Author Topic: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions  (Read 61740 times)

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Online EEVblog

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EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« on: June 15, 2015, 10:48:54 pm »
Dave gives his first impression of Altium's new FREE PCB design tool for the maker community, Circuit Maker.
What are the limitations?
What do you get?
http://www.circuitmaker.com/

 

Offline 691175002

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2015, 11:12:28 pm »
Cloud software is the worst.  Even if they literally released Altium Designer for free I don't think it would take over.  The community seems to be pretty resistant to tying itself to any closed source tools.
 

Offline pascal_sweden

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2015, 11:25:35 pm »
How about custom component sharing?

If people create a public design, will all the custom components that they have designed in their design be shared with the public automatically?

Can other users easily search for the components, even components from users that they are not following?

Is there some kind of quality control in the public shared component libraries? I can imagine this would be useful otherwise the component library could grow very big with many duplicates, and could also include faulty components (e.g. wrongly mirrored footprints, pin ordering, etc.)

Would also be nice if they integrate it with Digikey or other supplier, so that users interested in a particular design, can get an approximate BOM cost to build the actual design, and place a direct order for all the parts in the BOM.

Same goes for the bare PCB board. That users can get estimated price and shipping time for unpopulated PCB board and place a direct order for it.

One-stop-shop button for end users that are interested in a particular open source design, which places an order for the unpopulated PCB board and the respective BOM parts.

Another nice idea would be that end users can get some royalty on their custom component every time it is used by another user. Similar concept as Android app store, but now Altium component store :) Maybe this already exists in the community today. Haven't been following up the latest versions of Altium Designer.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 11:32:06 pm by pascal_sweden »
 

Offline Vasi

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2015, 12:05:08 am »
How many open-source projects are you willing to make? Well, I guess as long as you have something in return: satisfaction, or profit, or anything else. But, I prefer to do it in something which allows me to own the file and being able to work offline anytime. It doesn't matter how Altium is that thing, I'm not even curious to try it. I have enough PCB design tools around for free, offline and with good component libraries.

Do you realize that this tool is not even like Eagle despite his features? In terms of speed, availability, etc. Unlimited everything? There we have KiCAD.

Fail! And Dave will have to admit after a prolonged use of the tool. Speed will be the main concern, then the number of users will be too small and then will be useless to people from the third world, and so on. It will slowly die after a trial period. As Dave noticed, the so great unlimited program can be made completely useless by closing the server. And I guess this is how you block a specific user or how you close the bussiness without losing anything. It does not deserve our time, really.

P.S. Is not even like Blizzard's "Heroes of the storm". :P  And if it can't be cracked to be useful, then it really has no value and so no future.
 

Offline Bud

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2015, 12:18:38 am »
Can it produce quality Gerbers?
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Offline Bud

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2015, 12:27:14 am »
Dear Mentor Graphics pricing  on Digikey is  a 1-year subscription. You buy the unlimited connection option and in two years you pay more than for Circuit Studio.
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Online EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2015, 12:46:30 am »
The community seems to be pretty resistant to tying itself to any closed source tools.

What planet are you living on? Eagle, Diptrace etc are all closed source.
99.99% of PCB designs on the planet are done with closed source tools.
 

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2015, 12:46:51 am »
Can it produce quality Gerbers?

Of course, it's Altium designer.
 

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2015, 12:52:11 am »
Fail! And Dave will have to admit after a prolonged use of the tool. Speed will be the main concern, then the number of users will be too small and then will be useless to people from the third world, and so on. It will slowly die after a trial period.

Perhaps, but Altium is a very popular tool, and those who can't afford it at home are very likely (like me) to use ti for those smaller projects.

Quote
As Dave noticed, the so great unlimited program can be made completely useless by closing the server. And I guess this is how you block a specific user or how you close the bussiness without losing anything.

That is one of my main concerns.
Altium will of course say "then go use Circuit Studio", but that have failed massively on the pricing of that. It is more expensive than that the full Altium Designer was 5 years ago!
 

Offline ARGLaser

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2015, 12:58:45 am »
This will be a hit at my college.

We learn how to use Altium in class, and since most people have no prior experience with PCB design software it is their go to choice. When they go to do a project outside of school majority of people just pirate Altium since it's easier than learning a new software package.

This software is what a lot of students here are after, it's close enough to Altium that they'll be able to use it without learning a completely different system and it's far more convenient than pirating Altium.

I think all of the limitations are fair, except for one: no keyboard shortcuts.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2015, 01:46:07 am »
CircuitMaker is completely free, with zero limitations to hold back your design
They forgot the disclaimer
"No limitations*"
*has limitations that may change at any time.

Wouldn't have been a problem except they applied this same limit to CircuitStudio too!
 

