Electronics > PCB/EDA/CAD

Design and simulation software to start with


I am looking for software for general electronic design and simulation and then for board layout. Not having used any of this before what would be good ones to start with. I don't want to have to lay out thousands for CAD programs but don't mind paying something for a reasonable program. What would you recommend please.

For simulation, spice seems to be the standard. I have been trying LTspice, and although it works nicely with the supplied library of LT components, it seems to have trouble when I import models from other vendors. It might be that PSpice works better, but I'm not sure if it has a free version.

My toolkit:
LT Spice IV (free) for simulation - admittedly not much yet :D
Diptrace (free/paid) for schematics and PCBs.  I'm on the free "hobbyist" version which is 500 pins, 2 signal layers, unlimited plane layers.
GerbV for viewing gerbers before manufacturing

I'm not sure how good integration will be between Diptrace/LTSpice to be honest as I only used them separately, although Diptrace can export in about 8-10 different netlist formats. Diptrace is pretty week on the project management side (e.g. you basically just save all your files in a folder and manage them yourself) but other than its pretty good to get started on. 

In the past I also used Eagle which I think is ok, but a quick search on the forum will show you its kind of disliked :D.  I just installed (dual boot) ubuntu on my windows pc to try out kicad, geda etc but as I don't have a wired keyboard I can't actually access the installation (the keyboard is not recognised until windows loads up so I can't select the Ubuntu partition!)  I have tried Kicad on my windows machine but found it so-so.

I'm in the same boat, I have used eagle and am moving to diptrace based on what I have seen here, any feed back on open source (free) tools and experience with them would be greatly appreciated.


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