Author Topic: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant  (Read 121053 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.

Alexander.
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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.
 

Online 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 »
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2013, 05:38:51 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.
Orcad PCB Designer Standard is about £2k (UK). If you can do without differential pairs and other useful time saving / high speed design stuff, it's pretty good value IMHO. I'm guessing that the price you've quoted is for PCB Designer Professional which is the next level up.

Offline Rigby

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2013, 05:54:31 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.

There must be a free version, too.  For many people, $1 is a significant enough barrier to entry that it will never be crossed.  It's not because these people can't afford a $1 expense, it's because a $1 piece of software is much more expensive than their current, free tool, and will therefore never be purchased.

A no barrier entry point is important if you wish to gain market share.  Once users are familiar with your free tool and need enough of the pay-only features, they will pay, but if you start at $1 or $10 or $100, anything that isn't $0, they will never use your product to begin with, and can then never be "sold" on the pay-only features.
 

Online arvidj

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2013, 05:55:05 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.

As someone who is just getting restarted as an electronics hobbyist a "student version" is a non-starter. When I was younger electronics was a hobby. Then real life intervened for 40 years. Luckily I am now able to return to my hobbies, however being a "student" is not on the list.

An inexpensive full featured but limited capacity "hobbyist" version would be great.

But I will admit that I am not in the demographic they want to court. My career path ... it's called 'retirement' at this end of the path ... will not lead to additional sales of the full featured product.
 

Offline Rigby

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2013, 05:58:05 pm »
But I will admit that I am not in the demographic they want to court. My career path ... it's called 'retirement' at this end of the path ... will not lead to additional sales of the full featured product.

Any smart marketer will include you in their demographic, because quite often, the retiree is the type of fellow that will offer advice on software to young folks.  They may not get sales from you, but they very well could get sales because of you.
 

Offline ddavidebor

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EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2013, 06:00:31 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.

Not here, they don't give a shit about the best electronic school in the north-west of my country
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Offline Rasz

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #30 on: September 26, 2013, 06:27:16 pm »

Who logs in to gdm? Not I, said the duck.
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Offline Fsck

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #31 on: September 26, 2013, 06:31:09 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.

Not here, they don't give a shit about the best electronic school in the north-west of my country

It'd be interesting to see which countries are included.. Probably (almost definitely) the US.. but which other countries?
"This is a one line proof...if we start sufficiently far to the left."
 

Offline shashwatratan

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #32 on: September 26, 2013, 07:04:49 pm »
I would love to use Altium. specially for my commercial product design. But i don't think it would be possible with altium's current prices. for small companies like mine. it is very important to channelize financial resources towards company growth. Right now we are using Dip Trace. it's a great tool for its price. I have never used altium because of same reasons as Dave mentioned.

There is as huge market of small start-ups and free lancers. which could be using the altium if it is affordable to them. and they could try for small projects. Players like Diptrace  and eagle are catching up with altium day by day.

So Altium. Listen to Dave and Millions of us. Put something in the market for every one to taste. else after some years you will start seeing  Rapid decline in your business growth.       
Regards,
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Offline nardev

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #33 on: September 26, 2013, 07:08:01 pm »
I hope they will also think about cross platform support.

Why not support Linux and Mac?

If microchip made a netbeans, cross platform tool and compilers for their microcontrollers, they can do it too :)
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2013, 07:28:56 pm »
I find it intriguing why nobody screams for a free version of Orcad, Pads, Allegro , Boardstation , Zuken or any other hi end PCB  tool. Yet everyone screams for a free version of Altium ...  curious...

Ditto why nobody screams for cross platform of those tools...
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Offline FrankBuss

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2013, 07:37:48 pm »
Ditto why nobody screams for cross platform of those tools...
Windows is still de-facto standard in the industry, it would be not profitable to port it to other platforms for the few users who would use it. But you can always use Eagle, it is available for Windows, Mac and Linux :)
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Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #36 on: September 26, 2013, 07:39:42 pm »
I find it intriguing why nobody screams for a free version of Orcad, Pads, Allegro , Boardstation , Zuken or any other hi end PCB  tool. Yet everyone screams for a free version of Altium ...  curious...

Ditto why nobody screams for cross platform of those tools...

Because Altium is relatively easy to use, non-sucky, and "accessible" enough (IYKWIM) for people to know that they want it.

The more people like something, the more they want it. Comes with the territory of producing a decent software product.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2013, 07:44:03 pm by c4757p »
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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #37 on: September 26, 2013, 07:55:31 pm »
I find it intriguing why nobody screams for a free version of Orcad, Pads, Allegro , Boardstation , Zuken or any other hi end PCB  tool. Yet everyone screams for a free version of Altium ...  curious...

Ditto why nobody screams for cross platform of those tools...
Yes, I wonder why nobody is screaming for a Linux version of Allegro or Zuken :P.
 

Offline komet

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #38 on: September 26, 2013, 08:07:13 pm »
I thought Zuken had a free Cadstar Express? It was limited to very few pins, though, as I recall.
 

Offline minibutmany

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #39 on: September 26, 2013, 08:17:52 pm »
His relation to Altium reminds me of Scully's relation to the X-flies
 

Offline Rufus

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #40 on: September 26, 2013, 08:44:48 pm »
I hope they will also think about cross platform support.

Why not support Linux and Mac?

If microchip made a netbeans, cross platform tool and compilers for their microcontrollers, they can do it too :)

I would rather have a tool be optimized and well tested on one platform than slow and buggy on multiple platforms, especially when the tool costs more than the platform. Buggy and slow on multiple platforms kinda sums up MPLAB X.
 

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #41 on: September 26, 2013, 09:10:48 pm »
 

Offline Noize

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #42 on: September 26, 2013, 09:16:19 pm »
I find it intriguing why nobody screams for a free version of Orcad, Pads, Allegro , Boardstation , Zuken or any other hi end PCB  tool. Yet everyone screams for a free version of Altium ...  curious...

Ditto why nobody screams for cross platform of those tools...

Because we are members of EEVBLOG and Dave worked for Altium(oNly one  we've heard opinions about), so we have heard of it being a high end CAD package etc.. Most of us aren't a professional like you. But it would be great if the others jumped on board as well. By the way, been testing some op-amps with one of your Jim williams PG's  :-+
 

Offline jancumps

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #43 on: September 26, 2013, 09:21:48 pm »
It wasn't the energetic rant I expected. Quite laid back and almost reasonable :)
Wonder what's in the 21 minutes that were edited away...
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #44 on: September 26, 2013, 09:39:49 pm »
I find it intriguing why nobody screams for a free version of Orcad, Pads, Allegro , Boardstation , Zuken or any other hi end PCB  tool. Yet everyone screams for a free version of Altium ...  curious...

Perhaps because Altium has always been the affordable "everyday persons" PCB tool, right back to the 80's. That's how they got their start and grew to what they are now, by being affordable, the other ones did not. At one point they just grew too big for their own boots, at around the $12K mark.
Then they had a complete about-face and went back to low priced, slashing the price by like 70% or something and saying they would never go back to high priced tools. Then they have slowly built the price back up again. So many people are used to paying affordable prices for Altium at some point.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #45 on: September 26, 2013, 09:40:31 pm »
Wonder what's in the 21 minutes that were edited away...

Nothing really, just dead space and re-takes.
 

Offline jancumps

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #46 on: September 26, 2013, 09:58:47 pm »
Oracle - who are not known for their low price settings - have a long standing habit of making their software available for free for evaluation. Even their top products. The restriction is the license: for evaluation only, no productive use.
It has served them - and me - very well.
 

Offline Slothie

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #47 on: September 26, 2013, 10:08:16 pm »
As a hobbyist, the one thing about Eagle that really p... er grinds my gears is the stupid board size restriction. As a hobbyist I'm likely to want to use big components - DIP packages, D connectors, through=hole power resistors. Ive been wanting to put together a 6502 computer for my amusement, but to do it in Eagle I'm going to have to make it pretty much one 40pin DIP per board.... And to upgrade to a version that allows bigger boards it a HUGE $1100 price leap to get 4m2 - nothing inbetween!. For FSM's sake, Altium, offer a cheap/free version with at very least Eurocard sized boards. More than 2 layers, microscopic trace widths, commercial licence, FPGA inregration, differential path design are all things I can live with being restricted or missing. But give us a decent board size, even if it requires upgrade to a $100-200 version from the free one. Making the next step $1200 is just stupid. To only have the options ot 160mmx80mm or 4000mmx4000mm is stupid. .
 

Offline george graves

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #48 on: September 26, 2013, 10:20:33 pm »
What's the learning curve like for going from Eagle to Altium?

My worry is that a tool that is on version 13 has so many features/menus/options that I would feel completely lost jumping in so late in the game.  Usually it's best to start on an early version, and learn new features as the tool grows.  Maybe that would be why Altium would be going a "beginner" version?  Like like how autocad did with 123d.


Offline jancumps

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #49 on: September 26, 2013, 10:32:26 pm »
My guess is that Altium's user interface is more mature than the current free ones.
And once you have a free option, there will grow a community that will post free tutorials and YouTube howto's.
 

Offline ElectroIrradiator

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #50 on: September 27, 2013, 12:04:30 am »
I would suggest Altium has two main check points for whether this move to a lower entry cost will be successful. These are in addition to Dave's mention of a free starter edition.

The first hurdle will be what the price ladder will look like, once we move above the free starter edition. I have noticed many companies making this ladder way too steep. What this may mean to a one man start-up, is that to actually create a competitive design, he may end up needing the 'full' multi-kilobucks edition of the software.

We may debate exactly what these limits could be, but if the free+low cost versions of Altium only allows even experienced designers to make 'toy' boards, then Altium may as well not bother. One thing to keep in mind here, which was mentioned previously, is board size. For various reasons many start-ups cannot or will not use the smallest packages and components, thus equal designs may require different board sizes, depending on the size of the company behind them. Small, one man start-up => more likely to need more board area for a given design.

Similarly, the number of signal layers. If I cannot have at least 4 layers, and have the ability to knock holes in my ground and power layers, the latter in order to reduce parasitic capacitance on parts of a board, then this will put a serious limit to modern, mixed signal designs. More so again, if we consider the start-up is more likely to use older (Ie. larger) types of SMDs.

The second hurdle Altium has to pass, is no subscriptions! I genuinely hope free_electron is wrong about this one, as that will be a deal breaker to many people. The same reason this sounds great to the accounting department is the same reason why it is poison to hobbyists and small start-ups: The recurring costs, and the strings attached.

To a small company the idea that you have to pay 'rent' for critical parts of your tool chain will be very hard to swallow. By definition a start-up will have little idea about what next year will bring. If they have rented many of their tools, then it will be much harder to scale operations back for a while, if there is a quiet period. This is an all-or-nothing situation: You cannot promise just a hair of support and upgrades to last year's customers, if it takes X times average annual fee per software package in your tool chain to keep operations running. On the other hand if you have time unlimited access to the software, then you can just scale back as needed, do your old daytime job function for a while, and be ready to jump back into action at a moment's notice with no fees attached.

Secondly, the subscription model implies a requirement for a program package to 'call home' at regular intervals, and probably even to be online while using the program (for 'cloud access', of course... ::) ). Otherwise there would be no way of enforcing a time limit.

However, the hobbyist and the small start-up are both likely to be using very economical DSL network connections, intended for domestic applications. No enterprise level network with enterprise level support. So having local network outages taking out your tool chain is a very real - and completely unnecessary - risk to accept. You will literally be one errand tree root from shutting down all your 'rented' software packages.

As for Adobe moving to a rental cloud service model: Seems the financial analysts doesn't believe too strongly in this one, long term, once people realize what being a rental customer actually entails.
 

Offline warp_foo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #51 on: September 27, 2013, 01:30:30 am »
I would suggest Altium has two main check points for whether this move to a lower entry cost will be successful. These are in addition to Dave's mention of a free starter edition.

The first hurdle will be what the price ladder will look like, once we move above the free starter edition. I have noticed many companies making this ladder way too steep. What this may mean to a one man start-up, is that to actually create a competitive design, he may end up needing the 'full' multi-kilobucks edition of the software.

We may debate exactly what these limits could be, but if the free+low cost versions of Altium only allows even experienced designers to make 'toy' boards, then Altium may as well not bother. One thing to keep in mind here, which was mentioned previously, is board size. For various reasons many start-ups cannot or will not use the smallest packages and components, thus equal designs may require different board sizes, depending on the size of the company behind them. Small, one man start-up => more likely to need more board area for a given design.

Similarly, the number of signal layers. If I cannot have at least 4 layers, and have the ability to knock holes in my ground and power layers, the latter in order to reduce parasitic capacitance on parts of a board, then this will put a serious limit to modern, mixed signal designs. More so again, if we consider the start-up is more likely to use older (Ie. larger) types of SMDs.

The second hurdle Altium has to pass, is no subscriptions! I genuinely hope free_electron is wrong about this one, as that will be a deal breaker to many people. The same reason this sounds great to the accounting department is the same reason why it is poison to hobbyists and small start-ups: The recurring costs, and the strings attached.

To a small company the idea that you have to pay 'rent' for critical parts of your tool chain will be very hard to swallow. By definition a start-up will have little idea about what next year will bring. If they have rented many of their tools, then it will be much harder to scale operations back for a while, if there is a quiet period. This is an all-or-nothing situation: You cannot promise just a hair of support and upgrades to last year's customers, if it takes X times average annual fee per software package in your tool chain to keep operations running. On the other hand if you have time unlimited access to the software, then you can just scale back as needed, do your old daytime job function for a while, and be ready to jump back into action at a moment's notice with no fees attached.

Secondly, the subscription model implies a requirement for a program package to 'call home' at regular intervals, and probably even to be online while using the program (for 'cloud access', of course... ::) ). Otherwise there would be no way of enforcing a time limit.

However, the hobbyist and the small start-up are both likely to be using very economical DSL network connections, intended for domestic applications. No enterprise level network with enterprise level support. So having local network outages taking out your tool chain is a very real - and completely unnecessary - risk to accept. You will literally be one errand tree root from shutting down all your 'rented' software packages.

As for Adobe moving to a rental cloud service model: Seems the financial analysts doesn't believe too strongly in this one, long term, once people realize what being a rental customer actually entails.

This. Subscriptions are the devil. I don't want to pay *forever* for a piece of software.

m
Where are we going, and why are we in a handbasket?
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #52 on: September 27, 2013, 01:55:30 am »
So... you don't want to pay forever... how about updates ? how about mayor new versions.

when an application goes from 3.0 to 4.0 it is normal to pay upgrade fee.
with the sas system there is no upgrade fee. you are always up to date.
pick your poison : 250$ every few years for a major update or 10$ a month over 2 years and always up to date with new features release on a monthly basis ?
same price in the end. i'd rather not have to wait for 2 years before i get some new tool...

« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 02:55:39 am by free_electron »
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Offline FrankBuss

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #53 on: September 27, 2013, 02:27:03 am »
What's the learning curve like for going from Eagle to Altium?
There is an article about this in this forum:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/altium/altium-about-to-cry!!-'(-'(-'(-'(-'(-'(/

pick your poison : 250$ every few years for a major update or 10$ a month over 2 years and always up to date with new features release on a monthly basis ?
same price in the end. i'd rather not have to wait for 2 years before i get some new tool...
I need an always changing program in the mid of a project like I need a hole in the head. Better wait some years until there are enough features that you might need, then buy the update or a new version, test it extensively, test if it can still open your old projects and then use it for the next some years.
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Offline NickS

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #54 on: September 27, 2013, 02:34:29 am »
I would rather have a tool be optimized and well tested on one platform than slow and buggy on multiple platforms
Please think before saying that silly. Writing cross platform code is not difficult nor does it introduce bugs. You may just need to have more experience.
Rubbish code however will definitely be bad on all platforms.

Just think about how many cross platform programs you have installed that work fine on all their platforms. Start with your browser and go from there.
So... you don't want to pay forever... how about updates ? how about mayor new versions.
I don't mind subscription options as long as they are options.

A major new version that doesn't offer anything new you need means you save money.
If you must have the latest and greatest then yes a subscription is better. (You probably also have a iPhone 5S) ;)
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #55 on: September 27, 2013, 02:55:15 am »
If you must have the latest and greatest then yes a subscription is better. (You probably also have a iPhone 5S) ;)
no i don't. still lumbering along with my 4... i had a 3 before. that's it. no appeal to me. i have bought 4 or 5 apps ( navigation, a plane tracker and a couple of games ). that's it. a phone for me is  a tool to call with. its handy it doubles as camera for quick snapshot and navigator if im traveling. and i can read email and surf web when  needed. the rest ? i don't care. why no android ? because there weren't any nav programs for it when i bought my iphone. why now no android . because i will not pay again for a nav program.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #56 on: September 27, 2013, 02:55:47 am »
Now, i have another question for the general audience here.
Here is something i have a hard time understanding. Most likely it is because i think differently, because i'm socially awkward, because i have fun with electronics as a hobby (i also enjoy scuba diving , and the beach and traveling and good food and all kinds of other stuff , but electronics is my prime hobby, followed by scuba diving and all the rest)

I am purely speaking as a hobbyist now ( forget for a moment that i also do electronics as a job. i am talking -hobby- now. leisure time. not-paid-for time )
i can understand that for a student a 1000$ program is a lot of money. heck i was also bitching in my student years why everything i wanted was expensive in relation to the amount of cash i had in my pocket.

here is the bit i'm having trouble with grasping:
an average student these days goes for a pint with his mates on Fridays , goes to the disco and spends money on hobbies. i see 18 and 19 year old kids that take off 3 weeks to party in Ibiza  ( if you are in Europe) or go on a 3 day spend oodles of cash spring break. Fine. I can understand that. They want to do that and are willing to spend money.

if you totalize the amount of cash spent on those leisures on a yearly basis you will end up well above the 1000$ cost of that program.
Now, if one of your leisure activities, things you derive enjoyment from, happens to be electronics. how come suddenly the program needs to be free. ?
I understand as a student you may have to juggle.
As an adult making money. there's people enjoying a good cigar. (in my view basically convert dollars into smoke ... but i don't judge. you enjoy it. no problem) or a good bottle of whiskey. (in my view converting cash into pee, but i don't judge, your leisure.) or going to the movie theaters. Paying 15$, or whatever it is these days, to watch something 1 time ( i'll wait until its on Netflix and watch it as many times i want).

That is all fine. Perfect, i have no issue with that. Those are leisure activities you enjoy and you are obviously willing to pay since you do it. You go golfing. There's the gear, the club fees, the green fees, people travel all over the world to play a certain range. Fine. no problem.

But, when it comes to this 1000$ piece of code you want for your hobby, that will be used for years and is cheaper in the long run than the other leisure activities ( total cost over the amount of time used ) oh no. it's gotta be free , or less than 100$...

Don't get me wrong. I go scuba diving 3 weeks a year and do 4 to 5  dives a day nonstop. At 20$ a dive... (boat fee, nitrox charge etc ). I don't groan and moan that is should be allowed to dive for 2$. If i go to buy a nice pair of brand name pants it's 80$... i don't groan it should be 8$ ... I like going to a good restaurant, spend a couple of hours of quality time with friends and shell out 40$ or more for a meal. I do that once a month. That's 500$ a year. I don't groan about that.

