eagle vs diptraceI just started to use Cadsoft Eagle for PCB design some weeks ago. I tried many times in past but somehow left in between due to lack of interest. This time, however, I had a project in hand and the client requirement was to do it in Eagle. I am more used to the Diptrace software and I have reasons to like it. But Eagle is also a very popular PCB design software so I desire of using it.

In Eagle, I specially liked the schematic section as it looks very pretty at the end. It looks surely much more professional than drawn in Diptrace. Most of the hobby projects on Internet with pretty looking schematics you will see are designed in Eagle. Eagle saves its library files in XML format. So one can copy/paste a chuck of XML in the file to create a new footprint. Then can edit the part in the library editor of Eagle.

There are a few things, however, which I think are inferior to Diptrace:

  • The auto-router is less efficient. It will route far less nets compared to Diptrace.
  • The export feature is very limited. I was using Eagle version 6.2.0 and I tried to export the .DSN file using ULP “brd_to_dsn_v6.ulp”. The Specctra auto router was throwing error. Most of the auto-routing I do is using Specctra which is a wonderful tool for that purpose. I will later look into this error and try to know the issue.

Eagle DSN export

  • I could not figure out how to import the .SES file back into Eagle to keep the design flow systematic. If you can import the SES file back, how to keep all the design under single tool. This compelled me to work on manual routing. The board was small enough so I gladly accepted that.
  • Well, the manual routing wasn’t that bad but the thing which annoyed me was a missing feature of Diptrace and that is called “Edit trace”. In Eagle, I rather had to use “move” tool. But moving a single segment could distort the adjacent two segments. Hence, editing the traces in Eagle can take much of your time and energy.
  • Exporting the files to Gerber and Drill is also tricky. One finds it easier in Diptrace.
  • Another thing which was strange for me was you need to keep the board file open while editing the schematic to keep sync between two. At first it looked very strange but then I got used to it.
  • The BOM/BOQ generation is also not that robust like Diptrace. You need to edit heavily the BOM generated by Eagle, unlike Diptace where all settings are under your control while working in schematics.

I haven’t tried the 3D feature yet but one thing which I have noted by looking at some samples on internet that the Eagle 3D preview looks much more realist than that of Diptrace. It looks very close to the real prototype. In a net shell its a very nice little tool to design even professional level PCBs. It is very user friendly and well suited for hobbyists and newbies.It was a charm working in Eagle.

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