Offline jolshefsky

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2015, 02:05:36 am »
I feel the urge to opine but I want to be pertinent ...

After watching the whole first 35 minutes then skimming to see that Dave didn't do much about schematic capture, layout, and general workflow, I'm left with one question: why switch?

First, I'm assuming this is targeted at the hobbyist market. I include myself in that although I also design boards for work—all two of them, for our 30-year-old, sub-megahertz product. Also, I'm assuming that a potential user has a tool-of-choice already.

One common limitation is board size. I started with Eagle and almost bought an expensive (to me) upgrade for work but, bizarrely, couldn't get in touch with a U.S. distributor to sell it to me. So I found KiCAD and went through the painful process of learning its different workflow and bugs—but also its improvements over Eagle as well.

Knowing how painful the re-learning process is, I won't switch without a solid reason to do so.

The only thing I can see Circuit Maker having a substantial advantage is for collaborative projects. If the branching and merging work well, it will be the go-to tool for projects with multiple designers. That is, if the closed-system, Internet-mandatory cloud storage doesn't sour things too much.

The other thing is as an entry for electrical engineering students to learn a real professional tool (albeit without the—in my opinion necessary—keyboard shortcuts). But if you're in college, I would expect that you'd be designing on the professional tool anyway, so the point is kind of invalid.

Maybe it's for professionals who enter the hobbyist market and would love to have access to Altium's features that are financially out-of-reach. Dave Jones is the only person I can think of, and I think he has access to Altium tools anyway!
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Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2015, 02:12:08 am »
I haven't tried since a couple of weeks but my custom components when dragging them into the schematic are transparent and only show up when I let go, making the placement a bit hard.

It was a simple cap and I used their predefined capacitor symbol. Shows on the part preview but I can't seem to make it visible while dragging the part.

Then again I didn't go through all their tutorials and they also have some youtube videos as well:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbkzlBx4QBw51f-lVDUKewg/videos

I'll have to make time and try to learn it better if I really want to use this seriously.
 

Offline Bud

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2015, 02:56:36 am »
You sure it is not because of a limitation in your graphics card?
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Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2015, 03:03:50 am »
You sure it is not because of a limitation in your graphics card?

Their parts drag just fine, but like I said I didn't put too much effort into it.

Other than using theirs, I did try to use an existing capacitor symbol that worked dragging and my version didn't work.

I'm probably doing something wrong but then again it might be a component builder limitation.


 

Offline hikariuk

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2015, 03:46:54 am »
Would also be nice if they integrate it with Digikey or other supplier, so that users interested in a particular design, can get an approximate BOM cost to build the actual design, and place a direct order for all the parts in the BOM.

If they integrated with anything I suspect it would be Element14/Farnell.
I write software.  I'd far rather be doing something else.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2015, 04:49:38 am »
I just launched it and I was two updates behind, getting the latest one now, maybe they did fix it :)

Edit: 400 MB update.

Edit: I was able to make it work using someone else's symbol. Must be some checkbox on the properties that I forgot to check not sure.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2015, 05:41:38 am by miguelvp »
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2015, 08:11:08 am »
Re: pricing...

The thing to bear in mind always, is that the only reason for companies to produce free tools is to ultimately drive sales of paid-for tools, and to do so without cannibalising sales of those tools in the process.

The whole cloud storage / public projects thing is, of course, an absolute show-stopper for any kind of professional use. A smart move, under the circumstances. No organisation that requires any sort of confidentiality can ever use it, so no sales lost.

For the same reason, lack of file compatibility with Altium is a non-issue. There are free, public projects, and there are confidential, professional projects. The overlap between the two is minimal, and the number of CAD tool sales lost because of the inability to migrate files from one package to the other is nil, for that reason.

At half the price of a full Altium Designer seat, Circuit Studio doesn't look nearly so expensive. It's a similar price to Cadence PCB Designer Standard, which for some reason I rarely see mentioned on the forum even though it's basically the same tool as Allegro, and the Cadence range is unquestionably one of the industry's 'big hitters' in terms of professional CAD software.

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2015, 08:48:27 am »
At half the price of a full Altium Designer seat, Circuit Studio doesn't look nearly so expensive.

But the thing is it's still too expensive for many people, and it's more expensive than Altium Designer was about 5 years ago.
IMO it is in a bit of a dead pricing zone, and it's a new product that many people may view as a "toy" for professional work, so they'll likely stick with the "real deal" Altium Designer.
At say $1000 though they would very likely have people lining up at the door with fist fulls of cash. But instead I suspect it won't sell at all, and their free tool will of course bring in zero revenue.
So a few years down the track they'll have three software products, and only one that brings in all the cash. Something will have to give at that point...
 

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2015, 08:50:42 am »
The thing to bear in mind always, is that the only reason for companies to produce free tools is to ultimately drive sales of paid-for tools, and to do so without cannibalising sales of those tools in the process.

