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'[EE] Altium Electronic CAD software questions'
2012\06\22@140931 by Dwayne Reid

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Good day to all.

I'm part of Microchip's Design Partner program and Microchip has made an offer that seems to be too good to pass up.

Microchip is apparently switching all of their electronic CAD software over to Altium.  As part of that deal, they have extended an offer to all Design Partners to purchase the Altium software for the price of $2500 USD per seat.  This is a price reduction of about $4500 (List price US $6995).

The first year's software maintenance cost of $1500 per seat is included in that cost.  However, the on-going cost is that yearly cost of $1500 per seat.

What the Altium sales rep told me is the maintenance cost includes frequent updates (weekly or daily) for new symbols and footprints.  He says that Altium's intent is that individual users don't have to spend time creating new library components / symbols for newly-released parts.  Instead, all of that is provided by Altium as the new parts are released.

Individual users do have to create their own custom symbols, of course.

My questions to the PIClist community are this:

1) How do Altium users like the software?

2) Is it reasonably easy to use (after the initial learning curve)?

3) Is it stable?

4) Do you have to constantly check the output files (Gerber) to ensure that they are accurate?

5) How is the documentation?  Is (was) it easy to learn to use?

I'm currently using a combination of old software and new.  My first 'real' electronics CAD package was something called 'EE Designer II' and I *really* like it.  I still use it to this day - but its not optimum for SMD designs.  It works, but its normal resolution grid is only 12.5 mils and its usually not worth the hassle to use its fine resolution mode of 5 mils.  That said - I routinely design boards that consist mostly 0603 components with it.

EE Designer II was superceded by EE Designer III, then the company went through some kind of shakeup and the software path split.  One company's version is called EDWIN, the other is CADint.  We stuck with the CADint people.  CADint is based in Sweden and they have a US rep.  <http://www.cadint.se>  <http://www.cadint.com>

CADint is *really* powerful.  Its default resolution is freaking tiny (microns or tenth microns - don't remember) which means that it switches seamlessly between English and Metric measurements with absolutely NO error whatsoever.  The software has tons of features but I'm guessing that we use perhaps 10% of the package's capabilities.

But (and there is ALWAYS a 'but'): the documentation sucks, bordering on non-existent.  We discover new features by playing with the software, then making notes on what we did to make a particular feature work.

The up-side of the CADint software is the incredibly easy ground-plane generation and the even-more-incredibly-easy Gerber file generation.  And: the software NEVER crashes.  Not once, ever, in the more than 20 years that I've been using EE Designer II and CADint.  I've done thousands of board layouts and spent more than ten thousand hours using the software (both EE Designer II and CADint) and it has NEVER crashed.  This issue concerns me - I've heard some horror stories regarding lost work from people who used Protel.

I've also got a sweet-heart deal regarding the annual software maintenance costs for CADint.

My personal workflow is to create the PCB layout in EE Designer II, then import into CADint for ground-plane generation and Gerber file generation.  However, I've been teaching our engineers to use CADint rather than making them learn an obsolete package.  As a result, I'm the only person who still uses EE Designer II at my shop.  Everyone else uses CADint.

The main reason that I am considering spending a ton of money to change CAD packages is because of symbol and footprint generation.  CADint is super flexible and it takes a relatively long time to create new footprints in the package because there are so many options.  In fact, I normally generate new footprints in EE Designer II, then import them into CADint.  It takes WAY less time doing it that way.


I've been sitting on this question for a few weeks now.  The offer from Altium expires next week and I'm either going to spend 10 grand purchasing new software for 4 seats - or not.  We are a tiny company and spending this kind of money is something that I don't do quickly or lightly.  I'm hoping that feedback from the PIClist community will help me decide.

Many thanks!

dwayne

-- Dwayne Reid   <spam_OUTdwaynerTakeThisOuTspamplanet.eon.net>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd    Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice          (780) 487-6397 fax
http://www.trinity-electronics.com
Custom Electronics Design and Manufacturing

2012\06\22@143848 by Andre Abelian

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Hi Dwayne,


________________________________
From: Dwayne Reid <.....dwaynerKILLspamspam@spam@planet.eon.net>
To: pic microcontroller discussion list <piclistspamKILLspammit.edu> Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 11:09 AM
Subject: [EE] Altium Electronic CAD software questions
Good day to all.

I'm part of Microchip's Design Partner program and Microchip has made an offer that seems to be too good to pass up.

