PCB autorouter recommendation

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by DaveH, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. DaveH

    DaveH Thread Starter Active Member

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    I now realise why autorouters are so popular in PCB layout software. Sure an autorouter is pretty dumb and won't do much for optimising track layout to get the lowest EMI, BUT routing by hand is like a massive puzzle, especially when you're trying to do it with only 1 layer. I'm using freepcb which can use an external autorouter, but it insists you use a 2 layer board to give the algorithm less headache.

    Can anyone here can recommend something, free or not. I hope to avoid Eagle - but may be that's the only alternative.
  2. Steve C

    Steve C Active Member

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    why avoid eagle? My experience is severely limited (to eagle only I'm afraid), but it does the job OK for simple projects. From scratch, autorouter helps me optimize component position (I'm a real dunce here), and by defining one or two or three starting traces that obviously need to go in a particular way, the autorouter is usually good about getting the other traces where they need to go.

    In fact, Ive only had to jumper one or two boards I've made. That's not too bad considering I've only made one two layer board with the balance 1 layer.
  3. DaveH

    DaveH Thread Starter Active Member

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    At first I thought Eagle was the best choice, the free version is more than capable of my job. I remembered having problems installing it and getting it to use the right working directory I wanted, then when I tried uninstalling it, it left stuff in the registry that needed manual deletion to get it to install clean again, in the end I thought .... this.

    In terms of it's spec. I agree it looks pretty good though. Do you know if when you tell it to autoroute it can do it on one layer?

    I'm trying not to use bridge wires, because it's cheating, but if I have to I'll do it. It's funny when you look at your schematic, you think, that's easy to bread board, then you try a pcb layout and realise it is a pretty big IQ test. You can imagine it in the back of newspapers instead of sudoko - here route this schematic on 1 layer.
  4. THE_RB

    THE_RB AAC Fanatic!

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    Eagle is ok, actually it's great (value for money) if it's free. :)

    You can do single sided autorouting, I just make a rectangle on the bottom of the PCB and then hit autoroute so it routes totally on the top (like for SMD parts). Then delete the rectangle on the bottom. There's also a "keepout" layer or something that stops it routing if you make rectangles out of that, but you can do it either way.

    These days I hardly use the autorouter, if you do the schematic neat with attention to neat direct wiring and then place the components in similar positions to the schematic, you can route it by hand quickly and get a good result.

    Or you can just chuck stuff anywhere and the autrorouter runs 200 tracks and 200 vias.

    Either way if you want nice PCBs it takes a certain level of skill, no auto system is gonna make a bad layout into a nice layout.
  5. franzschluter

    franzschluter Active Member

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    Use eagle because the component foot print library is one of the largest.... Go to DRC to set your conditions.. When autorouting you can turn off layers if you want single side.



    I tried Protel Altium... It sucked.. Was way too big and crashed my system so often...Maybe its my pc...
    FreePCB.. portably small.. it did the job but when you want footprints its hard to use.
    Ultiboard.. i just didn't went through due to the small foot print library.
    Orcad..we used at work when the boss was around. Because he purchased it for some 3k$ (Corporate version..) But still used the eagle instead.
  6. DC_Kid

    DC_Kid Well-Known Member

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    i use DipTrace. they have a free version too.
  7. DaveH

    DaveH Thread Starter Active Member

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    Ok, thanks for feedback.

    Based on what you guys have said, I'm gonna give Eagle a another go - I'll check out DipTrace also.

    I see everything from Cadence is available if you know where to look, but the download is so big and I bet when you install it it fills your disk.

    I totally agree that PCB design even if using an autorouter is a highly skilled area of electronics. You can't just chuck the parts anywhere and expect a good result. I think the good thing about freepcb is that it teaches you that point the hardway.
  8. DC_Kid

    DC_Kid Well-Known Member

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    i'm not sure if my DipTrace Schematic allows me to define a connection's property, such as current requirement and copper weight of pcb. this is important going into the autorouter, otherwise there's a bunch more work to be done after the schematic gets in pcb layout, etc.
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