And i'm sure that plenty of other people here (non-students) do the same. It may not be scuba diving but it may be other activities that total a nice sum of money yearly. Some people spend it on a spoiler or a set of wheels for their car ( odd in my view, since a car comes with wheels... why do you need different ones ? should have bought a car with wheels you liked)

But when it comes to a piece of software for a leisure activity they happen to enjoy (electronics) . Oh no , that has to be free ...

I'm sure there's people here that would be moaning about 400$ , yet they will spend 1500$ on a new Apple laptop , or a gaming graphics card ... but the pcb program ? That has to be free..

Electronics as a hobby is a leisure activity as anything else. Look at what you spend on your other leisure acivities, decide what you like most and partition the amount of money you have for your hobbies. i'm sure the 400$ will be perfectly acceptable.

Or is my view so warped because i happen to really enjoy electronics as a hobby and don't have more than 3 or 4 other leisure activities ? i spend more on scuba diving a year (plane, hotel, boat and gas fees, gear that needs maintenance or repair. buy a decent scuba regulator and its 600 to 800$) than i spend on my altium subscription. I get to tinker with electronics every day. Scuba diving .. only 20 days a year , going to fancy restaurant , 10 times a year... as far as value for money , i'd say the Altium subscription is cheap...

So let's say Altium introduces an entry level tool 6 layers max , noncommercial usage, that is pcb and schematic only ( no access to their fpga / simulation and other stuff ). and it would cost 399$ for a perpetual licence with a 150$ upgrade cost if a new major update comes. Why would that be too much and why would you still want it 'free'. The restaurant doesn't come free, diving doesn't come free, golf doesn't come free, plane tickets aren't free. none of your other things you enjoy are free. Why should this ? Because it's intangible software ? Because  you'd like it too ? (i'd like planes and diving and food to be free as well , but it ain't gonna happen. it is unrealistic to expect that, just as it is unrealistic to expect a program like Altium to be free)

Help me out here. i really have a hard time wrapping my head around this. Most likely it will turn out it is because i am a hardcore nerd/geek/allround weirdo. but that's fine. i can live with that. i just need confirmation that it's me , and not the rest of the world that is weird.

Of course, i'm all for lowering the price. For my hobby i don't need the fpga tools or sim. if the 499 version of altium will fit my requirements for hobby. i'll switch. i would be crazy to pay more...

Is maybe that it ? Maybe KiCad or Eagle do fit what people are doing as a hobby. So they don't need a tool like Altium, so they are not willing to pay for it. In that case Altium does not stand a chance. That would, and could, be one conclusion, as far as i can see in my warped point of view.
The other possibility would be that electronics is not a 'prime' hobby. It is the lowest in the list. That would be understandable too.

But then, why are people gunning for a metcal soldering station for their hobby when a hakko will do just fine ? or absolutely want that rlc meter they will use 1 time in their life ? Or want a 6 1/2 digit meter for their hobby ? or go nuts building 1 pp billion 10 volt reference diode circuits with super expensive parts ?
How do you decide where you spend your money ? I'd rather buy a good set of screwdrivers that will work well and last a lifetime than having to make-do with flimflam that bends on the first screw.. So i'd rather shell out a bit more money on a tool like Altium than go with glorified pen and paper. But again. I'm a weirdo ...
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 03:15:34 am by free_electron »
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Offline MacAttak

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #57 on: September 27, 2013, 02:57:59 am »
So... you don't want to pay forever... how about updates ? how about mayor new versions.

when an application goes from 3.0 to 4.0 it is normal to pay upgrade fee.
with the sas system there is no upgrade fee. you are always up to date.
pick your poison : 250$ every few years for a major update or 10$ a month over 2 years and always up to date with new features release on a monthly basis ?
same price in the end. i'd rather not have to wait for 2 years before i get some new tool...

The difference is that when you pay directly for updates the choice is in your hands. You can keep using the now obsolete version, or you can pony up and buy the upgrade if you need it. You can make a decision based on financial versus tooling concerns. But in both cases you aren't left holding an empty bag. With a subscription model, your only choice is to pay the fee every year or lose all access to the tool (and along with that, lose all access to your existing data files). This is called "vendor lock-in" and is a huge negative mark when comparing otherwise equivalent products.

For example there is one tool that I use about once or twice per year (it is a very specialized software debugging tool). It is only available on a subscription basis. But it seems like every time I need to use this tool, the subscription lapsed the week before. And the "renewals" aren't cheap - about 80% of the initial price. I am basically forced to repurchase this tool every year to use it only once before it expires. I cannot express how quickly I will abandon that vendor as soon as ANY competitor releases a comparable product that does a decent job on the one specific feature I rely on.

I agree with the other gentleman that subscription software is inherently evil.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #58 on: September 27, 2013, 03:06:33 am »
With a subscription model, your only choice is to pay the fee every year or lose all access to the tool (and along with that, lose all access to your existing data files).
Whoa. Hold it. that is NOT what Altium does!. If you stop paying subscription the software is frozen at that point in time. You get no more updates, no more access to the help desk and no access to the wiki , the library vaults.

The software DOES keep on working ! If you decide to pick it up again years later , you cough up the delta ... Sounds fair to me.
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Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #59 on: September 27, 2013, 03:19:14 am »
On the topic of hobby/recreational expenditures, f_e, I totally agree with you. People want cheap software because they're used to cheap software, that's all. Lots of software is available for next to nothing, and that affects people's idea of what "expensive" is. I don't think it's about what they will get out of it, I think it's just about what they are used to paying for similar things.
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Online arvidj

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #60 on: September 27, 2013, 03:21:51 am »
I find it intriguing why nobody screams for a free version of Orcad, Pads, Allegro , Boardstation , Zuken or any other hi end PCB  tool. Yet everyone screams for a free version of Altium ...  curious...

Ditto why nobody screams for cross platform of those tools...

Obviously you have much more experience on the board than I do but I do not see this thread as "screams for a free version" so much as recommendations to Altium on how to be successful if they are going to go thru the expense of offering a free\low cost version. Simply being "free\low cost" will not necessarily ensure a positive outcome for Altium ... or I assume any of the other vendors on your list which are not being discussed because they have not mentioned wanting to enter the market.

Not trying to be argumentative, simply offering my perspective.
 

Offline jeremy

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #61 on: September 27, 2013, 03:29:56 am »
Now, i have another question for the general audience here.
Here is something i have a hard time understanding. Most likely it is because i think differently, because i'm socially awkward, because i have fun with electronics as a hobby (i also enjoy scuba diving , and the beach and traveling and good food and all kinds of other stuff )
...

Hi free_electron,

I am a phd student/startup owner/long time hobbyist. I completely agree with you. I don't really do all those "young people" things you mentioned, half because I think they are silly and half because I spend all my money on various engineering things. I have a weller soldering iron (WMRP) that cost me a full few weeks of pay at the time, and it was (and still is) totally worth it. I have an IDA license that cost me an arm and a leg, and it is a fantastic piece of software. I would totally go for a ~$500 altium license (minus the FPGA/compiler stuff please! I just want to make a damn pcb!). You get what you pay for.

Currently I am using diptrace because it is like altium but is a) less crashy, b) cross platform, c) cheaper and d) doesn't have a billion features that I don't need and just get in the way. Particularly c and d are important to me. I am heavily involved in teaching at my university, and I am trying quite hard to get rid of altium because students can't use it at home (I've never been able to work out how to get a cheap license for them) whereas with diptrace a limited copy is free for students. Students shouldn't have to resort to piracy to get their assignments done; it's insane!

I personally wouldn't like a pure subscription model a la adobe because my financial situation is rather unstable, so I can't necessarily always afford to pay a continuous subscription. However, if the subscription allows you to keep the software once you pay, I'd be more than happy with that. Support aint free. Just pay the difference when/if you want the updates.

I would also be interested in a cheaper subscription that includes no support, just libs.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #62 on: September 27, 2013, 03:49:04 am »
Obviously you have much more experience on the board than I do but I do not see this thread as "screams for a free version" so much as recommendations to Altium on how to be successful if they are going to go thru the expense of offering a free\low cost version.

Yes, that's the crux of this matter. Altium have stated they are working on (and will hence release) a lower cost entry level version (they have not mentioned any free version of it BTW). So the question becomes how do they best do this, given by some reports (and it's obvious anyway) their intent is to compete head-on with Eagle. How do they best take on Eagle?
I posit that a free version in some form is absolutely essential, given that is what made Eagle the defacto standard.

 

Offline NickS

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #63 on: September 27, 2013, 03:52:45 am »
But, when it comes to this 1000$ piece of code you want for your hobby, that will be used for years and is cheaper in the long run than the other leisure activities ( total cost over the amount of time used ) oh no. it's gotta be free , or less than 100$...
For me I'd rather spend $1,000 on LEDs (planning on doing that in the next 6 months) rather than spending it on software.
The electronics are my hobby, a PCB designer is just a tool.

I do not buy $1,000 hammers as a rule, I buy the cheapest hammer that does the job.
And if there is a $10 hammer and a $15 hammer, and both do the job then I'll buy the $10 one.
If someone gives me one for free then I won't buy anything.

I'd rather spend my money on components and actually making the boards than tools.
This is just purely as a hobbyist. I'm a programmer by trade.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #64 on: September 27, 2013, 03:58:39 am »
So... you don't want to pay forever... how about updates ? how about mayor new versions.
when an application goes from 3.0 to 4.0 it is normal to pay upgrade fee.
with the sas system there is no upgrade fee. you are always up to date.
pick your poison : 250$ every few years for a major update or 10$ a month over 2 years and always up to date with new features release on a monthly basis ?
same price in the end. i'd rather not have to wait for 2 years before i get some new tool...

From a professional PCB designers point of view, constant updates are not necessarily a good thing. A known working and stable tool can easily trump any advantage of new features. I've found that the majority of professional full-time PCB designers (not just circuit designers who happen to do layout as well) prefer this option.
And Altium have a pretty horrible track record of releasing builds that are completely broken, or introduce new bugs that can waste oodles of your time.
Altium ditched the "bug updates" thing long again (not sure they are back on it?) where you got a big release, and then say a years worth of constant bug fixes but no new major features. So at the end of that release cycle you ended up with a pretty stable and known working tool. Then when the new version comes out with all the new wizz-bang features you try and see how it goes for you, and then the bug cycle patches started again. If you don't like it, you stick with your old known tool.

As always, YMMV.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #65 on: September 27, 2013, 04:00:55 am »
If you decide to pick it up again years later , you cough up the delta ... Sounds fair to me.

I was of the understanding that it was significantly more than the delta. i.e. they stung you with a hefty penalty for doing that, so as to "encourage" you to stay on subscription forever.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #66 on: September 27, 2013, 04:07:29 am »
Help me out here. i really have a hard time wrapping my head around this.

I might spend $1000's on hobby and leisure activities, but it is spread over many things. Rarely would I buy one single item that costs that much purely for hobby or leisure purposes.

So no, it doesn't have to be free, but most single items I buy have a sweet spot where the price is about right. And typically that is in the three figure range, not the the four figure range.

Many times I might only want to use a piece of software for one or two jobs, and in that case spending lots of money for a couple of uses does not make sense. A free version may draw me in and convince me that I want to upgrade to a paid version because I didn't realize how good it was until I tried it. If I never got to try the free version, I might never know.

Remember that hardware has a certain unavoidable material cost. It could never be free.

On the other hand, software has a zero duplication and distribution cost. Letting people try it out for free is like offering a test drive of a car. it makes good marketing sense. You might win a sale, you might not. But unless you demonstrate the merchandise, you will make no sales at all.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #67 on: September 27, 2013, 04:09:24 am »
if you totalize the amount of cash spent on those leisures on a yearly basis you will end up well above the 1000$ cost of that program.
Now, if one of your leisure activities, things you derive enjoyment from, happens to be electronics. how come suddenly the program needs to be free. ?

I don't think anyone is talking about a hugely functional free version.
As I mentioned in my video, there are 3 reason why they need some sort of limited free version.

a) The company they are going head-to-head with Eagle, and Eagle has a free version. And that is one one of the major reasons why Eagle is now the defacto standard low end tool in many areas.

b) There are so many (mostly limited) free options at the low end, that to capture any large part of the OSHW/Hobbyist/Maker market, you need a free version that does something useful so people can suck it and see on a real design. Or they can contribute to OSWH projects that fit within the free tool requirement without paying anything.

c) Content producers and bloggers will be unlikely to do tutorials and/or promote the use of a tool that doesn't have a free version.

So it's not really about people simply wanting/expecting everything for free.

Remember, it is Altium stated goal to dominate the low end PCB tool market, and get all those 10's thousand of new seats. Can they do this without some sort of free version?, I greatly doubt it.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 04:14:13 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline steves

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #68 on: September 27, 2013, 04:14:14 am »
Thanks to all, but I'll be sticking with KiCad.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #69 on: September 27, 2013, 04:16:08 am »
if you totalize the amount of cash spent on those leisures on a yearly basis you will end up well above the 1000$ cost of that program.
Now, if one of your leisure activities, things you derive enjoyment from, happens to be electronics. how come suddenly the program needs to be free. ?

I don't think anyone is talking about a hugely functional free version.
As I mentioned in my video, there are 3 reason why they need some sort of limited free version.

a) The company they are going head-to-head with Eagle, and Eagle has a free version. And that is one one of the major reasons why Eagle is now the defacto standard low end tool in many areas.

b) There are so many (mostly limited) free options at the low end, that to capture any large part of the OSHW/Hobbyist/Maker market, you need a free version that does something useful so people can suck it and see on a real design. Or they can contribute to OSWH projects that fit within the free tool requirement without paying anything.

c) Content producers and bloggers will be unlikely to do tutorials and/or promote the use of a tool that doesn't have a free version.

So it's not really about people simply wanting/expecting everything for free.

ok . fair argument. that covers the free aspect.

How about the 'low cost'. is 100$ low cost enough ? can it be 300$ ? why not 1000$. A low cost rigol scope  is 500$. want a little notch up and its 1000$.
so why would a 1000$ piece of software ( assuming you use as-is) that lets you make the boards to your hearts content be problematic ?

I know people who have woodworking as a hobby. they spend lots of money on tools with wooden handles because 'the plastic handled ones are crap'. or they buy a very expensive miter saw. simply because it lets them do more things and be more creative and productive. the difficult thing suddenly becomes easier with the more pricier tool.

so why does this not work for software ? it's gotta do all but be free ... the economics don't work guys...
i can't wrap my mind around that one.

ok if all you do is 2 layers 5x2 cms boards with thru hole parts go for eagle. fine.
but if you do more , look at the cost of eagle. let's say altium releases their sch/pcb only version. max 20cm x 20cm 6 layer but no other restriction, and it's 499$
would you go for it ? ir would it be too much  and would you mess around something cheaper or free that does a half arsed job , is a pain to work with and takes 20 times longer to get the board done ?

i guess it all comes down to how prioritized electronics as a hobby is. if it is a casual once a year passtime. fair deal. go free. is it is a serious hobby ... why not ? the schematic /pcb tool is a piece of equipment just like a scope or multimeter. 399 or 499$ sounds acceptable to me
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 04:24:09 am by free_electron »
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Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #70 on: September 27, 2013, 04:23:32 am »
If you decide to pick it up again years later , you cough up the delta ... Sounds fair to me.

I was of the understanding that it was significantly more than the delta. i.e. they stung you with a hefty penalty for doing that, so as to "encourage" you to stay on subscription forever.
its the delta + a year of subscription if i remember correctly. we turned on a couple of sleeping licences at work and that is what we paid. bridge the gap and pay for the upcoming year.
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Offline NickS

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #71 on: September 27, 2013, 04:30:13 am »
so why does this not work for software ? it's gotta do all but be free ... the economics don't work guys...
i can't wrap my mind around that one.
Depends how much use the tool gets. If your hobby involves making lots of boards then a good solid tool would be worthwhile.

If I just need to make a a pcb once every 6 months then a plastic handled tool will do the job.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #72 on: September 27, 2013, 04:39:23 am »
How about the 'low cost'. is 100$ low cost enough ? can it be 300$ ? why not 1000$. A low cost rigol scope  is 500$. want a little notch up and its 1000$.
so why would a 1000$ piece of software ( assuming you use as-is) that lets you make the boards to your hearts content be problematic ?

It's not, provided their are enough tiers to keep most people happy.
But once again, it all comes down to to their chief rival, Eagle.
Do they charge more than Eagle for similar limitations because it's a better tool and has more features? They could have a case there of course, which means that we might expect the full "entry level" version to be in the order of US$1200 or more. In fact, I think that's quite likely.
But if that's all they offer (including an assumption of a free version as well), then I think they are making a big mistake.
There is much psychology that goes into product pricing, and a PCB tool isn't much of an exception. $300 is generally considered the "no brainer" price point in the consumer industry IIRC. And 4 figures really makes you stop and think twice. And really, I think the majority of customers in this space will be the midnight engineer or hobbyist paying with their own money, so I think the consumer pricing mentality is not unreasonable to expect.
That's why I suggest a range of $250-$500 as being the sweet spot. Now they could have a $1200+ version on top of that, but I think it's vital they have some offering in that sweet spot price range, like Eagle do.

Altium have the problem of being in a position where the full all-you-can-eat unrestricted version of Eagle is $1200, and Altium's is currently, what $6K-ish?
So I don't think they can't suddenly give an unrestricted (but high end feature limited) version of the tool for that sweet spot sub $500 price, otherwise they risk eroding their current market share of customers that very grudgingly pay $6K to do some basic boards that don't demand the high end features.
However, they could do that at the $1200+ price point and be pretty safe in that respect.

Then there is them matter of not just matching Eagle, but blowing them out of the market with some aggressive pricing. It depends on how bad they want the market.

If I had to bet, I'd say it will be 4 figures, with no 3 figure option, and that is why I did the video, because if that's the case, I think they will have goofed it up completely.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 04:43:24 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #73 on: September 27, 2013, 04:50:36 am »
long post
hmm. Tru.

I'm hoping we'll see this:

a size /layer limited sch/pcb only (all the other stuff removed). max 10x16 board , 4 or 6 layer. for 199...299 , noncommercial use. yearly upgrade : 99$
same thing in terms of restriction , but commercial use : 699$ ( hey , you're making money off it. that means you are business, tax deductible and amortizable) with 299$ yearly update service
double board size , commercial: 1299$ + 499 update service
unlimited : 3000$  (sch/pcb)

want fpga,ip cores and compilers? add 2K
want diff routing and really advanced shit ? 300$ per 'module'

i think in those brackets it should be a no brainer to switch... no ?
a free version will be out of the question.

they could do a trial with max 3 times gerber output for example. that would let the occasional user design a board and have it made somewhere... you can do 2 respins if required. As you grow in your hobby the 199 to 299 bracket is there waiting ...

« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 04:55:02 am by free_electron »
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Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #74 on: September 27, 2013, 05:10:35 am »
Considering all the system on a chip and the like out there, how crippled are we talking about?  Should the free version, for example, do something like the RaspberryPi?  Or is it going to be limited to blinking lights and maybe a linear power supply?
 

