don't think that the tool itself has to be multi-platform, although I would high appreciate that. But having a viewer, that is slightly more powerful than the PDF viewer on most significant platforms would be awesome. Maybe make the rendering core HTML5 so that you can easily create a mobile viewer as well.
Features I would want to see on a viewer:
* Cross probing of signals from schematic to PCB
* Toggle Layer-visibilty
* View Object properties (like the attached link to the distributor)
 

Offline Teemo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2013, 03:32:27 pm »
Another exellent video! Thanks!

Can't wait to try out the Altium (if they make the free version). It is of cource hard to beat Kicad if you have limitations. But if it is usable I would happily try it out.

As for the Altium, it is absolute financial insanity to give out cheap student editions for the universities. Because universities are the place where to sell. Universities are RICH, at least around here.  You give the free version to everybody and by doing this you make sure universities will WANT to buy the full version at full price. This is how I see the things.
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2013, 03:35:06 pm »
Well, I tried Altium (don't know if they still offer it, but there was test drive program to try it for some months for free) and I didn't like it. Looked too complicated, for example it was not as easy as in Eagle to edit a circuit for which a board was already created, because I couldn't find something like the live forward/backward annotation in Eagle. But maybe this is useful for professional projects, if you need an ECO and all that stuff. And it even crashed a few times during my test period. Eagle never crashed.

But I'm a bit biased, because I'm using Eagle since the DOS version some 30 years ago, and by the way, I'm one of the users who paid the professional version (and some of the updates from time to time), because I needed it for commercial projects, like a half Euro-sized board with 4 layers, with no critical high speed signals so I could just use the auto-router for most of the board.

That said, Altium is not bad, but clearly aimed at the professional market where you need lots of design rules and procedures. I'm sure if you use it for some time, you can be as productive as in Eagle with it, and it has a lot of advanced functions that Eagle don't have (an important missing function in Eagle is hierarchies). But it might be too much and complicated for the occasional hobby or intermediate user.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2013, 03:45:53 pm »
From a business point of view: I wonder if offering a student version would be a way to attract people early in their careers. It seems that almost everyone offers a student/academic discount.
I know matlab's got me for life with a student version, it's just too damned useful to not have at home.
they have had that for a long time.
if you are a student : contact altium or a rep , show them proof you are a student ( college or university enrollment form in a 3 or 4  year degree ) and for 99$ you get a 4 year licence without restrictions (apart from no commercial usage ! )
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Offline Dajgoro

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2013, 03:53:30 pm »
From a business point of view: I wonder if offering a student version would be a way to attract people early in their careers. It seems that almost everyone offers a student/academic discount.
I know matlab's got me for life with a student version, it's just too damned useful to not have at home.
they have had that for a long time.
if you are a student : contact altium or a rep , show them proof you are a student ( college or university enrollment form in a 3 or 4  year degree ) and for 99$ you get a 4 year licence without restrictions (apart from no commercial usage ! )
I got the student version for free. I had to sign on a list, and I got a student license key, but it is limited to one year.
 

Offline ferdinandkeil

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2013, 04:31:35 pm »
From a business point of view: I wonder if offering a student version would be a way to attract people early in their careers. It seems that almost everyone offers a student/academic discount.
I know matlab's got me for life with a student version, it's just too damned useful to not have at home.
they have had that for a long time.
if you are a student : contact altium or a rep , show them proof you are a student ( college or university enrollment form in a 3 or 4  year degree ) and for 99$ you get a 4 year licence without restrictions (apart from no commercial usage ! )

Not advertising the student version is almost like not having it. Some time ago I looked around the Altium website for a student version and did not find anything, so I moved on. And equipping the PCs at the university with their software is not the same, I want to have the thing at home to play around and do my own projects.
 

Offline olsenn

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2013, 04:52:12 pm »
Suggestions to Altium:

     1. $150USD - Fully-featured, perpetual licensed copy of Altium Designer, with the caveats of having no tech support and the software is not for commercial use.
     2. $300USD - For commercial use, but with restrictions on maximum board size and the number of board layers. May further restrict access to more advanced
                           features such as BGA escape routing, FPGA capabilities and 3D modelling.
     3. $600USD - Fully-featured, time-limited licence (3-years?). For commercial use.
     4. $1500USD - Fully-featured, perpetual licenced copy. Support beyond 3-years costs extra.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2013, 05:00:38 pm »
from what i've heard in the users group it would be a modular approach.
there is a base system and then there are advanced options. you pay extra for the advanced stuff.

They may go to a model like adobe is doing. You don't pay upfront for the software, you pay as you go. (software as a service). the advantage is that, when you use it, it is always up to date.

I don't know. this is stuff i picked up in the rumor mill at the users group
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Offline madires

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2013, 05:01:43 pm »
I'm one of those linux users :-) I got some old BAE light license but I mostly use the free Eagle version because of the user interface. BAE has a lot of great features (Eagle is far behind) but its UI is quite cumbersome. There's an Eagle hobbyist licence for EUR 166 (99 schematic sheets, 6 layers, 160x100mm) which I'd consider buying if Eagle gets some essential features which are still missing. The price point is right at the sweet spot for a non-commercial license. But I don't think I'd buy a commercial Eagle standard license for EUR 820 and still being limited to 160x100mm, especially since I can't say that Eagle is a professional tool yet. If there would be a more professional PCB tool like Altium with a usable UI like Eagle for linux I'd pay EUR 500 for 250x200mm (or better 500cm^2), 4-6 layers and commercial usage. For major version upgrades EUR 100 would be ok. And a free version for testing and low-end hobbyist usage should be standard anyway.
 

Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2013, 05:27:52 pm »
Nice video, I really thingk these PCB-software makers really should understand that the new users come from today's hobbyists. And sooner the young ones learn the tool, the better.

Have you Dave ever tested PADS?  (nowdays Mentor graphics ) I know you keep talking a lot about Altium (Protel), but it's not been as popular at here as PADS.

Their PCB layout tool  was/is quite amazing, especially on manual routing (real time DRC, rip, shove etc), but with Mentor there's not a *** chance ever seeing Free version for hobbyists. Apparently though, they nowdays have 'virtual lab' that apparently offers some kind of cloud-system, so *IF* they wanted, they could start offering free/cheap version quite easily.


« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 06:16:12 pm by JoannaK »
 


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