Eagle 6 Has Landed

The PCB layout tool we use called Eagle has undergone some helpful changes in v6.

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Cadsoft Eagle PCB Design Software has been an important tool for SparkFun and our customer base since 2006. All of those little red boards you receive were designed using Eagle and the Eagle design files we create are freely distributed on our product pages for everyone to use. Needless to say, we all look forward to new releases of Eagle software to make our lives easier. Eagle version 6 has been rolled out and there are some very helpful changes. In this post, I will go over what has changed on SparkFun's end and some of the revision notes I found of importance.

The first thing you want to do before downloading and using Eagle 6 is to backup all of your work that was done using Eagle 5. Any Eagle 5 file should open just fine in Eagle 6, but if you edit a file in Eagle 6, you won't be able to go back and open it in Eagle 5. Also, be sure to run your DRC after upgrading, just in case!

The first I want to point out is that we have updated our github repo with new libraries. Yes, libraries, meaning there are more than one (as you can see above). We have finally categorized our parts into multiple libraries like normal engineers.

Notice, when you open up one of the .lbr files, there is actually readable text (in XML format)!  In versions previous to 6, Eagle used binary files for their libraries, which is completely useless if you are trying to version control or manipulate the library. This is probably one of the most important changes for us, since now we can actually look back in github and see what has actually changed when us engineers add new parts to the library. Also, since the format is text based, you can search the files for things like "SOIC-8". 

Here is another feature that extremely helpful: a dimension cursor. You can indicate different types of dimensions around a specific origin. Try it out!

This is one that is going to help us with the LilyPad products (among others): arbitrary pad shapes for creating parts. Before, you could only create rectangular pads (although there were some tricks around this), now you can easily make your pad any shape and the trace will connect directly to the edge of the pad.

Finally, here is one that is kinda funny for anyone that buys a license copy of Eagle. The maximum drawing area can be 4x4 METERS!

There are many more new features I have not covered, so please be sure to review the v6.0 release notes and let us know what you think.

Comments 46 comments

  • khearn / about 12 years ago / 4

    So how long until batchPCB will be supporting 4mx4m boards? ;)

  • TheRobberDotCom / about 12 years ago / 4

    I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but according to the release notes, autorouting no longer clears the undo buffer and therefore should be undo-able :D

  • stevech / about 12 years ago / 2

    I agree muchly with this prior comment...

    There is also DipTrace, which I never hear anyone talk about. It has schematic and pcb layout, and a freeware version. I love it, and it was much easier for me to learn than Eagle.

  • MichaelK / about 12 years ago / 2

    So now that Eagle uses xml, can we expect part libraries and product schemas for other, fully open-source EDA tools (such as gEDA)?

  • CHaskins / about 11 years ago / 1

    is there a new cam file for creating gerbers for version 6?

  • Heffo / about 12 years ago / 1

    Here's a thought.

    How about SparkFun/BatchPCB and CadSoft team up and come out with a version of Eagle that only costs $XX not $XXX that has the features of the Hobbyist version of Eagle but maybe with a larger allowed PCB size, and can be used for either unrestricted Non-Commercial use or Commercial Use ONLY where the schematic and PCB design are released under the OpenHardware license.

    I love Eagle but I don't love the price, I would like to do the occasional bit of design where I can sell the result, but I can't justify spending high 3 figures.

    • sfx / about 12 years ago * / 1

      Isn't that what the license for Eagle light is for? I think it's $49 and the way I read it should allow commercial use ( http://www.cadsoftusa.com/downloads/freeware/?language=en&lang=en - read "how can I register/upgrade). You'll still have the size and 2-layer limit, but you can do a lot with that (especially these days with tiny SMD components, 5mil traces and microvias, depending on the manufacturer, but even with 8mil traces it's a lot of complexity if you manage to fill up the limit).

      • urjaman / about 12 years ago / 1

        Yeah, but that has the downside that you then need to make >$49 out of selling those designs, or the license is bought for nothing - all the while somebody else could be using your OSHW design to make some random $. I think eagle would be worth the $49 if it had anything of real value more for me than the free version. I can live without selling my stuff, it is just a minor inconvenience - something I'd like to do if I could for ... max $10. (How about $99, Light featureset + 4 layers and 2 schema sheets, OSHW selling permitted?... One can dream...)

    • MikeGrusin / about 12 years ago * / 1

      For what it's worth, before I came to SFE, I purchased the midrange version of Eagle because I knew I needed the extra capabilities to do serious commercial work. It was a serious chunk of cash for me, but it paid for itself on my first job and much more since.

