Non-free software frustration

Filed under: Rant, software by tamber
9 June 2010 @ 08:24

One of my hobbies is hardware design (I quite enjoy it, but I don’t have the qualifications (Or the confidence) to do it commercially.), which I use CadSoft EAGLE for.

Unfortunately, the Evaluation version has some limitations that make it impossible to use for the project I’m looking at. I can create the schematic very easily, but I cannot lay out the board because the free version is limited to a board that is far too small to fit a connector as long as a DIMM socket.

I could remove those limitations by buying the software (I’m not opposed to buying software if it’s worth it.), but the price-tag is aimed at large companies; and is completely out of the reach of The Average Hobbyist. (e.g. Me.)

For example, to remove the board-size limitation but otherwise have the minimum I can work with (Schematics + Board layout) I’d have to purchase the Professional version at a price of nine-hundred and ninety-six (996) US dollars. My response to that, suitably toned down, was “Um… No.”.

So, for those of us without pockets like buckets, what options are available?

  1. Keep the Evaluation version, and break your design up into little boards, each interconnected with plug/socket
  2. Keep using the Evaluation version, but only create schematics and get a friend to create the board.
  3. Find another piece of software and hope you can export as much of your work as is required to reconstruct it under the new software.

Currently, I’m choosing the third option and using KiCAD. The biggest issue will be re-creating or converting the parts used in the project, especially the BGA part for the processor. On the other paw, it would help me get used to the software…

Stay tuned for updates on the war against terror^Wclosed-source software.