'Common Schematic Capture/Board Layout Questionnair'
I just wanted to let everybody know that I have tabulated the results from
the Schematic Capture Questionnaire and you can take a look at them at:
For the results, please note that the percentages for "Overall" means the
totals for the row divided by the entire sample. For each Column
("Hobbyist", "Consultant", "Large Company"), I have produced the percentages
for only the samples in that column.
Just as a few notes:
1. There should be a fourth catagory, a number of people indicated that
"Small Company" should have been an option. These results have been put
under "Consultant". Four people responded with this comment, if you think
it would change the results, please let me know.
2. For Outut File Formats, I assumed that "NetList" for Schematic Capture,
and "Gerber" for Layout were the base requirements, and as such, I based the
percentages for the other files on these totals...
3. Quite a large number of hobbyists (about 20%) indicated that they don't
need "Gerber" files for card layout. I would appreciate understanding why
this is (I'm curious as to the percentage of people that are making their
own cards and use a laser printer/whatever to provide masks/iron ons/etc.).
4. There were 223 Total Respondants in the three catagories. As you look
through the results, you'll notice that the percentage results for some
catagories indicate that a lot fewer than 223 (or the type fraction)
responded in each case. I don't think I saw anybody who answered all the
5. A couple of things that I noticed that might be good for discussion later:
a) The S/W Vendors really have received a vote of "No Confidence" on their
ability to create good component libraries for the Schematic Capture
b) You can never go wrong developing with WinTel. 12.1% indicated that
Linux was the O/S of choice, but that was skewed heavily in the
Consultant arena. It was interesting to see that five hobbyists wanted
Java (and Linux wasn't considered at all).
c) There wasn't any consistency for number of pins required. In fact, with
some of the comments I got from "Intermediate" and "Expert" users, I
don't think that customers can predict how many pins are required. One
of the things that I would like to see is the product costing by
manufacturers by the number of pins. From the results here, to really
provide a good charging strategy is on features, rather than pin count.
I received a few comments (and I can agree with this), that as a
customer's sophistication grows and they develop boards with more pins,
their current vendors will price themselves out of the market.
d) I'm curious about board size. You'll note that I stopped at 20"x20" with
everything above is a "Big Board". I did this because I standard SMT
equipment (screens, placement machines, ovens and cleaners) can
to about this size and anything above will require special tools or hand
placing and reflowing the board in somebody's oven at home and cleaning
it with their dishwasher (I'm being a bit facesious, but not a lot). Can
anybody comment on what type of products they're building that requires a
36"x36" (900mmx900mm) board?
e) There is a strong demand for SMT and merging graphics onto board
designs. What surprised me was the soft response for merging multiple
card images on a single panel. This was especially true for the
hobbyist that would seem to have the most to gain with having it. Can
anybody comment on this one.
f) I screwed up and put "Spectra" and "Cooper and Chyan" as separate
Autorouters. I apologize for that; their results really should be
taken together. It was interesting for me to see that almost 20% of the
people out there wouldn't use Autorouters if you paid them.
g) What surprised me was how strong the need for supplier support was. I
suspect that this is a factor of the quality of tools up to this point
in time (does anybody want to comment?). It should be interesting for
vendors to note that an email support service is adequate in three
quarters of the respondants.
h) Very few comments about operational speed or reliability (although one
about the importance of having correct results) and this really
surprised me. One of the big reasons why I wanted to do this was to
get it through supplier's heads that I'm tired of GPFs! Apparently, I'm
in the (vast) minority on this one.
I really appreciate the time people spent on this and the thought. I think
there are some good results here that should be shared with vendors. If you
have anybody that you think should see these results, please pass the URL to
them or let me know.
The big question is now, where do we go from here?
One of the biggest conclusions that you can draw from this is that a board
schematic capture and layout tool for under $100.00 (with a $100.00 per year
license), with a User supported component database (with SMT optional) and
email support is a very viable product.
I am sending this out to a number of list servers and I realize that many
people will get this note sent to them multiple times (I'm expecting to see
it bounce back to me five times). I apologize for this and I hope that the
information contained here and on the page will make it worth it.
As well, I am sending this out to a couple of lists that discuss 8051s. I
have enhanced my 8051 pages with some (hopefully) useful code snippets and
16 bit operations. Please let me know if you have any comments or
Have a great weekend,
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