Arduino Forum

Using Arduino => General Electronics => Topic started by: holesflow on May 17, 2018, 10:20 pm

Title: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: holesflow on May 17, 2018, 10:20 pm
Experts,

I'm at the point where I'll be doing PCBs & laying out my circuits, and I've of course found deciding on one impossible on my own. I'm quite interested in which you use (if pay, would like <$50), and if possible why.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: PaulRB on May 17, 2018, 11:00 pm
Eagle. By Cadsoft, now owned by Autodesk. Free to use, for smaller board sizes. Not the easiest app in the world to learn.

Why? It works. Its got a big user base, lots of component libraries.

I started out using Fritzing, when that product was not very mature. It was a little buggy, limited range of component libraries, but most importantly, back then, you could only use Fritzing's PCB fabrication service. Eagle had none of those restrictions.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: larryd on May 17, 2018, 11:38 pm
I think there are still free, downloadable, WinQcad versions available (limited board size).
Been using it for ~13 years, easy to use, powerful features.
No longer being updated.

Eagle is popular here.




Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: DrAzzy on May 17, 2018, 11:57 pm
Eagle is where it's at IMO.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: PaulRB on May 18, 2018, 12:09 am
Forgot to say: both Eagle and Fritzing run on Linux. I don't use Windows these days and don't want to go back.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: pert on May 18, 2018, 12:25 am
I'm far from expert, but KiCad (http://kicad-pcb.org/) should definitely be mentioned here. Unlike Eagle, KiCad is free open source with no limitations. Eagle has long been the most popular program for hobbyists but KiCad has become increasingly popular over the last few years and I think it's safe to say that Eagle and KiCad are now the two most popular options.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: ted on May 18, 2018, 12:29 am
I using this for years, easy to use for beginners.
https://www.expresspcb.com/expresspcb/ (https://www.expresspcb.com/expresspcb/)
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: wvmarle on May 18, 2018, 06:11 am
KiCAD works great for me (haven't tried the others).
Managing component libraries is a b!tch in KiCAD, though once you've got that set up it works just fine.

Libraries are pretty complete, most of the footprints I have been adding myself are for parts on breakout boards, for building perfboard based prototypes (using KiCAD for that as well: through-hole footprints and a grid of 0.1", add "traces" as you connect components to keep track of what's done and what's left unconnected).
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: Qdeathstar on May 18, 2018, 06:27 am
eagle is free still? I thought autodesk made it subscription based....
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: wvmarle on May 18, 2018, 06:52 am
Sparkfun and Adafruit use it for their free and open designs - it wouldn't make sense to use non-free software for that, especially if there are free alternatives out there.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: PaulRB on May 18, 2018, 07:24 am
Eagle is still free (at the moment) but Autodesk want you to (force you to?) register and log in each time you use it.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: ElCaron on May 18, 2018, 06:42 pm
Eagle is commercial software with notable limitations in the free version and in the choking grip of Autodesk with questionable future.

KiCAD is FOSS, already on par with eagke and on a step rising edge with CERN behond it, upcoming version 5, Digikey's libraries...
I recommend to start with the v5 RC.

I would go so far and call Eagle for a beginner bad advice now.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: Southpark on May 19, 2018, 03:18 am
I might give KiCAD a go.
Eagle is ok, after one gets used to it --- which is pretty much the same with everything.
Some good scripts for g-code conversion for circuit board milling are available for eagle .... or works with eagle.

I assume that there will be similar scripts for KiCAD, right? Will try it out anyway.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: gmcmurry on May 19, 2018, 06:12 am
Since you had to ask, you must not have any experience making PCBs.

Therefore, I would suggest you take a look at ExpressPCB.com.  Great for beginners.

Software is free and they give you schematic drawing software with the PCB software.

When you are finished, you just click on a button, enter your credit card and in a few days the boards show up.

They have a fast proto board service that I use all the time.  Comes with silk screen and solder mask on three 3.75"X2.5" boards for $85 including CA tax and shipping.  (they are in CA)

The only restriction is that the files are not compatible with other systems.  Sometimes I regret getting started with them because I think I might want to make 200 boards and use some other company to build the boards.  Truth is, I have never needed to and I'vd made over 100 boards with them.

You can get just about any size board you need, but the "mini board" service can save you a bunch of $$ when making small projects.  I have made boards 1/2 the size by putting two of them on one mini board then cutting them in half myself.  Then I get 6 boards for $85

They are worth a look.
(http://www.gregssandbox.com/arduino/Gregs%20PCB_104%20180502.jpg)

