What are some good, free / cheap, PCB design programs.
I'd like to make a position circuit with GPS, accelerometer, gyro... then use and Arduino and blue tooth serial port to pipe it onto a pc.
Want it all on a snazzy board though but don't want to foot the big bill for Protel, mentor, or any of those.
I would recommend you Eagle. They have a student version for free.
Are there any other ones. I cannot for the life of me figure out the Eagle software.
Sparkfun provides a pretty good Eagle tutorial for beginners: http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/tutorial_info.php?tutorials_id=108
I cannot for the life of me figure out the Eagle software.
You are not alone. I found Eagle completely unintuitive. You can do stuff by carefully following the tutorials but software really shouldn't be so user unfriendly in this day and age.
Have you found an easier to use tool? As near as I can tell, ALL of the PCB CAD packages (including the professional $$$$$ packages) have been described as having “very steep learning curves”, and this seems mainly to be because they’re fundamentally different than a standard drawing package (the blobs you’re adding to the picture have internal semantics with all sorts of RULES attached! I’m not interested in a package that doesn’t enforce such rules; you might as well use Paint! I want a schematic and a PCB that MATCH.) I’m certainly having “issues” with trying to use gEDA after a lot of experience with EAGLE (and yeah, I MUCH prefer EAGLE.)
These would be the normal alternate suggestions for Free Software options: Kicad (site down?) or
You could probably find other commercial, freeware or shareware options.
I'm curious what a more "usable" package would look like. I'd be keen to see one but it wouldn't be a small undertaking.
The only other Windows one that I know of personally is http://www.freepcb.com/ which is free. I gather there is also a router package as well. I know nothing about it apart from having seen it.
I find myself in the situation of really not being happy with anything that doesn't tie the schematic and PCB together, provide forward and reverse annotation, ECO generation, BOM generation. and other features like variant management. Sadly nothing short of a commercial packages offers it. There is a reason why you get something for your money with commercial EDA software.