      Now, I'm a huge fan of open source, but the dark side is that people do need to eat. You can work on these things as a hobby if you also have a day job, but if you want to make it your livelihood it becomes a bit more complicated. There are a large number of small companies like this doing their best to provide us with cool tools, but because their market is relatively small, they can't price things the way we and they would like AND stay in business. (Keep in mind that even if something is priced "outrageously" they could still be scraping by if the potential sales volume is small.) In these situations (and when my budget allows), I'm happy to pay the larger price for an excellent tool, which both feeds the people who wrote it (good for them) and keeps new versions coming (good for me).

      Having said that, you make some excellent points. The Maker market is expanding to the point that it would be nice to revisit the potential sales volume and perhaps come up with some new pricing and feature options to get the tool into more hands. Thanks for the idea, we'll look into it!

      • Heffo / about 12 years ago / 1

        I definitely do see your point about having to price the software at a point to ensure a profit is being made and staying in business.

        If I was designing electronics for a living, I would most definitely lay out the required cost for the package, in a professional capacity the Eagle pricing is quite good.

        It's good news about looking into some option to get the tool out there, I have a design in mind that I would like to commercialize (under an OpenHardware license) but the current licensing doesn't allow me to make a profit off the design, if I could start selling the design (within the limit of an OpenHardware capacity) then as soon as I make enough off the design I will be able to pay out for a full Eagle license.

  • Shannon2 / about 12 years ago / 1

    @Mike_Baer Preach it brother. And might I add that it 'just worked' under wine the last time I tried. Seriously good stuff.

  • Mike_Baer / about 12 years ago / 1

    Anyone ever try DesignSpark PCB version 3? It's free and has all the needed features with no limitations. Specs: Free Schematic and PCB design tool,free auto router, unlimited layers, up to 1m square board size, component creation wizards, 3D board viewer. Gerbers (Extended RS-274-X), Excellons, BOMs, component lists and positions are possible along with DXF (import and export) and IDF for interfacing to mechanical CAD software tools. Activation is free. I havn't found ANY down side yet. If you find one let me know. I played with it for a few hours on Saturday and was impressed. I did a schematic, translated it to a board and routed it. The 3d viewer is interesting too. Oh yeah it will even link into Spice so you can run simmulation on your schematic. Check it out.

    • Member #28595 / about 12 years ago / 2

      I started investigating version 2 of DesignSpark-with a view to eventually switching over. I found a few bugs, but I plan to play with it some more as it matures. As a one-man shop, money is tight and my boards are starting to get just a little too big for the cheap $49 version of Eagle(and more than 2 layers). The next step up of Eagle is just a little too expensive for me at this stage.

  • SomeGuy123 / about 12 years ago / 1

    Hopefully it will be easier to create cross-program conversion tools now.

  • Member #223168 / about 12 years ago / 1

    Now to find v5.x of Eagle as they no longer offer it for download on their site...

    • Jgarc063 / about 12 years ago / 3

      Just go web.cadsoft.de it's the old cadsoft website you can find previous version of EAGLE there.

      Best Regards,

      Jorge Garcia Cadsoft Support

      • urjaman / about 12 years ago / 2

        Hi, as per Heffo below;

        I think that there is a huge glaring gap in your EAGLE pricing options, if you want to cater for the sparkfun customer base. Eg. somebody who is just dabbling with electronics (no big budget), but might want to try selling possibly even one-offs of their OSHW designs, and maybe they might want to use the 4 layer possibility at batchpcb, or something. So Light (paid for) gives one nothing extra except the ability to sell ones stuff - but this is really not enough to pay 62€ for - one might never get that much profit off selling stuff. Also the Light Free license doesnt (AFAIK, I'm not a lawyer) prevent someone else from making money from published OSHW gerbers, since they never accepted the Light Free license. They might not even know you used the Light Free edition to create your .brd files, and if you release the gerbers for their convenience, they will be able to sell your stuff without ever using EAGLE. So, I'm suggesting a version of eagle in the same price range as Hobbyist (but if possible $$, not $$$), which allows selling if you release your design as OSHW, and maybe a few limits of the Light edition raised (so you dont need to boy it just for the selling rights). I'd suggest maybe 4 signal layers and 2 (or more) schematic sheets. Maybe a bit larger routing area to compensate for more sheets too, but that would be just icing on the cake.

        And yeah, the current offer for something that would fullfill the needs I listed above, is a whopping $820 (Eagle Standard with all parts). Nobody on a hobbyist budget is going to boy that, and the features are also a bit excessive for the hobbyist wanting to sell a few pcbs.

      • Oh hi Cadsoft Support! Thanks for stopping by. It's good to hear v5 is still available.

