PCB Artist User Reviews

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Very hard for a beginner to use."

    April 26, 2011  |   By sandyclariss

    Version: PCB Artist 1.4

    Pros

    Huge libraries had every I needed to complete the schematics

    Cons

    While the libraries were huge, the specific components were not clearly marked so there was a lot of hunting with going back again and again until you finally hit on the correct one.

    Summary

    It was a lot harder than I was led to believe from the program descriptions.. "Easy to use". After several weeks I started looking for a replacement for this program.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Laborious to learn."

    April 15, 2011  |   By vanrenway

    Version: PCB Artist 1.4

    Pros

    Once you figure it out, it's a very effective program.

    Cons

    The manuals are laborious. They are written at the expert level with little regard to what it's like for a person who has never used this type of software. I followed the instructions step by step, to no avail..

    Summary

    I almost gave up on it and uninstalled it twice. After about 60 hours I was finally able to get it to do what I needed to do. I am impressed with it once you get it to cooperate and figure out how to make it work. If I hadn't needed the extra layer capabilities, I would have gave up. I considered buying design software, but was afraid I would pay for software that was even harder to use than this. It would be nice if the provider had a remote library, where you could download a part and it install it automatically in the PCB and Schematic Library. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to figure out how to get the part from the downloaded condition, to the moved to the library condition. When you work by yourself and have to teach yourself, this software is not very user friendly. However, it certainly isn't the worst. I have been able to do some pretty amazing layouts now that I am starting to understand the multitudes of paths one must go through to get to where you need to be.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "A really good program for the novice."

    March 25, 2011  |   By sandyclariss

    Version: PCB Artist 1.3.3

    Pros

    Creating the actual circuit was really a lot easier than I expected for being a complete newbee at designing.

    Cons

    Difficult to find specific components. The libraries could use a little bit more "real world" graphic names such as cpxxxx for capacitors, resxxx for resistors, and so on.

    Summary

    Once you get used to the way the libraries are laid out, you can get right into setting up the boards and submitting them to be fabricated.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Mildly adequate for serious use."

    October 8, 2010  |   By vanrenway

    Version: PCB Artist 1.3.3

    Pros

    Has the best library and flexibility of the two other free wares I have tried. Support fast and pleasant. Closer to what a professional would want to use.

    Cons

    Tutorials do not match the version downloaded. Features in tutorial not available in download. Library still limited, missing very common parts, very laborious to design missing parts. I can design on Unigraphics in a fourth the time.

    Summary

    It's like owning a YUGO. It's better than walking but not by much, and you could still be doing a lot of walking. It has the potential to be the best software there is. However, they need to design this for a person with little design skill and make the library more extensive and have tutorials that match the software. Via email the support department seems knowledgeable and polite. I want to layout some PCB's for my company, these are not simple five part boards. There software has so far proved to be very tedious. As stated above, Unigraphics is 1000 times faster and easier to layout a schematic. Even Cad Std. that is mechanical software is easier and faster for designing a circuit. The library is missing normal parts that one would expect to be in the que. A 7808 with a TO-220 footprint? A through hole resistor? This software is designed to be used by the designer of the software, not the average person. I will finally wade through this thing without much help from the Manuals and tutorials, fortunately I don't need these board soon. It's not something that you can just jump into and knock out in 20 minutes. Little is straight forward. You use a generic part and you battle ref. des. and other text that are difficult to get rid of and change. It's like driving a British Ford. It's just like the one you have here, except everything is backwards and a great deal of relearning and trial and error has to be endured before you get the hang of it. Sometimes when you zoom the image, it will disintegrate and you have to refresh. I guess I just expect too much for free, but it actually isn't free. A 4 layer board is not cheap. And it does tend to insure that you use their service. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being best. I would give it a 4, however, compared to the other freeware for designing schematics and PCB's, I would give it a 7.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Wow, it rocks!"

    April 13, 2010  |   By ttteeeddd

    Version: PCB Artist 1.3.3

    Pros

    Easy to learn, easy to use, very flexible.

    Cons

    Didn't fully install (it needed a little help), and it crashed a couple of times with exceptions.

    Summary

    I Trained as an EE, but I just got back into making some custom hardware after 20 years doing SE. I started out using Eagle. Advanced Circuits seemed to have the most reasonable prototype prices, but I didn't have time to fuss with making sure that Eagle's output of my design would be 100% understood by Advanced Circuits (or any board maker for that matter) - I wasn't sure exactly what I had to submit and in exactly what format.

