Autodesk EAGLE PCB Design Software, Premium (1yr) - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Autodesk EAGLE PCB Design Software, Premium (1yr)

Author: geralds

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Independent Products

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: This is part one of the Eagle Road Test - (Auto)Router

What were the biggest problems encountered?: software crash, exception error, on starting routing

Detailed Review:

Dear Randall,
Dear suppliers,

 

 

Thank you very much for selecting me, that I can participate to the Autodesk Eagle Road Test.

 

Preface:
Why do I write here the first review and as far as exclusively about the router?
Actually, because it caused a crash of the software, and that has happened several times.

I think in this review absolutely positive and it is NO criticism in the sense of "These are many errors".
No, yes, I am a service engineer and a developer and understand the hard work of developers and testers of this excellent product.

But, I think the correct function of the router can be a purchase decision, it is probably also the most complex function module.
Above all, the software can not crash completely here.

It is interesting, as far as I have an overview, all similar products have probably the same quality characteristics.
The Schematic Editor works as good as always up to 100%.
The PCB editor without the router is similar, but here is the great complexity, up to 95%.
The router, in what makes, or qualities, it reaches my view so 70 - 80%.
And most of all, where problems were, the component management is with the library module.

"If the router works without crash, then I buy the product"; So are many statements of marketing during the shopping negotiations.
Although the quality of my experience is never 100%.

In this sense - EAGLE - a "easy-to-use graphic layout editor" is a great tool, which now comes out of the children's shoes.

 

Best Regards

Gerald

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Eagle is a very fine tool which you can build your schematic diagrams also the layout for the PCB.
I like to work with it because this is an easy to use tool.

 

-> Firstly I tested the Autorouter also manual routing. I think that is the most important function module; yes of coarse the module schematic editor.


The schematic editor works as expected also basically the router and also the library.
Eagle comes also with the help file, eagle manual also with a fine tutorial so that you can easy learning the steps from the schematic to the layout and also for the fabrication.

/ -> The help file have many old information, e.g. types of Eagle packages which are obsolete. Please actualize it. Thank you.

 

In this meaning, in the Road Test, I'll not rolling out the basic functions of the software tools - I would say there are three tools:
Schematic, PCB, Autorouter; a fourth module can be the Library but it comes with sch or with pcb.

In this first part of the review I've tested the most important tool (for me) - the (auto)router.
For this I just created a test board with the most used devices, standard also special devices.
In the library I created a simple part, a 7 segment display (I've drawn it with help lines).

 

1.) Schematic diagram:
Basically the schematic was working as excepted.

Without the new functions there was no problem (e.g. module, design block).
In the sch are basic parts also special parts e.g. one with an FPBGA with 256 pins (fine pitch BGA).

Then I inserted a simple Design block, a module.
e.g. this simple module have a µC and its board to board connectors, like as a "test socket".

 

 

 

2.) The PCB:

The dimension with the two modules.

At the area around the standard parts I routed manually. This was done with the Eagle V8.0.

During Road Test I used the Eagle V8.1.1.

The FPBGA was routed with BGA routing - it worked as expected but before starting it there is needing to check the design rules.

 

The most important with this I would say is the right routing grid.

And in that meaning, setting the right grid also routing grid is necessary for error free routing.

 

-> Here, I would suggest, if it possible to get a flexible grid schematic.
e.g. often I use a 50mil grid for standard parts but the FPBGA needs a 0.1mil grid.

So I would like use one dimension area with separating the both routing islands the two routing grids.
Like in this demo PCB - at the top the standard parts have a 50mil grid and around the FPBGA because it was created with decimal dimension have a decimal grid with e.g. 0.001mm.

 

Flexible grids would be also fine for creating the devices in the library.
I created a 7 segment display to showing what i mean. The grid here is 1mic the helplines are horizontal, vertical and in angles e.g. for that display character.

But the grid for the pins are in 100mil.

 

 

- routing -

The track from IC4 to IC3 was made with pair routing.
It works but it was tricky connecting at the ends to the pads.

Here I would suggest that pair routing needs more flexibility also flexible editing the parameters. The best of this seems interactive changing the parameters during routing with the mouse buttons.

Also pair routing starting form both ends going to the middle of the track (as the manual mentioned) can have problems.

If there some corners, calculating errors or rounding errors can appear, then it may loosing the routing grid so that the tracks would not overlap 100% to each other.

 

Around the IC3 to RN1 (resister network) routing was made with auto routing. Also the second module IC101 was made with auto routing.

This module does not need Via - ok, it seems the setting of the routing rules needs a bit finer.

 

! Well, now it comes what i didn't thought about.

 

! Crashing the complete Eagle software.

Really? - yes.

Here there are some videos, Autorouter, manual routing.

In the first video i also tried editing the port properties; it not works - there are no buttons or checkboxes nor editable text fields.

If some missing during creating the modules and its ports in the schematic there is no possible to edit the properties. - Eagle V8.1.1

2nd, 3rd scene the Autorouter: Routing grid also grid of the dimension!!! -

!! First, in the grid setting I switched to the finest grid.

