Finally, a decent (albeit expensive) competitor to the Eagle PCB software

I've just been playing with the demo version of Pulsonix, which is the best competitor to the aging Cadsoft Eagle PCB design software that is the standard in our industry. It looks fantastic, improving on Eagle in loads of ways such as easy viewing of the front or back side of the board without clicking on dozens of check boxes (a pet peeve of mine about Eagle) and built-in 3D viewing. It can also import Eagle files and part libraries with the use of a translation utility. (A full list of features is here)

The only downside (and this is a big one) is that the free demo has save disabled, and the cheapest full-featured version of the software costs $475. [CORRECTION: This price actually refers to a lower-end version of the software, called Easy PC. Pulsonix is the top end of their range and sells for around $2,000. The bottom end of the range is the free, stripped-down but fully functional version of this software, which is called PCB Artist. It's very good, but doesn't support the Eagle file and library conversion utilities.]

Here's the description from Pulsonix's US distributor, Advanced Circuits:

…the 1st completely NEW, High Level combined Schematics Capture & PCB Layout Software announced in many years.
• Pulsonix has been developed from the ground up by PCB design industry professionals using the very latest techniques in graphics and data handling.
• Competitive products originate from the 80’s and 90’s and look antiquated by comparison.
• Pulsonix uses Microsoft Office menu structure and is immediately familiar and attractive.
• Usually does not require formal training. Designed for the casual user and the professional.
• Directly imports schematics, PCB Designs, and Libraries from other PCB software products.
• Built in features at no extra cost; ie, Design Variants, DRC, and Report Maker.
• Can be purchased with or without an Autorouter.
• Product includes all features for design, checking and manufacturing PCBs. All outputs are included (Gerber, ODB++, Excellon, etc.)
• Pulsonix is delivered with an informative Users Guide and up to date, context sensitive on-line HTML help.

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Comment by Howard Gordon on August 26, 2008 at 10:16pm
Interesting to see how well the schematic, board and library importing works. Eagle works for me because it runs on my 20" iMac, but it's not particularly cheap - the registered version of Eagle costs $750 if you're doing boards larger than 100mm.

Let us know if you can successfully convert your designs and libraries.
Comment by Phil Wilshire on August 27, 2008 at 8:01am
This is from the FAQ.

Q: Are other operating systems supported?

A: At this time only Windows systems from Windows 98 to Windows Vista are supported.

* Some users are successfully using PCB Artist on the following operating systems with emulation software:
o Macintosh using Parallels
o Macintosh using Virtual PC
o Ubuntu Linux using Wine

I prefer not to use Windows for important stuff
Any reports on using wine with Pulsonix ?
Comment by simonl on August 27, 2008 at 11:36am
Unfortunately it doesn't matter how good it is if it's too expensive. If they see sense, they'll do a free version with the same limitations as Eagle, then they'll hook loads of people - who just might shell-out for a non-restricted version. Until then, I'll keep using Eagle I think.

Very nice software though - just wish I could afford it!
Comment by Marc Ramsey on August 27, 2008 at 1:58pm
I've heard a number of good reviews of this package:

http://www.abacom-online.de/uk/html/sprint-layout.html

It's inexpensive enough that I'll probably try it out for my next project...
Comment by Marc Ramsey on August 27, 2008 at 2:06pm
I should mention that there is a separate schematic capture package:
http://www.abacom-online.de/uk/html/splan.html
To go along with the layout package:
http://www.abacom-online.de/uk/html/sprint-layout.html

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on August 27, 2008 at 2:12pm
The free (and fully functional, albeit stripped down) version of Pulsonix is called PCB Artist. It's a very easy to use program, but it suffers from Eagle incompatibility and a very limited library. I wondered if you could use the Pulsonix utilities to convert Eagle files and libraries into a form that PCB Artist can read. It doesn't read Pulsonix files natively, but the utility apparently converts to some intermediate file format. More testing required....

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on August 27, 2008 at 4:34pm
Update. I've checked with Advanced Circuits, the distributors, and there is no native file compatibility between PCB Artist and Pulsonix.
Comment by Bruce on August 29, 2008 at 10:07pm
Hi All
Hi All

I havent used Eagle because it is so expensive, I use and reccomend diptrace though, It can do schematics, as well as pcb design and layouts.
You can export files in popular formats for use in outsourcing pcb manufacture.

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