Offline NickS

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #75 on: September 27, 2013, 05:17:42 am »
want fpga,ip cores and compilers? add 2K
Yeah but then nobody would buy that option.
They must flog it off with something else everyone wants so they can say 'Look! The FPGA module is selling like hotcakes! It wasn't such a brain dead idea after all."  :-DD
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #76 on: September 27, 2013, 05:20:55 am »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

That would be a winner: for the hobbyist access to all features of the best without paying a dime for it; for the PCB house, pcb orders.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #77 on: September 27, 2013, 05:25:39 am »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

That would be a winner: for the hobbyist access to all features of the best without paying a dime for it; for the PCB house, pcb orders.

NO ! absolutely not!

web based is crap. you need to be online to use it. that sucks and the user interface is slow as hell.

as for pcb houses : i want choice. china is cheap ! ( hehe. now i'm the guy asking for cheap ) and you are tied into a closed format.
give us at least gerber data so we can go where we want.
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Offline dtfi

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #78 on: September 27, 2013, 05:28:14 am »
Quote
Altium have the problem of being in a position where the full all-you-can-eat unrestricted version of Eagle is $1200, and Altium's is currently, what $6K-ish?

I'm currently evaluating Altium and their sales guys harass me every couple days.  Very annoying.  Price tag is about $9,000/user.  For that price you can buy a 30-user license of Eagle. 


 

Offline AlfBaz

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #79 on: September 27, 2013, 05:58:10 am »
For that price you can buy a 30-user license of Eagle.
Probably take that many seats to do the work of one AD seat :)

As for the modular approach, my fear is that after a while it will end up costing much, much more.

As it is now they allocate development on sections of the software and keep an eye on the total price but if each module is sold separately then increasing the price of a module from $300 to $500 due to some new feature wont seem so off-putting but it will soon add up if you need a lot of modules.

Not every pcb job needs top tear feature's but when you do need them they should just be there. If you start splitting up the PCB tool you'll end up with prices like allegro and mentor. How shit would it be if you paid $xxx for the PCB tool only to find you need to pay extra $$ for the IPC footprint wizard
 

Offline Psi

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #80 on: September 27, 2013, 06:02:51 am »
Porting from Delphi to C# really shouldn't introduce bugs.
Delphi is quite logical without the 100 obscure ways to do the same thing that you get with C.
So conversion is quite simple. (Going the other way is hard)

Any bugs will be caused by them deciding to "rework" the way AD works behind the scenes.
(There will likely be bits in pieces of current code that they wish they had done differently and they may take this opportunely to rewrite those areas while they're porting)
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Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #81 on: September 27, 2013, 06:17:23 am »
Quote
Altium have the problem of being in a position where the full all-you-can-eat unrestricted version of Eagle is $1200, and Altium's is currently, what $6K-ish?

I'm currently evaluating Altium and their sales guys harass me every couple days.  Very annoying.  Price tag is about $9,000/user.  For that price you can buy a 30-user license of Eagle.

What's point purchasing 30 licenses to software that don't offer the features one want? Or a software that hinders instead of helps the project.

As far as I have seen, these 'lesser' programs (Eagle, Diptrace) suck badly on many basic aspects of board making. And I'm not talking about professional grade RF/DDR/serdes designs here. The problem is that the basic routing (manual) is simply not from this century, with most tools it's actually easier/faster to draw with deco-dalo pen.

I know there are plenty of (obviously highly masocistic) people who use 3rd grade tools like Eagle for doing their half-serious work. IMHO I'd rather stay away of such pain.
 
What I talk about: Cadstar video of their automatic shoving, dynamic continious DRC .. (PADS had those over 10 years... )
http://www.zuken.com/en/products/pcb-design/cadstar/resources/movies

PS: Before you say, .. yes.. even back then we had BGA.s, DDR memories and plenty tight bords that were totally impossible to autoroute. I wish I could show some of those thingies.
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #82 on: September 27, 2013, 06:31:11 am »
Now, i have another question for the general audience here.
Here is something i have a hard time understanding. Most likely it is because i think differently, because i'm socially awkward, because i have fun with electronics as a hobby (i also enjoy scuba diving , and the beach and traveling and good food and all kinds of other stuff , but electronics is my prime hobby, followed by scuba diving and all the rest)

I am purely speaking as a hobbyist now ( forget for a moment that i also do electronics as a job. i am talking -hobby- now. leisure time. not-paid-for time )
i can understand that for a student a 1000$ program is a lot of money. heck i was also bitching in my student years why everything i wanted was expensive in relation to the amount of cash i had in my pocket.

here is the bit i'm having trouble with grasping:
an average student these days goes for a pint with his mates on Fridays , goes to the disco and spends money on hobbies. i see 18 and 19 year old kids that take off 3 weeks to party in Ibiza  ( if you are in Europe) or go on a 3 day spend oodles of cash spring break. Fine. I can understand that. They want to do that and are willing to spend money.

if you totalize the amount of cash spent on those leisures on a yearly basis you will end up well above the 1000$ cost of that program.
Now, if one of your leisure activities, things you derive enjoyment from, happens to be electronics. how come suddenly the program needs to be free. ?
I understand as a student you may have to juggle.
As an adult making money. there's people enjoying a good cigar. (in my view basically convert dollars into smoke ... but i don't judge. you enjoy it. no problem) or a good bottle of whiskey. (in my view converting cash into pee, but i don't judge, your leisure.) or going to the movie theaters. Paying 15$, or whatever it is these days, to watch something 1 time ( i'll wait until its on Netflix and watch it as many times i want).


You're forgetting the fact that if the price isn't low enough to be affordable, people will just pirate it.
ie matlab and hobbyists...
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Offline David_AVD

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #83 on: September 27, 2013, 06:37:33 am »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

Arghh!!!! Noooooo....  Most web based applications suck.  I don't want to be tied to the availability of the Internet (in general) or some web server that may or may not be up.
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #84 on: September 27, 2013, 06:41:36 am »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

That would be a winner: for the hobbyist access to all features of the best without paying a dime for it; for the PCB house, pcb orders.

oh god no. most web-based things tend to be slow as crap and forget about 3D manipulation.
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Offline Otatiaro

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #85 on: September 27, 2013, 06:42:02 am »
Hello,

That is very interesting ... I evaluated AD some months ago and it was fantastic for the PCB design, but a bit too expensive.
If they strip everything not needed (FPGA, like Dave said, nobody uses AD, justo go with the vendor tools, etc) and focus on PCB design I'll buy one as soon as it is available if the price is decent (and probably multiple licences when my company will grow up ... one day ;) ).

The 3D integration is awesome (I work with a designer for the cases of my products, I can send him the STEP file of the board with components, etc) ... PCB routing with interactive routing is the best I even used (did not try mentor or pads, etc ... I'm far from this budget). Etc.

I'm using a commercial licence of TASKING for ARM too so I hope they won't drop this product ...

Thomas.
 

Offline poorchava

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #86 on: September 27, 2013, 06:52:04 am »
CadStar is powerful (actually the standard in my day job company, I'm not a PCB designer though) but cumbersome to use. Altium is much, much more user friendly and has way better interface.

I think they should sell the base for cheap ($100?) with possibility to enable certain options. Of course there would have to be a free trial period for each of them. Pretty much the same thing as in oscilloscope.

Want interactive routing? $20
Want 3d? $30
Want IPC footprint Wizard? $120
Want high speed routing? $200
Want >4 layer PCB (4 layers are now quite often used by hobbyists thanks to itead, elecrow and the like) - $400

current price of Altium is completly inadequate, because NOBODY will use all the features, and nobody wants to pay for stuff they don't use.
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Offline AndyC_772

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #87 on: September 27, 2013, 07:04:56 am »
For that price you can buy a 30-user license of Eagle.
Probably take that many seats to do the work of one AD seat :)
Agreed, it's a bit like saying you can buy 30 hacksaws for the price of a CNC mill. If all you need is a hacksaw, that's fine, otherwise it's completely useless.

I do wonder just how commercially attractive the hobby market is to a PCB software vendor. If I were doing a project purely for the fun of it, I might consider buying, say, a £200-£300 tool to get the job done - in much the same way as I might consider spending that much on a table saw, drill press or other more tangible piece of kit. It'll only get used once or twice a year, and at the end of the day, there's a limit to just how badly I really need that LED cube, bat detector or bbq temperature logger.

It's judging the feature set for the ultra-cheap version that I think would be most challenging... you need to still have a tool which is usable, but not one which is going to steal sales of the four-figure version that companies who regularly design PCBs have to buy.

You can ditch everything to do with length matching, differential pairs, impedance control and the like for starters. Same goes for anything you have to support collaboration, database integration and version control, and any time saving features like placement replication. But what then? How many layers? What board size? Any limit on pin count or net list complexity? It's a tough call.

Offline DutchGert

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #88 on: September 27, 2013, 07:07:15 am »
Only thing they have to do now is read this topic, have a meeting or two and make up there mind.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #89 on: September 27, 2013, 07:47:25 am »
Quote
Whoa. Hold it. that is NOT what Altium does!. If you stop paying subscription the software is frozen at that point in time. You get no more updates, no more access to the help desk and no access to the wiki , the library vaults.
No access to the wiki ? seriously? That's just petty & dumb
At least if they do get it right with a low-endfree model,  people will create free online help and probably an independent forum for themselves to bypass any silliness like that.

..and I totally agree that no subscription based model (i.e. stops working after expiry) is ever acceptable. I would never consider anything that worked like this - it's just too big a risk.
I also have a problem with having to pay subscription for bugfixes - new features, fine, but not bugfixes for existing features.
They could manage this by having new features controlled by license keys, so you can always get the latest version, but have to either be on maintainance or pay a 1-off to get new features.
 
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Offline DutchGert

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #90 on: September 27, 2013, 07:57:54 am »
Quote
Whoa. Hold it. that is NOT what Altium does!. If you stop paying subscription the software is frozen at that point in time. You get no more updates, no more access to the help desk and no access to the wiki , the library vaults.
No access to the wiki ? seriously? That's just petty & dumb
At least if they do get it right with a low-endfree model,  people will create free online help and probably an independent forum for themselves to bypass any silliness like that.

..and I totally agree that no subscription based model (i.e. stops working after expiry) is ever acceptable. I would never consider anything that worked like this - it's just too big a risk.
I also have a problem with having to pay subscription for bugfixes - new features, fine, but not bugfixes for existing features.
They could manage this by having new features controlled by license keys, so you can always get the latest version, but have to either be on maintainance or pay a 1-off to get new features.
 

U can always access the Wiki, it's free for everyone.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 08:22:06 am by DutchGert »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #91 on: September 27, 2013, 08:13:23 am »
want fpga,ip cores and compilers? add 2K
Yeah but then nobody would buy that option.
They must flog it off with something else everyone wants so they can say 'Look! The FPGA module is selling like hotcakes! It wasn't such a brain dead idea after all."  :-DD

That is exactly the reason that quite some time back Altium moved to the "All you can eat" deal and (as mentioned in the video) actually made PCB "optional extra".
The basic version only came with schematic and embedded/FPGA, in order to push their FPGA hardware dream.
To get PCB to you had to pay top dollar. Of course, practically 100% of people needed the PCB, so they were forced to pay top dollar. I also meant that management could no longer see who was using just PCB/schematic and who was using the embedded stuff. So internally, and externally for marketing, they could say that everyone was buying into the FPGA vision. It's was actually a very clever move from that aspect.
Of course they have now admitted that (well) over 90% of the business is PCB.
 

Offline hikariuk

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #92 on: September 27, 2013, 08:18:29 am »
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.

I suspect that's just available to actual schools and students, not people teaching themselves at home?
I write software.  I'd far rather be doing something else.
 

Offline andtfoot

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #93 on: September 27, 2013, 08:30:02 am »
*snip* But, when it comes to this 1000$ piece of code *snip*

Maybe I'm missing some context here, but from what I can find a single seat at the moment would cost me close to $8000.

If it were $1000, chances are I would have bought it already (after having a serious thinking). If it were half that, I would probably forget the thinking part.
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #94 on: September 27, 2013, 08:46:32 am »
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.

I suspect that's just available to actual schools and students, not people teaching themselves at home?

Correct. However, "student" prices tend to be faculty/department-independent
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Offline jancumps

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #95 on: September 27, 2013, 09:13:42 am »
 

Offline bookaboo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #96 on: September 27, 2013, 09:22:55 am »
Forgive me but I haven't had a chance to watch the vid and have only skimmed the thread (I'm at work and will be looking at details later).

Quick Question:
Will any low cost version be able to read in old files from (don't laugh) Protel '98?
I have a bunch of *sch and *.pcb files that I really wish I could access again.
 

Offline hli

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #97 on: September 27, 2013, 12:25:45 pm »
... But give us a decent board size, even if it requires upgrade to a $100-200 version from the free one. Making the next step $1200 is just stupid. To only have the options ot 160mmx80mm or 4000mmx4000mm is stupid. .
Actually there is something in between - its called the EAGLE Hobbyist version. Its $169 for a 160x100mm board size. it requires filling out  (and signing) a form for them, though.
 

Offline poorchava

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #98 on: September 27, 2013, 12:50:02 pm »
Eagle is SHIT and - sorry for being rude - anyone who pays any money for Eagle is an idiot. Whatever you can do with paid Eagle you can also do with free KiCad (or Inkscape...). If you have to - go for DipTrace - it's currently closest to being decent pcb tool at an affordable price.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 12:51:33 pm by poorchava »
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Offline c4757p

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #99 on: September 27, 2013, 01:12:50 pm »
Whatever you can do with paid Eagle you can also do with free KiCad (or Inkscape...).

I don't like using Eagle because the workflow and general layout of the software makes me feel like I need a drool napkin... but in terms of what it's actually capable of, no, it definitely has at least a few somewhat nice features (I've been begging for import of DRC rules and Gerber export settings from a file in KiCad for ages......) and is generally less buggy IMHO.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 01:16:14 pm by c4757p »
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #100 on: September 27, 2013, 01:33:44 pm »
Autorouter is a must
Totally disagree on that one - a good autorouter takes a lot of effort to develop ( or buy in), and will only be useful to a small proportion of the low-end market as it's of limited use until you can afford enough laers to make it work well. Resources should be concentrated on making manual routing as quick and easy as possible (e.g. interactive routing).
Probably best to be purchasable as an extra (as opposed to being part of a big step up with other stuff).
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Offline TerminalJack505

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #101 on: September 27, 2013, 01:47:44 pm »
Eagle is SHIT and - sorry for being rude - anyone who pays any money for Eagle is an idiot. Whatever you can do with paid Eagle you can also do with free KiCad (or Inkscape...). If you have to - go for DipTrace - it's currently closest to being decent pcb tool at an affordable price.

I'm not going to defend Eagle but an even bigger idiot would be someone that pays $8000 to be a software beta tester. 

I've never had Eagle crash and I've never encountered any show-stopping bugs.  It's just clunky to use.  From what I've heard of Altium there are complete versions that are "to be avoided" because they are so full of bugs.  All I can say about that is "wow, just wow."
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #102 on: September 27, 2013, 01:50:44 pm »
Actually there is something in between - its called the EAGLE Hobbyist version. Its $169 for a 160x100mm board size. it requires filling out  (and signing) a form for them, though.

And as the name suggests, you can't use it for commercial designs. There is even argument over that I believe if you use it to produce an OSHW project and then someone else goes and sells it.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #103 on: September 27, 2013, 01:53:53 pm »
From what I've heard of Altium there are complete versions that are "to be avoided" because they are so full of bugs.

That is true.
Many people in the industry (including me) stuck with 99SE for a long time because several subsequent versions didn't cut the mustard.
I think Altium at one point even had a dedicated marketing campaign to get these luddites to upgrade  ::)
 

Offline krivx

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #104 on: September 27, 2013, 02:11:39 pm »
Now, i have another question for the general audience here.
Here is something i have a hard time understanding...

One thing I feel might have been missed here - for a hobbyist/start-up/"budget" market Altium also needs to compete with a wide range of products outside of the PCB tool market. We're now living in an era when a cheap DSO can be bought for a few hundred dollars, a Hakko for $100 (in the USA) or clone for even less, a decent handheld DMM for $50 etc and this does include the second-hand market flooded with gear from liquidated businesses. If I'm outfitting a lab on a budget buying the best tool is completely irrational if it means I lose out on the opportunity to buy something else which is just essential. What good is a fantastic PCB package if you don't have the tools to build, power and debug the boards?
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 02:13:14 pm by krivx »
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #105 on: September 27, 2013, 03:00:15 pm »
From what I've heard of Altium there are complete versions that are "to be avoided" because they are so full of bugs.

That is true.
Many people in the industry (including me) stuck with 99SE for a long time because several subsequent versions didn't cut the mustard.
I think Altium at one point even had a dedicated marketing campaign to get these luddites to upgrade  ::)

I did , for a looong time ! Main reason : the loss of global edit. The new way required typing search expressions. Only in a later version did they implement 'find similar'
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Offline metalphreak

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #106 on: September 27, 2013, 03:19:19 pm »
I tried out Altium after always using the free version of Eagle. It is so much better even for basic designs it's not funny. If Altium do a cheaper version for <$200, I'm definitely in. And none of this yearly subscription stuff. For something I would use maybe once every month or two, it has to be a price for a version I can keep using for as long as I want.

A free non-commercial version would be amazing. I'm sure plenty of people will end up making real products, even if its small production run, low profit stuff. It's not hard to justify a few hundred dollars for software when you are actually making a bit of coin from what you are doing.

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #107 on: September 27, 2013, 04:44:26 pm »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

That would be a winner: for the hobbyist access to all features of the best without paying a dime for it; for the PCB house, pcb orders.

NO ! absolutely not!

web based is crap. you need to be online to use it. that sucks and the user interface is slow as hell.

as for pcb houses : i want choice. china is cheap ! ( hehe. now i'm the guy asking for cheap ) and you are tied into a closed format.
give us at least gerber data so we can go where we want.

html 5 is promising.  certainly capable for hobbyist needs.

the idea is, where ever you want to go for a pcb house, they will have this web based Altium tool.  Altium makes money by selling it to the pcb house; the hobbyist gets to pick which house they want and because its all Altium (for free), the files are portable.  Its a win-win.
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #108 on: September 27, 2013, 04:47:49 pm »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

Arghh!!!! Noooooo....  Most web based applications suck.  I don't want to be tied to the availability of the Internet (in general) or some web server that may or may not be up.

Most web based apps don't use HTML 5.  Web servers have very excellent up times, even ones with high traffic/bandwidth.

Complaining about availability of Internet connection, in 2014?  If you don't have wired internet in the garage, consider you geek card revoked.
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #109 on: September 27, 2013, 04:48:23 pm »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

That would be a winner: for the hobbyist access to all features of the best without paying a dime for it; for the PCB house, pcb orders.

oh god no. most web-based things tend to be slow as crap and forget about 3D manipulation.

check out HTML 5 demos

edit: I was really also thinking of WebGL
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 05:10:18 pm by PeteInTexas »
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #110 on: September 27, 2013, 05:19:36 pm »

That is exactly the reason that quite some time back Altium moved to the "All you can eat" deal and (as mentioned in the video) actually made PCB "optional extra".
The basic version only came with schematic and embedded/FPGA, in order to push their FPGA hardware dream.
To get PCB to you had to pay top dollar. Of course, practically 100% of people needed the PCB, so they were forced to pay top dollar. I also meant that management could no longer see who was using just PCB/schematic and who was using the embedded stuff. So internally, and externally for marketing, they could say that everyone was buying into the FPGA vision. It's was actually a very clever move from that aspect.
Of course they have now admitted that (well) over 90% of the business is PCB.

