Author Topic: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions  (Read 62674 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline BobC

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 115
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #50 on: June 16, 2015, 09:41:21 pm »
I design relatively few PCBs from scratch.  I mainly do two things:

1. Add tweaks to existing designs:
- BOM, schematic and layout updates due to component or package availability.
- Layout updates due to fab house design rules.
- Convert layouts from double-sided to single-sided (I enjoy the puzzle of simplifying layout topology).
- Convert layouts to smaller PCB size, and tiling boards for fab.
- Upgrade to faster processors with higher clocks.

2. One-off Fritzing-style breadboard/perfboard single-sided prototyping (but I find Fritzing itself to be unsuited for my needs).
- In general, I find perfboard makes best sense for my fabrication needs (mainly capes/shields).  I'd love it if the layout tool directly supported perfboard!
- Once in a while I'll upgrade the layout to a custom PCB.

The features I require in any "free" package include:

1. My files are mine.  This has some implications:
- Files reside on my local system (cloud backup and versioning is nice).
- File formats are fully documented (standard or custom, either way).

2. The software and/or workflow is expandable by 3rd parties (including users).
- Best case: The entire tool is open-source.
- Next-best: Open plugin API, with open-source plugins being OK.
- Minimum: Independent processing (external tools that work on documented file formats).

3. Given the above, I get to do the following:
- Unlimited import/export of everything from/to everything (if not available, I can write it)
- Combine with other tools (e.g., I may like to use a different simulator or design rule checker)

What I don't care about (much) either way:

1. Mandatory Internet connection:
- So long as my files are local, I don't mind the tool requiring Internet connection.
- Everything must work over a crappy connection (primarily for authentication, not live interaction).
- Some offline functionality is required (capture, layout, print).
- Everything else may be online (vendor libraries, autorouter, simulator, etc.).

2. Pin/Part/Size/Layer Limits:
- I'm OK so long as I can do "reasonably complex" double-sided boards.  On the order of a RasPi2.
- If limits exist, there must be incremental steps up (not "all or nothing").

3. Bug fixes, public forum for support.
- Major revisions can require uninstall/reinstall
- Updates can be batched to reduce frequency.

4. Commercial license.
- On the vary rare occasions when I need to do a board for a client, I can typically get/borrow a seat of whatever tool they are using.
- Sometimes I'll use ExpressPCB for expediency, if only a handful of boards are needed.
- If they have no in-house tools, they are often willing to pay a low price to upgrade my "free" home tools.

What I won't tolerate in a "free" package:

1. Forced sharing of my designs.  Really.  Lots of my stuff isn't fit for public consumption.  It's a pride thing.

2. Expensive upgrade path.  "Max" package must be well under US$2K.  Multiple steps to max are required.

3. "Broken" import/export to most popular "free" tools, and export to common documentation file formats (especially PDF).  For example:
- Does the tool make it easy to do an article, report, Instructable or blog post about my circuit and board?  Without having to do screen captures!
- How easy is it to share my work with clients or other Makers, especially those who don't use the same tool?


So, for my needs listed above, the current Circuit Maker beta is a massive fail, despite its many other truly great qualities.  Hopefully some of the issues will be handled before the beta ends and 1.0 is released.
 

Offline LabSpokane

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1899
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #51 on: June 16, 2015, 10:16:02 pm »
Quote
What I won't tolerate in a "free" package:

Did I just read that? Wow.
 

Offline roli

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 35
  • Country: si
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #52 on: June 16, 2015, 10:18:50 pm »
http://diptrace.com/buy/non-profit/

Tada.  :)  Just write them a note.  As long as you're not making money on it, their prices are really quite reasonable.  It's a very nice piece of software, and though it has some limitations, it's probably the easiest to use design tool I've seen.  It could be world class, but they can't seem to get their heads out of their butts and recognize just exactly what market they're in.
Ah, it was hidden under the buy section. I haven't used their new website before - I only remember the old one.
It's still too limited for my next project. Unless I spend 125$ for an educational version. Which could be ok. But that's a lot of money for a product that you aren't really sure about.

I tried KiCad - I will definitely not be using that. I almost lost my mind trying to find an 0805 resistor in the default libraries. Just... no. Interface is so far off from intuitive that it hurts.

And I also tried DesignSpark PCB. A bit better than KiCad. I had the same problem in the beginning until I figured out that you can actually search in the RS component library thing. And the whole thing is a bit unintuitive as well. I'll try experimenting with it a bit more to see if it grows on me. But I somehow doubt it.
 

