Author Topic: Considering the unthinkable  (Read 11202 times)

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Offline NivagSwerdna

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Considering the unthinkable
« on: March 28, 2020, 08:37:02 am »
I'm WFH so have some time to progress a project which has been on the back burner for a while.  The design has quite a lot of repeated components and this has just pushed me over the 500 pin boundary of my current Non-Profit licence.  I think ultimately it will be around 800 pins.

Now... I could pay to upgrade to the 1000 pin version... or I could use this as excuse to try KiCad!

(It's a bit annoying since I have quite a lot of the design in DipTrace already and I'm not sure it is easy to go DipTrace-> KiCad?)

What do you think?


 

Offline jeremy

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2020, 11:13:12 am »
I have tried to do this several times. My main pain point is that making footprints in kicad is a lot slower than in diptrace. However kicad has push and shove, which the diptrace guys have been “working on” for longer than I can remember. If you haven’t used it before, I suggest you try designing a board from scratch with new footprints in kicad to see how it works for you.
 
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Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2020, 04:36:11 pm »
DipTrace gave me a trial 1000 pin licence for a few months which was very considerate of them.... but I'm going to try it anyway... just for one board in the first instance.

It's quite painful changing tools especially for routing... but I have some time... so the time is now.
 

Offline JPortici

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2020, 07:06:13 pm »
This is what i thought when i had to make a big ass board that required at least the 2000 pin license..
A few months ago, it was probably the fifth time that i tried kicad.
Granted it has improven but god the user interface is still so incredibly retarded. Shut up and take my money
 
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Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2020, 08:18:23 am »
I am finding the manual routing very challenging (and getting a bit sad remaking patterns/footprints) but I am going to try and stick with it for at least this one board since otherwise I will be in a situation where I have a big board that I cannot amend without a forced upgrade.
 

Offline Gandalf_Sr

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2020, 08:54:48 am »
I've been working with Diptrace for 10 years now and I own a full, unlimited $1,000 license.  Of all the $1,000 purchases I've made in my life, this is one that I have never regretted.

Once you get good at it, making your own footprints in Diptrace is pretty easy.  I have many that I've made and a few that I've tweaked because I didn't like the one that came with Diptrace; you can import the Diptrace one to your library and then modify it.  I sometimes make my own 3D models to go with the footprints I create.

I've recently done a little bit of work with Kicad's viewer; if that's what it's like using the actual tool, you can keep it.

One thing that I really like about Diptrace is that it's stable.  I can work for months and never have it crash.  I was being forced to work with Altium but I hated it as it would crash on me 3 times a day.
If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer
 

Offline Electro Detective

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2020, 10:12:42 am »

Re: Considering the unthinkable  :scared:


I came here to try and talk down OP from jumping off a bridge or ship in shark infested waters,
due to fear of Corona

 :-[
 

Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2020, 10:21:36 am »
I 99% agree with you.  DipTrace is simple, intuitive and it works.  In particular it has features that you just take for granted like alignment and distribution and a consistent UI across schematic and layout.
However, after doing two boards in KiCAD, I think I have proved that KiCAD is definitely useable and once you learn the UI it is possible to be efficient.  The feature I really like is that the file formats are parseable and can be scripted (which is a saving grace for some other missing features).
I like the push and shove but I miss the rubber banding when moving a component/footprint... swings and roundabouts.
Could I survive without DipTrace?.... possibly.... do I want to... not decided yet... I might still pay for 1000 pins.
 

Offline Gandalf_Sr

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2020, 11:27:25 am »
How much does Kicad cost?

Are you aware that a MAJOR release of Diptrace (Vn4.0) is almost here?  If you buy Diptrace 3.3 now, you'll get free upgrade to 4.0.

While it's still in Beta, you can see that the Diptrace crew are working hard on it in the Forum.  When discussing the new Digikey library link feature (around page 5), this was an interesting comment...

Quote
I did enjoy the Youtube showing how to install the digikey libraries, the kid only crashed KiCAD three times...

I'll be paying the (approx) 25% of list price for the upgrade.
If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer
 

Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2020, 01:18:42 pm »
After modifying/creating a few dozens of schematic symbols and a few PCB footprints
My first design needed a dsPIC33 that didn't exist in the standard libraries so my first task was creating a symbol and footprint... seemed relatively painless (and I could partially script it).... I do miss being able to move the origin though.
 