They did? (Sorry, i don't work in this industry and didn't know that.)
That is quite an embarrassingly desperate move...
 

Online arvidj

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #111 on: September 27, 2013, 05:33:43 pm »
I suspect that's just available to actual schools and students, not people teaching themselves at home?

At last a term that fits me ... "people teaching themselves at home".

I wonder if a letter from my wife would be considered "adequate documentation" to qualify for the student discount?  :)
 

Offline hikariuk

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #112 on: September 27, 2013, 05:47:05 pm »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

Arghh!!!! Noooooo....  Most web based applications suck.  I don't want to be tied to the availability of the Internet (in general) or some web server that may or may not be up.

Most web based apps don't use HTML 5.  Web servers have very excellent up times, even ones with high traffic/bandwidth.

Complaining about availability of Internet connection, in 2014?  If you don't have wired internet in the garage, consider you geek card revoked.

Or you're living in parts of the UK...
I write software.  I'd far rather be doing something else.
 

Offline andtfoot

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #113 on: September 27, 2013, 05:49:56 pm »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

Arghh!!!! Noooooo....  Most web based applications suck.  I don't want to be tied to the availability of the Internet (in general) or some web server that may or may not be up.

Most web based apps don't use HTML 5.  Web servers have very excellent up times, even ones with high traffic/bandwidth.

Complaining about availability of Internet connection, in 2014?  If you don't have wired internet in the garage, consider you geek card revoked.

Or you're living in parts of the UK...
Or Australia...  ;D
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #114 on: September 27, 2013, 05:53:57 pm »
For the hobbyist market, they should develop something web based that PCB houses can deploy for themselves and be a one stop shop those that in reality only do something once or twice a year.

That would be a winner: for the hobbyist access to all features of the best without paying a dime for it; for the PCB house, pcb orders.

oh god no. most web-based things tend to be slow as crap and forget about 3D manipulation.

check out HTML 5 demos

edit: I was really also thinking of WebGL

I think this is pretty unlikely for a lot of reasons... but here's just two off the top of my head:

First, the PCB houses need to be sure that the cost of doing something like this would make sense.  From Altium's point of view, this would effectively be a huge number of seats, which would make it extremely expensive for the PCB house, which would then have to pass on the cost... not a good thing.

Second, HTML5, WebGL and what -- Javascript?  Java?  Either way, coding that would be a huge nightmare.  Not to mention that it would run very slowly.  Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't see that even being an option for most coders, and it would certainly take some significant investment in time and money to make that work.  In the end, I can't see a web-based PCB design tool having any traction.

What does that leave us with?  Remote desktop?  That might work, but then you not only have the seat licenses for Altium, but you have the seat licenses for RD services... even more expensive.

I don't know.  From my point of view, I can't see this as being something that runs anywhere but on a local PC if you want to get any kind of performance out of it.
 

Offline hikariuk

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #115 on: September 27, 2013, 06:03:40 pm »
I think if Altium had a lower priced hobbyist version - in the £100 to £150 arena - I'd probably buy it after a little consideration.  Especially if they also provided a sane upgrade path for people who might need it.
I write software.  I'd far rather be doing something else.
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #116 on: September 27, 2013, 06:11:25 pm »
want fpga,ip cores and compilers? add 2K
Yeah but then nobody would buy that option.
...

... Of course, practically 100% of people needed the PCB, so they were forced to pay top dollar. I also meant that management could no longer see who was using just PCB/schematic and who was using the embedded stuff. So internally, and externally for marketing, they could say that everyone was buying into the FPGA vision. It's was actually a very clever move from that aspect.
Of course they have now admitted that (well) over 90% of the business is PCB.

BTW: Dave, this thread finally convinced me to go ahead and start participating in the conversation.

Maybe not so clever... market penetration is everything, and Altium hasn't learned that lesson yet.  I can quote a classic example of this in the form of the Microsoft/Novell history. 

Novell always had the model of selling their licensing and support through a partner network.  Great, and at first, it worked really well.  Novell owned the network market.  Once Microsoft jumped in, and their marketing machine made it mainstream, Novell found itself entirely unable to compete on name recognition alone.  Their software is second to none -- I've been supporting it for over 30 years -- but it's a hard sell, especially where the people who make the choices aren't the ones exposed to the technical aspects.

If Altium were to offer a free tool that would enable the masses to get familiar with their software and focus on the PCB market, they'd get the penetration they need.  But as important as that is making sure that the "free" version isn't crippled to the point of being useless... the right way to go would be to make it possible for people to actually make use of it to design reasonable boards, and get them produced.  I don't mind manual routing -- and I suspect that most of us would rather avoid autorouting anyway, so that's a perfect thing to leave out.  FPGA compiler?  No, thanks.  But let people export Gerber files, do four layers, and create boards that are in the neighborhood of about 100mm2 and I think they'd have a winner.  Make it reasonable to do that much commercially, say in the neighborhood of US$600, and I think that forms the basis for a winning formula.

They'd win by selling in volume -- the lesson Microsoft taught everyone very effectively, if they were paying attention.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 06:20:11 pm by walshms »
 

Offline grego

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #117 on: September 27, 2013, 06:21:00 pm »
I don't see a free altium doing 4 layers.  It's just too much flexibility.

The reason Eagle has been successful is because it's free - and it's crippled.  However, anyone who says it's crippled to the point of being unusable I just point towards the Arduino.

I'm kind of with free_electron on this one - everyone wants this to be the perfect free tool.  It won't happen (or I'd be surprised if it does).  I full expect it to be 2-layer with either board size restrictions or pin count restrictions.

Altium isn't going to give away MORE than Eagle.  Why should they?  AD is clearly better than Eagle the problem is the price.  If I had to do it I'd match what Eagle can do but do it via AD.  Then tier the pricing up for larger boards/more layers and compete in there .. for example the Eagle tiers pretty much suck - there's a lot of room for someone to come in with a good tool for free to get people to load it and then pick their tier.  You minimize the support options so it doesn't cost you more headcount and then just let people upgrade through the tiers.

Fortunately Altium canned their CEO.  Unfortunately they have a history of being colossal screw-ups when it comes to product launches.  So we'll see.  I think Dave pretty much nailed it though on where/how Altium can really grab the lower end of the market by the short and curlies and shake it up.
 

Offline resistor

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #118 on: September 27, 2013, 06:38:46 pm »
I think the important thing to remember, which it's easy to lose track of as a professional, is that for most hobbyists the convenience of the tool is not the highest priority.  If a hobbyist only makes a handful of PCBs per year, it doesn't really matter whether it takes them 10 hours or 20 hours to design it.  A professional PCB designer has a business interest in being about to turn out design revisions as quickly and conveniently as possible, but the hobbyist doesn't have that pressure.  The hobbyist only cares about being able to do it at all.  Convenience is an added bonus.

 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #119 on: September 27, 2013, 06:39:43 pm »
I don't see a free altium doing 4 layers.  It's just too much flexibility.

...

Altium isn't going to give away MORE than Eagle.  Why should they?  AD is clearly better than Eagle the problem is the price.  If I had to do it I'd match what Eagle can do but do it via AD.  ...

Four layers ought to be a standard starting point... for the kinds of things people would want to do today, that's almost a necessity, not a luxury.

It really all depends on what they're trying to accomplish.  If they just want to get some seats, fine -- the approach you're advocating is the one most companies would take.  Sure, much better product, and yes, they could certainly do no more than Eagle and likely win in the longer term... but they'd still have a relatively small user base.

If they want to own the market, that's just not enough.  If they want to do volume -- which is where the real money is -- I think they need to get aggressive.   I don't know what their installed base actually is, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to think about what it could be -- and that's probably at least an order of magnitude increase at a more accessible price.  Maybe two orders of magnitude if they really do it right. 

Now -- if you reduce the price by an order of magnitude and get two orders of magnitude increase in sales... I know what I'd do.  ;)

 

Offline 0xdeadbeef

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #120 on: September 27, 2013, 07:07:08 pm »
I think the important thing to remember, which it's easy to lose track of as a professional, is that for most hobbyists the convenience of the tool is not the highest priority.  If a hobbyist only makes a handful of PCBs per year, it doesn't really matter whether it takes them 10 hours or 20 hours to design it.  A professional PCB designer has a business interest in being about to turn out design revisions as quickly and conveniently as possible, but the hobbyist doesn't have that pressure.  The hobbyist only cares about being able to do it at all.  Convenience is an added bonus.
I disagree. The opposite is the case. If you work every day with a tool, you can learn your way to achieve things, even it the complete GUI is a little weird. If you design just a few PCBs a year, you need an intuitive GUI, else it is much too frustrating to learn weird non-standard ways to reach simple things again and again since you forget all of it in some weeks. That's why I like DipTrace so much more than e.g. Eagle. In DipTrace, most things works as you would expect from any other windows program, in Eagle, everything still works a bit the way that some electrical engineer thought 20 years ago it would be easy to implement in a completely self-designed GUI.
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Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #121 on: September 27, 2013, 07:25:02 pm »
Autorouter is a must
Totally disagree on that one - a good autorouter takes a lot of effort to develop ( or buy in), and will only be useful to a small proportion of the low-end market as it's of limited use until you can afford enough laers to make it work well. Resources should be concentrated on making manual routing as quick and easy as possible (e.g. interactive routing).
Probably best to be purchasable as an extra (as opposed to being part of a big step up with other stuff).

This I agree with Mike. Autoroute can be good for simple boards (as a ballpark: like Arduino-level, with plenty empty space), but for  more complex layouts it's usually more-or less useless alone. When the board complexity increases, designer will end up spending more and more time o patching up the results and re-doing everying by hand anyhow.

That's said, some high end autorouters (specttre, fireblaze) can archive quite some amazing jobs, but usually the setup-time (all parameters needed on trace/netlist basis) take a *lot* of time and expetise.

As for real world pics.. These are top and bottom pics  of over 10 years old board.. made with Freescale (orig Motorola) MPC555 BGA -microcontroller, to 4 layer board. Entire board size is 10cm*10cm and it's quite well packed.

Routing is (by layer) horizontal, gnd, power, vertical. The wire/cleareance widths are both 5 mils if I remember correctly. All passves and some smaller support IC:s at the bottom side, top side dedicated to bigger chips and connectors.

 

Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #122 on: September 27, 2013, 07:29:21 pm »
I think the important thing to remember, which it's easy to lose track of as a professional, is that for most hobbyists the convenience of the tool is not the highest priority.  If a hobbyist only makes a handful of PCBs per year, it doesn't really matter whether it takes them 10 hours or 20 hours to design it.  A professional PCB designer has a business interest in being about to turn out design revisions as quickly and conveniently as possible, but the hobbyist doesn't have that pressure.  The hobbyist only cares about being able to do it at all.  Convenience is an added bonus.

IMHO for hobbyist ... most important things are learning and archievement. What's there is to learn on Autoroute, besides pushing a button? With good hand-route tool even the hobbyist could learn about layout, board design, signal integrity, astethics etc..

 

Online arvidj

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #123 on: September 27, 2013, 07:58:29 pm »
A really dumb question that may get me kicked off the thread. Just trying to think "outside the box" ... no pun intended.

One of the constraints often mentioned as based on board size as defined by length and width.

Would an area based constraint be a feature rather than a fixed length and width constraint?. As in "Eagle has a 80 sq. cm" free version, shape it however you would like [SIHYWL]". For $169 it has a 160 sq. cm version, SIHYWL.

The thought being that if Altium is looking for some way to constrain the application yet not look like they just copied the Eagle marketing material, would an area based constraint be an opportunity to achieve that goal and also be of benefit to the end user?
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #124 on: September 27, 2013, 08:06:21 pm »
A really dumb question that may get me kicked off the thread.

I certainly hope it doesn't get you kicked off the thread.  Me either, for that matter, since I'm replying.  ;)

Area is all that should matter.  This is how it should be done by everyone.  Who cares if the board is exactly whatever size on a side?  That's an artificial and arbitrary nonsense IMO.  Not everything you might want to do fits neatly into a rectangle.

Let the PCB houses worry about that -- if you design something that requires a lot of routing out when drill time comes, you pay for it.

Of course, it's a lot easier to calculate area when you're not dealing with anything but parallel lines... but that's down to lazy programmers, I think.  It's just not that hard to do... and even if it were, I think it wouldn't be such a big deal if they just took parallel lines on an outline and calculated that way.  If you have a board that requires a lot of cut-outs, then maybe you should rethink it anyway.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2013, 08:12:01 pm by walshms »
 

Offline hikariuk

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #125 on: September 27, 2013, 08:38:12 pm »
Of course, it's a lot easier to calculate area when you're not dealing with anything but parallel lines... but that's down to lazy programmers, I think.  It's just not that hard to do... and even if it were, I think it wouldn't be such a big deal if they just took parallel lines on an outline and calculated that way.  If you have a board that requires a lot of cut-outs, then maybe you should rethink it anyway.

It's actually pretty easy to calculate the area of a polygon; it's about 4 or 5 lines of code.
I write software.  I'd far rather be doing something else.
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #126 on: September 27, 2013, 08:45:45 pm »
It's actually pretty easy to calculate the area of a polygon; it's about 4 or 5 lines of code.

My point exactly.  Why doesn't every layout tool just do this?

I think it exceedingly strange that a lot of people seem to think that it's okay for these software producers to simply do as they please.  We are, after all, the market -- and it is and certainly should be demand-driven.

If enough people demand it, someone will come along and fill the void because they'll recognize the opportunity.

The best companies to work with are the ones that fully embrace that, and meet the demands.  They not only get loyalty, they get business... and a lot of it.  Look at what Apple did with the iPhone and iPod, and I think I need say no more.

Give people what they want, and they will buy into it.  Do it right, and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #127 on: September 27, 2013, 10:00:51 pm »

First, the PCB houses need to be sure that the cost of doing something like this would make sense.  From Altium's point of view, this would effectively be a huge number of seats, which would make it extremely expensive for the PCB house, which would then have to pass on the cost... not a good thing.

Because its web based, Altium will have let go of this notion of per seat pricing and find a reasonable base price then maybe nickel and dime the pcb house for upgrades and updates.

Second, HTML5, WebGL and what -- Javascript?  Java?  Either way, coding that would be a huge nightmare.  Not to mention that it would run very slowly.  Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't see that even being an option for most coders, and it would certainly take some significant investment in time and money to make that work.  In the end, I can't see a web-based PCB design tool having any traction.

WebGL is javascript an takes full advantage of gpu capabilities so it be fast enough.  People are making interactive short films with this so it will be fine.

Granted coding in javascript is a PITA, that's just me.  There are many who are very comfortable with it.  I don't even know why you think that's an issue.

Also, many CAD vendors like Auto desk are moving to integrate WebGL in their design products.  That's got to say something about its capabilities and readiness for hobbyist grade pcb layout. :P
 

Offline David_AVD

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #128 on: September 27, 2013, 10:28:04 pm »
Making a good desktop tool into a web based one would be a major disaster imo.  Maybe I'm in the minority who don't believe in all the "cloud" hype?
 

Offline David_AVD

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #129 on: September 27, 2013, 10:29:19 pm »
Four layers ought to be a standard starting point... for the kinds of things people would want to do today, that's almost a necessity, not a luxury.

I've designed hundreds of boards and never used more than 2 layers.  It's just not required for the majority of day to day applications.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #130 on: September 28, 2013, 12:06:57 am »
Four layers ought to be a standard starting point... for the kinds of things people would want to do today, that's almost a necessity, not a luxury.

I've designed hundreds of boards and never used more than 2 layers.  It's just not required for the majority of day to day applications.
ive done hundreds of boards and none of em are below 4 layers. you just can't do power planes on 2 layers , nor can you do controlled impedance ...
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #131 on: September 28, 2013, 12:34:52 am »
4 to 6 layer is probably a 'nicer' partition in pricing, correlating with a big jump in fab cost, mostly because of demand, but I don't think a free version with a 2L limit would get too many complaints. Obviously everyone's requirements are different, but few hobbyist-level users will need 4L.

..and limiting people to 2L will help improve layout skills! 4L makes it too easy!
I've done many hundreds of PCBs over the years and maybe only a dozen or so needed 4 layers.

 
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Offline elgonzo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #132 on: September 28, 2013, 12:44:22 am »
Making a good desktop tool into a web based one would be a major disaster imo.  Maybe I'm in the minority who don't believe in all the "cloud" hype?

While there is nothing inherently disastrous about a good (!) online tool, i would also have slight concerns if a software company is doing its first steps in this area. Creating a reliable online application requires quite a different expertise than creating desktop applications...


My point exactly.  Why doesn't every layout tool just do this?

Why should every layout tool do this?
Unless you want your "lower" software editions be restricted by area, what is the benefit?
I can't think of a reason. For construction/manufacturing of your device, dimensions are relevant to make the PCB fit the assembly.
For PCB fabs, usually panel size matters, not so much the area of your irregularly shaped board.
Care to elaborate in which scenarios calculating the area would matter (except as artificial restriction)?

I think it exceedingly strange that a lot of people seem to think that it's okay for these software producers to simply do as they please.  We are, after all, the market -- and it is and certainly should be demand-driven.

If enough people demand it, someone will come along and fill the void because they'll recognize the opportunity.

The best companies to work with are the ones that fully embrace that, and meet the demands.  They not only get loyalty, they get business... and a lot of it.  Look at what Apple did with the iPhone and iPod, and I think I need say no more.

Give people what they want, and they will buy into it.  Do it right, and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Hmm... if a lot of people are okay with what the companies do, would that not mean that the companies met the demands of those people?

Naturally, companies will try to achieve and sustain success (a-ka monies in the bank). Some will do better than others.
Still, the best companies will eventually fall. The reality of the market(s) is far more complex and dynamic than you think.
Only 67 companies from the Fortune 500 list of the year 1955 are still in the Fortune 500 list in the year 2011. Go figure...
 

Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #133 on: September 28, 2013, 01:10:42 am »
Four layers ought to be a standard starting point... for the kinds of things people would want to do today, that's almost a necessity, not a luxury.

I've designed hundreds of boards and never used more than 2 layers.  It's just not required for the majority of day to day applications.
ive done hundreds of boards and none of em are below 4 layers. you just can't do power planes on 2 layers , nor can you do controlled impedance ...

This depends a lot from software to software. For example Diptrace free version (300 pin limitation) allows 2 signal layers, plus unlimited plane layers, so typical 4-layer stack is no problem. And there is no limits for board size..

PS: As these primitive basic tools go.. Diptrace feels ok for me.. I have not done anything serious with it, just toyed a few moments. It apparently can only do highly inefficient grid-based routing and offers no real tools to trace shove-ripup-reroute, but for the price it seems ok.

PS2: Still waiting to hear from Cadstar, their freebie version needs *both* net login to acces download and some ***** stupid passwoard for installing the free version. What's the point? If the program is free to use, why make it so difficult?

« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 01:18:07 am by JoannaK »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #134 on: September 28, 2013, 01:11:33 am »
Would an area based constraint be a feature rather than a fixed length and width constraint?. As in "Eagle has a 80 sq. cm" free version, shape it however you would like [SIHYWL]". For $169 it has a 160 sq. cm version, SIHYWL.

The thought being that if Altium is looking for some way to constrain the application yet not look like they just copied the Eagle marketing material, would an area based constraint be an opportunity to achieve that goal and also be of benefit to the end user?

Yes, I certainly think so.
Even the $500+ paid version of Eagle can't do boards bigger than 160mm, and that's just incredibly stupid.
If I want to do a 1 layer board with a led on it that's 170mm long, With Eagle I have to buy the $1200 package.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #135 on: September 28, 2013, 01:13:35 am »
but I don't think a free version with a 2L limit would get too many complaints.

Almost certainly not, as the community is very used to that 2 layer restriction.
 

Offline AlfBaz

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #136 on: September 28, 2013, 02:21:00 am »
If altium do go down this road what will eagle's response be, freagle? Surely they wont just laydown and die

 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #137 on: September 28, 2013, 02:23:09 am »
..and limiting people to 2L will help improve layout skills! 4L makes it too easy!
I've done many hundreds of PCBs over the years and maybe only a dozen or so needed 4 layers.

I guess you've enjoyed the challenges then, Mike? :) 

Admittedly, I did too at first... but now I'm far more interested in what's possible rather than what's challenging.  Maybe I'm in the minority, and my particular point of view is skewed, but for what it's worth, I think that there ought to be a shift in thinking on this.

That's just my opinion... but I felt like it was time to express it.  If it generates some discussion, so much the better...
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #138 on: September 28, 2013, 02:32:44 am »
My point exactly.  Why doesn't every layout tool just do this?

Why should every layout tool do this?
Unless you want your "lower" software editions be restricted by area, what is the benefit?
I can't think of a reason. For construction/manufacturing of your device, dimensions are relevant to make the PCB fit the assembly.
For PCB fabs, usually panel size matters, not so much the area of your irregularly shaped board.
Care to elaborate in which scenarios calculating the area would matter (except as artificial restriction)?
I think you may have missed the thread there.  The original point was a response to the question of why layout vendors limit their versions based on a particular board size in linear measurements as a rectangle... and the question was asking whether it made sense to do it by area instead.  I say yes, it does make sense to do that rather than say "160mm x 100mm" or some other arbitrary linear measurement.

I think it exceedingly strange that a lot of people seem to think that it's okay for these software producers to simply do as they please.  We are, after all, the market -- and it is and certainly should be demand-driven.

If enough people demand it, someone will come along and fill the void because they'll recognize the opportunity.

...

Give people what they want, and they will buy into it.  Do it right, and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Hmm... if a lot of people are okay with what the companies do, would that not mean that the companies met the demands of those people?

Fair enough, if you think everyone in this thread who's been talking about what they'd like to see from Altium doesn't count. ;)

How long has this industry been this way?  How long would you want it to stay that way?  And can you imagine the possibility of something different?

I can.  :-+
 

Offline orin

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #139 on: September 28, 2013, 02:59:40 am »
If you decide to pick it up again years later , you cough up the delta ... Sounds fair to me.

I was of the understanding that it was significantly more than the delta. i.e. they stung you with a hefty penalty for doing that, so as to "encourage" you to stay on subscription forever.
its the delta + a year of subscription if i remember correctly. we turned on a couple of sleeping licences at work and that is what we paid. bridge the gap and pay for the upcoming year.


Speaking of "penalties" or lack thereof, a long while ago, I got a copy of Cakewalk, what is now called a DAW (digital audio workstation).  It ran on Windows 98.  They have been advertising some rather nice upgrade costs for "any registered user" and I was recently doing the "Introduction to Music Production" course on Coursera.  Of course, I couldn't remember my password or username.

I booted up the old Windows 98 laptop, found what software version I had (I was looking for a serial number, but it didn't have one) and sent a question to their customer service.  A couple of days later, I got a nice message saying they found me in their database, that I should set up a new account, let them know the username and they would link my ancient purchase to the account so I could get upgrade pricing.

I did all but actually buy an upgrade.  I just don't actually need it at the moment, but if/when I do, they are at the top of the list.

Really, if I had purchased the upgrade, it was free money to them.  I didn't buy a competitor, nor would I given their upgrade price.  Set an upgrade price for an out of date version too close to that for a new copy/subscription and see customers defect to the competition.  Once you are that out of date, the learning curve going to a competitor may not be that different to going to a newer version anyway.

Orin.
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #140 on: September 28, 2013, 03:01:15 am »
but I don't think a free version with a 2L limit would get too many complaints.

Almost certainly not, as the community is very used to that 2 layer restriction.

Almost certainly not if it was a free version of Altium... that alone would be a big shift.

A man can dream, can't he? ;)

I just think that there are real possibilities to be explored on this, that's all.  Very true that most people doing the occasional board won't really need four layers.  But if you had that to work with, would that be a bad thing, really?  I think the economics of the whole thing can drive that effectively.  Four layers being more expensive, it would still only be used where needed... but it would put the capability into more people's hands.

Does it have to be free?  No.  But price it right, and far more people would be likely to buy it.  I know I would.  And I'd prefer to be working with Altium; that's really the point here.  Whatever restrictions might be in place, as long as the price was affordable to remove those restrictions, I think Altium would find themselves earning more, not less.
 

Offline orin

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #141 on: September 28, 2013, 03:19:46 am »
Eagle is SHIT and - sorry for being rude - anyone who pays any money for Eagle is an idiot. Whatever you can do with paid Eagle you can also do with free KiCad (or Inkscape...). If you have to - go for DipTrace - it's currently closest to being decent pcb tool at an affordable price.


Started with Easytrax*, went on to Eagle, tried KiCad, went back to Eagle.

Shrug...

Eagle component libraries still suck of course.  Surface mount diodes that don't indicated direction on the silkscreen, or if they do, overlap the pads was my latest irk.

Orin.

*I call it "vi for PCBs" ;)

 

Offline orin

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #142 on: September 28, 2013, 03:23:16 am »
Actually there is something in between - its called the EAGLE Hobbyist version. Its $169 for a 160x100mm board size. it requires filling out  (and signing) a form for them, though.

And as the name suggests, you can't use it for commercial designs. There is even argument over that I believe if you use it to produce an OSHW project and then someone else goes and sells it.


Good point.  The original developer would have to make it explicit in the open source hardware license that a commercial Eagle license would be required for commercial use.  Otherwise, the original developer would be liable for the Eagle license fee.

IANAL etc.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #143 on: September 28, 2013, 03:27:27 am »
I just think that there are real possibilities to be explored on this, that's all. 
Very true that most people doing the occasional board won't really need four layers.  But if you had that to work with, would that be a bad thing, really? 

Of course, you'll likely get no argument from anyone on here about that.
I think the general consensus would be that if if Altium matched Eagle in terms of limitations and price, that that would be ok, and win for the community. Odds of success for Altium in that case is reasonable.
Anything less would be deemed a complete marketing failure.
And anything more above any of the price/limitations options Eagle offer would be a very good thing, and probably a wise thing to do if they really want to screw Eagle and become the dominate player as they hope.

Quote
Does it have to be free?  No.  But price it right, and far more people would be likely to buy it.  I know I would.  And I'd prefer to be working with Altium; that's really the point here.  Whatever restrictions might be in place, as long as the price was affordable to remove those restrictions, I think Altium would find themselves earning more, not less.

Of course, and once again, few would disagree with you.

Altium our coming out with something, so it simply remains to be seen if they either
1) screw it up completely
2) become a viable player
3) take the low end market by storm
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #144 on: September 28, 2013, 03:39:29 am »
Actually there is something in between - its called the EAGLE Hobbyist version. Its $169 for a 160x100mm board size. it requires filling out  (and signing) a form for them, though.

And as the name suggests, you can't use it for commercial designs. There is even argument over that I believe if you use it to produce an OSHW project and then someone else goes and sells it.


Good point.  The original developer would have to make it explicit in the open source hardware license that a commercial Eagle license would be required for commercial use.  Otherwise, the original developer would be liable for the Eagle license fee.

IANAL etc.

What good would it do to put that disclaimer in there?  If the original developer would be liable, then the person selling the product wouldn't have any incentive not to commercialize it.  Not his loss, so to speak.

Muddy waters here.  I'll watch from the shoreline.

If Eagle, Altium and the rest were less concerned about "non-commercial" versus "commercial" use and more concerned about getting an affordable tool into as many people's hands as they could, it would clear all of that up immediately.  It would also probably spur innovation in a big way, because more people would have higher quality tools with which to work.  Being distracted by the tools you use is no recipe for a good result, and maybe puts a lot of people off that might otherwise be very creative...
 

Offline orin

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #145 on: September 28, 2013, 03:45:37 am »
Four layers ought to be a standard starting point... for the kinds of things people would want to do today, that's almost a necessity, not a luxury.

I've designed hundreds of boards and never used more than 2 layers.  It's just not required for the majority of day to day applications.
ive done hundreds of boards and none of em are below 4 layers. you just can't do power planes on 2 layers , nor can you do controlled impedance ...

Not really disagreeing, but it depends on what you are doing and whether EMC compatibility is involved.

I've not gone above 2 layers and not at 100s of MHz signal frequencies, so I "got away" with routing most traces on one layer with a flood fill ground on the other layer.  Looking back, the return path for some signals is not optimal(!).

However, these days, I do think 4 layers should be the starting point, not 2.  Just to read Henry Ott's "Electromagnetic Compatibility Engineering" makes 4 layers look passe.

Orin.
 

Offline orin

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #146 on: September 28, 2013, 04:03:48 am »
Actually there is something in between - its called the EAGLE Hobbyist version. Its $169 for a 160x100mm board size. it requires filling out  (and signing) a form for them, though.

And as the name suggests, you can't use it for commercial designs. There is even argument over that I believe if you use it to produce an OSHW project and then someone else goes and sells it.


Good point.  The original developer would have to make it explicit in the open source hardware license that a commercial Eagle license would be required for commercial use.  Otherwise, the original developer would be liable for the Eagle license fee.

IANAL etc.

What good would it do to put that disclaimer in there?  If the original developer would be liable, then the person selling the product wouldn't have any incentive not to commercialize it.  Not his loss, so to speak.


I guess I should have made it clearer.  GPL V2 managed it.  They enforce conditions on anyone that uses GPL V2 licensed software and they win in court.  It makes GPL V2 licensed software "pure poison" as far as I'm concerned where I work.  I simply won't consider it.

I don't see why a "You may not commercially* distribute derived works without a commercial <insert required licences> license" clause wouldn't protect the original developer.  If Eagle went after the original developer, I don't see Eagle having much of a case and even if they did, the original developer has a case against whoever commercialized the product since whoever commercialized it agreed to the non-commercial provisions simply by using it.

They make similar clauses work for GPL V2, so there is no reason they shouldn't work in this case.

Again, IANAL, Orin.

*consult a lawyer for appropriate wording.
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #147 on: September 28, 2013, 04:10:54 am »

And anything more above any of the price/limitations options Eagle offer would be a very good thing, and probably a wise thing to do if they really want to screw Eagle and become the dominate player as they hope.


If, as you suggest, they want to dominate then it's really a no-brainer.  They beat Eagle, DipTrace and the rest -- in part with the feature set, and in part with the price.  If they're willing to jump in I'd do all I could to support and encourage it...
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 04:12:41 am by walshms »
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #148 on: September 28, 2013, 04:16:47 am »

I guess I should have made it clearer.  GPL V2 managed it. 

Oh, okay -- I see where you were going now.  Maybe.  Still don't think I'll test those waters. ;)
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #149 on: September 28, 2013, 06:21:00 am »
So... you don't want to pay forever... how about updates ? how about mayor new versions.

when an application goes from 3.0 to 4.0 it is normal to pay upgrade fee.
with the sas system there is no upgrade fee. you are always up to date.
pick your poison : 250$ every few years for a major update or 10$ a month over 2 years and always up to date with new features release on a monthly basis ?
same price in the end. i'd rather not have to wait for 2 years before i get some new tool...

I find that when people are forced to pay for upgrades, they tend to evaluate whether they actually need them.

There are a lot of people still running XP because it does what they need it to do.  I am the same with SolidWorks and MasterCAM.  Both packages are expensive to upgrade, and when they introduce new features as upgrades, I like to know what exactly those features are and consider whether I need them.  A lot of people have this idea that they just 'should' have the latest version of software - they don't know why, other than "it's the newest one".  But it's sort of like cars... do you need a new car, or do you just want one?

What is particularly irksome is companies who fix bugs as new versions of the software.  If a piece of software has an acknowledged bug, it ought to be fixed for free in an update - as it was something sold that was not delivered. 

But SAAS - no way.  I am tired of every other company we do business with hoping to get a piece of our bottom line.  I don't like renting.  Imagine if everything worked that way... you could only lease computers, could only lease OS's, only lease cars, clothes, watches, eyeglasses.  That's what companies want but I don't think it is in the best interests of the consumer.  In every implementation I have seen, it's a money grab by the software company.  For example, Adobe might charge $600 for Photoshop and have a new version ever 2 years.  So they will charge $40/mo for a subscription.  Now you are paying $960 every 2 years, regardless of whether you needed the features in the upgrade or not.  It removes choice.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #150 on: September 28, 2013, 06:55:58 am »
What is particularly irksome is companies who fix bugs as new versions of the software.  If a piece of software has an acknowledged bug, it ought to be fixed for free in an update - as it was something sold that was not delivered. 

Altium take that approach (and still do?).
If you buy the "perpetual" license, without the subscription, then you are stuck with whatever version you happen to get given at the time you buy it, complete with bugs, or in some cases, simply not usable as has happened to some people. You only get bug fixes as part of the subscription service.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #151 on: September 28, 2013, 07:03:20 am »
I don't see why a "You may not commercially* distribute derived works without a commercial <insert required licences> license" clause wouldn't protect the original developer.  If Eagle went after the original developer, I don't see Eagle having much of a case and even if they did, the original developer has a case against whoever commercialized the product since whoever commercialized it agreed to the non-commercial provisions simply by using it.

As almost always is the case, there is no real threat of lawsuits here, it's all pretty academic.
But people get quite uptight about this sort of stuff, hence why there has been some serious discussion on it.
People want to do the right thing and operate within the right framework.

It's a similar condition for the "unwritten" nature of old school magazine projects for example. They were effectively "open source hardware" long before OSHW ever came about. But a lot of the modern OSHW purists will argue that they aren't open source, and neither is anything else like public domain, or just someones personal declaration on website etc. Unless the author uses an iron clad tested in court covers all bases super duper legal license, expanding on such work is to be avoided.
I think they need to get outside and get some fresh air  ;D
 

Offline nowlan

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #152 on: September 28, 2013, 08:58:44 am »
If you buy the "perpetual" license, without the subscription, then you are stuck with whatever version you happen to get given at the time you buy it, complete with bugs, or in some cases, simply not usable as has happened to some people. You only get bug fixes as part of the subscription service.

Surely, you get 12 mo of updates, while they work out any immediate bugs?
 

Offline rolfo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #153 on: September 28, 2013, 09:51:02 am »
Completely agree with the: "junk the FPGA-tool dream - never going to work". Same for trying to be an embedded software tool etc.

I didn't understand if Altium were going to get their act together on "Signal Integrity"? They had something in the tool last time I tried it, but it was pretty useless (did a few blog posts on that a while back - http://www.ee-training.dk/tip/altium-signal-integrity-tool-part-i.htm).

SI is another one of these: "Either go all the way - or just junk it". But unlike the FPGA-tool, this has at least SOME place in a tool like Altium.

If I were to run Altium's SI-effort (would be fun btw), I would:

Step 1: Switch off the old SI features and just make sure the PCB tool had the best possible UI and features for "rule based layout".

Step 2: Build the SI tool to beat Hyperlynx, focusing on pre-layout ONLY. And make it really affordable.

Notice that a good affordable SI tool is still not available - a huge void in the market that someone could fill. And Altium looks like a great candidate to be that someone.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #154 on: September 28, 2013, 10:20:35 am »
..and limiting people to 2L will help improve layout skills! 4L makes it too easy!
I've done many hundreds of PCBs over the years and maybe only a dozen or so needed 4 layers.

I guess you've enjoyed the challenges then, Mike? :) 

Though it's a while since I did volume production  stuff, I just hate waste - not using 2 parts when 1 would do etc.
Early on I did a LOT of single-layer boards, which is a very good learning process for top +groundplane 2L boards. 
It's also not uncommon for me to do PCBs on a same-day turnround, which isn't possible for 4L due to the lamination process.
 
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #155 on: September 28, 2013, 10:24:57 am »

Quote
While there is nothing inherently disastrous about a good (!) online tool
Yes there is - your workflow becomes entirely dependent on a fast, reliable internet connection and servers at the other end. Either falls over and you are completely screwed and absolutely nothing you can do about it.
I really can't see why anyone would think online design tools are a good idea. File-sharing, collaboration - fine, but having to be online during an actual design/layout process, hell no. 
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Offline IanJ

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #156 on: September 28, 2013, 11:55:48 am »
Altium, know you are watching..............please add an option to change the mouse controls so they are same zoom/pan as Eagle (and AutoCad)..........you'll capture the Eagle users more readily.

Ian.
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #157 on: September 28, 2013, 12:04:55 pm »
Altium, know you are watching..............please add an option to change the mouse controls so they are same zoom/pan as Eagle (and AutoCad)..........you'll capture the Eagle users more readily.

Ian.
There is no excuse for any software to NOT have the ability to remap all key and mouse functions.
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Offline David_AVD

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #158 on: September 28, 2013, 12:28:40 pm »
If you buy the "perpetual" license, without the subscription, then you are stuck with whatever version you happen to get given at the time you buy it, complete with bugs, or in some cases, simply not usable as has happened to some people. You only get bug fixes as part of the subscription service.

Surely, you get 12 mo of updates, while they work out any immediate bugs?

I believe that's what we got when we upgraded our Altium licence last time.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #159 on: September 28, 2013, 01:16:39 pm »
Surely, you get 12 mo of updates, while they work out any immediate bugs?

Nope. To get updates you had to be on subscription. And the bug fixes were in the updates. They switched from a deliberate major release patch based system to a subscription update system.
Or at least that's how it was at one stage.
They may have offered a bonus 12 month subscription to some people or something, but that is a different thing.
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #160 on: September 28, 2013, 02:34:08 pm »

Quote
While there is nothing inherently disastrous about a good (!) online tool
Yes there is - your workflow becomes entirely dependent on a fast, reliable internet connection and servers at the other end. Either falls over and you are completely screwed and absolutely nothing you can do about it.
I really can't see why anyone would think online design tools are a good idea. File-sharing, collaboration - fine, but having to be online during an actual design/layout process, hell no.

We perhaps have a different understanding of what or where the "disaster" is.

If you need a tool with a high and/or long-term availability (which in a business case you usually do) and you go for an online application (whose availability depend on more factors than just the presence of a power outlet), the disaster is you. If you go for an online application which does not allow you to do export/backup according to your requirements, the disaster is you.