Microchip is apparently switching all of their electronic CAD software over to Altium.  As part of that deal, they have extended an offer to all Design Partners to purchase the Altium software for the price of $2500 USD per seat.  This is a price reduction of about $4500 (List price US $6995).

The first year's software maintenance cost of $1500 per seat is included in that cost.  However, the on-going cost is that yearly cost of $1500 per seat.

What the Altium sales rep told me is the maintenance cost includes frequent updates (weekly or daily) for new symbols and footprints.  He says that Altium's intent is that individual users don't have to spend time creating new library components / symbols for newly-released parts.  Instead, all of that is provided by Altium as the new parts are released.

Individual users do have to create their own custom symbols, of course.

My questions to the PIClist community are this:

1) How do Altium users like the software?

>> I use  Pads and Altium. Altium is very buggy and lots of things you have to do manual and long way.
     it has good features too but to me base engine is too basic. I do not care if it make nice BOM etc.
     so I use altium up to component placement then I finish the job in pads. to me PADS and Altium 
    can't be compared. You simply get used to what you do and later you become better at that.
     I personally like to use technology to help catch mistakes. my choice is pads with altium together 


2) Is it reasonably easy to use (after the initial learning curve)?
    my way of saying it. it is done Altium way so you can't guess what to do
    you really need to watch tutorial. there are things done really nice or you are
    going to say WHAT? it doesn't do that? make it short yes it is easy after watching the video.


3) Is it stable?
   not stable at all expect crash once in a while


4) Do you have to constantly check the output files (Gerber) to ensure that they are accurate?
once the gerber is done you can check it in camtastic software comes with it.


5) How is the documentation?  Is (was) it easy to learn to use?
   this part I give good credit. there are lots of videos and tutorials..
    

I'm currently using a combination of old software and new.  My first 'real' electronics CAD package was something called 'EE Designer II' and I *really* like it.  I still use it to this day - but its not optimum for SMD designs.  It works, but its normal resolution grid is only 12.5 mils and its usually not worth the hassle to use its fine resolution mode of 5 mils.  That said - I routinely design boards that consist mostly 0603 components with it.

EE Designer II was superceded by EE Designer III, then the company went through some kind of shakeup and the software path split.  One company's version is called EDWIN, the other is CADint.  We stuck with the CADint people.  CADint is based in Sweden and they have a US rep.  <http://www.cadint.se>  <http://www.cadint.com>

CADint is *really* powerful.  Its default resolution is freaking tiny (microns or tenth microns - don't remember) which means that it switches seamlessly between English and Metric measurements with absolutely NO error whatsoever.  The software has tons of features but I'm guessing that we use perhaps 10% of the package's capabilities.

But (and there is ALWAYS a 'but'): the documentation sucks, bordering on non-existent.  We discover new features by playing with the software, then making notes on what we did to make a particular feature work.

The up-side of the CADint software is the incredibly easy ground-plane generation and the even-more-incredibly-easy Gerber file generation.  And: the software NEVER crashes.  Not once, ever, in the more than 20 years that I've been using EE Designer II and CADint.  I've done thousands of board layouts and spent more than ten thousand hours using the software (both EE Designer II and CADint) and it has NEVER crashed.  This issue concerns me - I've heard some horror stories regarding lost work from people who used Protel.

I've also got a sweet-heart deal regarding the annual software maintenance costs for CADint.

My personal workflow is to create the PCB layout in EE Designer II, then import into CADint for ground-plane generation and Gerber file generation.  However, I've been teaching our engineers to use CADint rather than making them learn an obsolete package.  As a result, I'm the only person who still uses EE Designer II at my shop.  Everyone else uses CADint.

The main reason that I am considering spending a ton of money to change CAD packages is because of symbol and footprint generation.  CADint is super flexible and it takes a relatively long time to create new footprints in the package because there are so many options.  In fact, I normally generate new footprints in EE Designer II, then import them into CADint.  It takes WAY less time doing it that way.


I've been sitting on this question for a few weeks now.  The offer from Altium expires next week and I'm either going to spend 10 grand purchasing new software for 4 seats - or not.  We are a tiny company and spending this kind of money is something that I don't do quickly or lightly.  I'm hoping that feedback from the PIClist community will help me decide.