    So, I gave PCB Artist a shot because it seemed likely that if I created the design in PCB Artist and used it to submit the prototype then the board design would be properly communicated and produced. I was correct about this. I needed a bunch of prototype microcontroller circuit boards produced fast, so I reentered my prototype schematic into PCB Artist, re-laid out my PC board, submitted it, and three days later my PC boards came to me via UPS and looked great. I ran downstairs to solder in the components, powered it up and there was no smoke - my prototype worked perfectly the first time!!!

    Here's a list of the rough edges:

    PCB Artist's library is not as extensive as I would have liked for a hobbyist and/or for prototypes, as it seems to have a lot of SMD components and is especially lacking in through-hole components (particularly capacitors). Also what is in the library is a bit inconsistent with regards to the pads - for example some components have a square pin 1 pad, some don't, and the pad sizes between different components are often similar but not exact.

    Even so, all of this is of little concern. It is pretty darn easy to create a custom library with custom components. The best part is that you can easily grab the schematic symbol and/or pcb layout from a similar component and change the pin numbers/names for your component. Changing pad sizes and shapes is a snap. Also there is an online libary that has additional components, and I did successfully use it to get a component or two that was not present in the library that comes with PCB Artist.

    After starting with Eagle (and enjoying it), I can honestly say that PCB Artist esd easier to use and I found it much easier to get the PCB layout that I wanted. I laid out some traces myself, had PCB Artist autoroute others. It was trivial to put the traces on the desired layer, to get the traces the size and shape I wanted (including traces on angles and with rounded corners), and to pour in custom areas of copper. The schematic<->PCB consistency checking, schematic->PCB design change forwarding and the PCB design rule checking worked flawlessly and were a huge help.

    The biggest negative was that there was a bit of a glitch installing on Vista. Some DLL or OCX (I can't remember what it was) didn't get registered properly during install. This produced an error in PCB Artist, but only when I started to create my own custom components. I bing'd the error that PCB Artist reported, and the solution turned out to be that I needed to bring up a command prompt with administrative rights and "regsvr32" the DLL that was failing (it was already in the \windows\system32 directory).

    Also, the program did bomb out twice during about 8 hours of my learning and editing, but because I save every minute or so (a reflex habit from using MS Word in the early days), I didn't lose any work. A word to the wise - save regularly.

    Bottom line: I am so thrilled that my prototype boards were inexpensive, they came back working the first time, and I didn't have to fuss with figuring out how to get all the right design files together in the right format. For my next prototype, I'm going to start in PCB Artist first.

    PCB Artist rocks!

    (By the way, I really am an EE, have no relation to Advanced Curcuits, and didn't even know about them or PCB Artist until last week. I took this time to write a long review because I'm so so very very very happy that I have the PCBs now and consequently I don't have to hand-wire-up 10 prototype boards this coming weekend.)

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  • 3.0 stars

    "easy to use much help from component library"

    February 15, 2010  |   By kazt6761

    Version: PCB Artist 1.3.2

    Pros

    the library is most helpful tools

    Cons

    component pads cannot be create as new

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  • 3.0 stars

    "some extras"

    December 26, 2009  |   By lesorl

    Version: PCB Artist 1.3.2

    Pros

    It is OK for a free program.

    Cons

    t should be capable of inputting an ASCII file and being able to add components.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "An Excellent easy-to-use freeware"

    November 15, 2009  |   By Prof. R. Jayaram

    Version: PCB Artist 1.3.1

    Pros

    Even the final auto-routed circuit can be easily modified.

    Cons

    Provision to print black & white image is to be added.

    Summary

    Thank you for the excellent freeware. Adding provision to print a black figureof the circuit in white background would be of much help to those using conventional PCB etching methods.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Meets our expectations"

    October 31, 2009  |   By vz44rb

    Version: PCB Artist 1.3.1

    Pros

    Very Flexible

    Cons

    Not used enough to fault

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Need more parts"

    July 10, 2009  |   By lesorl

    Version: PCB Artist 1.2.4

    Pros

    The product is good for new work but fails miserably for existing schematics.

    Cons

    I have a schematic that is in ASCII format, but I can't enter it into PCB Artist. I either have to do it over or keep using my old software. You also need a way to enter parts not in your library. This would be a benefit for unusual parts.

    Summary

    I said it all in the pros and cons.

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Results 1-10 of 25

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