Author Topic: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?  (Read 793 times)

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Offline IammrA

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Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« on: May 01, 2020, 12:42:24 am »
I debated between posting this here and the "beginner" thread, my question is certainly beginner, but is about manufacture so perhaps you will overlook my overlap.

 I've been locked indoors long enough with the corona quarantine that I'm ready to take my first project from Bakelite to PCB.  I'm wondering if the standard (or best choice) for beginners is still to use KiCad (vs the Altium circuitmaker, a web service, is there an Eagle trial these days, dip trace, or another option)?  I haven't used any software to this end yet (though have done some design work in CorelDraw) and don't want to have to learn 3 in a row before I find one that is free and works. 
I have been hearing some other PCB manufacturer names lately too, ALLPCB, JLCPCB, seedstudio, but all of my favourite Youtubers seem to like Oshpark (or did sometime in the last few years).  I even think I remember Dave using OshPark, I know Mr. Heckendorn seems to like them a lot.  Is OshPark still the go to for cheap, reliable PCB manufacture? 
I know Dave did a video showing us how to shop for the cheapest/best pcb manufacturer, but I'm so green I need both cheap and idiot proof.  Oshpark should have a high tolerance for working with amatures since they have the best brand recognition, but it's been a while since I've heard much about them.
Your expertise is appreciated,
   IamMrA

P.S. I'm looking to make a driver board for an 8x8 LED matrix, nothing that really justifies leaving behind the Bakelite, but I'm trying to pick up a few new skills along the way.  The boards can be small as the LEDs are mounted separately (in this version of the design) and connected via ribbon cable. I'm not sure if this info is relevant to the questions I'm asking but thought I'd share just in case.
 

Offline rea5245

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2020, 12:48:44 am »
They are acceptable starting places. I prefer the free version of DipTrace, but you won't go wrong with KiCad. There are cheaper options than OSH Park but again, you won't go wrong with them.

- Bob
 

Online MarkF

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2020, 12:52:28 am »
I have been using DipTrace and Elecrow for some time now without any problems.

I found DipTrace w. the free "For Non-Profit license" to be much more intuitive to use and easier to create personnel footprints.

Elecrow is about the same price as JLCPCB.  However, they do NOT plaster the order number all over your silkscreen.  Just the OCD in me sneaking out..  Maybe, you don't care.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2020, 04:18:42 am »
JLC PCB will remove the order number if you pay a modest fee for the inconvenience it causes them keeping track of the boards, or you can choose where you want it placed and they will do that for free.

KiCAD is an excellent choice IMO. It has no artificial limitations at all, once you've learned it you're set, if you ever want to make a large board or something to sell for a profit you don't have to learn a new tool.
 
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Offline jpanhalt

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2020, 04:26:40 am »
Re: Eagle

My understanding is that a free version of Eagle is still available.  As usual, it cannot be used for commercial work.  Access to it is a little hidden on the Autodesk site.  Apparently, you have to register and sign up for a free Autodesk 360 trial, then you get the Eagle 1 year trial.  That trial appears to be renewable annually.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2020, 04:30:09 am »
Why bother?

Eagle is a dead end, if you're going to learn a quirky and difficult tool, why learn the one that is trying to funnel you into a subscription?
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2020, 04:56:33 am »
Why bother?

Eagle is a dead end, if you're going to learn a quirky and difficult tool, why learn the one that is trying to funnel you into a subscription?

Why bother reading your posts?  I was simply addressing the TS's question.  Too bad that seems to trigger you.

Everything seems to be going to subscription.  That's why some people are staying with version 7.x.  In the 20+ years I have been using Eagle, starting with v.3.4, the only real deficiency is that it's Gerber cam does not support plated slots.  Oshpark has a modification of that cam that does.   Ask JLC PCB how to do it.   It has been more than a month since I asked them and no response.

I will probably be trying the newest version as a test drive.  That version allows one to "save as version 7."
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2020, 02:08:52 pm »

[...] Everything seems to be going to subscription.  [...]


...which is not economically rational for infrequently used applications.  There will always be a need for "buy once" (or "buy infrequently) software.
 

Offline Rat_Patrol

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2020, 07:36:16 pm »
I actually prefer KiCad to Eagle, though I'm trying to force myself to like Eagle for 2 reasons:

Full integration with Fusion360, my 3D modeling sofware of choice
and
Ability to insert frequently use circuits easily. Its doable in KiCad, but less intuitive (its basically a work-around, not a true functionality)

The component search engine in Eagle is terrible, but the library management in KiCad leaves a lot to be desired.

