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Old January 24th, 2019, 05:02 PM   #1
JZerb
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Everyones favorite schematic drawing software?

I’ve been using ACADE for a bit and I feel like there has got to be a better more effieicent option out there. Is there? Or am I just slow in ACADE?
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Old January 24th, 2019, 05:07 PM   #2
scott.lawrence
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I use ACADE, and have for a long time


it's a breeze, once you set up your own libraries
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Old January 24th, 2019, 05:44 PM   #3
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I like draftsight. For the small number of panels I design it works great.
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Old January 24th, 2019, 07:06 PM   #4
seth350
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I used ACADE and have tried ePlan as I too was wondering if the grass was greener elsewhere.

What I gathered from the brief trial of ePlan is that it locks you into drawing in a specific way. Some things that should have been straight forward to do was more complicated than ACADE. For example, drawing wires was not very apparent until I read the tutorials.

ACADE is OK out of the box. It only works with/for you after you have setup your own template, library, numbering conventions. Also the use of user circuits helps too.
The nice thing too is that mechanical guys can help you with the commands as it is mostly the same as ACADM.

Now, if Autodesk would introduce a store like ePlan Portal to download different symbols and footprints, then that would be YUGE. (Edit to say, a GOOD store with relevant and typical symbols to the industry) But, that is not likely to ever happen. Manufacturers favor ePlan too much, but the ePlan Portal isn’t worth learning a whole new software suite while projects are stacking up.

Edit #2
If you really want to appreciate ACADE, then try out DesignSpark Electrical. It’s free and you can tell.
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Last edited by seth350; January 24th, 2019 at 07:10 PM.
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Old January 24th, 2019, 08:30 PM   #5
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The best product I have used was this old UNIX based system that we had at an engine factory where I worked as a design engineer. If a customer ordered a standard engine package with no custom features the tool chain would assemble the entire PLC project, the entire HMI project and create the entire electrical drawing package all from individual components and it would pretty much go right to the enclosure assy/test engineers/test cell.
The drawing package would automatically create one lines, schematics, wd, layouts, etc.

If the job had custom features, the tool chain would give you something close and you would have to make those changes in all of the various systems. The drawing package was kind of an unusual environment to work in but it was incredibly automated.
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Old January 24th, 2019, 09:35 PM   #6
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I’ve seen two people mention setting up your own libraries above. Are you referring to PLC IO layouts that aren’t in the stock program that you create your own or much more then that?
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Old January 24th, 2019, 10:54 PM   #7
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Yes that could be part of your library. The stock library is fine for most. I don’t particularly like some of the symbols, like the three phase power supply for instance. So I made my own and added it to my symbol library.

No one is saying you HAVE to make your own library to make your job easier. You can draw most anything with what it comes with. The main thing is to draw the schematic in a way that makes sense. Don’t try to copy the experts, you will spend much much more time trying to copy someone who had the software work for them, rather than just drawing it your way. Speed will come with experience, don’t sweat it.
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Old January 25th, 2019, 08:21 AM   #8
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I use regular autocad and use the library that I have built up over 30+ years.

everything from the default sheet template, to electrical symbols, to mechanical valve symbols, to mechanical components.

james
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Old January 25th, 2019, 12:03 PM   #9
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I like ePlan. It has major drawbacks however. It is very expensive. Not very intuitive. Imagine a schematic capture package where you never draw a wire directly. It is a database not a drawing. Someone who doesn't really know how it is supposed to work can make a drawing that looks correct-ish but doesn't have any of the smarts that make the program really useful. (I've got drawings submitted by vendors with literally thousands of errors). I fight with other engineers here (with formal ePlan training) that it's OK it looks right. That may be true but you can't make wire lists, parts lists, etc. because they didn't take the time to use it properly.

I've used ACADE in the past and as others have mentioned if you have a good collection of libraries you can make good drawings relatively quickly. The fact that most people are familiar with vanilla AutoCAD means it is much more familiar.
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Old January 25th, 2019, 12:05 PM   #10
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I have used AutoCAD Electrical since 2003, when it was VIA WD. I really like the flexibility of it and have learned to be quite efficient at it.
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Old January 25th, 2019, 06:54 PM   #11
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I have tried many software programs over the last few years. Here are my thoughts on a couple that stand out:

Autocad Electrical: I currently use this because our work has it. The symbols are ok – but made for a ‘D’ size drawing, and if you print it out on ‘B’ size paper (11x17) it is almost illegible IMO. The stock libraries need tweaking to get nice drawings, IMO. It has the most options by far, and you can create nearly any kind of drawing with it, but it will take time to get it set up.

The cost is prohibitive, IMO, because it is now subscription only – a huge turnoff for me. I would never buy or use this if it were my choice for that reason alone. With multiple people using it – drawings can get cluttered very quickly and ‘broken’ if people accidentally purge. Make sure you have drawings only you touch for this reason.


Radica Electra: Uses Microsoft Visio for drawings. Has a great symbol library and makes some really nice looking, mostly legible drawings. When it comes to things like lists, however, you are pretty much stuck with their library and how it looks. You can make some symbols that work with the system, but unless you are used to Visio, it won’t be very intuitive. The autocad import for visio is very specific and often doesn’t import well – so keep in mind if you are wanting to get manufacturer drawings.