Yes, i agree that desktop applications are preferable over online applications, because in my case (and in many other cases, i believe) they are better suited to my requirements. Also, especially businesses might have to consider non-disclosure/confidentiality aspects of their projects, which alone could make online applications a no-go.

But that doesn't make the online application disastrous -- unless you are forced to use them despite the fact that they do not suit your requirements. Are you/will you be forced?
 

Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #161 on: September 28, 2013, 03:01:30 pm »
For the record.. Cadstar people send me e-mail reply and I got the password for the Express version installation. Apparently their website indeed have some issues at the moment.

For what I have seen so far. It seems to be a bit more difficult to jump in than DipTrace .. GUI is definitely not as newbie-friedly, but there could be some real prower under the bonnet.

 
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #162 on: September 28, 2013, 03:42:52 pm »
I think you may have missed the thread there.  The original point was a response to the question of why layout vendors limit their versions based on a particular board size in linear measurements as a rectangle... and the question was asking whether it made sense to do it by area instead.  I say yes, it does make sense to do that rather than say "160mm x 100mm" or some other arbitrary linear measurement.

Yes, it seems i missed the context indeed. I understood your question as asking for such a feature aside from being a means to diversify your product range. My bad...

How long has this industry been this way?  How long would you want it to stay that way?  And can you imagine the possibility of something different?

I can.  :-+

As silly as it may sound, a company's purpose is to monetize whatever products/services/brands/etc. they offer.
I think what we see is the effect of an expansion of a traditionally low volume/high margin industry into a high(er) volume/low(er) margin market.

If you are a vendor in a low volume/high margin market, your business operation is very sensitive to the well-being and success of your small customer base. Naturally, if you see a feasible chance to expand into a market with higher volume, you want to do it because it promises to make your own business more stable. However, while expanding into the new market, you might still behave somewhat like being in your original low volume/high margin market. It will take time - or a "friendly" ;) nudge from your competition - to change your business behaviour (to make it more exciting, add company-internal politics to this ;) )

« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 03:45:15 pm by elgonzo »
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #163 on: September 28, 2013, 05:01:29 pm »
Surely, you get 12 mo of updates, while they work out any immediate bugs?

Nope. To get updates you had to be on subscription. And the bug fixes were in the updates. They switched from a deliberate major release patch based system to a subscription update system.
Or at least that's how it was at one stage.
They may have offered a bonus 12 month subscription to some people or something, but that is a different thing.

You gotta love monopolist attitude...
 

Offline Fsck

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #164 on: September 28, 2013, 05:19:03 pm »
Surely, you get 12 mo of updates, while they work out any immediate bugs?

Nope. To get updates you had to be on subscription. And the bug fixes were in the updates. They switched from a deliberate major release patch based system to a subscription update system.
Or at least that's how it was at one stage.
They may have offered a bonus 12 month subscription to some people or something, but that is a different thing.

You gotta love monopolist attitude...

mathematica and matlab have similar schemes.
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Offline M. András

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #165 on: September 28, 2013, 06:27:28 pm »
So... you don't want to pay forever... how about updates ? how about mayor new versions.

when an application goes from 3.0 to 4.0 it is normal to pay upgrade fee.
with the sas system there is no upgrade fee. you are always up to date.
pick your poison : 250$ every few years for a major update or 10$ a month over 2 years and always up to date with new features release on a monthly basis ?
same price in the end. i'd rather not have to wait for 2 years before i get some new tool...

I find that when people are forced to pay for upgrades, they tend to evaluate whether they actually need them.

There are a lot of people still running XP because it does what they need it to do.  I am the same with SolidWorks and MasterCAM.  Both packages are expensive to upgrade, and when they introduce new features as upgrades, I like to know what exactly those features are and consider whether I need them.  A lot of people have this idea that they just 'should' have the latest version of software - they don't know why, other than "it's the newest one".  But it's sort of like cars... do you need a new car, or do you just want one?

What is particularly irksome is companies who fix bugs as new versions of the software.  If a piece of software has an acknowledged bug, it ought to be fixed for free in an update - as it was something sold that was not delivered. 

But SAAS - no way.  I am tired of every other company we do business with hoping to get a piece of our bottom line.  I don't like renting.  Imagine if everything worked that way... you could only lease computers, could only lease OS's, only lease cars, clothes, watches, eyeglasses.  That's what companies want but I don't think it is in the best interests of the consumer.  In every implementation I have seen, it's a money grab by the software company.  For example, Adobe might charge $600 for Photoshop and have a new version ever 2 years.  So they will charge $40/mo for a subscription.  Now you are paying $960 every 2 years, regardless of whether you needed the features in the upgrade or not.  It removes choice.

my problem with the upgrade scheme of solidworks they fuck up something always with the files it generates to force you to upgrade your version otherwise you cannot read the files from a newer version. i would gladly buy the tool for a normal price like the students gets it in the usa. as for altium still a decent priced model without the fpga, and the compilers in it or the vault system i dont need that at all its a damn good intuitive program got a "free" copy from it a few weeks ago its not that hard to learn use and learn circuit design with it but of course the patch is bugged as hell and crashes the program or parts not working like the integrated library making on the 13.2.5 version from the net. both of these programs are in the 5k+ usd range out of way for everyone who doesnt work with it for making money or gets it from his company. non commercial license or limited is pretty fine for me and i think most of the hobbiest peeps with the solidworks i could create what i wanted within a few weeks. on the altium it took 2 days of bitching with the program and getting the parts from the library to make a simple 5x5cm double sided board
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #166 on: September 28, 2013, 07:07:44 pm »
Surely, you get 12 mo of updates, while they work out any immediate bugs?

Nope. To get updates you had to be on subscription. And the bug fixes were in the updates. They switched from a deliberate major release patch based system to a subscription update system.
Or at least that's how it was at one stage.
They may have offered a bonus 12 month subscription to some people or something, but that is a different thing.

You gotta love monopolist attitude...

mathematica and matlab have similar schemes.

and this is why people use Maxima/Sage and Octave (octave becoming standard in MOOCs due to matlab cost and great compatibility)
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Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #167 on: September 29, 2013, 02:44:08 am »
..and limiting people to 2L will help improve layout skills! 4L makes it too easy!
I've done many hundreds of PCBs over the years and maybe only a dozen or so needed 4 layers.

I guess you've enjoyed the challenges then, Mike? :) 

Though it's a while since I did volume production  stuff, I just hate waste - not using 2 parts when 1 would do etc.
Early on I did a LOT of single-layer boards, which is a very good learning process for top +groundplane 2L boards. 
It's also not uncommon for me to do PCBs on a same-day turnround, which isn't possible for 4L due to the lamination process.

Same day?  I've never done that.  I guess you did the whole process yourself then.  It's been ages since I'd done the whole process on a board myself... I probably couldn't do it well at all today.  Fortunately, I haven't found myself in a position to need to do that.

My early boards were also all two-layer, with ground plane and a very few traces on the bottom.  I got better at routing with lots of practice, and still find myself changing my mind frequently even today though generally I feel like I get it right the first time more often than not.  In fact, it's when I start second guessing myself that I wind up getting into trouble.
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #168 on: September 29, 2013, 03:02:04 am »
How long has this industry been this way?  How long would you want it to stay that way?  And can you imagine the possibility of something different?

I can.  :-+

As silly as it may sound, a company's purpose is to monetize whatever products/services/brands/etc. they offer.
Silly?  No, I wouldn't say that, but I know it well.  I own my own business, and it is indeed a low volume business -- margins aren't terribly high, but high enough that I'm doing fine.  There's no possibility, since there's no "product" other than knowledge and expertise, that it could be a high-volume business so I can't personally speak to it other than to say that it certainly seems clear that a product business can succeed this way.  There are certainly enough examples of that.

...
However, while expanding into the new market, you might still behave somewhat like being in your original low volume/high margin market. It will take time - or a "friendly" ;) nudge from your competition - to change your business behaviour (to make it more exciting, add company-internal politics to this ;) )

Yes, that's the tough part for many.  It's a mindset that needs to be overcome, and it's very hard for a lot of the old-school business types to think in terms of winning through volume instead of higher margins.  Even those nudges will fail more often than they will succeed in my experience.  However -- those who "get it" and manage a swift transition when the time comes capture markets if their timing is as good as their ability to react.

Can Altium do that?  I certainly hope so.  Having a new CEO might help, especially if the new CEO can see the way clear to making it happen.  There's certainly a need, and I think a pent-up desire in the community, for a tool set that doesn't distract from the work at hand.
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #169 on: September 29, 2013, 04:32:17 am »
This will probably make a few eyes roll (I know how much some folks here dislike the two companies), but I was watching a recent "Ask an Engineer" video where Limor had a few Sparkfun people on for an hour of interviews.



Skip to 57:00 for the relevant part (it's very short, only 2 or 3 minutes). Keep in mind that the weight these two companies carry in the hobbyist/maker market.

I think they nail it right on the head.

If Altium seriously wants to compete in the space they need to pay close attention to what these folks are saying.

And they need to make absolutely sure that every engineer at both of those companies has access to and is educated on how to use their products once they enter the low-cost market, and that they are fully educated on how to use them. It would probably be smart to offer to send a product engineer or two to train them for free for a week or so.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #170 on: September 29, 2013, 05:10:45 am »
It's also not uncommon for me to do PCBs on a same-day turnround, which isn't possible for 4L due to the lamination process.

We used to get 8 layers with all the bells and whistles regularly turned around in 24 hours in Taiwan.
Cost a butt load of course, but possible. Some poor bastard works all night on it and they dedicate a line to it.
With Fedex priority/super duper emergency service you could have the thing in your hands in 2 days depending upon what hour you ordered it.
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #171 on: September 29, 2013, 05:22:03 am »
It's also not uncommon for me to do PCBs on a same-day turnround, which isn't possible for 4L due to the lamination process.

We used to get 8 layers with all the bells and whistles regularly turned around in 24 hours in Taiwan.
Cost a butt load of course, but possible. Some poor bastard works all night on it and they dedicate a line to it.
With Fedex priority/super duper emergency service you could have the thing in your hands in 2 days depending upon what hour you ordered it.

Buttload is right.  You're basically tying up a huge number of resources for a period of time, and whatever else they had in the queue sits, or bringing in people to work spare capacity.  That's got to be hugely expensive.

These were prototypes, I guess?  What was the rush?  Deadlines?
 

Offline MacAttak

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #172 on: September 29, 2013, 05:28:51 am »
Also, if the target is Eagle, they are not sitting on their hands either. Anyhow, it probably makes sense to consider what their own plans are if you want to compete with them on their home field:

http://www.open-electronics.org/eagle-pcb-design-software-and-its-legacy-in-the-open-hardware-community-an-interview/
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #173 on: September 29, 2013, 05:34:55 am »
Yes, that's the tough part for many.  It's a mindset that needs to be overcome, and it's very hard for a lot of the old-school business types to think in terms of winning through volume instead of higher margins.

Just remember, this isn't a race to the bottom. Altium will not win anything much on volume alone here. What it is is actually a crawl to the top, by virtue of being a major player at bottom. It's all about enticing customers up the food chain into your higher end products. To do that you need large volume (but not necessarily large income) in the bottom end. Because it all comes down to statistics. The more customers you have at the bottom end, the more on average you can entire to your higher end products.
Altium now know this.

Even if you make $100 profit on a $100 low end product (possible if you do it right and fully automate it, and assume your high end pays for the little upkeep required), that's still not serious income. For Altium to double their yearly income of $69M at that level, they would have to sell 690,000 seats. Even a massive figure like 100,000 seats would only bring them in a lousy $10M extra income, which isn't much for a company like Altium.
So they will be looking well beyond that, and at the bigger picture of general market domination.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #174 on: September 29, 2013, 05:43:52 am »
Buttload is right.  You're basically tying up a huge number of resources for a period of time, and whatever else they had in the queue sits, or bringing in people to work spare capacity.  That's got to be hugely expensive.

Yes, it was well into the 4 figures for a couple of boards

Quote
These were prototypes, I guess?  What was the rush?  Deadlines?

Yes, prototypes, which were a slightly inferior quality than their usual production stuff, presumably because they rush it and take much less care than usual.
Yep, when it's Wednesday morning, and a certain person in the company has a new idea, and expects to have a board to take home and play with on the weekend, you are expected to pull out all the stops. Get the layout done by lunchtime, email it off and get them to start work making it within the hour, and all thing going well you'd have it Friday afternoon. Then it would be a late nighter if you had to assemble it, which you already go the parts from Farnell at top dollar.
It becomes the norm when no one cares how much money you spend.
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #175 on: September 29, 2013, 05:48:09 am »
Yes, that's the tough part for many.  It's a mindset that needs to be overcome, and it's very hard for a lot of the old-school business types to think in terms of winning through volume instead of higher margins.

Just remember, this isn't a race to the bottom.

No argument there.  I agree.  And you've hit the nail right on the head here, I think:
What it is is actually a crawl to the top, by virtue of being a major player at bottom. It's all about enticing customers up the food chain into your higher end products.

This is why I was saying that it needed to be affordable to remove the restrictions they might place on a "low end" product.  I'm happy to pay for what I need, provided it's reasonable, and I expect that most people are as well.
Altium now know this.
A very good thing.  Even better if they take these messages to heart.
So they will be looking well beyond that, and at the bigger picture of general market domination.
As well they should.  I'm not suggesting they should be a charity -- quite the contrary.  I'm suggesting that they should be smart about it, and hopefully, they get that message.  Should really be a cakewalk if they do it right; they can rely on community support rather than having to dedicate support resources for it, for example.  But there's payback as well -- component libraries developed by the community can flow back to them. 

It can be a win-win, and should be.  And I think it's safe to say that if they took that approach, they'd find people very willing to help them too.
 

Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #176 on: September 29, 2013, 05:57:09 am »
That's got to be hugely expensive.

Yes, it was well into the 4 figures for a couple of boards
Ouch!  That hurt just reading it! :o
Yes, prototypes, which were a slightly inferior quality than their usual production stuff, presumably because they rush it and take much less care than usual.
Hate it when that happens.  Especially when you're paying top dollar.
It becomes the norm when no one cares how much money you spend.
I suppose it's okay if you have money to burn... but I think I can relate to that.  I had a customer who took that approach, and wanted a video camera set up to capture his pet project -- two wind generators that were being installed on their property -- to be streamed live to the 'net 24x7.  He didn't care what it cost, he just wanted it done, and done yesterday.  Wound up spending more than $10K before it was realized that the connectivity to the site was so poor you couldn't get streaming video over the link at better than 1FPS.

At which point, of course, they signed an agreement with the local cable operator to bring in fiber on a peering agreement.   :wtf:

So what should have been a no-brainer became a $2.4K per month for five years deal for the local cable operator and a $10K waste because immediately after it was up and running he lost interest and decided to pull the plug.

And these are the people that wind up in executive positions.  Go figure... no matter how hard I try, I can't.
 

Offline jancumps

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #177 on: September 29, 2013, 06:31:56 am »
...
•   Mechanical library creator - 3D editor – in stp format and supporting 3D printers (makerbot, RepRap,…) to prototype small plastics

...
Can you drop this particular suggestion. They've just started to focus on their core business again.
 

Offline David_AVD

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #178 on: September 29, 2013, 07:14:18 am »
Yep, I'd rather a cheaper version with just schematic and PCB.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #179 on: September 29, 2013, 09:29:31 am »
It's also not uncommon for me to do PCBs on a same-day turnround, which isn't possible for 4L due to the lamination process.

We used to get 8 layers with all the bells and whistles regularly turned around in 24 hours in Taiwan.
Cost a butt load of course, but possible. Some poor bastard works all night on it and they dedicate a line to it.
With Fedex priority/super duper emergency service you could have the thing in your hands in 2 days depending upon what hour you ordered it.
As a contrast, I've had same day 2L PCBs (files in by 10:30, shipped out same day, or I could have collected 5PM) from my local place, and only cost about GBP220 for two A5-size panels.
 
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #180 on: September 29, 2013, 10:48:10 am »
As a contrast, I've had same day 2L PCBs (files in by 10:30, shipped out same day, or I could have collected 5PM) from my local place, and only cost about GBP220 for two A5-size panels.

Yes, we still have a couple of same day turn PCB houses in Oz. They will also do 8+ layers as well, but usually 2-3 days or something at best. I guess no one here wants to work 24 hours straight!
So for us it was quicker to get 8L 24 hours turn from Taiwan and have it Fedexed.
 

Offline Lukas

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #181 on: September 29, 2013, 04:32:27 pm »
Can some Altium user give an overview which features make Altium infinitely better than Eagle?
Does Altium have an instantaneous forward annotation like Eagle? For small projects I'm used to do schematic and board concurrently.
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #182 on: September 29, 2013, 05:32:05 pm »
Just remember, this isn't a race to the bottom. Altium will not win anything much on volume alone here. What it is is actually a crawl to the top, by virtue of being a major player at bottom. It's all about enticing customers up the food chain into your higher end products. To do that you need large volume (but not necessarily large income) in the bottom end. Because it all comes down to statistics. The more customers you have at the bottom end, the more on average you can entire to your higher end products.
Altium now know this.

Even if you make $100 profit on a $100 low end product (possible if you do it right and fully automate it, and assume your high end pays for the little upkeep required), that's still not serious income. For Altium to double their yearly income of $69M at that level, they would have to sell 690,000 seats. Even a massive figure like 100,000 seats would only bring them in a lousy $10M extra income, which isn't much for a company like Altium.
So they will be looking well beyond that, and at the bigger picture of general market domination.

Interesting...

Assuming that the average EE engineer, who will become a possible AD pro user, has to take certain paths through education, wouldn't it be better to bombard these paths with educational or free licenses?

Or is Altium doing it, because for smaller professional design houses and fabs, Altium is already too much of a cost factor? If that is not the case, then you would look at semi-professionals and hobbyists when going to offer a low-cost version (please correct me if i am wrong). How would a statistically relevant amount of these individuals end up in a company as a professional AD users (or having any impact on a company's decision to purchase whatever software solution)?

Or is it that Altium doesn't receive trust, with their commercial customers lacking the confidence in Altium to deliver working solutions, and Altium tries to improve how they are perceived?

I am under the impressen that Altium already dominates "their" market. If not, who would be the competition for Altium Designer? Cadence OrCAD, Cadstar?
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 05:42:29 pm by elgonzo »
 

Offline ddavidebor

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EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #183 on: September 30, 2013, 05:48:09 am »
If altinium do a cheap and stable student version, my school will likely but it for 150pc
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #184 on: September 30, 2013, 06:55:27 am »
Assuming that the average EE engineer, who will become a possible AD pro user, has to take certain paths through education, wouldn't it be better to bombard these paths with educational or free licenses?

They have already been doing that since the start of the company back in the 80's. Perhaps not as aggressively in recent times.

Quote
Or is Altium doing it, because for smaller professional design houses and fabs, Altium is already too much of a cost factor?
If that is not the case, then you would look at semi-professionals and hobbyists when going to offer a low-cost version (please correct me if i am wrong). How would a statistically relevant amount of these individuals end up in a company as a professional AD users (or having any impact on a company's decision to purchase whatever software solution)?