Greg
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: airzone on May 19, 2018, 08:24 am
I use easyeda.com and do it all online. If you're getting small (10cm x 10cm) boards, they're cheap (10 for $5) and also have a bom service. I wouldn't do it for any commercial work, but just for playing around at home, you can do the design and a week later have the PCB's and parts on your door step.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: PaulRB on May 19, 2018, 08:54 am
I use easyeda.com and do it all online.
Interesting. Can you design with thu-hole components as well as surface mount? How extensive is their parts library? I would hope they would have common components like atmega328 pdip, 3-pin to-92 parts like transistors and regulators etc. But what about more new/rare components like rfm95 modules?
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: wvmarle on May 20, 2018, 01:02 pm
At least as important: is it possible to add custom footprints? Exactly for new/unusual parts.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: PaulRB on May 20, 2018, 01:12 pm
I've been doing a little research on easyeda and found out that you can use thu-hole and/or surface mount, and the parts library is reasonably large, with users contributing their own libraries of parts. You can create custom parts/footprints, but until I've tried it for myself, it remains to be seen his easy this is.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: westfw on May 20, 2018, 09:55 pm
EAGLE.  Originally, because it was one of the few free packages available.  And then because it was one of the only packages that would run on linux and display on Mac.  And then because it ran on a Mac, and continued to get better on Mac while KiCad wasn't working.   And finally because I've been using it for a dozen years, bought myself a copy of a paid version (The "non-profit" version.  Actually, you can add "full paid versions were reasonably priced" to the reasoning somewhere), and have over 1000 .brd files that I'm really not interested in converting - I'm starting to "get the hang of it."

Plus, there are all those OSHW designs (Arduino, Sparkfun, Adafruit) done in EAGLE.

And while I'm not really happy about the new subscription license model (and am still using my older version), I think the "level of fuss" over it is vastly overblown.


Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: Watcher on May 21, 2018, 12:54 pm
I was using OrCad during the University years and later at work.
Its a professional package, very expesnsive and out of reach for a hobbyist

As a hobby  I ve been using Eagle -free version for a few years now and I am quite happy with its limitations.

I particularly like the fact that when you add a component in the schematic view, it automatically appears in the PCB view for you to place it. Something which doesnt apply for KiCAD :(

However, since the change of its ownership to Autodesk and the new licensing policy imposed, I want to switch to KiCad which is sure to remain always free. However I seem to always postpone putting the effort to learn another package!

I know I  have to make the switch at sometime.
I am still using an older version of Eagle before the new changes took effect.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: wvmarle on May 21, 2018, 02:57 pm
I particularly like the fact that when you add a component in the schematic view, it automatically appears in the PCB view for you to place it. Something which doesnt apply for KiCAD :(
True - don't know how that works for Eagle but KiCAD uses a strong separation of symbol and footprint, so it's not possible to just add a component to the PCB layout without first telling what footprint it should have. Many parts have default footprints assigned, others (resistors, capacitors) not as there are numerous footprints possible for the same part. This makes it easy to add breakout board based footprints for certain parts for use with protoboard layouts (I use KiCAD for that, too), and then later just switch to the SSOP housing for a real PCB design.

A bit more streamlining in that process would be great, though. Library management in KiCAD works but it's really hard and non-obvious to set up.

What I like very much about KiCAD is that it's FOSS. No risk to suddenly be forced to start paying, or stay behind with outdated software, or lose access to old files.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: MarkDerbyshire on May 21, 2018, 08:40 pm
No one has mentioned RS Designspark PCB yet
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: PaulRB on May 21, 2018, 08:48 pm
They have now.

Care to express an opinion on it?

I did try it once, long ago. I remember it seemed very slow to start up, and the screen updated slowly. My PC's spec was pretty good for the day. (Notice the correct use of an apostrophe there!) Hopefully Designspark has been optimised significantly since then.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: pwillard on May 22, 2018, 02:41 pm
I have been a happy user of (Windows Only, sorry) ABACOM.DE products SPRINT LAYOUT and SPLAN.  Sprint Layout is a super easy, very customizable PCB program.  I have had no issues using this with services like OSHPARK but it has been primarily for PCB creation at home.

SPLAN is also an excellent drawing tool for schematics.

The strong points of both of these are that they are specifically NOT EDA packages.  They are NOT integrated.  They are basically tools with the ease of use of MSPAINT.

I've been using these products since 2003.

YES, I have used EAGLE, and KICAD and and even many you likely have never heard of.  I still reach for these because... sometimes... I just want to get things done and not wrestle with the software.

ABACOM SHOP (https://www.electronic-software-shop.com/index.php)
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: xl97 on May 23, 2018, 04:05 pm
I'm far from expert, but KiCad (http://kicad-pcb.org/) should definitely be mentioned here. Unlike Eagle, KiCad is free open source with no limitations. Eagle has long been the most popular program for hobbyists but KiCad has become increasingly popular over the last few years and I think it's safe to say that Eagle and KiCad are now the two most popular options.
^ This.

I agree.

IMHO.. EAGLE has held the top dog position for MANY years...

With the recent buyout from Autocad and the new pricing..etc..  people have been seriously turning toward KiCAD.. and from what I have read.. has some great community support/features..etc..

I personally still use EAGLE.. (its what I know.. and was somewhat daunting to tackle/learn)... 

Once I read a few 'tips-n-tricks' post about it.. and understood it was designed to be used with a 3-button mouse (left/right/mouse wheel)..   exploring those menus got me more familiar with hose things work.

Also.. (at least here is the US/for me).. we are taught to select something.. then click on the 'tool'   (ie: highlight/select the text... THEN click the bold icon)..  where as in EAGLE its reverse.