Offline John Coloccia

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1199
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #53 on: June 16, 2015, 10:36:15 pm »
I haven't used a component from the DipTrace's library yet.  That's not to say they're bad, but the through hole components seemed to chronically have pads that were too small, and stupid things like that.  Now, I just make my own patterns, and a lot of my own components too if I don't like how they've done the library ones.  The component and pattern designer are so easy to use that it costs me practically no time to whip up a new component.  It's one of it's best features, IMHO.  I've used some packages where designing new components and patterns is a nightmare.

About the biggest thing I can fault Diptrace for, and if you need it it's a PITA, is the ability to rotate individual pads by arbitrary angles.  Somewhat irrelevant for surface mount, because you can always just draw the pad as a polygon, but every now and then you have elongates through holes that are laid out radially.  Some styles of vacuum tube holders come to mind.  They said they're going to consider fixing that....some day...when they're done with their stupid differential pairs that no one cares about.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2015, 10:48:24 pm by John Coloccia »
 

Offline Guni

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 60
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #54 on: June 16, 2015, 10:50:34 pm »
Idea to share my projects with Altium engineers and allow them to pass through my firewall is absolutely not acceptable!
Respect that Altium decided to help amateurs and give them/us this great tool. Respect! But there's no such thing as a free lunch. Price is to high for me.
To be clear, I don't work on secret service devices or military stuff but... you know  ;) 
   
 

Offline Isaac000

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 17
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #55 on: June 16, 2015, 11:17:21 pm »
I have used the expensive stuff before like PADS or Allegro, plus some freebies before I started kicking at CircuiMaker.
  • The on-line requirement is a real bummer. Support forum got me going quickly, but you will have troubles if you're behind a corporate proxy, for example.
  • Not that you would use it in a corporate environment, because everything is online and public. It's a non-starter for small companies or departments who need to get small things done. (Well, it seems Beta 2 allows 2 private projects, I'm glad they listened to feedback, but still, what I really want is ability to save off-line and function off-line when I need to)
  • All sorts of minor usability issues (which the competitors are NOT exempt from, mind you!)
  • The component library is kind of horrible to use, mostly everything is in one big list
  • It's laggy. It feels like it's a web app, even though it's not. Doesn't make me a happy user that's for sure!
The problem is after using CircuitMaker, it does not make me want to pony up the cash to their other products, which is what it's supposed to do, isn't it?

Of the freebies that I've tried:
  • DesignSpark PCB is quite easy to use and as far as I know, will keep working when I'm off-line and the files are local. You get a quote for PCB and I think BOM from RS/Allied. I did a simple project in it, no problems.
  • PCB Web. This is the DigiKey tool and there are many fantastic things about it, but also some not so good. Stuff you discover as you actually do a whole project. The link to DigiKey database is good (not great because it is far from complete). The "live" PCB-schematic update seems great so far. PCB routing behaviour & tools is not so hot. I am also not sure if my local file also gets copied into the cloud (I'm just being paranoid). Custom library fairly easy to use and nicely organized. "Live" BOM and PCB pricing as you work.

I would imagine for home hobbyist, DesignSpark or PCBWeb will do what you need and I would use either of them before CircuitMaker. I think for my own tool I would probably stick with DesignSpark next time. KiCad seems a bit too "daunting", but I may give it a try. The limited library in KiCad is a bit of an issue, I find I spend a big chunk of my time creating the symbols and layout before I do any sort of work!

(I also tried Multisim Blue from Mouse, but that is crippled beyond belief and so little users it seems the forums have just died off and become inactive).
 

Offline gadgetjunkie

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 4
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #56 on: June 17, 2015, 12:01:55 am »
Here's my take:

First, some background: my primary job is software development (everything from Windows to Linux, and some embedded stuff).

Most of the hardware I work on is for my own personal projects, which I have no problem with sharing as open source.

However, there are times where I may have to design something for a customer who isn't so willing to share their intellectual property as open source.

I am not going to invest time and effort learning a tool while working on my personal stuff if down the road, I will have to spend lots of $$$ to work on private, for-profit projects.  The 2 sandbox project limit is just a non-starter for me.

As many issues as Eagle has (and it does have plenty), the incremental pricing to go from the free / hobbyist level, to a licensed commercial product is reasonable -- especially for someone like myself who doesn't spend 40 hours a week in a hardware design tool.  If I were a pro designer, I'd make the investment into high-end pro tools (such as Altium).

$3500 to make the jump from free to commercial is just too much to justify spending the time getting invested in CircuitMaker.   I'll stick with Eagle for now, and possibly look at KiCad now that it's evolved a bit.  I may even give gEda another spin.
 