  • Member #138787 / about 12 years ago / 1

    A heads up regarding version 6 (including 6.1). When you upgrade at least sometimes it seems that restricted areas that are in libraries aren't honored by the auto router, so it routs through them. The DRC will catch the errors and you can hand-rout to correct but...

    Restricted areas that are designed on the board are honored.

    • engrstephens / about 12 years ago / 1

      Seconded! I would love to have multiple designs combined into one seamless gerber.

  • I love eagle, but the routing area limit is painfully annoying. I have a bunch of small boards that need to be combined and submitted as a single job. Does anybody know of a way to open and layout multiple gerber files onto a panel that doesn't cost hundreds of dollars like Eagle pro?

  • agemoz / about 12 years ago / 1

    I'm curious why people don't use freePCB? I really like it compared to Eagle. Creating library parts is a dream unlike Eagle. And no money out the door, no board size or component restrictions, etc... I'm sure there's stuff to dislike about it, but for me it's been a dramatically better solution. I've made some incredibly complex/dense boards with it, I'd post a picture of my latest if there was some way to do that here.


    • dksmall / about 12 years ago / 3

      Windows only for one.

    • Member #28595 / about 12 years ago / 2

      Because you have to order your boards from freePCB, which may be ok for onesies twosies, but not cost effective for a small business.

      To be honest, i put off learning Eagle for over a year because the learning curve looked steep. But once I determined I needed it after having to redesign my boards everytime I changed manufacturer, I found it was not as hard as it looks. just follow one of the tutorials.

      • BB / about 12 years ago / 1

        No, you're thinking of ExpressPCB, which only works with their PCB fabbing service.

    • JeffL / about 12 years ago / 2

      There is also DipTrace, which I never hear anyone talk about. It has schematic and pcb layout, and a freeware version. I love it, and it was much easier for me to learn than Eagle. Does anyone know of limitations it has compared to Eagle that I haven't found yet?

      • Michael D. Meyer / about 12 years ago / 2

        i use DipTrace for all my schematic and board creations - started off using it because it is so easy to use for a quick simple board. Now im using it for very complex dense multi-layer boards with several thousand pins, and still couldnt be happier - very good software!

    • No Such Nick / about 12 years ago / 1

      As far as i can tell freePCB is only a layout editor, right? Eagle has both schematic and layout, and i usually spend a couple of hours on the schematic, before i even start the layout. To me it also seems a lot easier to change pin assignments in a abstract schematic view, rather than in the layout directly. I would love to have an editor that allows me more than 2 layers, and i've been looking at kiCad, but so far if i just want to quickly build something, i always come back to eagle.

      • DonP / about 12 years ago / 1

        Strictly yes, but it works interactively with LT Spice from Linear Tech - which is probably the best piece of freeware ever released. That is not only a brilliantly intuitive drag-and-drop editor but you get the benefit of circuit simulation before you commit to a layout. Also, there is an online autorouter for freePCB which sort of works.

  • One important question about Eagle that I can't find an answer to: HOW DO YOU USE IT?!?!?!

  • dksmall / about 12 years ago / 1

    I looked at V6 when it came out several weeks ago. Yes there are some new features but I can't see justifying the cost of a pro license just to upgrade. The upgrade system is down right now, but from memory I would be paying almost the cost of a new license!

    • MORA / about 12 years ago / 1

      Same here, I got a qoute for an upgrade of standard sch+brd (ie. no autoroute), that will cost about 255$ ex. vat.

      And I dont really see any new features that I absolutely need. Too little too late?

  • Bangwaiter / about 12 years ago / 1

    Please Sparkfun, please do not upgrade the library to 6.0, because there is no free version of EAGLE and newer libraries do not work on older versions.

    • Don't worry, we're keeping both. You can find the original library here - it will always be compatible with version 5. You can find the new, shiny, v6 library here. In the new library, we decided to split the growing library (it's huge) into sub libraries for a bit easier navigation.

    • MichaelK / about 12 years ago / 1

      I haven't tried it, but there are download links here: http://www.cadsoftusa.com/downloads/

    • You should still be able to run the free version in 6. I have not tested this, but I would assume they wouldn't change that.

      • Bangwaiter / about 12 years ago / 1

        My fault, it looked like there is no free version, but they have just hidden it. Enjoying the new version already!

        • MostThingsWeb / about 12 years ago / 1

          All versions seem to use the same installer. It's just the licensing option that you check at install time that determines what you can do.

      • CF / about 12 years ago / 1

        No worries. I've been running the free version of 6 for about a month. No problems so far!

    • ThinkerT / about 12 years ago / 1

      Oh noes! I second this if it's true, because the Sparkfun Eagle Libraries are awesome.

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