pcb software... altium, confused

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zuzu

Member level 3
Hello friends,

I know this was (and will be) discussed but what a heck I need some opinions

I have 8+ uears OrCad experience and overall, quite pleased. Except from version 9 to 16 I really don't noticed some significant improvements, OrCad is still a great PCB design software. But tired of making our own libraries and trying somehow to improve and speed designs (especially on complicated boards) we try Altium these days and still confused (OrCad will be reference):

Quickly design schematic, including custom libraries. Nice look & feel, excellent job. Program interface is modern and moves ok. We also liked huge amount of libraries free download at Altium website as they should !!!

PCB seems to be disaster (hope I'm wrong). Too much complicated and useless commands, grid is poor, drawing a simple rectangle shape is a pain in the ass, a simple drag of components on board is at least curious, rotating components is impossible unless while dragging, drawing a cooper poor attached to gnd needs constant refresh other ways is drawn by other color and components behind become invisible.... and so on... our list is long.

Other features Altium may have was not tested since we are not capable yet to make a simple PCB which in OrCad is done in minutes.

The question is: does it worth to test more ?

FvM

Super Moderator
Staff member
Your describing what happens when working with a new PCB tool but expecting the special features of your old one. You most likely get the opposite result when an Altium user is testing Orcad PCB. The reported difficulties mainly show, that the user interface concepts are considerably different.

Even if you ignore the price differences, Altium Designer performs well. I agree, that you need to get familiar with some concepts. Personally, I'm under the impression, that it partly lacks of intuitive control, but I also know people contradicting this opinion.

zuzu

zuzu

Points: 2

zuzu

Member level 3
In fact, the price is not a problem since our company needs to decide these days on next tool, so we test few offers also (Zuken, PADS).

Your describing what happens when working with a new PCB tool but expecting the special features of your old one.
Beautiful said! But (probably) for marketing reasons (touch & feel) few simple functions like dragging, rotating, deleting "so far" routed net, etc... seems to be more complicated than they should be I like KISS principle... and this reminds me some old joke:

A dentist was awarded for the first dental extraction via back side...

kevin54

Member level 2
I'm a fan of Altium, although the reasons may not apply to you. It's a nicely integrated system, changes flow easily between PCB and schematic. Hierarchical design capability is excellent, if you want to replicate a circuit ("channel" in Atium-speak) you can easily do it on schematic, then lay out 1 section on PCB and copy the layout to other "rooms". I did this with 15-channel PCB and it worked great. User interface is very intuitive for Windows users. Excellent capability for generating documentation (PDFs of schematics, pick and place reports, ability to easily import vendor information from DigiKey, Mouser, etc, and include in BOMs. Can generate manufacturing assembly "variants". Built-in footprint wizard works great; lots of library parts included but if you design with newer parts you'll still have to make your own footprints. If you put 3D Step models in your footprint library, it generates incredible 3D renderings of your PCB, which not only look great but let you do mechanical checking before you make the board (I discovered a footprint error for a connector when I saw the mismatch between the PCB and the 3D model downloaded from Molex). You can design FPGAs with it. Reasonably priced. It does have its quirks, but so do all EDA programs, I'll grant you that some layout functions could be improved. I can't speak for the autorouter because the boards I've done with it have been mostly hand-routed. Drawing rectangles is very easy though, as is drawing polygons. I used to use Orcad 15.7 which was fine for simple PCBs, and I had a chance to try Orcad/Allegro 16 but found it very non-intuitive. I think Altium is really very good, there is never a day when I wish I was using something else.

zuzu

zuzu

Points: 2

zuzu

Member level 3
I used to use Orcad 15.7 which was fine for simple PCBs, and I had a chance to try Orcad/Allegro 16 but found it very non-intuitive.
The OrCad 16 I think has nothjing to do with Allegro. It's the same thing as OrCad 9 which I started many years ago. Except this one doesn't crash unexpectedly and loose all your design I must admit, I remember when I started OrCad where about 2-3 weeks of pain and many years of improvements (myself... lol) I still doesn't understand why COPY-PASTE is working one way in Capture and completely different in Layout...

However, Altium maked a very good impression so far, still troubling on PCB side. We are really pleased all nice features that some sales representative shown us on PADS (many \$) exists also in Altium.

PS. The is a way to force drawing a 4 corner rectangle by lines? Or how to delete intermediate points on lines? Really... most intuitive interface is Visio (Microsoft) and in my opinion, many PCB sw designers should be inspired by simplicity...

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kevin54

Member level 2
To place a rectangle, you just Place -> Fill ("PF" from the keyboard if you prefer), then click to place a corner, then click again for the opposite corner.

To rotate a component, click and hold to select and start dragging, then press spacebar to rotate (90 degrees for each press).

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andre_luis

Super Moderator
Staff member
zuzu

Like you presented at first post this subject may be controverse and opinions may vary.

Generally CADs wich were originally made in a non graphic operational system ( Unix / DOS ) seems to be poor integrated to newer Layout designers.
Altium requires some time to take experience to appreciate it.
My opinion is that OrCad compared to Altium have less features, but I may be wrong due I don´t work with OrCad for a lot of years.

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