[sdiy] Eagle for PCB Layout

rsdio at audiobanshee.com rsdio at audiobanshee.com
Fri Jun 29 03:27:25 CEST 2018

I use Eagle. I purchased a 3-seat license for version 5, then upgraded to 7.6 after a few years. I never tried to do any commercial work with Eagle before licensing it, so I have not dealt with the “free” limitations much at all.

There are both scripts and User Language Programs for expanding Eagle, and I’ve used the ULP feature for some very complex copper features. The scripting is nice if you want to use different auto-router settings for Analog versus Digital versus Power signals - the script can save you the trouble of selecting all of the various signal nets by hand. These scripts can be saved in your version control along with the project for convenience.

Eagle saves all project, library, schematic, and layout files in text format that is compatible with version control. I doubt you can merge changes from two separate developers, but I sincerely doubt that KiCAD could merge changes from multiple sessions and create a correct board. I have dozens of PCB projects in revision control, and it’s very helpful to have a process for release numbers, screen print markings, bill of materials, and all of the other details that need to be coordinated.

The ability to separate packages, symbols, and device in the Eagle libraries is very powerful. Even the manufacturers document their packages separately from their integrated circuit features, and you’ll find that many of the Eagle packages refer to the manufacturer specifications for the measurements. The ability to copy packages or symbols from one library to another is great, because you can build your own library of vetted devices. I’ve also created libraries for my clients that feature only the device on their board design, with the matching symbols and packages, so that I don’t inadvertently share design work for one client with another. My various libraries are also tracked in revision control.

The support for Mac OS X is great. It is possible to pinch for zoom, or two-finger swipe for scroll. This makes the easiest PCB CAD yet. I purchased Eagle initially because it was the only Mac compatible CAD, but now I find that it competes well with other CAD tools without spending 5-digit and 6-digit amounts. At that point, I would probably just hire someone to do the layout (one of my previous clients is a layout house that needed help with schematic design and firmware development).

The only downside is that I cannot universally recommend Eagle now due to the pricing. It’s supposed to be cheaper now that you only pay for the time that you use, but I still prefer having the ability to use a particular version forever. I think that Eagle believes you’ll still spend less money if you only use it once a month with long gaps between. Look closely at the pricing, and if it works for you then Eagle is certainly a professional tool.

I used Altium once for a client, and it seemed like it was missing certain features that Eagle has. At the same time, I found ways to do things in Altium that had been missing from Eagle for years. To be fair, I later learned that Eagle has added these features in the version I have. One example is connecting a single symbol signal to multiple pins in a package without having to define the signal multiple times in the symbol. Eagle certainly allows that now, and whether I just missed the feature before or it was literally missing from version 5, I just don’t know.

Perhaps I could make a fair comparison of Altium with Eagle if I did a second project in Altium.

There might be features missing from Eagle, but I’m not designing for aerospace or the military, so I don’t really miss the expensive features that make people pay over $10,000 for their CAD tool licenses.

Brian Willoughby

On Jun 28, 2018, at 2:01 PM, Chris Juried <cjuried at yahoo.com> wrote:
> How does Altium compare to Eagle?
> On Thursday, June 28, 2018, 4:57:02 PM EDT, john slee <indigoid at oldcorollas.org> wrote:
>> Yeah Eagle. I’ve been using it for a few years now. The improvements since Autodesk took over have been interesting. Many of them were small, subtle things, and a huge amount of bugfixes. But it feels like a much more solid product now. Really happy, and happy to keep paying for it.
>> I tried (a few times) to like Kicad, I really did. But most everything in it felt unnecessarily efforty, and my time is worth more than that. It would be cheaper to upgrade my Eagle license if necessary (eg. for more layers/larger boards) than waste any more time on Kicad
>> John
>> On Fri, 29 Jun 2018 at 04:52, Chris Juried <cjuried at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>> Hi Group,
>>> Who is currently utilizing Eagle for their PCB layouts? If not, what are you currently using?  

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