Right now when I'm making a PCB that has to fit in a thing, I make a "pcb" in Fusion360 (just a 1.6mm thick body of the appropriate shape for the project), export the .dxf to KiCad for the PCB outline, make PCB work with that outline. It would be nice to be able to move components around in Fusion360 to get everything just right faster. After components are populated, I then send the populated PCB (no traces done yet) back to Fusion to make sure everything looks good, then run the traces in KiCad. If I had to move a component, it gets exported back to Fusion just for a check. Kind of a PITA, but it works.
 
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Offline NivagSwerdna

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2020, 07:41:36 pm »
KiCad or DipTrace
Elecrow or JLCPCB or PCBWay (choose the one that has the smallest shipping charge)
Have fun!
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2020, 08:30:37 pm »
Why bother reading your posts?  I was simply addressing the TS's question.  Too bad that seems to trigger you.


Relax dude, it wasn't a personal attack directed at you, I wasn't "triggered", whatever that means, I was just expressing my opinion.

My opinion is that subscription software is a non-starter and I discourage people from using it whenever possible, I want that business model to fail. Perhaps I should have more explicitly directed my comment at the OP and said "don't bother with Eagle because it's subscription only and there are much less restrictive alternatives" but I didn't think I needed to be that explicit.
 
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Online themadhippy

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2020, 08:40:56 pm »
I prefer easyeda, part of the jlcpcb  lcsc group, to kicad ,eagle or the 101 other pcb layout tools ive tried over the years.
 

Offline jpanhalt

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2020, 09:59:55 pm »
While Eagle 8.0+ is fully subscription, versions 7.x are available as "purchased" or owned free.  So long as the subscription model allows saving as 7.x, that means you can use it with minimal risk should the free subscription expire. If/when that backward compatibility disappears, then a decision needs to be made.

For as infrequently as I get a commercial board made (maybe 2x /year), I cannot see any subscription model as viable.  My main worry is how complete is the backward compatibility. Plated through slots are a present-day reality.  It would be a shame to revert to 7.0 where the Eagle cam 7.x processor doesn't support them.
 

Offline IammrA

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2020, 03:09:50 am »
Hello all,
   Thanks for your input.  I think I'll try KiCad first and if I find it too frustrating I'll try out DipTrace.  It sounds like any of the discount PCB manufacturers should be about the same so I'll shop them around once I'm ready to go. 
I appreciate all the input and honesty in your opinions.
 

Offline OwO

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2020, 03:36:31 am »
Also consider gEDA. I personally find the visual clutter of Kicad unbearable, and the grid in Kicad is not easily visible making it hard to judge distances. Latest Kicad releases are a bit better but still couldn't get used to it. If you try out gEDA make sure you know the keyboard shortcuts, like tab to switch between top/bottom view, 1/2/3/4 to switch to layers, ctrl + 1/2/3/4 to hide a layer, etc.
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Offline ANTALIFE

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2020, 04:29:01 am »
Use what ever ECAD tool you are comfortable with, for me this has always been Altium

Also for PCB fab, have a look here https://pcbshopper.com/
« Last Edit: Today at 02:12:37 am by ANTALIFE »
 
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Offline phil from seattle

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Re: Are Osh Park and KiCad still a good starting place?
« Reply #16 on: Today at 01:05:11 am »
I've been using eagle for about as long as it has been around.  I've tried switching over to Kicad several times but I'm so efficient in Eagle, that I always revert back.  I'm using V7.7 and will probably never upgrade even though I use Fusion 360 a fair amount. And for what it's worth other than a fairly generous size limitation, I've never really felt limited by it.  I've probably designed 250 boards with it and made hundreds of library parts.

That said, new PCB designers should start with Kicad. I don' think it's much better than eagle but there are no artificial limitations. They will never be sold to some entity like Autodusk that will impose random restrictions or force you into some sort of subscription plan.

Oshpark is great. I still use them for small boards but a) they are expensive for anything over 6 insq (50mm x 75mm or so) and b) they are kind of slow (11-12 days lately). I wish they would give a cheaper cost to larger boards, maybe a graduated structure like $5/sqin for the first 4, $3/sqin for the next 2, $2/sqin above that.  I can't justify paying $60 for 3 PCBs while JLCPCB will give me 5 or 10 and charge $22 ish delivered . Plus I get it in 5-6 days. For what its worth, it doesn't take much to figure out gerbers so any of 10 or so Chinese board houses are perfectly usable.
« Last Edit: Today at 02:21:50 am by phil from seattle »
 


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