Many thanks!

dwayne

-- Dwayne Reid   <.....dwaynerKILLspamspam.....planet.eon.net>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd    Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice          (780) 487-6397 fax
http://www.trinity-electronics.com
Custom Electronics Design and Manufacturing

2012\06\22@145001 by Brendan Gillatt

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On 22 June 2012 19:09, Dwayne Reid <EraseMEdwaynerspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTplanet.eon.net> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

I've used Altium (and it's predecessor Protel) for many years. While
the old Protel used to like crashing at the most awkward moments, I've
never had a problem with Altium.

Learning to use it can be a bit daunting at times: it definitely
includes the kitchen sink. Learning which menu options to use took me
a while to figure out. The interface itself has barely changed since
Protel so there's plenty of documentation around for it. Also, Altium
has recently started producing pretty comprehensive video tutorials on
its website alongside their fairly complete wiki.

The library of parts is good, although I wouldn't go so far as to rely
on having every available part already available. (NB for this list:
it includes hundreds of PIC parts.)

I've never had a problem with the Gerbers being wrong.

I've tried a bunch of alternatives from Cadence, Eagle, etc., but I
prefer Altium every time. YMMV. I particularly like the board layout:
its fast and user friendly, though it can be a bit of a memory hog.

Also, it comes with a good SPICE simulator and FPGA bits and bobs.

As for the price: even with your discount it's still 3 or 4 times as
expensive as Eagle--not including the "updates" charges--so take a
good look to see if it's really what you need.

All the best,
Brendan

-- Brendan Gillatt
http://www.brendangillatt.co.uk

2012\06\22@151349 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 02:09 PM 22/06/2012, you wrote:


>I've been sitting on this question for a few weeks now.  The offer
>from Altium expires next week and I'm either going to spend 10 grand
>purchasing new software for 4 seats - or not.  We are a tiny company
>and spending this kind of money is something that I don't do quickly
>or lightly.  I'm hoping that feedback from the PIClist community will
>help me decide.
>
>Many thanks!
>
>dwayne

The software is okay, IMHO. If you choose to discontinue subscription
service do you still have access to the libraries (ie. parts that
you have not yet used in a PCB)?

--sp

2012\06\22@153651 by Marcel Duchamp

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On 6/22/2012 11:09 AM, Dwayne Reid wrote:
> The first year's software maintenance cost of $1500 per seat is
> included in that cost.  However, the on-going cost is that yearly
> cost of $1500 per seat.

We have gone through the last 15 years with Protel/Altium.  The latest Altium version we have uses a server based authentication which allows one user at a time.  Anyone can install the software on their computer but only one at a time can run it.  If the server is offline, no one can run it.  You install the server software at your site, btw.  It's not some cloud solution.


>
> 1) How do Altium users like the software?

All cad software has quirks; Altium is no difference.  You get used to one package or another. I prefer Orcad for schematic capture but occasionally use Protel for this.
> 2) Is it reasonably easy to use (after the initial learning curve)?
Reasonably.
> 3) Is it stable?
The name changes through the years, IMHO, were simply to make users think they were getting something new.  Altium is Protel with bug fixes.  We don't pay the maintenance extortion.  It works well enough. Crashes are less with Altium than Protel but certainly not non-existant.
> 4) Do you have to constantly check the output files (Gerber) to
> ensure that they are accurate?

Haven't had any problems yet.
> 5) How is the documentation?
IMHO, it sucks.

Based on your experience with Cadint, I would stick with that.  We never benefit from stock footprints; each company has their own idiosyncrasies on this topic and will likely want their own.  That said, when I need a new footprint, I choose one that is similar and then modify it.

2012\06\22@161253 by Dwayne Reid

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At 01:36 PM 6/22/2012, Marcel Duchamp wrote:
>On 6/22/2012 11:09 AM, Dwayne Reid wrote:
> > The first year's software maintenance cost of $1500 per seat is
> > included in that cost.  However, the on-going cost is that yearly
> > cost of $1500 per seat.
>
>We have gone through the last 15 years with Protel/Altium.  The latest
>Altium version we have uses a server based authentication which allows
>one user at a time.  Anyone can install the software on their computer
>but only one at a time can run it.  If the server is offline, no one can
>run it.  You install the server software at your site, btw.  It's not
>some cloud solution.

Yeah - 2 or 3 of our seats will be with cloud-based authentication.  At least one license will be stand-alone because I often do not have Internet access when I'm on site at a customer's location..

