Author Topic: Considering the unthinkable  (Read 9839 times)

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Online 2N3055

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2020, 05:10:40 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:

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

2. 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?

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

1. not that I know off
2. yes
3 yes

Just download free version.. You will be able to work in it in few hours..
 

Offline MadScientist

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2021, 08:42:37 pm »
Well , it’s goodbye to diptrace , my schematic and pcb layout software since  2010 , I’m now a convert to Kicad V5 , and can’t wait for v6. I was an extended diptrace license holder and I have dozens ( and dozens)  of designs crafted in diptrace

Things are different, but in general kicad v5 is as good as  in most things and superior in many and more importantly is getting better much much faster then diptrace

I’m sorry to see diptrace go,  very stable , but still remnant issues on a Mac after 12 years.

Kicad v5 library management is on a par with diptrace and in fact footprint management  is better , less restrictive and just as fast to create. v6 will package the schematic and its libraries into an single file , like kicads pcbnew does now , which will mean sharing schematics will be a doddle , push and shove routing is fantastic , and the 3D system is more straightforward and fantastic.

Kicad v6 will be an industry game changer , and its here now in the nightly build to try out.

So farewell diptrace , I wish you well

« Last Edit: February 01, 2021, 08:52:37 pm by MadScientist »
EE's: We use silicon to make things  smaller!
 
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Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2021, 08:27:11 am »
Well , it’s goodbye to diptrace
I must admit I haven't looked back since I made the move either and have produced many designs in KiCAD including things that exceeded the DipTrace licence level I was previously at (e.g. 4 layer, >500 pins etc).
I have had zero issues with manufacturing both at JLCPCB and PCBWay so the outputs etc seemed to work with the manufacturers. 
I have not yet moved to KiCAD 6 as it is really important that things work and I am a little nervous with some (possibly fake news) issues around Gerber generation with K6... would be interested in your opinion on that.
 

Offline MadScientist

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2021, 10:11:10 am »
I’m not using the nightlies except for test. Haven’t reviewed gerbers , will have a look
EE's: We use silicon to make things  smaller!
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2021, 03:09:36 pm »

I've been playing with Diptrace for about 10-15 hours, and became become productive with it extremely quickly - in that time, I made a custom component (20 pin IC) complete with linked PCB pattern, made a schematic, autorouted a PCB, created a copper pour - pretty much done with the first project. 

The UI is perhaps a little quirky, but it is usually possible to find what you're looking for.   At first I thought it a little clunky that it is split into separate applications for schematics, component design, and PCB layout - but it makes each tool lighter (starts fast) and you can have many things open at the same time.   The way the library and component selector works is a little "deep" but very powerful. I'm liking it so far.

I also found that you can indeed print out the copper layers individually - the prints are accurate, perfect for toner transfer or inkjet transparency projects.  It also worked perfectly printing to PDF (using a PDF printer driver) which makes it easy to carry the "print" to different computers / printers.

Looks like a winner for hobby use, so far.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #30 on: February 27, 2021, 02:30:16 am »

I decided to install KiCad as well, now that I'm looking around.

It seems much heavier than Diptrace.  There are some things to like -  e.g. allows drawing lines at 45 degree angles in the schematic editor - I did feel Diptrace is a bit regimented by insisting on 90 degrees only.  I also like the look & feel of KiCad in general, vaguely reminiscent of other open source tools like Inkscape which I also like.

The biggest surprise in KiCad so far is...   No Autorouter??  How do you actually route the tracks?   Diptrace made all that stuff easy, I still haven't figured out how to generate a routed PCB in KiCad and I'm all out of aspirin now.
 

Online MasterTech

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #31 on: February 27, 2021, 07:37:40 am »

The biggest surprise in KiCad so far is...   No Autorouter?? 

I agree with blueskull, I would not autoroute nor autoplace any of my boards. The overall mechanics of the equipment requires special placement that only I know, and the nature of the traces (digital, analog, impedance, switching nodes, speed, etc.. ) I know but kicad does not. During routing you actually realise of placement improvements. I actually consider it a fun 3d drawing game
 
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Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #32 on: February 27, 2021, 08:43:14 am »
I am used to doing the whole thing the hard way, but I liked how the Diptrace autorouter makes a "starting point" that you then tidy up afterwards - many of the autorouter decisions were decent enough, so it did reduce the amount of work overall, to my mind.  The autorouter also responds to intelligent component placement and orientation - in fact, you can run the autorouter, look at the mess, and then change placements to reduce "congestion" in a pretty quick iterative process.  Striving to make an easy-to-route layout is a good thing to do either way, whether the routing is done by human or "AI"?

The manual routing tool in KiCad is "intelligent" in how it works, almost like a one-track-at-a-time 'guided autorouter' - and I enjoyed using it, it is very cool how it behaves and definitely takes a lot of tedium out of the process -  but I was expecting a full-on autorouter a la Diptrace to be in there somewhere as an option.

Now that I know how KiCad works, I'll stop looking for an autorouter and start laying the test board out "semi automatic" style, and see how I get on!
« Last Edit: February 27, 2021, 08:50:47 am by SilverSolder »
 

Offline n4nln

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #33 on: March 12, 2021, 08:23:47 pm »
In most cases, there is a *huge* difference between "inexpensive" and "cheap". 

     -mo

   
 

Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2021, 12:40:59 pm »
I use FreeRouting with KiCad and then tidy up manually; works fine for me when I am in a hurry.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #35 on: March 15, 2021, 03:27:59 pm »
I use FreeRouting with KiCad and then tidy up manually; works fine for me when I am in a hurry.

What's the workflow with that -  export schematic from KiCad, do the FreeRouting, and re-import?

Does FreeRouting do AutoPlace as well?
 

Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #36 on: March 25, 2021, 12:40:14 am »
I'm afraid I have lost the link but I watched a YT video on it once... do a YT search and it will turn up some tutorials.

To date I have manually placed the parts and then exported, routed, imported and then cleaned up.

If you define your trace widths and net classes it works pretty well.  It is an iterative process though... don't expect miracles...  I often end up simplifying the design as I don't optimise via count so heavily.

YMMV
 
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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Considering the unthinkable
« Reply #37 on: May 14, 2021, 05:03:56 pm »
I use FreeRouting with KiCad and then tidy up manually; works fine for me when I am in a hurry.

What's the workflow with that -  export schematic from KiCad, do the FreeRouting, and re-import?

You export a Specctra .DSN file from the Layout Editor. So you must have already imported the netlist in the Layout Editor, added a PCB outline, and placed all parts. You can pre-route some traces manually first (for critical signals), or you can leave it completely unrouted. Then you export to .DSN, import the .DSN into FreeRouting. When the autorouting in FreeRouting is done, you export the session from FreeRouting, and import it i KiCad's layout editor. That's the basic workflow.

There are ways to specifiy keepout areas and classes for FreeRouting.

Does FreeRouting do AutoPlace as well?

Nope. But I've heard KiCad would get some autoplace feature in the future? In v6?

You can see there: https://freerouting.org/
 
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