Sure, but:
a) There is no reason you can't make money from a "free" tool. In fact it can bee seen as a "free" money because it needed cost you anything to maintain, market, or support.
b) It is very possible to design a free tool with a paid option that doesn't calibalise your high end cash cow.

Altium have unfortunately failed to do either.
 

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2015, 08:57:55 am »
Knowing how painful the re-learning process is, I won't switch without a solid reason to do so.

Sure, and only a fool would do so. Most people never switch unless forced to.
Don't forget, there are countless people coming through every year that don't have any existing tool baggage.

Let's say you are a beginner/student and want to pick a tool. You can:
a) Pick Eagle which has the dominate share these days, but it's limited, and actually quite horribly expensive to do even the simplest board beyond those restrictions. And also, Eagle is not really a popular professional industry tool, so not that great on theresume.

b) Pick KiCAD which is free and has no limits. But is not nearly as polished and has bugger-all industry base.

c) Pick another tool like DIPtrace or some other. Probably the same boat as Eagle, but a bit worse in terms of resume.

d) Pick CircuitMaker which is freeand unlimited. It is also pretty darn close to Altium Designer which is one of the most widely used industry tools, if not the most widely used. Looks great on the resume saying you use Altium.
 

Offline mexakin

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2015, 09:00:31 am »
Lets bring in another view:
I never did a PCB in Altium, since I could never use it, I am working with eagle, its always the user that makes the PCBs good or bad :)
I did commercial 4 layer boards with 25 MHz clocks on it and some 12 bit and nominal higher :) ADCs. Those work pretty fine.

But i am looking forward to at least finally test some more profesional gear so for me maybe it comes in handy and maybe our small company will do the switch, we are right now paying for cadsoft anyhow, so might as well switch ( probably wont happen) but at least now altium got a foot in my small door.

But of course as already mentioned I can only do private projects on there if its cloud based, but any engineer has quite something on their minds, so i might fool around with it.
 

Offline nitro2k01

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2015, 10:05:10 am »
The thing to bear in mind always, is that the only reason for companies to produce free tools is to ultimately drive sales of paid-for tools, and to do so without cannibalising sales of those tools in the process.
Sure, but:
a) There is no reason you can't make money from a "free" tool. In fact it can bee seen as a "free" money because it needed cost you anything to maintain, market, or support.
b) It is very possible to design a free tool with a paid option that doesn't calibalise your high end cash cow.

Altium have unfortunately failed to do either.
We don't know that yet. They will likely have deals to get a percentage for leads to components sales, PCB manufacturing or whatever else they might sell through the program. I don't see how they have "failed" to do this as the majority of the maintenance and new feature work toward CM is duplicated from Altium Designer which already makes money. So far, the outlook, imo, is that CM indeed will produce "free money".

Also, while Circuit Studio will probably fail as you say, I think there's a market for extensions, as hinted at one point in the video. if they have a scripting language, this could even include user-created scripts. While not as big of a market as Apple's app store, I think people would easily pay $10 for a script to automatically do something like import a bitmap into silkscreen, or place components in a circle or spiral just to make something up from the top of my head. If they take a 20% cut of that, they might be onto something.
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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2015, 10:14:41 am »
We don't know that yet. They will likely have deals to get a percentage for leads to components sales, PCB manufacturing or whatever else they might sell through the program.

Sure, but we can only fairly comment about what they are offering at this point.

Quote
I don't see how they have "failed" to do this as the majority of the maintenance and new feature work toward CM is duplicated from Altium Designer which already makes money. So far, the outlook, imo, is that CM indeed will produce "free money".

Yes, but likely bugger-all. If tey had a $1000 paid option it could generate a huge amount more for no additional work or expense on the part of the company.

Quote
Also, while Circuit Studio will probably fail as you say, I think there's a market for extensions, as hinted at one point in the video.

Herein lies the problem - Altium have promised to shareholders and the public a three level "pyramid" type product structure. Altium designer at the top covering the "high end" and pushing further up in capability. Circuit Studio in the middle. CircuitMaker at the bottom.
If Circuit Studio fails, or fails to bring in the expected income, that looks very embarrassing and they have to explain this shareholders and likely axe it. That could have (potentially bad) fall-out effects for CircuitMaker.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2015, 12:08:56 pm »
So I did create a board and committed my test project, but I did not release it:

http://workspace.circuitmaker.com/Projects/Details/108EE30E-F675-45FC-AF23-948DF386E56B

So in theory no one can see this right?

I can create gerbers since the only requirement to generate output files is to commit the project.

If you can see it, I didn't label power, ground and programming pins. It's nothing fancy, just a Cypress PSoC 4200 CY8C4245LQI-483 (40 pin QFN) Breakout Board.


 


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