I really like the idea of the cloud-based authentication because it lets me have the software installed on more machines than we have licenses for.  As you note, we can use only the number of machines that we have licenses for at any one time.  But it seems like a real convenience rather than having to move dongles around.

dwayne

-- Dwayne Reid   <dwaynerspamspam_OUTplanet.eon.net>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd    Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice          (780) 487-6397 fax
http://www.trinity-electronics.com
Custom Electronics Design and Manufacturing

2012\06\22@190548 by David Duffy (AVD)

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On 23/06/2012 5:36 AM, Marcel Duchamp wrote:
> On 6/22/2012 11:09 AM, Dwayne Reid wrote:
>> The first year's software maintenance cost of $1500 per seat is
>> included in that cost.  However, the on-going cost is that yearly
>> cost of $1500 per seat.
> We have gone through the last 15 years with Protel/Altium.  The latest
> Altium version we have uses a server based authentication which allows
> one user at a time.  Anyone can install the software on their computer
> but only one at a time can run it.  If the server is offline, no one can
> run it.  You install the server software at your site, btw.  It's not
> some cloud solution.

I recently upgraded to the latest version of Altium.  I use the on-demand licence method so I can float around to different machines (at work and home).  No local licence server is required in this mode.
David...

-- ___________________________________________
David Duffy        Audio Visual Devices P/L
Unit 8, 10 Hook St, Capalaba 4157 Australia
Ph: +61 7 38235717      Fax: +61 7 38234717
Our Web Site: http://www.audiovisualdevices.com.au
___________________________________________

2012\06\25@040317 by alan.b.pearce

face picon face
> Based on your experience with Cadint, I would stick with that.  We never benefit
> from stock footprints; each company has their own idiosyncrasies on this topic and
> will likely want their own.  That said, when I need a new footprint, I choose one
> that is similar and then modify it.

That is what we do with our OrCad setup. We don't use the supplied footprints, but do them in house to our standards, even for standard JEDEC footprints.
There is always something "wrong" with the supplied footprint, be it pad length, width, silkscreen shape, resist clearance, pastemask hole size, pin 1 pad shape, or any other parameter, that it is easier to start afresh.
At least footprint generation is reasonably mechanised in OrCad ...
-- Scanned by iCritical.

2012\06\25@215623 by Dwayne Reid

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Many thanks to everyone regarding their thoughts and experiences with Altium.  I've also had a chance to talk with a couple of users here in Edmonton and they both tell me that they would NOT purchase Altium again, given their experience with the package.

Their experience matches some of what was mentioned by PIClisters - its buggy and it crashes.  One local user sort-of drove a final nail into Altium's coffin - one of the main reasons I was wanting to make a change was because Altium updates component symbols and footprints on a regular basis.  Craig (one of the local users I spoke with) says that Altium designs their footprints for high-end automated production equipment and the copper features are often too small for easy or reliable hand assembly and rework.

In other words, he winds up modifying most of the footprints that he uses (both SMD and through-hole) to have larger copper features.  That is: wider and longer SMD pads, larger copper annulus on through-hole components.

So: if the main reason that I want to change to a different package has been negated, that pretty much eliminates the reason for making the change.

The Altium rep is decidedly unhappy with me.  That's 10 grand that I'm not going to spend with him.


Now on to a related topic:

What do people think the CAD package called "DipTrace"?  The other Altium local user that my business partner spoke with runs a company somewhat larger than ours and he is currently evaluating DipTrace to replace Altium.  He, too, is tired of the bugginess that Altium exhibits and is *REALLY* tired of paying the yearly software assurance fees that Altium charges.

I looked at DipTrace myself a few months ago, when Parallax jumped on board with the package but have never spent any significant time with the package.

I'm not particularly eager to get rid of CADint - its a stupidly-powerful software package that works really well.  The Altium deal looked good because of the ever-increasing library of components and footprints, which CADint doesn't offer.  But CADint is relatively difficult for newbies to learn (easier than Eagle, but not much) whereas DipTrace looks to be stunningly easy to learn.

Opinions greatly appreciated.

Many thanks!

dwayne

-- Dwayne Reid   <@spam@dwaynerKILLspamspamplanet.eon.net>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd    Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice          (780) 487-6397 fax
http://www.trinity-electronics.com
Custom Electronics Design and Manufacturing

2012\06\25@220214 by David Duffy (AVD)

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On 26/06/2012 11:56 AM, Dwayne Reid wrote:
> Their experience matches some of what was mentioned by PIClisters -
> its buggy and it crashes.

I can't say I've had any issues with Altium crashing.