Altium is going after anyone who currently uses Eagle or some other low priced package. The want to dominate a 3 tiers of the market.

Quote
Or is it that Altium doesn't receive trust, with their commercial customers lacking the confidence in Altium to deliver working solutions, and Altium tries to improve how they are perceived?

Yes. Altium have one of the worst reputations in the industry of ignoring what their customers want, and pushing into stupid new areas that were doomed to fail. The only reason customers didn't leave in droves after the last decade is because Altium essentially didn't have a rival in the same price and feature/usability bracket.

Quote
I am under the impressen that Altium already dominates "their" market. If not, who would be the competition for Altium Designer? Cadence OrCAD, Cadstar?

It's a hard one to answer. Yes, you could argue that Altium dominates in the mid level $2K-$10K market.
But Altium isn't as complete a solution as the top end Cadence and Mentor packages, so on some scales doesn't really compete there. But traditionally, Altium have always treated the "big two" as their main rivals. Now they have had another "oh shit" moment, and realised they better take the low end Eagle market seriously.
 

Offline JoannaK

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #185 on: September 30, 2013, 02:23:01 pm »


I am under the impressen that Altium already dominates "their" market. If not, who would be the competition for Altium Designer? Cadence OrCAD, Cadstar?

It's a hard one to answer. Yes, you could argue that Altium dominates in the mid level $2K-$10K market.
But Altium isn't as complete a solution as the top end Cadence and Mentor packages, so on some scales doesn't really compete there. But traditionally, Altium have always treated the "big two" as their main rivals. Now they have had another "oh shit" moment, and realised they better take the low end Eagle market seriously.

Has anyone any real numbers.. I know the companies themselves like to brag a lot about 'seats' or other metrics, but IMHO it's quite obvious those numbers are more/less marketting fluff, since it's quite obvious not all of them can be market leaders.

Would be really nice to see what the market shares really are. Someone like http://www.garysmitheda.com/ apparenly has at least some data, but the pricing is so astronimical that I'd rather wait for Reader's Digest edition ..

(edit.. quotes fix, plu s couple typos)
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 02:33:39 pm by JoannaK »
 

Offline Carrington

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #186 on: September 30, 2013, 03:04:35 pm »
For anyone who wants to make the leap from Eagle to Altium.
http://altiumdesignerblog.blogspot.com.es/2011/07/how-to-import-eagle-files-into-altium.html
And attached my version: "export-protelpcb_v0.2.ulp" For now it only works in version 5.x of Cadsoft Eagle.
"Enjoy it"[/s]
Oh men:
http://www.altium.com/en/video-eagle-importer
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 02:18:24 pm by Carrington »
My English can be pretty bad, so suggestions are welcome. ;)
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Offline Rigby

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #187 on: October 01, 2013, 01:45:51 pm »
But, when it comes to this 1000$ piece of code you want for your hobby, that will be used for years and is cheaper in the long run than the other leisure activities ( total cost over the amount of time used ) oh no. it's gotta be free , or less than 100$...

That is not at all the argument.  LOTS of hobbyists pay dearly for their hobbies, and that includes electronics.  I purchased Visual Studio for one of my hobbies, Photoshop for another, and another requires that I buy expensive, hard to acquire hardware any time I want to do anything.  It's not that hobbies (or electronics) should be free, it's that Altium NEED to release a free version if (and only if) they want to truly compete in the hobbyist market.  That's all.  There are already lots of free options in that realm, and if Altium wish to compete in that market, then they need to provide a product that fits in the market.  One cannot compete in a market unless one prices their semi-equivalent product similarly to other products in that market.  Once you're established a bit, you can start shoehorning out your competitors.

Yes, there will always be free software folks who think everything should be free and open and all that, but they are a very vocal, very small minority. 
 

Offline Rigby

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #188 on: October 01, 2013, 03:06:26 pm »

Quote
While there is nothing inherently disastrous about a good (!) online tool
Yes there is - your workflow becomes entirely dependent on a fast, reliable internet connection and servers at the other end. Either falls over and you are completely screwed and absolutely nothing you can do about it.
I really can't see why anyone would think online design tools are a good idea. File-sharing, collaboration - fine, but having to be online during an actual design/layout process, hell no.

Meh, technically that's not exactly true.  Web apps can store loads (megabytes) of stuff locally without relying on an internet connection, and there's no requirement for a "fast" internet connection (by my definition); you just need to be connected when the app loads and whenever it decides to reach out.  It's all up to the app developer on when that happens.

I agree though, that there is no reason at all for this type of tool.  There is no valid reason the make a web-based design tool, and there's not a customer in the world who knows what they are doing that would ever ask for this, which makes me question the motivation for the creation of such tools.
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #189 on: October 01, 2013, 03:27:22 pm »
Meh, technically that's not exactly true.  Web apps can store loads (megabytes) of stuff locally without relying on an internet connection, and there's no requirement for a "fast" internet connection (by my definition); you just need to be connected when the app loads and whenever it decides to reach out.  It's all up to the app developer on when that happens.

You mean HTML5 app caching? A few month ago I experimented with it. It doesn't cut it, except maybe in one environment, where it is almost bearable - Apple iPad/iPhone. But even there, like in all the other environments, it is basically a fragile, difficult to manage technology. The browsers I tried behaved differently, even if it was the same browser but on a different platform. Some came up with scary messages, deterring the user from granting the necessary rights to do the caching. Others had strange ideas when to cache and when not, despite the same manifest. Some were extremely protective of the cache, making it very hard to update a web app. Others dropped the cache at the blink of an eye for no particular reason.

Quote
which makes me question the motivation for the creation of such tools.

It is some mental deficiency those web "programmers" have. Fanaticism, stupidity, not knowing better, selective vision. Everything not web based and not running in a browser is considered old junk by them.
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Offline yym

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #190 on: October 01, 2013, 09:24:40 pm »
the free version (or all of them) should be more like protel99, remove all that fpga crap, keep it simple, just schematic and pcb, size/layer restrictions are acceptable, reazonable size, 2 layers, better autorouter, that acually works with only 2 layers. Keep ui simple as possible (protel99) handy shortcuts, not fancy and slow gui frameworks.
 

Offline hikariuk

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #191 on: October 02, 2013, 04:04:05 am »
It is some mental deficiency those web "programmers" have. Fanaticism, stupidity, not knowing better, selective vision. Everything not web based and not running in a browser is considered old junk by them.

I'm a horrible person and tend to look at web developers and go "Aww, they think they're programmers.  Isn't that cute?"  I have an inherent distrust of anything that requires me to run a web browser and be online to run.  It's the main thing I don't like about mbed.  I like having all my development tools sat on my computer in front of me; not on some server at some other place in the world.  Oh and screw all this cloud bollocks too - reinventing existing ideas badly.
I write software.  I'd far rather be doing something else.
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #192 on: October 02, 2013, 04:54:44 am »
I have an inherent distrust of anything that requires me to run a web browser and be online to run.  It's the main thing I don't like about mbed.  I like having all my development tools sat on my computer in front of me; not on some server at some other place in the world.
Recently mbed was open sourced and all its components, like CMSIS (BSD licence). There was no no problem when I cloned the embed github repository and compiled my programs locally with the integrated Python build framework, it's all documented. Works good with the free ARM GCC compiler.

I started to port the FPGALink framework to the LPC controller, here is a short manual how to setup the mbed framework for Windows and how to compile the FPGLink firmware with it, but can be used for your own projects as well.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
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Offline Agent24

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #193 on: October 02, 2013, 05:20:47 am »
If there was a free version like Eagle Light then I would probably have at least tried it by now.

Eagle Light was the first PCB software I tried because it was free, but I never liked it.

I discovered KiCad later on and found it to be a no-brainer for me.
Much easier to use, free, open source, no artificial restrictions and cross-platform. Sure it doesn't have some advanced things but as a hobbyist it does what I want and I love it a lot more than Eagle.

Currently I see no reason to switch from KiCad to anything else.
 

Offline poorchava

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #194 on: October 02, 2013, 05:36:05 am »
Can some Altium user give an overview which features make Altium infinitely better than Eagle?
Does Altium have an instantaneous forward annotation like Eagle? For small projects I'm used to do schematic and board concurrently.

-It's not Eagle
-It's not Eagle
-More detailed DRC
-actually working and practical library management
-3d mode
-everything is hotkeyed and can be edited at will
-online DRC
-interactive routing with hug, push and walk-around modes
-schematic snippets
-better interface
-teardrops
-via stitching
-works well with pcb of unusual shape
-making new components is much easier and faster
-complete, easy and fast to use fabrication output tools

Aside from somewhat lacking high-speed tools (which I almost don't use anyway) it has all you need for completing any design from a led blinker to 50cmx50cm 16 layer boards.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 05:38:14 am by poorchava »
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Offline Agent24

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #195 on: October 02, 2013, 08:22:29 am »
-It's not Eagle

-3d mode

-online DRC

You just made me remember what I hate most about Eagle: no online DRC!
No realtime 3D view is also a very big limitation and annoyance.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #196 on: October 02, 2013, 08:31:49 am »
Quote
-making new components is much easier and faster
Any company that makes PCB software where component generation is a pain to do has no clue. Libraries will never, ever be complete, so it's something every user needs to do regularly.


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Offline VEGETA

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #197 on: October 07, 2013, 10:11:59 pm »
OK, I am very excited about this Altium free software version... But, when will it be released? is there any place or post to know about release data or should we wait forever to get it.

I haven't seen any single news post on their site! I started to doubt they take it seriously or not.

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #198 on: October 07, 2013, 10:13:24 pm »
OK, I am very excited about this Altium free software version... But, when will it be released? is there any place or post to know about release data or should we wait forever to get it.

Just rumors really. Some Altium sales people have reportedly said October.
 

Offline VEGETA

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #199 on: October 07, 2013, 10:28:31 pm »
OK, I am very excited about this Altium free software version... But, when will it be released? is there any place or post to know about release data or should we wait forever to get it.

Just rumors really. Some Altium sales people have reportedly said October.

well, it's October already ^_^

I think I will wait.

Offline baljemmett

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #200 on: October 07, 2013, 11:11:14 pm »
OK, I am very excited about this Altium free software version... But, when will it be released? is there any place or post to know about release data or should we wait forever to get it.

Just rumors really. Some Altium sales people have reportedly said October.

I was idly wondering the same thing earlier, until I realised that free_electron's teaser thread mentions Altium 14 -- which would be next year's version, as I understood their version/release numbering, or have they dropped that scheme now?
 

Offline arkayy

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #201 on: October 08, 2013, 05:34:13 pm »
Hi all,

Long time listener, first time poster. We (my Philly based product design firm) currently uses the full version of Eagle for our board design but are seriously considering switching to Altium for access to the vault and other improvements. Does anyone have experience making the transition company wide? What was that like? Are we going to be  |O for a while after we switch?

Ross
 

Offline alter Ratz

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #202 on: October 08, 2013, 07:36:55 pm »
Altium is going after anyone who currently uses Eagle or some other low priced package. The want to dominate a 3 tiers of the market.

I think they'll restrict the free version even more than eagle because the short-term greed always blinds the long term strategy. I fear nothing will change for the hobbyist and I have to continue to use Eagle, which I hate *very* much.

Yes. Altium have one of the worst reputations in the industry of ignoring what their customers want, and pushing into stupid new areas that were doomed to fail. The only reason customers didn't leave in droves after the last decade is because Altium essentially didn't have a rival in the same price and feature/usability bracket.

Why should they listen to anything the users want, when they have a sh***tload full of overpaid marketing guys who can tell the users what they have to want (even if they have no experience in the field and might not even know what a PCB is). Strategic decisions are always met by some bean-counters with have no technical background at all or failed miserably as technicians, backed up by a completely incompetent marketing department.   :(

Sorry for my somewhat pessimistic view but does always a good job from keeping me from dissapointments.

Bernhard
 

Offline vsq

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #203 on: October 08, 2013, 07:46:34 pm »
-It's not Eagle

-3d mode

-online DRC

You just made me remember what I hate most about Eagle: no online DRC!
No realtime 3D view is also a very big limitation and annoyance.

Sorry for being a noobie, but for what do you need a 3D view for?
 

Offline Agent24

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #204 on: October 08, 2013, 08:35:03 pm »
-It's not Eagle

-3d mode

-online DRC

You just made me remember what I hate most about Eagle: no online DRC!
No realtime 3D view is also a very big limitation and annoyance.

Sorry for being a noobie, but for what do you need a 3D view for?

It's very useful to show where your components are physically. PCB layout only shows half the picture: just the pads.
With 3D view you can see if the rest of the component will fit.

For example: you might think you are smart for putting a resistor next to the pads of a connector, but when you go to assemble the board, you find the connector has a large plastic housing which overlaps the resistor.

It's possible to work all this out without a 3D view, but assuming your models are accurate, it's very very useful and makes for much quicker design. You can simply *look* at what the thing will look like, and it becomes immediately obvious if something is not going to work.
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #205 on: October 08, 2013, 09:38:15 pm »
With Eagle you can view your board in 3D, too. I'm using this for my projects:

http://www.matwei.de/doku.php?id=de:eagle3d:galerie

And another one I didn't try so far:

http://eagleup.wordpress.com

But it is not as well integrated in Eagle as the 3D functions in Altium. And in Altium you can export it in STEP format, for using in other professional 3D CAD programs, e.g. to check if the board and all connectors fit in a case, and you can import models in STEP format.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #206 on: October 08, 2013, 09:40:38 pm »
Sorry for being a noobie, but for what do you need a 3D view for?

Apart from seeing your actual components (if you have the 3D models), you can get a real view of what your bare PCB will look like. Solder mask expansion, silkscreen, plated holes etc
It's just so much better than any 2D view. It has saved me countless board re-spins.
 

Offline Agent24

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #207 on: October 08, 2013, 10:09:10 pm »
With Eagle you can view your board in 3D, too. I'm using this for my projects:

http://www.matwei.de/doku.php?id=de:eagle3d:galerie

And another one I didn't try so far:

http://eagleup.wordpress.com

But it is not as well integrated in Eagle as the 3D functions in Altium. And in Altium you can export it in STEP format, for using in other professional 3D CAD programs, e.g. to check if the board and all connectors fit in a case, and you can import models in STEP format.

Yeah, it *has* 3D - but it's not realtime view is it?

KiCad and others you just press one button and instantly you get a 3D view you can rotate, zoom etc.. with this Eagle plugin, you have to export and render and bugger about.. too much hassle.
 

Offline zoomtronic

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #208 on: October 08, 2013, 10:14:40 pm »
I used 3.14rated version of protel in nineties, i still using 3.14rated version of Altium, Why? its to expensive, and i can not spend 4 figures for something i use once in 3 month
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Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #209 on: October 08, 2013, 10:21:44 pm »
Sorry for being a noobie, but for what do you need a 3D view for?

Apart from seeing your actual components (if you have the 3D models), you can get a real view of what your bare PCB will look like. Solder mask expansion, silkscreen, plated holes etc
It's just so much better than any 2D view. It has saved me countless board re-spins.
i use the 3d view to look for loops in boards. select critical nets in schematic -> altium highlights in 3d viewer -> pull pcb in exploded view and look for loops that are in vertical stack ! very difficult to find in 2d. easy in 3d.

other things is do : export modules as step and load them in the main pcb. i am working on a huge design with 9 boards. 1 carrier and 8 plugins (mezzanine) everything has to fit mechanically. i export the daughtercards including their components in step, drop the step on the layout of the main board and position it to check nothing will touch when the thing is assembled.
i have accurate models (including height) for all parts.
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Offline tszaboo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #210 on: October 08, 2013, 11:09:03 pm »
Sorry for being a noobie, but for what do you need a 3D view for?

Apart from seeing your actual components (if you have the 3D models), you can get a real view of what your bare PCB will look like. Solder mask expansion, silkscreen, plated holes etc
It's just so much better than any 2D view. It has saved me countless board re-spins.
i use the 3d view to look for loops in boards. select critical nets in schematic -> altium highlights in 3d viewer -> pull pcb in exploded view and look for loops that are in vertical stack ! very difficult to find in 2d. easy in 3d.

other things is do : export modules as step and load them in the main pcb. i am working on a huge design with 9 boards. 1 carrier and 8 plugins (mezzanine) everything has to fit mechanically. i export the daughtercards including their components in step, drop the step on the layout of the main board and position it to check nothing will touch when the thing is assembled.
i have accurate models (including height) for all parts.
Recently I design a board with custom injection molded plastic parts and laser-cut metal parts. Without 3D it would be very difficult to determine if they have the required clearance. Also i almost exclusively use it to place the designators on the silkscreen, it is much more visual. And I can instant impress all "the big guys in the suits", wherever they come near my table.
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Offline dtfi

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #211 on: October 09, 2013, 10:32:56 pm »
Quote
Agreed, it's a bit like saying you can buy 30 hacksaws for the price of a CNC mill. If all you need is a hacksaw, that's fine, otherwise it's completely useless.

Don't think it's really a fair comparison.  At the end of the day both produce a gerber file which is what tells the milling machine what to do.  Altium produces the exact same gerber file that Eagle produces.  Both are capable of printing literally the exact same board.  I have seen no evidence that Altium produces better boards.  I have seen no evidence that it is capable of producing boards that Eagle can't. 

I'm evaluating AD now and frankly just not that impressed for the price they expect.  They want $9k from me initially plus annual fees.  And these people harass me more than any company I've ever dealt with.  The sales guy calls me almost every day.  Sends me emails when he's not calling.  All I wanted to do was try their software, but they don't make the download publicly available.  In order to get the trial you gotta deal with the sales guys.  A company needing a gnat-like sales strategy like this just sets off all kinds of red flags for me. 

From what I've evaluated so far, it's features are mostly show.  If you're a PCB monkey that does nothing but PCB 8-10hrs/day, then yeah, AD is probably useful with some of the special features.  The extra features will add up to bits of time here and there which adds up to money saved and real value.  If you do board designs from time to time as part of product development, I don't find the extra features all that useful so far.  90% of my time is circuit design (with other tools) and software/firmware development.  PCB is really just to support everything else.  The board design is frankly easy compared to everything else.  It'll take me a day to design the board after we have the circuit work done, then weeks or months to test and write code for it and test some more. 

I'm not giving up on it yet, but I'm not sold either.  I have a number of initial complaints but want to work through things first to make sure it's not me being a newbie with it.


 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #212 on: October 09, 2013, 10:44:43 pm »
Quote
Agreed, it's a bit like saying you can buy 30 hacksaws for the price of a CNC mill. If all you need is a hacksaw, that's fine, otherwise it's completely useless.

Don't think it's really a fair comparison.  At the end of the day both produce a gerber file which is what tells the milling machine what to do.  Altium produces the exact same gerber file that Eagle produces.  Both are capable of printing literally the exact same board.  I have seen no evidence that Altium produces better boards.  I have seen no evidence that it is capable of producing boards that Eagle can't. 
[/quote]
It's not about what it can produce, it's about how much time it takes to get the required result. You _can_ make gerber files with a text editor if you were really determined..

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Offline walshms

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #213 on: October 09, 2013, 10:47:05 pm »
It's not about what it can produce, it's about how much time it takes to get the required result. You _can_ make gerber files with a text editor if you were really determined..