Offline jhb

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2020, 03:32:22 am »
I've used Diptrace for about a year. I am a mechanical engineer by training and the videos on their site and their non crippled free version made it easy to go for it. I eventually got the lite version which in my opinion is reasonably priced. Other than not really having my head completely wrapped around their libraries, it has been straight forward. I consider my next upgrade as an investment in the company to insure the product can evolve and get better.

We tried KiCAD briefly, but it didn't really excite us.

I agree with the one poster that said they thought their $1,000 unlimited license was their best software bargain.

Ask yourself what your time is worth and if you lose a week of productivity, it is probably not so great a bargain.
 

Offline johnboxall

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2020, 06:19:19 am »
You can still get the full version for US$595 if you're coming from EAGLE.
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/diptrace/diptrace-special-offer-for-eagle-users/

Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2020, 11:18:36 am »
I am a hobbyist... so my view reflects that...

I was forced to try something else because my latest design had 503 pins!  At that time I wasn't sure whether to buy a licence or to try KiCad so I tried KiCad.  (I was offered a temporary trial but I decided to not try it as I knew my design would inevitably need revisions and I might find myself stuck.  I even tried KiCad <> DipTrace import but that was not very convincing).

My experience is that KiCad does work and I have had a few boards manufactured by the usual suspects (JLCPCB/PCBWay...) without a hitch; it was relatively painless.

Along the way I had a design that was so space constrained I had to go to 4-layers... again this would not have been supported by my licence.

So now I find myself in limbo... all my old designs are in DipTrace and all my new ones are in KiCad... and I have quite a few components defined in both.

I am yet to decide whether to pay $125 for a non-profit DipTraceStandard (1k pins, 4l) or just go with KiCAD.

TBH it's swings and roundabouts.... the GUI of DipTrace, aligning components etc and general feel is much nicer but KiCAD has good integration with Python and the file formats/structures are readable so scripting is possible.

I'm still standing on the parapet.

« Last Edit: July 07, 2020, 11:21:07 am by NivagSwerdna »
 

Offline apurvdate

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2020, 04:38:07 am »
I'll just repeat what i posted on another thread here...

I mostly use KiCad for my own projects.
I wanted another licensed variant alongside KiCad for my own projects so I was comparing Circuit studio & Diptrace. I went for Diptrace (which I had already tried during college days).
So I use KiCad regularly at home. I use Diptrace in case I need to import/export other formats (e.g. altium ascii, edif) or when the board is so small that autorouter can work sufficiently enough  ;).
BTW I use OrCad at work.

So my suggestion is if you need to establish "to whom so ever it may concern" that you've a licensed software tool, get a diptrace license. If thats not your case then you are already comfortable with KiCad.
 

Offline apurvdate

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2020, 04:43:34 am »
BTW IIRC Diptrace <-> KiCad import-export was planned by Diptrace team when KiCad was V4.
As you probably know KiCad has progressed to V5.1. So the import-export may be inaccurate due to change in KiCad schematic file format & other things.
I haven't tested this import-export myself (never needed to).
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2020, 04:58:01 am »
They cost $20k each (vindictive pricing in China to combat piracy), and I could have a good use of that $40k on many wonderful test gears.

An Altium licence is US$20k in China?  :o
 

Offline Gandalf_Sr

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2020, 08:45:22 am »
I've been using Diptrace for years, what I like most about it is that it (almost) never crashes.  At the time I bought Diptrace, I was trying to work with Altium but it ran slow and would crash 3 times per day; when I reached out for support, Altium told me that the license I was using (my employer's) was not under some form of maintenance coverage and I would have to buy that ($2,500 at the time) before they would even look at the issues I was experiencing - my employer had paid over $10,000 for that license!

$900 later and I was using Diptrace and never looked back. Right now I'm still on V3 but will pay the money to move to 4 soon.

JFBI.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2020, 08:46:57 am by Gandalf_Sr »
If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer
 

Offline Sal Ammoniac

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2020, 11:30:06 pm »
I wanted another licensed variant alongside KiCad for my own projects so I was comparing Circuit studio & Diptrace.