> One local user sort-of drove a final nail
> into Altium's coffin - one of the main reasons I was wanting to make
> a change was because Altium updates component symbols and footprints
> on a regular basis.  Craig (one of the local users I spoke with) says
> that Altium designs their footprints for high-end automated
> production equipment and the copper features are often too small for
> easy or reliable hand assembly and rework.

I've always made my own footprints for that reason, but I don't see it as an issue.
David...

-- ___________________________________________
David Duffy        Audio Visual Devices P/L
Unit 8, 10 Hook St, Capalaba 4157 Australia
Ph: +61 7 38235717      Fax: +61 7 38234717
Our Web Site: http://www.audiovisualdevices.com.au
___________________________________________

2012\06\25@230234 by Peter

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On 26/06/2012 12:02 PM, David Duffy (AVD) wrote:
> On 26/06/2012 11:56 AM, Dwayne Reid wrote:
>> Their experience matches some of what was mentioned by PIClisters -
>> its buggy and it crashes.
> I can't say I've had any issues with Altium crashing.
I'd also have to say the same as David, with the exception of this year to date, I've seen two Altium crashes, which were graphics related, now fixed.
>> One local user sort-of drove a final nail
>> into Altium's coffin - one of the main reasons I was wanting to make
>> a change was because Altium updates component symbols and footprints
>> on a regular basis.  Craig (one of the local users I spoke with) says
>> that Altium designs their footprints for high-end automated
>> production equipment and the copper features are often too small for
>> easy or reliable hand assembly and rework.
> I've always made my own footprints for that reason, but I don't see it
> as an issue.
> David...
I too have my own extensive library of components and footprints, as well as my own custom made 3D components which is invaluable in showing clients how might their boards look.
Like anything, the learning curve can be and is steep but then gets easier, to a point where it is just another tradesman's tool.  I don't see it as an issue either.  It is a great tool of the trade.
Peter
------------------------------------------------------------------------

2012\06\26@024945 by Ruben Jönsson

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I don't know about either DipTrace or Altium but I can recommend another package: Designspark from RSComponents. It is free, does schematics, pcb layout (obviously!), a limited 3D view of the board, manufacturing plot outputs (gerber, penplot or PDF) and has spice simulation outputs. It is supposed to be a community thing where people submit their designs and libraries. There are quite a lot of components (schematic symbols and pcb footprints) in the supplied libraries but it is quite hard to find what you are looking for and since it comes from different sources, standards vary. I ended up doing my own component library. It is quite easy once you get the hang of it and now I only need to do a couple of new symbols for every new design I do.

I most of the time end up doing a special version of the schematic symbol for more complex component for each design, that just fits the schematic for that design. I have not used buses (which has very limited support) or multisheet schematics.

The help files are pretty good.

It takes some time getting used to the segment drawing modes (keep the grid snap size as large as possible).

I also come from using EEDesigner (V2.75) and I was for many years reluctant to change just because of the difficulty to evaluate a new software - you basically need to learn the software and do a new design before you know how good it is. Now I am quite happy with Designspark, it allows me to quickly draw a schematic and do a board from that and it also provides the documentation and board manufacturing documents that I need. It does occasionaly crash but it regularly saves its own backup files so I have at the most lost about 5 minutes of work.

/Ruben


{Quote hidden}

> -

2012\06\26@085117 by Dave Lagzdin

picon face
Nobody mentioned their sales and marketing minions
High pressure "flexible" ethics...

On 22 June 2012 14:09, Dwayne Reid <RemoveMEdwaynerTakeThisOuTspamplanet.eon.net> wrote:

{Quote hidden}

2012\06\26@160454 by Jesse Lackey

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Hi Dwayne, I bought Altium off the tradeshow floor at ESC this year, and while I got something of a deal ($1K off regular price) it was nothing like this deal you've got.  I've used Eagle for 10 years, and this is the big upgrade to be able to design anything, I've done several designs that while possible in Eagle became many hours of avoidable tediousness b/c Eagle doesn't have (and likely won't have for many years) to tools needed to effectively do large-scale designs.  You can manually route 2000+ nets in Eagle, just like you can construct an office complex with a wheelbarrow.

I want to be able to design motherboards, and it is quite clear Eagle will not be viable for a decade, if ever, for that scale of design work.

And this is not to diss Eagle, it has been great for 10 years, no complaints, and I recommend it.  But Altium is so far ahead of it, and the company has many more engineers and money to develop further, that it is a whole different beast.  That's what you're paying for...