That' would be a level of determination beyond anything I've ever experienced!  :-DD
 

Offline dtfi

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #214 on: October 09, 2013, 10:48:48 pm »
Quote
I've never had Eagle crash and I've never encountered any show-stopping bugs.  It's just clunky to use.  From what I've heard of Altium there are complete versions that are "to be avoided" because they are so full of bugs.  All I can say about that is "wow, just wow."

I've been evaluating AD for a couple weeks and YES, it crashes.  What can I say.  Annoying as hell, and rather inexcusable too.   

I also do not like their cloud storage crap.  Obnoxious, annoying.  Give me a simple file open/close and leave me alone.   

** Side note: In general, words cannot describe how sick I am of the word "cloud" as well, the re-marketing of what is simply a server.  "It's up in the cloud somewhere."  Oh, you mean a server?  I find the peddling of this trendy marketing gimmick especially insulting when it's directed at electrical engineers as part of a PCB design suite.  We invented servers, the internet, and all the software that makes it spin, and now you're treating us like grandma who wants to get connected to "the cloud."  Just saying.
 

Offline dtfi

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #215 on: October 09, 2013, 10:53:52 pm »
Quote
Agreed, it's a bit like saying you can buy 30 hacksaws for the price of a CNC mill. If all you need is a hacksaw, that's fine, otherwise it's completely useless.

Don't think it's really a fair comparison.  At the end of the day both produce a gerber file which is what tells the milling machine what to do.  Altium produces the exact same gerber file that Eagle produces.  Both are capable of printing literally the exact same board.  I have seen no evidence that Altium produces better boards.  I have seen no evidence that it is capable of producing boards that Eagle can't. 
It's not about what it can produce, it's about how much time it takes to get the required result. You _can_ make gerber files with a text editor if you were really determined..
[/quote]

Agreed.  I'm not finding it to be much of a time saver at this point.  The core PCB design functionality should be simple.  There are only so many ways one can draw a line from one place to another.  I see it has maybe some time saving advantage in part design.  Despite the claims of a large database I seem to still have to design nearly every major part from scratch.  And this is a bit easier than in Eagle, but marginally so. 

What specific time saving features would you point out?
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #216 on: October 09, 2013, 11:05:26 pm »
Quote
Agreed, it's a bit like saying you can buy 30 hacksaws for the price of a CNC mill. If all you need is a hacksaw, that's fine, otherwise it's completely useless.
It'll take me a day to design the board after we have the circuit work done, then weeks or months to test and write code for it and test some more. 

If the boards you design can be designed in 1 day , you don't need altium. Eagle will do fine.

Come back and look at altium when the boards you design become so complex it takes a week or even multiple weeks to pull the pcb layout together...
The project i am working on right now is in its 5th week of layout... and i probably have 4 more weeks to go. A large motherboard with 8 mezzanine boards. everything has to mechanically fit as this assembly ends up in a big rack totalling hundreds of these assemblies.

There is all kinds of connectors , controlled impedance , length equalised nets across boards and much more.. there is heat sink assemblies with sub boards that need to mesh with alignment holes on the board underneath. ...  good luck figuring all this crap out by hand and then drawing it in eagle. i can plonk my assembly down in 3d space , put alignment guides and the holes and connectors automatically lock into place. i know that my boards will perfectly align and match.

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Offline Rufus

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #217 on: October 09, 2013, 11:22:30 pm »
It'll take me a day to design the board after we have the circuit work done.

Then you have never designed a board which is even vaguely complex or challenging.

A guy on the Altium forum has done a board with 24 layers, 14k5 components, 32k vias, 59k pads, 9k5 nets. The board and revisions took over a year, the hours spent on it were described as too many to count.

 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #218 on: October 10, 2013, 12:41:22 am »
Yes, it's not uncommon for a large complex professional PCB to take several months of layout work. Any half decent PCB is a good weeks work.
Ask anyone who does contract PCB layout for a living.
As a former full time PCB layout guy myself, the longest board I've worked on was about 8 weeks layout work, give or take.
Hobby stuff takes a day.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 12:44:05 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline dtfi

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #219 on: October 10, 2013, 02:41:48 am »
It'll take me a day to design the board after we have the circuit work done.

Then you have never designed a board which is even vaguely complex or challenging.

A guy on the Altium forum has done a board with 24 layers, 14k5 components, 32k vias, 59k pads, 9k5 nets. The board and revisions took over a year, the hours spent on it were described as too many to count.

Easy there tiger.  I was really just meaning to make a general comparison as to how the time gets distributed.  I didn't literally mean a day, my fault.  All I meant to convey is that as a general ratio, the PCB is the least of the concern with the work I do.  I have spent several weeks on a single PCB version before.  Most of the PCBs I deal with are 6-8 layers, but I have worked on as high as 14 before.  But after the initial board design assuming testing goes well, I generally won't need to touch the PCB design again for a long time. I could go months.  Maybe a tiny iteration here and there, but nothing major.  24 layers with tens of thousands of components?  Like I said, PCB Monkeys :)  Definitely never worked on anything like that.  I'm curious what would require a board with that many layers.  I've had stuff with a pretty high component count, but it has always been distributed between multiple boards connected by ribbon or something else.  Mostly large DAQ/control systems.  I suppose we could have squeezed things on a single board, but this would have been cost prohibitive and just a lot of needless work.

At any rate, even with the complexity you're talking about though, what does Altium do with regards to the PCB design that makes it so much better?  Specifically what features?  I'm just kicking the tires over here, so maybe I don't even know what I've got in front of me, but the core PCB features feel about the same as Eagle.
 

Offline krivx

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #220 on: October 10, 2013, 12:12:53 pm »
It'll take me a day to design the board after we have the circuit work done.
A guy on the Altium forum has done a board with 24 layers, 14k5 components, 32k vias, 59k pads, 9k5 nets. The board and revisions took over a year, the hours spent on it were described as too many to count.

Are there any images online? I'd love to see what the design files for such a complex layout look like.
 

Offline Rufus

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #221 on: October 10, 2013, 01:35:14 pm »
A guy on the Altium forum has done a board with 24 layers, 14k5 components, 32k vias, 59k pads, 9k5 nets. The board and revisions took over a year, the hours spent on it were described as too many to count.

Are there any images online? I'd love to see what the design files for such a complex layout look like.

I am pretty sure it was a sub-contract layout and would be commercially confidential. Altium struggled with the design his experience wouldn't actually be a good advertisement for Altium. On the other hand I believe he also has access to Cadence and Mentor tools. I don't know if the decision to use Altium was his or his customer's.
 

Offline Rufus

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #222 on: October 10, 2013, 01:41:09 pm »
At any rate, even with the complexity you're talking about though, what does Altium do with regards to the PCB design that makes it so much better?  Specifically what features?

You would have to ask someone who knows both packages. You could look at some of the Altium videos especially the 'design secrets' series then consider how/if you could do the same with Eagle.
 

Offline kphannan

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #223 on: October 10, 2013, 02:03:30 pm »
Out of curiosity, what is Altium written in now?   ... if it in fact is being ported to C# that is unfortunate as it does limit the final platform to be used on.
 

Offline Rigby

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #224 on: October 10, 2013, 03:50:53 pm »
Out of curiosity, what is Altium written in now?   ... if it in fact is being ported to C# that is unfortunate as it does limit the final platform to be used on.

Show me a person that can afford Altium but not Windows.
 

Offline baljemmett

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #225 on: October 10, 2013, 04:07:01 pm »
Out of curiosity, what is Altium written in now?   ... if it in fact is being ported to C# that is unfortunate as it does limit the final platform to be used on.

What, more than being written in Delphi did?  Last time I looked, that would be pretty much of a muchness...
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #226 on: October 10, 2013, 07:10:14 pm »
Like I said, PCB Monkeys :) 

now now ...

The key in altium is the entire workflow. schematic, parts ordering, pcb footprints , mechanical interfaces it's all there. and it's all live and realtime.
for PCB specifics here is a couple of things that very few tools know how to do : channel design.
lets say you make your data acquisition block. you have 512 channels each consisting of a programmable gainstage, a programmable filter and an a/d convertor. About 50 componets each. are you going to draw that 512 times and do the layout 512 times ?
In altium you draw this , make a toplevel , tell the tool : please instantite 512 times , go to pcb , make the layout for 1 block 1 time and then tell the tool : replicate. done. if i move 1 trace or component all 511 others follow (if i want to.. i can also tell the tool : these blocks here a slightly different as they have a mounting hole in their area for example )

if i define a net as a differential pair i only need to draw one track . the other one follows me. it will wrap around via's and nets automtaically.
if i shuffle things on the board it takes all these design rules into account. that is the strength of the tool : all the tedious crap is rule driven FROM SCHEMATIC. it is a tremendous time saver.



« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 08:55:45 pm by free_electron »
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Offline Agent24

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #227 on: October 10, 2013, 11:10:46 pm »
Out of curiosity, what is Altium written in now?   ... if it in fact is being ported to C# that is unfortunate as it does limit the final platform to be used on.

Show me a person that can afford Altium but not Windows.

What if I told you that some people don't actually want to use Windows?
 

Offline David_AVD

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #228 on: October 11, 2013, 12:08:31 am »
Out of curiosity, what is Altium written in now?   ... if it in fact is being ported to C# that is unfortunate as it does limit the final platform to be used on.

Show me a person that can afford Altium but not Windows.

What if I told you that some people don't actually want to use Windows?

Then I'd say their software options are somewhat limited.   ::)
 

Offline AlfBaz

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #229 on: October 11, 2013, 01:01:58 am »
What if I told you that some people don't actually want to use Windows?
I'd like to buy 10ppm trimpots from my local 7/11 alas I have to use digikey :(
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #230 on: October 11, 2013, 01:36:43 am »
Out of curiosity, what is Altium written in now?   ... if it in fact is being ported to C# that is unfortunate as it does limit the final platform to be used on.

Show me a person that can afford Altium but not Windows.

What if I told you that some people don't actually want to use Windows?
Tough shit. Suck it up.

What do you care what operating system a program runs on ?
The operating system is just a platform to run applications.
Modern computers can dual boot. Macs can do so to.

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Offline jshonw

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #231 on: October 11, 2013, 03:45:32 am »
Mono is a cross platform implementation of the .NET framework, so there is the possibility that it can run under Linux and iOS.  I tried getting some of my apps to work with Mono on Linux  and it was hit and miss.  This was a few years ago, so things might have matured since.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 03:48:39 am by jshonw »
 

Offline Agent24

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #232 on: October 11, 2013, 04:55:25 am »
Out of curiosity, what is Altium written in now?   ... if it in fact is being ported to C# that is unfortunate as it does limit the final platform to be used on.

Show me a person that can afford Altium but not Windows.

What if I told you that some people don't actually want to use Windows?
Tough shit. Suck it up.

What do you care what operating system a program runs on ?
The operating system is just a platform to run applications.

I care because Windows is a bloated and insecure piece of junk that only gets supported and (sometimes) patched so long as the mighty Microsoft deems it worth their while, before they get sick of slowing profits and want to force the next "user friendly" abhorrence (think Windows 8\Metro) down your throat. At which point half of your current and perfectly working hardware and software also magically becomes unusable on the new platform.
 

Offline elgonzo

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #233 on: October 11, 2013, 05:11:39 am »
Mono is a cross platform implementation of the .NET framework, so there is the possibility that it can run under Linux and iOS.  I tried getting some of my apps to work with Mono on Linux  and it was hit and miss.  This was a few years ago, so things might have matured since.

Forget Mono. I dabbled in Mono-based GUI the last time a little longer than a year ago, with their WinForms implementation, GTK#, and an early wxWidgets.NET. It was still more miss than hit. The whole Mono shit existed then for about 8 years, and it still felt broken... :-//

If you are speaking about backends, or other applications which do not rely on a GUI, Mono might perhaps be suitable. But regarding desktop applications, stay away from Mono.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 05:27:29 am by elgonzo »
 

Offline IanJ

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #234 on: October 11, 2013, 05:48:01 am »
I care because Windows is a bloated and insecure piece of junk that only gets supported and (sometimes) patched so long as the mighty Microsoft deems it worth their while, before they get sick of slowing profits and want to force the next "user friendly" abhorrence (think Windows 8\Metro) down your throat. At which point half of your current and perfectly working hardware and software also magically becomes unusable on the new platform.

If you were looking to use Altium professionally in a potential profit making environment (heck!, even hobbyist in my case!) then you would not be caring one little bit what OS it ran on. The need & want for the app comes first. If this is not your catergory then Altium isn't for you.
I actually hope that Altium stick with Windows and Windows only.......that way their resources/overheads are not spread which would only raise costs.

Just my opinion.

Ian.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 05:52:56 am by IanJ »
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Offline Rigby

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #235 on: October 11, 2013, 02:15:40 pm »
I care because Windows is a bloated and insecure piece of junk that only gets supported and (sometimes) patched so long as the mighty Microsoft deems it worth their while, before they get sick of slowing profits and want to force the next "user friendly" abhorrence (think Windows 8\Metro) down your throat. At which point half of your current and perfectly working hardware and software also magically becomes unusable on the new platform.

You're clearly what some people like to call a "freetard" and from past experience I can say with confidence that there is a very high likelihood that you let your hivemind opinion dictate your decisions.  I used to be a freetard, so I can spot those folks pretty quickly, though you yourself have made no attempt to hide it whatsoever.

Here's the thing; if you're a goal-oriented person (as in: I need to get something done) then the OS used will not factor into the decision at all.  Not even a little bit.  If the computer and operating system itself is what you like working on, then you will not find any joy in Windows, as you don't. 

Metaphor time!  Windows is analogous to a workbench, a platform on which tools sit.  You use the tools to get your work done, and you don't give a crap whether your workbench cost $300 or it cost $0.  If you like working on workbenches, you find a $0 workbench with 18 mismatched legs and you fix it up to suit your own needs.  If you need a workbench right now, then you pay $300 and you put it up and it works in every single way you care about. 

The $0 workbench is Linux.  The $300 workbench is Windows.

Windows is not perfect, I will agree.  But, Windows will get you everything you need to get work done in a very short amount of time, with a minimum of fiddling, and supports all of the tools that professionals (those folks who like to get things done, rather than argue) need and use daily.
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #236 on: October 11, 2013, 02:23:36 pm »
The $0 workbench is Linux.  The $300 workbench is Windows.
You can get Windows 7 for $40 on eBay (I would not recommend Windows 8 if you want to actually do some work on it). It is the OEM version, but works fine. Microsoft tried to forbid distributors to sell it without a computer, but Microsoft lost in court, at least here in Germany, so it is legal, too. Just install it in Oracle VirtualBox, VMWare or Parallels and then it doesn't matter what host system you are using for your other work. I guess Altium Designer runs on a VM, too.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
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Offline Rufus

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #237 on: October 11, 2013, 02:37:12 pm »
I guess Altium Designer runs on a VM, too.

The PCB editor makes extensive use of Direct3D for 2D and 3D editing. It needs Direct X 9 shader model 3 support. That is probably the biggest compatibility and performance issue with VMs and a big reason why it won't be ported from Windows any time soon.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #238 on: October 11, 2013, 03:13:17 pm »
Multi-os porting is a waste of effort and time.

If you can't be arsed to spend 100$ for the operating system to run the 7000$ software you are in the wrong ballpark... you're not even in a ballpark ... you are still in the diaper phase ... grow up. Operating systems are there to run applications. Besides the file manager you never touch an operating system. I have never felt the urge to delve into windows registry or muck around with all the confugreation management tools.

Buy motherboard,cpu , ram, case , hdd , power supply ,graphics card, optical drive,  slap together , plonk cd or dvd holding OS installer in , follow installer , deploy applications needed , make system snapshot in case armageddon strikes and off you go.

I use screwdrivers. i don't make em and i don't modify em. At the end of the day having whatever it is i am making assembled and all the screws being properly and in the fastest and easiest way possible inserted and tightened is what matters.

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Offline Agent24

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Re: EEVblog #527 - Altium Entry Level PCB Tool Rant
« Reply #239 on: October 11, 2013, 09:14:16 pm »
I care because Windows is a bloated and insecure piece of junk that only gets supported and (sometimes) patched so long as the mighty Microsoft deems it worth their while, before they get sick of slowing profits and want to force the next "user friendly" abhorrence (think Windows 8\Metro) down your throat. At which point half of your current and perfectly working hardware and software also magically becomes unusable on the new platform.

You're clearly what some people like to call a "freetard" and from past experience I can say with confidence that there is a very high likelihood that you let your hivemind opinion dictate your decisions.  I used to be a freetard, so I can spot those folks pretty quickly, though you yourself have made no attempt to hide it whatsoever.

Where did I say it had to be free? I do like free software (who doesn't?), but I don't exclusively use only free software "because it's free".

I would consider myself someone who likes to use what works best for me. I am happy to buy software if it is good. I do not think Windows is good anymore. I loved XP and paid for that but the direction Microsoft is going with Windows 8 and Metro I am not happy with. I have bought many programs for Windows in the past. But as a hobbyist who does not design extremely complex boards I am not going to pay $7000 for an EDA suite. If I had that money to spare I would use it on equipment!

I originally started with Eagle but I just do not like it. Had I loved it I may well have paid for it. I do not know because I started looking at alternatives pretty quickly. Thought I would start with the free software since that's the easiest place to start. Tried gEDA, didn't like that either. Tried KiCad and I happen to love it.

Yes, it has limitations (due to lack of some features) Yes, it doesn't do everything that Altium Designer does. But it DOES do what I need and it does it without costing a cent. I would be lying to say that the $0 price wasn't a factor, but I consider it a bonus, not a life-and-death reason to use it.

Altium Designer clearly has very good features. Would they be great to have? Definitely. Can I afford them? At the current prices as a hobbyist, probably not. That is why a cheap or free entry level version interests me. But I am not sure I want something that will help keep me locked into the Windows cycle.

Though I don't know why people here are discussing tools that cost thousands and which are clearly out of range of the hobbyist. This idea of an "entry-level" tool from Altium - is it not supposed to target hobbyists and smaller players?


Here's the thing; if you're a goal-oriented person (as in: I need to get something done) then the OS used will not factor into the decision at all.  Not even a little bit.

Indeed, if you are a goal-oriented person you will choose what works reliably and well for you. You would not choose what doesn't. I definitely want something that works. My problem with Windows is not price. Windows is an ongoing hassle because of the constant and increasing security issues and with Windows 8 the rest of the 'experience' is going down the toilet.
I want to be able to use my operating system to do what I want. Not have to fight the interface and bugger around with antivirus software. I don't have those problems with Linux and I'm quickly getting sick of Windows.

Cadsoft targets hobbyists (and commercial customers) and they make Eagle available on Linux, OSX and Windows. They don't seem to have any problems doing that either. Even KiCad is cross-platform, and it's free. If they can both do it and be successful, I'm sure Altium can, if their software is really as good as it seems, and they charge as much as the do.



In the meantime, I am interested to see what features come to KiCad with CERN now supporting development. They are talking about donations and fund-raising to make KiCad on par with (or better than) commercial-grade software. As someone who loves KiCad and would love to see new features, I will be donating to the effort.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 09:17:07 pm by Agent24 »
 

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