The support for EAGLE, libs, scripts, tools, plug-ins..etc..etc..  is insane!


Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: airzone on May 23, 2018, 05:47 pm
You can create custom parts/footprints, but until I've tried it for myself, it remains to be seen his easy this is.
Very easy. I worked it out in about 10 mins.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: PaulRB on May 23, 2018, 06:08 pm
I decided to give easyeda.com a try on a little project I had planned. So far, seems very good. I found almost the exact part I needed in the user-contributed libraries, which was the RFM95 board. Ideally I wanted a footprint that had both the thru-hole  and surface mount options, but so far I could only find one with the surface mount pads. The estimated cost of production is $2!
(http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=548076.0;attach=259060)
(http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=548076.0;attach=259058)
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: holesflow on May 23, 2018, 08:02 pm
Since you had to ask, you must not have any experience making PCBs.
Absolutely. I've assembled all the fixins except one, though-including a new drill press!
I've been giving KiCAD on Linux/Windows a go, as it has all the things needed to go from schematic to PCB in its package. I'm going through tutorials & videos on various workflows right now, and I'm in the middle of one of SparkFun's (https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/beginners-guide-to-kicad/all) now. At first the layers alone were daunting, but I am understanding it more little by little. In the past I had used it to share my schematics (done on bread boards & perf boards), but that was it.
I think I might keep going in this direction until I need to make a turn. Can't make too much progress learning them all at the same time, especially since I don't yet know what are good/bad features of each. All I have to go by is a large user base and the longevity of the offering-until I know enough to be dangerous.
pat
:)
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: ocsav on May 24, 2018, 12:44 pm
easyeda.com

For the absolute deeply ignorant beginner it's easier then Eagle or KiCad.
I tried Eagle and had to watch some Youtube videos to get me started as I couldn't figure it by myself, but then I was able to draw some schematics and pcbs. Nothing to be produced of course, just playing.
Then I tried KiCad and found it more difficult than Eagle, I got quite confused with the need to pass info between the schematic draw and pcb, it felt that it is designed to follow a professional work flow that someone totally out of the industry find quite confusing.

Then I tried easyeda. I still have a lot of problems finding the wanted part and package and sometimes I end up with a package that have some errors, something related to the pin numbers or identification, sometimes I'm able to correct that sometimes not, and I have to choose another component.
But in the end is much easier to use than Eagle or Kicad, it does not impose a work-flow and don't overwhelm me with functions for things I have no idea what they are.
So far the only thing I'm really missing is a way to place a set of components (typically leds) in a certain regular pattern (for example, an array of 8x8 leds in a certain orientation with a certain x and y spacing).
I have already ordered 3 small pcbs, all went well, quality is much better than I could ever done at home, probably not good enough for professional work but for my untrained eyes it looks quite good.



Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: Watcher on May 31, 2018, 10:54 am
I think one major issue that one must take into consideration when choosing a Schematic /PCB package is the online availability of component and footprint libraries. I don't just mean the standard resistor and capacitor but also relatively uncommon components. Yes, you can also create your own but being able to just download libraries online makes the design process so much faster and easier.

This is where Eagle has an advantage since you can download complete libraries even for certain component manufacturers.

I ve been using Eagle for something like 5 years now and I never had to make a single component footprint yet and this is also one of the reasons I hesitate to move to KiCAD even with the new licensing restrictions imposed by Autodesk.

Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: ElCaron on May 31, 2018, 11:46 am
You are aware of this (https://www.digikey.de/de/resources/design-tools/kicad)?
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: polymorph on May 31, 2018, 06:19 pm
Or, for those of us in North America or who like our links to be more descriptive:

Digikey KiCAD Parts Library (https://www.digikey.com/en/resources/design-tools/kicad)
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: Watcher on May 31, 2018, 08:43 pm
You are aware of this (https://www.digikey.de/de/resources/design-tools/kicad)?
Wow..thanks!

And no, i wasn't aware of it!
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: holesflow on Jun 06, 2018, 01:13 am
I decided to give easyeda.com a try on a little project I had planned. So far, seems very good. I found almost the exact part I needed in the user-contributed libraries, which was the RFM95 board. Ideally I wanted a footprint that had both the thru-hole  and surface mount options, but so far I could only find one with the surface mount pads. The estimated cost of production is $2!
That's a neato PCB, Paul! It's like a project board with radio built in, right?
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: allanhurst on Jun 06, 2018, 01:27 am
Having designed multilayer boards for mobile phones etc with   BGA's , microvias and so on I'm not sure whether these freebies support them.

The professional stuff is expensive. I've mostly used PADS . It's a bit of a pig to learn, though very versatile.


Not that it'll worry me much as a retired hobbyist....

Allan
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: holesflow on Jun 13, 2018, 09:09 pm
I guess this topic is split now for some reason.
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: PaulRB on Jun 13, 2018, 09:42 pm
Yes, it went way off topic. I asked the mods to split it because both threads seemed valuable. The other thread is here (https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=552631.0).
Title: Re: What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?
Post by: holesflow on Jun 14, 2018, 01:46 am
Yes, it went way off topic.
Yeah, I guess so...
All good! :)