That Microchip has switched to Altium, and has gotten Altium to make this rather amazing offer to their design partners, shows that Microchip is on the Altium train and will stay there.  Presumably they surveyed the marketplace and negotiated with Altium and whomever else, and Altium won.  I cannot imagine this decision was made lightly by Microchip.

I wish TI would standardize on it too ... their ref designs are in multiple formats, it is likely different groups in TI (many from acquired companies or hired out of collapsing companies) have their way of working and they just keep on with what works, of course.  Some ref designs are in Altium.

I look forward to the day I can open an ARM A8 based ref design in Altium and begin the customization and be able to create that scale of design with relatively low risk and decently fast turnaround.  I think that day is close.

That will never happen in Eagle, and never in the other CAD systems you mention.

How much this applies to you, and is it worth the money (I only needed 1 seat) is a business/strategy decision you'll have to make.

I can't advise on the actual how good is Altium day to day, I've only barely started learning it.

Thanks for asking all the questions and starting this thread - good reading..

Cheers,
J


Dwayne Reid wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2012\06\27@015536 by cdb

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On Mon, 25 Jun 2012 19:56:15 -0600, Dwayne Reid wrote:
:: Now on to a related topic:
::
:: What do people think the CAD package
--

You might want to check out DeX - main drawbacks are few manuals or tutorials, has some bugs thought once notified they get sorted reasonably quickly. It uses XML behind the scenes so can't be exported into other CAD packages. Doesn't have a large library but it is quite easy to add your own component.

Which probably removes it from your wants list :)

Colin
cdb, spamBeGonecolinspamBeGonespambtech-online.co.uk on 27/06/2012
Web presence: http://www.btech-online.co.uk   Hosted by:  http://www.justhost.com.au
 This email is to be considered private if addressed to a named  individual or Personnel Department, and public if addressed to a blog,  forum or news article.
 

2012\06\29@195559 by Andre Abelian

picon face
Dwayne ,


I am happy with Mentor Graphics Pads. I am not saying best in the world but compare to other
high end software pads is good.

AA


________________________________
From: Dwayne Reid <TakeThisOuTdwaynerEraseMEspamspam_OUTplanet.eon.net>
To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public. <RemoveMEpiclistspamTakeThisOuTmit.edu> Sent: Monday, June 25, 2012 6:56 PM
Subject: Re: [EE] Altium Electronic CAD software questions
Many thanks to everyone regarding their thoughts and experiences with Altium.  I've also had a chance to talk with a couple of users here in Edmonton and they both tell me that they would NOT purchase Altium again, given their experience with the package.

Their experience matches some of what was mentioned by PIClisters - its buggy and it crashes.  One local user sort-of drove a final nail into Altium's coffin - one of the main reasons I was wanting to make a change was because Altium updates component symbols and footprints on a regular basis.  Craig (one of the local users I spoke with) says that Altium designs their footprints for high-end automated production equipment and the copper features are often too small for easy or reliable hand assembly and rework.

In other words, he winds up modifying most of the footprints that he uses (both SMD and through-hole) to have larger copper features.  That is: wider and longer SMD pads, larger copper annulus on through-hole components.

So: if the main reason that I want to change to a different package has been negated, that pretty much eliminates the reason for making the change.

The Altium rep is decidedly unhappy with me.  That's 10 grand that I'm not going to spend with him.


Now on to a related topic:

What do people think the CAD package called "DipTrace"?  The other Altium local user that my business partner spoke with runs a company somewhat larger than ours and he is currently evaluating DipTrace to replace Altium.  He, too, is tired of the bugginess that Altium exhibits and is *REALLY* tired of paying the yearly software assurance fees that Altium charges.

I looked at DipTrace myself a few months ago, when Parallax jumped on board with the package but have never spent any significant time with the package.

I'm not particularly eager to get rid of CADint - its a stupidly-powerful software package that works really well.  The Altium deal looked good because of the ever-increasing library of components and footprints, which CADint doesn't offer.  But CADint is relatively difficult for newbies to learn (easier than Eagle, but not much) whereas DipTrace looks to be stunningly easy to learn.

Opinions greatly appreciated.

Many thanks!

dwayne

-- Dwayne Reid   <dwaynerEraseMEspam.....planet.eon.net>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd    Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice          (780) 487-6397 fax
http://www.trinity-electronics.com
Custom Electronics Design and Manufacturing

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