Never being terribly happy with Eagle (I didn’t grow up on it, and really only used it because it was free, and ran on the Mac (unlike KiCad), the idea of CircuitMaker seemed great. Those that use Altium seem to love it, but it costs an arm and a leg. CircuitMaker promised to be free, and offer a lot of the features of Altium. Sadly, it seems it misses one mark in that it’s PC only (though it’s easy enough to run in VMWare). There does seem to be a huge interest from the community on a Mac version, however (a fair number of threads, and responses to threads asking for it).
Using the tool seems quite similar to pretty much any EDA software (good), and it imports Eagle files (great). I don’t work on much in the way of confidential stuff, so the fact stuff is open to the public is fine by me. I just imported my two Eagle projects (relating to a GPSDO, and a Rubidium Oscillator), and the GPSDO has been forked so far.
At this point, I can’t say much more about the product other than I like where it’s going. I would like some way to work offline, like on flights, etc. They could probably allow a “checkout” for a project, then limit the amount of time you work on it before checking back in. I guess the biggest issue with that is it would make collaboration very difficult, if that’s the direction they want to really head with it (multiple hobbyists working on the same design).
Anyway, at this point, I’d give it a solid 4/5, with a point knocked off for being Windows only. Once they get a Mac version out the door, I’ll give it that last point. Right now, though, I’m going to try out Upverter, and maybe a more recent build of Kicad (they seem to have official builds for Mac now).
Chris Gammell (“The Amp Hour”, and “Contextual Electronics”) did a review a bit ago comparing Kicad, CircuitMaker, and Upverter. If you are familiar with Chris, you may know the results before reading1. =P
- I kid, of course. While he does certainly prefer KiCad, he does seem to give the others a fair shake, and admits most design work is done with a net connection, so offline work isn’t really THAT big a deal [↩]