[volt-nuts] PC board layout software [WAS: HP-419...]

Charles Steinmetz csteinmetz at yandex.com
Wed Dec 3 17:46:05 EST 2014

Mark wrote:

>Eagle has a freeware version that is for non-commercial projects of 
>smaller physical size.   It is a very stable program... it has never 
>crashed on me.  Eagle has LOTS of community support.

For me, the problem with Eagle is the board size limit that you 
mention.  Even the full ("Standard") edition (currently $315-$820 for 
one user, depending on whether you get the schematic and autorouter 
modules) is limited to boards sized 16x10 cm (about 4"x6").  The 
least expensive version ("Light," currently $69 or free) only does 
8x10 cm.  To design boards larger than 16x10 cm, you need the 
"Professional" edition (currently $635-$1640).

For many of us, the "Hobbyist" edition (currently $169 for all three 
modules -- 6 layers, 16x10 cm) is the "sweet spot," but it is limited 
to "non-commercial" uses.  I presume this means that you may not 
design a board and sell completed gizmos that have the boards in 
them, or kits that include fabbed boards or the board files.

Anyway, I often need boards larger than 16x10 cm, so Eagle doesn't 
seem to fit my needs -- it's a tool with a steep leaning curve that 
would only do about half of my boards.  And $1640 for the "Pro" 
version (or even $820 for the "Standard" version) is (IMO) way too 
expensive for the capability I need.

Why did they settle on 16x10 cm for the less expensive 
versions??  That seems pretty arbitrary, given that the 
"Professional" version supports boards 400x400 cm.  I gather 16x10 cm 
is a common Eurocard size, but I don't see why that would guide the limit.

To interest me, the "Hobbyist" version would need to be capable of 
doing boards at least 8"x10" (about 40x50 cm).  But with the recent 
improvements in KiCAD, and its growing popularity (and, thus, support 
community), it may be the winner.

I'd be interested to hear from users, whether partisan or neutral, 
who have recent experience with *both* packages (Eagle 6 or 7 *and* 
KiCAD 2013.07.07).

Best regards,


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