Easiest software for DIY PCB

As the title mentions, thou it needs to be easy to use for the odd project Just need through hole capabilities but smd might be good. Also needs to be able to be Arduino compatible, break out board compatible, which i believe is a standard form size, i.e the holes and spacing on breadboards etc.
Regards

I like DipTrace for these reasons:

  • There is a generous Free version: DipTrace Freeware
  • It's very WISIWYG. Unlike Eagle CAD which, unless you're familiar with the typical CAD style interface, there's a learning curve [Spark Fun has the best tutorial I've found: Using EAGLE: Schematic - learn.sparkfun.com]
    I used to use Eagle, and got very good at it, but the first time I went for an extended period not using it, I found I had to relearn it, being that it's interface is so "strange".
  • And, continuing on the vain of simplicity, it does have some nice features, like you can draw a board outline with a great deal of complexity -- though it's point editing tool could be better. But, it can not only do lines and rectangles, it can also do curves and polygons. So, with a little creativity, you can achieve just about any board shape you want.
  • It has a comprehensive parts library [actually it's a set of libraries]. I'm not sure if Arduino is represented, but I made my own Arduino layouts and shield layouts. It was pretty easy.
  • It's relatively cheap should you need to purchase more functionality.
  • It has an autorouter, but I never use it. It will also automatically place the parts on the board, but I rarely use that either. The way I have used it, in the past, is to place several of the parts on the board, that have specific places they need to be, lock those, then I auto-place everything else.
  • It's very stable!

Cons:

  • It's a bit simplistic. For instance, it doesn't support mask geometry very well, and doesn't have the layering capabilities that Eagle CAD does [not, generally, a problem unless you do a lot of Component/Pattern editing -- and even so, only exotic shapes are an issue in DipTrace -- Eagle gives you complete control over things like solder mask and such]. Nor does it have any kind of tiling features. In fact, compared to Eagle, it's rather feature poor. BUT, if all you want to do is produce simple PCBs, with nothing sophisticated, using the supplied part libraries, then not a problem. In fact, the lack of features makes it more accessible, and reduces the learning curve considerably. DipTrace handles some of the advanced stuff in the background in a very generic way. Great if you don't want to have to be bothered with such things. Unless you're doing something ridiculous, you will get a nice PCB without having to fuss with the details.
  • If you want to do any sort of collaboration, probably best to use Eagle -- it's a de facto standard in the maker community.
  • SparkFun offers a great deal of support for Eagle CAD, and none for DipTrace. In fact, SparkFun offers an Eagle library of patterns designed to make it easier to hand solder SMD parts. I created a similar library for DipTrace, for my own use -- not nearly as comprehensive as the SparkFun library, though.
  • In fact, there is a huge body of support for Eagle CAD all over the Internet! There is also a support community for DipTrace, but it might not be as vast--but then, because DipTrace is so much simpler, a huge support base isn't as needed.

There have been many many posts about this topic, use the search feature to find them.

WinQcad is what I use.
You cannot buy it any more but there are free downloads on the internet.

Eagle is used a lot here, see tutorials on youtube.

Google is your friend.

I use Eagle and love it. It definitely has a learning curve (all CAD programs do), but it's serious business professional software.

KiCAD - the only fully free one actually as far as I know.

Like all others, it has its quirks, and like Eagle a pretty steep learning curve. But it can do just about everything - I'm using it to design circuits, prototypes on perfboard (just set the grid to 2.54mm and place the components in a sensible way, draw connections as you solder them), and actual PCBs (never gone beyond double sided but it has the ability to do multilayer), it can export the gerbers that manufacturers need.

chefslot:
As the title mentions, thou it needs to be easy to use for the odd project Just need through hole capabilities but smd might be good. Also needs to be able to be Arduino compatible, break out board compatible, which i believe is a standard form size, i.e the holes and spacing on breadboards etc.
Regards

You will probably find a lack of consensus as to which program is the easiest to use, each of us has our favourites.

Its also going to be true that what might be seen as the 'easiest' for a beginner to use might well not be adequate for the required task at all. What you want to use the package for will also likely change with time, so what is the 'easiest' now you might quickly grow out of ....

Read plenty of on-line reviews, they are easy enough to find, and then try out what you fancy.

Fritzing is good for starting out as it includes the Arduino bits and a number of common components .
I have used it for PCB layout , but not bothered with its schematics .

Eagle seems to be the “standard” , but you need to invest a fair bit of time to get going ( you will find lots of company’s supply Eagle files for their components ).

BTW: using the SparkFun Eagle tutorial I was up and running in a couple of hours!

That link, again: Using EAGLE: Schematic - learn.sparkfun.com

But, with DipTrace I needed no tutorial – it’s that intuitive!

hammy:
I have used it for PCB layout , but not bothered with its schematics .

Interesting. How can you do a PCB layout without schematics?

Fritzing doesn't do schematics well - to say it nicely. The breadboard view is of course usually a disaster, the circuit diagram view is usually not much better. Can't see it as a candidate for any halfway serious work.

wvmarle:
Interesting. How can you do a PCB layout without schematics?

Easy. Same as Schematic capture, only in PCB layout, when you pick parts, you get the footprints, rather than a schematic symbol. Then, you route them together just like you would, if a schematic picked the footprints.