Offline sleemanj

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2424
  • Country: nz
  • Professional tightwad.
    • The electronics hobby components I sell.
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #57 on: June 17, 2015, 12:04:15 am »
Well, it looks like a good package, probably easy-enough to use for beginners (if it's as intuitive as DipTrace I don't know, but that's the gold standard for intuitiveness in a 'professional' PCB design tool in my books).  Love the component data hookups, community aspect etc.

But for me, the mandated online tethering, necessity to have everything you commit be public, and most importantly, the Windows requirement (maybe it'll run in Wine, but usually only that's any good if the developers have actually put some work in to do that), take it off the table.

Would anybody (who knows Altium) REALLY be surprised if in 3-5 years they turn around and discontinue the product, or implement some major restrictions (the upgrades panel) because it's not making the revenue they wanted (how exactly are they going to be monetizing this anyway... just relying on people to buy the ridiculously more expensive ones.... yeah, I don't see that).


~~~
EEVBlog Members - get yourself 10% discount off all my electronic components for sale just use the Buy Direct links and use Coupon Code "eevblog" during checkout.  Shipping from New Zealand, international orders welcome :-)
 

Offline ranch varment

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Banned!
  • Posts: 55
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #58 on: June 17, 2015, 12:06:10 am »
Its down the simulation how good the software is,  not just the pretty render.   and does this do it?  if not, its pretty much a waste of money.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 12:46:36 am by ranch varment »
 

Offline sleemanj

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2424
  • Country: nz
  • Professional tightwad.
    • The electronics hobby components I sell.
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #59 on: June 17, 2015, 12:16:27 am »
if your good at software you know how basic this is to make and asking money for drawing a line on the screen is just a joke to me.



"Drawing a line on the screen" is not in any way an accurate description of a Schematic Capture and PCB CAD package.
~~~
EEVBlog Members - get yourself 10% discount off all my electronic components for sale just use the Buy Direct links and use Coupon Code "eevblog" during checkout.  Shipping from New Zealand, international orders welcome :-)
 

Offline c4757p

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7805
  • Country: us
  • adieu
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #60 on: June 17, 2015, 12:21:27 am »
Go read his other posts. He's cuckoo.
No longer active here - try the IRC channel if you just can't be without me :)
 

Offline ranch varment

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Banned!
  • Posts: 55
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #61 on: June 17, 2015, 12:57:02 am »
you guys think im so crap at coding...


you wanna see some better code than this?


I could code this program with my eyes closed. :)

thank you... thank you...

king man!
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 01:54:23 am by ranch varment »
 

Offline Smokey

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1592
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #62 on: June 17, 2015, 02:28:31 am »
Anyone want to put some bets on how long it takes for an alternate unofficial circuit maker "server" to come out?  Something that you can run locally...
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 30126
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #63 on: June 17, 2015, 02:36:57 am »
As many issues as Eagle has (and it does have plenty), the incremental pricing to go from the free / hobbyist level, to a licensed commercial product is reasonable

No, it's not!
If you want to design a single sided PCB with a couple of LED's on it that is bigger than 161mm or more in any direction, then you have to pay US$1145
Why do people think Eagle is cheap?
 

Offline Poe

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 209
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #64 on: June 17, 2015, 03:06:07 am »
No opinions. Only a couple questions..

My Altium sales rep quoted AD15 at $3569 , which included a free upgrade to AD16 when released.  Offer valid for a limited time...  although they say that just prior to every release.  After the "limited time offer" it goes up to ~$5k.  Circuit Studio at e14 is $2990.   If I purchase CS and later decide to upgrade to AD15, they will charge me an additional $1495 ($4485 to try CS and end up with AD15).

1. Does anyone have a feature list that would explain the $600 price difference?  Are they honestly charging customers for the un-crippled interface.. or is there something more AD offers over CS.. or something CS lacks?

2. Does Circuit Studio allow custom key bindings so that I could mimic Altium Designer's hotkeys? 

« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 03:12:01 am by Poe »
 

Offline ruairi

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 284
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #65 on: June 17, 2015, 03:11:57 am »
Poe,

Is that some kind of student special pricing? My (perhaps incorrect) understanding was that the full Standard Altium package was much more expensive. 
 

Offline LabSpokane

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1899
  • Country: us
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #66 on: June 17, 2015, 03:14:34 am »
WTF?  There's a $5400 discount for buying designer direct?  Who's your rep? 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 03:24:17 am by LabSpokane »
 

Offline Poe

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 209
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #67 on: June 17, 2015, 03:41:10 am »
Poe,

Is that some kind of student special pricing? My (perhaps incorrect) understanding was that the full Standard Altium package was much more expensive.