All cad exports are M-text and lines. The nice part is that it has one file for all of the project. The downside is, when you have large projects, it can be difficult to navigate. It has subscriptions, but you can buy perpetual. Latest cost is around $2k – probably too expensive for what it is. This would be a good tool for someone who just needs to make drawings and doesn’t have to follow customer standards.

Also of note – the program does use a part database. It becomes almost useless IMO because the data imports when you make the symbol. So – let’s say you put a relay in the database with a cost and description. Then you make a drawing. Then you change the cost and fix a type-o in the description. If you copy a symbol from the first drawing, it won’t update from the database – the part data is only pulled from the database the first time you insert it. Deal killer for me, personally.

PC Schematic Automation: Good software, has the best file organization of all software I’ve tried. Great setup of part library / symbols / layouts. Does panel wire routing, will generate graphical terminal plans, graphical wiring schematics, etc. DWG based, so you can import and export DWG. Has symbol creation wizards, etc. There are many features, but it can take a long time to learn to use them. Complicated, but if set up properly, you can make drawings in a snap and have everything in one place. Program stores in a single directory on the C:\ drive, which I personally find great.

All cad exports fully blocked. Drawings are nicely organized and clear. The downside is, it uses the line width settings, which make the dwgs look a little 'blocky' when you open them.

For NFPA drawings, you are pretty much out of luck. You will need to make many symbols that are standard. Some of the program ‘automation’ makes vertical drawings difficult to make. Also – the software is all metric. You can set it up for inches – but it acts buggy and it actually converts from mm – so .125 is not actually .125 but rounded to .13, for example. Plan on drawing everything metric. It will do imperial layout dimensions, however.
The amount of features and included symbols are overwhelming at first. One you whittle it down to your own symbols and circuits, the features work well. The downside is the cost – which comes in sheet / symbol limitation tiers – 150 symbols / 20 sheets / 40 sheets / unlimited sheets. You can, however upgrade if you need to.

Elwin: works kind of like Eplan. Database driven software, you don’t draw wires, just connectors. Has IEC symbol library, nothing for NFPA – you will have to make your own. Many lists and options. Can use many databases in a project – so you could for instance keep all of your parts and pricing in one library, all your symbols in another, special pricing components in another, etc. Symbol library included is set up for ‘A’ size drawings (8 ½ x 11).
The software looks like it was made for windows 95 (as well as the website) but don’t let that fool you – it still has many good features.

No dwg import, and very, very basic drawing abilities. Don’t expect detailed panel drawings – but it isn’t really necessary to make decent drawings. Basically squares, lines, and text. Circles turn out funny looking – so keep them to a minimum. Only works in metric – no imperial whatsoever.

Keeps track of legend plates / engraved tags / etc which is missing from most other software I’ve tried other than Eplan and Autocad Electrical. Another feature I really like is that it will create purchase orders for your project. If I were a one man show, I didn’t have to use customer title blocks / symbols, and I could draw in IEC standards, I would just use this software.

The price is what makes it worth investing time in. A license cost me about $35. No, I’m not missing any zeros there. The software works for free with a nag screen that pops up every so often. The only down side to the license is that it is per-computer, not key based, so if your computer dies you need to buy a new license.


There is my book on these four options. I’ve tried some other solutions, but these are the four I have spent the most time with.
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Old January 25th, 2019, 08:43 PM   #12
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my main issue with ACADE is the AB parts library, especially the PLCs section. none of the newer stuff is in there, whether it be a Micro800 line or a 5069 Compactlogix line. i guess i just need to dig more into making my own PLC blocks, which i know is doable, then start to save them and reuse them over and over.
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Old January 26th, 2019, 06:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rson View Post
Here are my thoughts on a couple that stand out:
Thank you for taking the time and posting this... I had Visio and it worked good for what I needed, simple basic drawings, but now they want 530 for it, I had Autocad 3d but never the electrical side

Do you have a link for Elwin, I found this but look like a generic website https://www.3xm.se/index_eng.html I hate downloading stuff off the net
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Old January 26th, 2019, 06:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geniusintraining View Post
Thank you for taking the time and posting this... I had Visio and it worked good for what I needed, simple basic drawings, but now they want 530 for it, I had Autocad 3d but never the electrical side

Do you have a link for Elwin, I found this but look like a generic website https://www.3xm.se/index_eng.html I hate downloading stuff off the net
That's it. Like I said - looks like it was released in 95. Software works pretty well, though, just don't expect to be able to draw the mona lisa.

I think the Dev is working on it still - I see a post form the 19th of Jan that mentions adding fixes to the to-do-list.

I should also mention PC schematic has a free version that lets you create 10 pages / 40 symbols. Just enough to do a small plc project / etc.

Last edited by Rson; January 26th, 2019 at 07:01 AM.
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Old January 28th, 2019, 08:59 AM   #15
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We use EPLAN P8 and PCSchematic.
Personally I only use PCSchematic and find it easy to use. But I have been using it for 20+ years so I guess I have gotten used to it.
The other guys that have used both EPLAN and PCShematic says that PCSchematic is much easier to use. EPLAN possibly has better features, but take much more effort to use those features.
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