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Topic: Circuit design software (Read 3025 times) previous topic - next topic


What circuit design software do you people recommend? Nothing too expensive, suitable for a novice. Thanks.


all of them have some form of learning curve, the most novice friendly is fritzing, which I dont really care for due to its workflow

you start with a virtual breadboard (which is where most people stop and its a pain in the butt to read) from there it will lay out a schematic based on that, then you can do boards from there. to me the breadboard part is just another step ... especially if I already have it on a real breadboard. its also tied into their fab service, wich IMO is expensive.


express PCB has free software as well and its pretty easy to pick up, no goofy breadboard but its also tied into their fab service (also expensive)


KiCad is an open source EDA, and when it works it is not that much of a pain in the butt, it spits out standard files that can be used with any fab, but its wonky and often times somewhat broken, I used to use it but I just cant stand doing a bunch of work for it to puke out on me, examples vary with version but from random crashes to erasing half my crap if I want to print it ... ugh


GEDA is a toolkit that makes up a EDA, not much experience with it

Eagle is a commercial grade package that gives away a restricted version that is very popular with hobbiest

James C4S

I'm a fan of upverter.com

Simple to use, simple to share, continuously being updated.  Awesome footprint editor if you have to create a new package to layout on a PCB.
Capacitor Expert By Day, Enginerd by night.  ||  Personal Blog: www.baldengineer.com  || Electronics Tutorials for Beginners:  www.addohms.com


Eagle Eagle Eagle
by far and away the bets
has a bit of a learning curve but a very worthwhile investment
step away from the toys
come play with the big boys :)
there are only 10 types of people
them that understands binary
and them that doesn't


Thanks for the suggestions, I'm checking them out.

As a side issue, I have a very troublesome professionally made, 20 year old control board, which has caused me endless problems (the manufacturer can't offer support). Can I use any of these programs to create a schematic of the traces and components of this board, to try and work out how the board works. I have found that there are some ICs on the board that aren't in the library of these programs. How do I get around that? The part numbers are visible. Thanks.


you can use any of them, I would recommend eagle, since its pretty serious and there are tons of tutorials on it ... and once you learn one of the more serious ones you can pretty much use any of them with little change outside of figuring out where stuff is.

as far as missing components go, you can search the interwebs for them, or you can make a schematic symbol for them. No matter what you use its going to be missing something, thats the way it is. Parts are obsoleted every day, and manufactures are releasing new parts heavy and frequently.


How do I get around that?

With any half-decent schematic capture program you can design your own components, if you can get the data sheets for the components you are in business.

Can I use any of these programs to create a schematic of the traces and components of this board,

None of them will do it for you, but you can reverse engineer the board by looking at the traces and redrawing the circuit yourself. Just hope that it's only a 1- or 2-layer board :)

If it's 20 years old I would suggest however that physically replicating it is not the way to go, just replicate the functionality with newer hardware. But that depends on it's exact function, it may be that there are no better chips even now, especially if there's no CPU involved

Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com

James C4S

Again I suggest upverter.com.  It's far beyond being a "toy".

I'm a huge eagle user, I have one of the expensive licenses.  Upverter totally won me over with their part editor.  It's the first one I ever used that was intelligent.

The only draw back I have found is I can't work on circuits while I'm on a plane.

I'd be shocked if eagle was the pseudo-standard for more than 2 years from now.
Capacitor Expert By Day, Enginerd by night.  ||  Personal Blog: www.baldengineer.com  || Electronics Tutorials for Beginners:  www.addohms.com


I would recommend DesignSpark PCB.

Its pretty easy to learn and use and you can import EagleCAD designs


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