best free pcb design sw for noob?

Hi
what is the best free pcb design softwre for a noob?
I ve seen a lot of people working with eagle but a friend proposed design spark because it has no limitations…

any suggestions please?

Harry

No experience but add http://fritzing.org/ to your list of apps to check. Its open source so ...

This notion of "best" comes up all the time. And regardless of what you ask is the "best", the answer will always be: "it depends."

There are no shortages of software available. I would suggest avoiding any software which is tied to a specifc PCB manufacturer. While in the short-term it might seem like a great option, it won't be in the long term.

Personally I use Eagle since it is very popular, runs multiplatform very well, and is similar to the first Schematic/PCB CAD software I learned to use. gEDA is an open-source suite of software which no (practical) design limitations. Eagle and gEDA have a pretty steep learning curve which is considered normal for CAD software.

Anything CAD related is going to have quirks not normally found in other software packages. The best advice is probably find a tutorial for a couple of different capture programs and do at least one example. You'll pick up a lot about using CAD by using more than one program. And by the end, you'll be able to decide which one works best for you.

Ive recently started to use Eagle.
Its really not so hard once you get in to it and there are tons of examples and tips on the net.
Whenever I got stuck on how to do something a quick google and I could find a tutorial to use.
I looked at a few others but found Eagle easier to get my head round and had all the features I could possibly use.
I can now create double sided boards of my own design and use the toner transfer method successfully at home.

Gordon

FreePcb

Open source code, but only windows.
Takes a bit of reading to get up to speed. You will eventually need to add the gerber viewer tool, and the hook for the online router tool is invaluable.

The hardest part is footprints, and schematics.

for Schematics use TinyCAD. Also free.

There is a learning curve for these two! So don't give up too early. FreePCB is very solid. TinyCad does crash occasionally, but I have never lost data. SAVE OFTEN.

I have sent Gerbers from this setup to US and Asian pcb manufs and so far there have been no issues other than dumb operator design mistakes.

So BIG thanks to these 2 groups for making very good software!

very helpful for all newbies!

I would also vote for Eagle. Steep learning curve but definitely worth to learn. Eagle will scale to professional needs and a lot of people seem to use it. Especially the Arduino schematics come in Eagle format.

But as it was already noticed: it depends.

Udo

Let me say KiCAD here, for searching purpouses, it deserves.
Wish I knew it later, finding it to be smarter than eagle. Not to mention Open Source.
But yes, I’m an OSS maniac.

Have to agree with udo.
Now as we are already disscusing the software, i would like to steal the topic a bit.
What program do they use for making this?

Dont tell me they use graphical programs ? :o

That's from Fritzing..

I looked at gEda and kicad but couldnt even start to get into it.
It all looked lake a lot of separate tools loosely connected together.
I just couldnt seem to get started.

Perversely I got into eagle quite quickly and soon had something ready for etching.
Maybe its just the way Im wired.

Gordon

Do not use fritzing. It looks pretty and simply, but it is really buggy and slow. I tried to design my first circuit in that and the thing slowed to a near standstill after I added around 80 components and it began glitching like crazy and freezing when I would try to delete stuff to make it go faster.

If you intend to design complex circuits you'd be doing yourself a favor to learn a real tool like Eagle. I don't know what is out there that is free, but Eagle does have a free limited version which lets you make smaller boards. And the nice thing about Eagle is there's tons of component footprints available for it.

I agree with James, that you should avoid anything proprietary.

I use KiCAD, its free and open source, although I have to admit it isn't a beginner package. I wanted to be able to have something that has more advanced features and few restrictions.

Eagle seems to be an almost de facto standard for hobbyists. I didn't like the limitations of the free license (although many don't run into any problems as the license is fairly liberal).

I like the look of Fritzing, being able to show a breadboard is a great idea, but I found the library too small and schematic capture wasn't my cup of tea.