[time-nuts] Schematic capture, anyone?

Brooke Clarke brooke at pacific.net
Fri Feb 24 17:52:52 UTC 2012

Hi Bob:

I'll second the usefulness of checking the layout against the schematic.  The early versions of ExpressPCB did not have 
schematic capture and even on very simple boards I ended up making patches.  http://www.expresspcb.com/
Now when you're doing the layout you can turn on checking and all the pads for the currently active note light up in a 
different color.  By stepping through all the nodes you can confirm that they are all connected to each other.

I've been using ExpressPCB for a long time and for what I'm doing it's the most effective in terms of my time.  The down 
side is that their free software is proprietary to their process.  You don't get to shop vendors.  In exchange you get a 
very simple and easy to learn interface and an extensive library of standard parts.  It's also easy to add a custom 
part.  For me the learning curve for working with something like Eagle and the different file types and conventions is 
not worth the time.

I use the schematic capture to draw schematics for things where I'm not going to make a board.

Have Fun,

Brooke Clarke

Bob Camp wrote:
> Hi
> One very basic question to ask yourself:
> Do you want / need a program that checks the schematic against the layout?
> It's a feature that probably isn't needed for a really simple circuit. It's
> something that will save you a hundred dollars (one PCB run) pretty quick on
> things of even moderate complexity.
> You can indeed do the schematic on the back of an envelope and do the layout
> from that. Print out the layout and get out the colored pencils. Color this
> here and that there as you check it. Been there done that. Gets old pretty
> quick.
> Next basic question:
> How big are the built in / available libraries? If not built in are they
> free or an extra cost option?
> All of these programs have the very basic stuff in them. Even simple designs
> seem to get past the basics pretty fast. RF connectors, regulators, stuff
> from Mini Circuits, something gets in there. Even a big library won't have
> everything. Doing two things instead of ten is a lot less tiring.
> The library thing goes to both ends. Having a schematic with a bunch of
> numbered boxes in it isn't very helpful. Having a layout made up of a random
> bunch of pads makes changes (and checking) tough. Again, loose one PCB run
> to a mistake and you have paid for a license to some of these programs or
> the library upgrade.
> No, I'm not trying to sell you on any specific program. I'm just trying to
> complicate the decision process. It's better to look at all the issues
> before you spend a couple months learning how a package works than to run
> through three or four packages (and a years worth of agony).
> Bob
> -----Original Message-----
> From: time-nuts-bounces at febo.com [mailto:time-nuts-bounces at febo.com] On
> Behalf Of Jim Hickstein
> Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2012 7:39 PM
> To: time-nuts at febo.com
> Subject: [time-nuts] Schematic capture, anyone?
> What do people use these days for schematic capture (and just possibly PCB
> layout), for low-budget homebrew stuff?  It's been so long since I did this,
> I
> still own a T-square and a pile of contemporary relics like rules and
> triangles.
>    I'll get out my pencil sharpener if I have to.  But really, this must be a
> solved problem by now.  For less than $300?  I only need TTL, not striplines
> or
> any black magic like that.
> I'm a Mac shop, but can of course run Windows if need be.  And to make
> matters
> worse, I prefer ANSI logic symbology over shovels-and-spades (or, really,
> over
> plain rectangles where you're expected to know what the part number means).
> This comes from exposure to Control Data, who were big on it back in the
> day.  I
> even used to be on the mailing list of the standards committee.  I suppose
> that
> all sank without a trace?  If it's still controversial, I apologize in
> advance
> for trolling.
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