I was in the same position and I chose Circuit Studio. That now looks like a mistake as Circuit Studio is apparently abandonware with no updates from Altium in years. Diptrace, by contrast, seems to be under active development and new versions come out on a regular basis.
Complexity is the number-one enemy of high-quality code.
 

Offline mcinque

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2020, 02:33:49 pm »
Purchase a license. Changing a software that works fine and you know how to use, just to avoid a license fee is not a wise choice in my opinion.
 

Offline b_force

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2020, 03:16:49 pm »
How much does Kicad cost?
If you are being paid by the hour or when your time is valuable, A LOT!

People always seem to only focus on the license price, but forget how much time it will take to learn a new program, get used to bugs and quirks (every program has them), and how intuitive or not certain programs are. Not to talk about compatibility issues with customers, or other parties you work with.

Personally, I think Diptrace is a lot quicker to learn than KiCAD, coming from many years of professional experience with several EDA's.
I have seen Diptrace growing a lot faster and taking feedback more serious than other "free" EDA's out there.

The trial version has full capabilities, lasts for 30 days,
but there are ways...

Just think carefully what you need for the projects you're doing.
Altium is nice and all, but for most jobs I did in the past, they weren't even using 50% of its capabilities.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2020, 03:20:53 pm by b_force »
"If you can't explain it simply (or at all), you don't understand it well enough." A. Einstein

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Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2020, 08:45:29 pm »
To update the thread a little... I did a series of projects during July/August and used KiCad due to the number of pins being >500 and hence beyond my current license.  I managed to get all these designs done, some 4-layer, reasonably easily even though I had quite a few custom footprints and they have made it to China for PCB production and back for assembly without a problem.
I haven't used DipTrace since although I will return to it at some point for revisions of earlier projects.
I found that export from DipTrace to KiCAD or v.v. was not effective... so one day I will have to transcribe my old projects to KiCAD or go back.
I still remain a DipTrace fan-boy.... but for larger projects... KiCAD got the job done and the learning curve wasn't too bad.
 

Offline Doctorandus_P

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #21 on: September 15, 2020, 02:27:28 pm »
In case you want to move an existing design to KiCad, and there is no converter for your PCB design suite.

KiCad's gerber viewer can back-import gerber files into Pcbnew.
It is far from perfect, as lots of info is simply missing in gerber files. The concept of Footprints does not exist in Gerbers for example.

What you do get is:
* Board outline.
* Mounting holes.
* All copper tracks, and implicitly in the endpoints of the copper tracks, also the Footprint locations.

You have to do the schematic manually, assign new footprints in the schematic, import them in Pcbnew, and then put them over the copper tracks back-imported from the gerber viewer.

It's not a quick job, but it's better then nothing.
 

Offline pointhi

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #22 on: September 15, 2020, 04:43:42 pm »
Solutions for Diptrace -> KiCad conversation

* (fast) Export Eagle XML from Diptrace and import it into KiCad
* Write an importer for KiCad (as done for Altium and CADSTAR coming in the following KiCad 6 release)
* Integrate an ODB++ importer into KiCad
 

Offline djerickson

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2020, 01:40:29 pm »
A few years back I was trying to break my ExpressPCB addiction and looking for a real PCB tool. I have used almost every PCB tool in my past, but only to review designs, not to do layout.  I met a professor at Olin College and asked him what tool they use. He said Diptrace, and that most students do their first schematic and PCB layout over a weekend. I was sold on Diptrace and dozens of designs later, I have not looked back. Easy to learn, intuitive, powerful enough for any 2-4 layer design. I love it.

I can't stand the Eagle user interface. Altium is too complicated and expensive. Couldn't like Kicad. I love the simple ExpressPCB, but proprietary PCB's!  Diptrace is just right. For non-pro use I use their $125 1000 pin 4L licence. For Pro I'll pay the $395 gladly.

Dave Erickson
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2020, 04:36:20 pm »
I'm thinking of taking a look at Diptrace for hobby use as my existing package is getting long in the tooth...  does anyone know:

Can Diptrace export the PCB artwork layers as hi res PDF or other image files, preferably vector format but bitmap ok too?

Can you place arbitrary graphics on a Diptrace layer (e.g. a vector drawing of a cat, or a bitmap of a dog) and have it appear in the Gerbers and exported graphics?

Can Diptrace do stuff like flood fill a ground plane around existing tracks etc.?
 


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