I have heard that there is a divide between people who insist on manually hand-routing tracks on the PCB, and those who choose to use the auto-router.
I recently designed a board which I felt was relatively small (35 components) and I used the auto-router (freeRouter.jar) to do the track routing.
The resulting tracks are extremely complex, and the auto-router takes great lengths to reduce via counts and shorten tracks as much as possible.
Laying out this board by hand seems like an impossible puzzle. Figuring out how to reach every component and complete the rats-nest in the best possible way seems extremely difficult. It seems like it would be difficult to even get a layout that works.
Let alone, the number of times I rearrange components and have to rip up the tracks, and have it re-routed from scratch. I would imagine the time spent to do it manually would be 100x greater.
Do people really route by hand, and if so why? Does this take significant time? Why do tutorials and books even teach manual routing and not just assume everyone should be using an auto-router. So far I haven’t seen any downsides to using the auto-router.
(I am not referring to cases where track length/route is sensitive, for example in RF applications, etc, in which case manual routing might make sense.)
Curious for peoples thoughts.