Then you can route the tracks. If not, setting in the routing rules may crash the software.

It seems there is a bug.

 

 

The problem exist also in manual routing. - It seems that the function "walkaround obstacle" have a problem.

Or the problem lies in routing the two modules at the same time or in same routing dimension.

 

// Oh, during writing this review, Eagle liked to upgrade to the V8.2.0.

So, the Eagle V8.1.1 will now not more used for this Road Test, Part 2.

I'll then use V8.2.0 for the next test.

 

The last but not least I used manual routing the 8 tracks.

Here, the "walkaround obstacles" was no problem, also the function interactive switching the layers worked.

Once I asked here in Eagle support forum (i used Eagle V8.1.0): https://www.element14.com/community/message/218479/l/v-810-obstacle-does-it-functioning-right#218479

 

 

Conclusion:

If the corresponding settings are made at the beginning, the setting of the grid is important, then the router is a valuable aid in the development of the board.

I have entered the PCB settings of my PCB manufacturer for the Design Rules and routed the board with this.
My favorite: www.pcb-pool.com with whom I work for many years.

Of course, here I bring the other great features of Eagle in the review. But this description above was now to be done quickly.

 

Installing new versions of Eagle:

As mentioned today I received the new version of Eagle, V8.2.0.

The installing was easy.

But, the folders where there the new software versions are, are being now very much on the hard disc.

And all of them have the same content in the folders.

I think it would better that the exe files may installed as overwriting.

For the lib files I use a separate hard disc, on there the projects are stored.

In the Eagle Panel, / options / folders - there are registered the project folders, exe folders also the lib folders.

This can be used during installing the new Eagle versions, so that the lib can be overwriting too.


A word about Autodesk Support:
Thanks to Autodesk Support, thanks to Randall for getting the permission for Eagle relatively quickly.
I see this so that there are two shoes, the support here for the road test and the support for the purchased licenses.
There were countries or continent-related misunderstandings.

 

Thank you very much.

Best Regards,

Gerald

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Anonymous
  • Nice road test.

     

    As one of the few who had to hand lay tape for a circuit board, I find the new technology amazing.

     

    DAB

  • Gerald Schwarz wrote:

     

    Since the new Version 8 older versions will not start just the newest.

    Do you mean to say this? I have v8.2.0 installed but I can still go back to any of the other versions I have installed, v7.x.x or v8.x.x, they all work just fine.

     

    Gerald Schwarz wrote:

     

    Yes my pleasure I'll make a video if I find time at the next days.

    Thank you. I've still not paid for the "upgrade" so only use the free version of v8 and v7 for anything serious as I have been waiting for enough progress to be made in terms of features for it to be worth my while. This means I can't test things like the BGA breakout as that won't work with the free version, I assume due to the layer restriction.

     

    Best Regards,

     

    Rachael

  • Hi Rachael,

     

    Thank you.

     

    Yes my pleasure I'll make a video if I find time at the next days.

     

    Manual routing I use both method, or sometimes three: with menus, with the mouse buttons, with the key-codes.

    Just as I'm not tired.

     

    Yes, older version of Eagle can used as you described.

    And you must login if you use Eagle.

    After login the software checks for any updates and you can download it.

    You can see that in this image: - V8.2.0 is started, then i likes starting e.g. 8.0.0 - but this window tells me that a new software can downloading.

    Since the new Version 8 older versions will not start just the newest.

    Well, so then we have a hard disk full filling.

     

    Best Regards,

    Gerald

    ---

  • Hi Gerald,

     

    Nice Road Test review!

     

    I have a question about the BGA routing tool. I see you manually routing out of the BGA in one of the videos but you didn't show what the BGA routing tool is like even though you mention that you used it earlier in the review. This is one of the new features of v8 so it would be nice to see it in action so if you were able to also add a quick video on that working (you might need a design that connects a lot more up to it to make it really worth using possibly?) I think that would be a valuable addition.

     

    I did also notice you manually changing routing layers with the menus, maybe this was done just for clarity in the video but it's quicker to use the centre mouse button or the space bar to change layer.

     

    With regard to the section about installing new versions of EAGLE. I agree that it does take up a lot of hard drive space having multiple versions, especially as the Autodesk version grew in size a lot over the previous CADSoft versions, but overwriting exe files means you cannot easily go back to previous versions if there is an error. I often switch between versions, for example when I find a bug, so having to uninstall / reinstall a different version to test or work around an issue would be an issue. Also, sometimes you need to work with a particular version of a tool just because a customer specifies that's what they want you to use and if you have multiple customers each with their own requirements then you want to be able to run different versions easily. There is a lot of waste in having ulp/scr/lbr etc repeated in each installation, but again you might need to go back to a specific version so having all the items that were installed with that version there is useful. That said, to me most of the lbr's that ship with EAGLE aren't useful as I have my own component library so I just remove these manually anyway and have my own set of lbr/scr/ulp directories in a sensible place with all the directories updated to point to those.

     

    Best Regards,

     

    Rachael