Circuitmaker vs Eagle

I’ve been on the Circuitmaker beta since it went public and I’ve finally designed and order my first board.   The board is a RS485 addressable LED matrix (I’ll post some screenshots later).  I normally use Eagle for boards so there was a bit of a learning curve to get up and running with Circuitmaker.  In general I found Circuitmaker to be pretty good, however I’m likely to go back to Eagle for my next design.   Here are a few of the pros and cons:-

Pros

The 3D model was really useful for this design as it was a compact design were the matrix mounts on top.  The 3D model was great for checking clearences.  It also gives a slightly better indication of how difficult surface mount hand soldering will be.

While routing DRC are applied which allows you to easily and automatically avoid DRC issues.

Bigger boards than Eagle (free).

Cons

The component system can be slow and awkward to use.   All the components are looked up on Civa and have to be fully specced (i.e. values).  This is good if you wanted to produce a BOM that you can order directly from, however for the things I do I’de rather have configurable components which I can adjust and then manually enter the BOM with my supplier of choice.  You also need to have a network connection at all times.

In general I found it has a lot of spinners while you wait for network.  Even clicking a component on the schematic has a significant delay.

Windows only.  I’m normally a Mac user and I like being able to share my designs between my Mac an PC.

It has its own version control system.  As I like to store my designs on github which I can link too, the fact that Circuitmaker has its own internal eco system, which doesn’t seem to be easy to share outside Circuitmaker, is not ideal.  Some users have expressed issues with not having closed designs.  Personally I don’t think this is a problem as all my designs tend to be open.

Gerber export was tricky as it doesn’t output a board outline by default.  You have to add a keep out layer for the board shape.

Conclusion

I think if Circuitmaker was a little less sluggish and maybe had a better component system  it would be preferable to Eagle in a lot of cases for me so I’ll be looking at future updates to see if the situation improves, however for the time being though I’m going to go back to Eagle.

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