Don't think so.  It's for a small company.  I imagine they charge what they can get.  We've never had a NEED to buy their software.  We simply said "no thanks" and let them come to us by downloading a free trial every so often.  When the price dropped and we had the cash, we bought. 

The quote is simply the start of the negotiation IMHO.  They aren't dumb either.  Inflated retail prices, then discounted, drive sales just as much as anything.
 

Offline modrobert

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 53
  • Country: th
    • your console hacking resource
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #68 on: June 17, 2015, 03:45:29 am »
Check the user agreement for Circuit Maker, read the fine print. Altium owns the rights to your designs legally, regardless if private (sandbox) or public, that is the big catch.  The cloud services are basically used as a legal framework, to own everything you create.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 03:58:06 am by modrobert »
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 30126
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #69 on: June 17, 2015, 04:24:16 am »
My Altium sales rep quoted AD15 at $3569 , which included a free upgrade to AD16 when released.  Offer valid for a limited time...  although they say that just prior to every release.  After the "limited time offer" it goes up to ~$5k.

From what I understand that is an insanely cheap price. I though AD was in the order of $7-8K  :-//
 

Online Someone

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2169
  • Country: au
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #70 on: June 17, 2015, 04:46:37 am »
Would anybody (who knows Altium) REALLY be surprised if in 3-5 years they turn around and discontinue the product, or implement some major restrictions (the upgrades panel) because it's not making the revenue they wanted (how exactly are they going to be monetizing this anyway... just relying on people to buy the ridiculously more expensive ones.... yeah, I don't see that).
This is why the perpetual standalone licenses are so important to long term businesses, even if Altium goes under or discontinues/cripples/changes the product you can continue to use what you bought forever. With their rapidly changing features/conditions/requirements of circuitStudio I wouldn't risk buying something that may lose support for advertised features even during the first 12 months of subscription.
 

Offline Tothwolf

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 95
  • Country: 00
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #71 on: June 17, 2015, 05:33:20 am »
Cloud == FAIL [blinking, red, bold FAIL]

IMO Altium has completely missed the mark here and the limitations of their new "CircuitMaker" aren't going to gain them many fans. The "must be public" feature of the software in particular may well end up causing people all sorts of legal headaches.

How long until one or more far-east design clone outfits camp out in the community and start mass producing anything they think will make a buck or two?

Heck, what happens when someone tries to license their finished widget to a company, and the company then says "Well, it looks like you released this widget publicly in the CircuitMaker community, so we don't have to actually pay you anything..."? Forcing someone to make a project public doesn't necessarily change its license status, not can Altium force someone to license their design for free.

Protel/Altium can -attempt- to pry my MicroCode* CircuitMaker 2000 from my cold dead fingers.

*If you can't beat em with competition, buy em out so you can kill their better, lower cost product...later, once (you hope) people have largely forgotten, call your "new and improved" cloud-based (gag) software by the same name (CircuitMaker) to ride on the original software's coattails (and obscure the original's history)... Altium -- you haven't fooled anyone...you FAILED.
 

Offline pa3weg

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 23
  • Country: nl
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #72 on: June 17, 2015, 08:57:32 am »
No, it's not!
If you want to design a single sided PCB with a couple of LED's on it that is bigger than 161mm or more in any direction, then you have to pay US$1145
Why do people think Eagle is cheap?

Wow....thats a lot more than I thought! I bought EAGLE professional when at version 4 for about 400 Euro's or 450 yankee dollars.
Ever since, I have done very reasonably priced upgrades, and I will still have to upgrade to version 7.
Mind you, only the PCB and Layout engines, autorouters I wil never buy...

I accept they need some money to keep the show going, so upgrading a major version for around 170 euro per license is not that bad. That was the kind of money I was thinking about, because thats what I am paying.

I am now using it commercially with about 30 licenses for the same price as ONE altium license!

Now....a hobbyists use is a lot different if they indeed priced EAGLE at US$1145 for the pro license. Thats ridiculous compared to the license multiples!

 

Offline frvisser

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 6
  • Country: nl
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #73 on: June 17, 2015, 09:48:29 am »
So it's a superb tool for newbies/dummies making their Arduinoshields and stuff (like me)  :-+
Let's get the EEVblog community to make some basic stuff on there. Things like a simple but safe power supply to be used on your circuit instead of buying onehunglow stuff from Ebay, will make the world a much safer place  :-/O
 

Offline ChrisW

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 43
Re: EEVblog #754 - Altium Circuit Maker First Impressions
« Reply #74 on: June 17, 2015, 10:02:00 am »
I'm sure somebody will figure out how to hack the software to enable it to run offline etc. Just give it some time.
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf