What is your go-to PCB layout/designer? Why?

PaulRB: 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.

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!
Schematic_LoRa-Sensor-Node_Sheet-1_20180523170617.png
PCB_LoRa-Sensor-Node_20180523170656.png

gmcmurry: 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 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 :)

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.

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.

You are aware of this?

Or, for those of us in North America or who like our links to be more descriptive:

Digikey KiCAD Parts Library

ElCaron: You are aware of this?

Wow..thanks!

And no, i wasn't aware of it!

PaulRB: 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?

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

I guess this topic is split now for some reason.

Yes, it went way off topic. I asked the mods to split it because both threads seemed valuable. The other thread is here.

PaulRB: Yes, it went way off topic.

Yeah, I guess so... All good! :)

I have tried many of the above mentionned software, until I tried SPRINT LAYOUT.

SPRINT LAYOUT is so good, so easy to use, with an almost zero minute of learning curve, that it has become my evident choice after the very last minute.

It is not really a freeware, but at around 50$, I consider it almost free...

Pics?

Results of stuff you've made using it?

Why is it better over anything else?

Resurrecting a thread over 1+ years old... you should at least give a little more reasoning/hype behind your post.

Looking at Google images, it seems that it isn't even linked to schematics,but you insert footprints directly? No wonder it has a steep learning curve, if that is true, it can't really do anything even mildly complicated.

Eagle!

I've tried KiCad, EasyEDA and a few others, but Eagle free was the easiest to use. On one of my first projects I needed a part that wasn't in the library, and it took me a half-hour to build my own part and save it in my personal library. Managing component libraries is a b!tch in KiCAD. (It can't be emphasized enough). I never figured it out. In Eagle, your library files can be anywhere.

I can easily live with the limitations of the free version: "Limited version for hobbyists including 2 schematic sheets, 2 signal layers, and an 80cm2(12.4in2) board area."

Support is beyond excellent. There is even an Autodesk support tech on the Autodesk Eagle Forum. Dumb questions are always answered politely by other users (unlike other user forums... cough, cough)

I can't imagine ever needing a board larger than the free version allows, or more than two layers. If my boards ever get that complex, then I can always get someone on fivver to make the PCB from my Eagle schematic file.

suprised no one has mentioned Diptrace.

SteveMann: Managing component libraries is a b!tch in KiCAD. (It can't be emphasized enough). I never figured it out. In Eagle, your library files can be anywhere.

KiCAD library management has changed a lot recently. It is still not gold, but of course, libraries can be anywhere there, too. Even in a git repository. I find it good practice anyway to keep copies of the libs used in the project in the project folder anyway and use those. Everything else it bound to blow up at some point, be it because paths change, or because libraries change.

I can easily live with the limitations of the free version: "Limited version for hobbyists including 2 schematic sheets, 2 signal layers, and an 80cm2(12.4in2) board area."

Meaning that you cannot even fully use the full 10x10cm^2 that are offered nowadays for 5$/10pcs. That is really already a complete dealbreaker. I recently designed a controller for my heating, with 10 input and 10 output ports and a large display, and I barely fit that on 10x10cm^2, for mechanical reasons, despite the fact that the electronics were not rocket science.

I again very strongly advise against locking yourself into some castrated "free" software, that even in the paid version isn't really professional level ... ... especially if it is from AutoDesk.

Switching from Eagle 6 to KiCad. Still learning, no real project at this time, except schematics for breadboards and 2 libraries.

A first attempt with KiCad a few years ago was a failure because of the library management. I don't remember how it was, but I'm sure KiCad is now a lot easier. I've always been hating Eagle, but was used to it. What I hate the most with Eagle is the libraries : for example copying a component to another library, or deleting a component or device or whatever is just tedious. Too much keystrokes everywhere to do even basic operations. IMHO KiCad libraries are much easier to use and manage. It also seems to me that the KiCad search engine is a lot better. But I've been learning for a few weeks, from time to time !

At this time I didn't create any real PCB, but schematics are easy to draw, and the keyborad as a "giant left button" is briliant and easy to learn. Creating components is also easy. I find libraries more intuitive than Eagle ones, and don't bother with conversion : I'm recreating some of my Eagle ones, creating and adding 3D models (modules). But menus and property panels are a bit messy, and need some pratice...

3D models native integration is a great feature : until now, I had to create by hand 3D models for my PCBs (for integration in larger projects). No need to do that with KiCad (I know, there are some ulp for Eagle, but I immediately gave up). With KiCad : STEP export, and done.

I found 2 missing features with KiCad :

  • pads cannot be modified in PCBnew (same problem with Eagle...)
  • no octogonal pads (I find them usefull for DIY laser transfer PCBs)

I still have to learn more about routing : push and shove seems to be promising !

KiCad recently evolved a lot. As a result, many tutorials are outdated. This does not help... But I find my KiCad learning curve growing up faster than the Eagle one. Maybe because KiCad has less features than Eagle ?

Eagle makes me think of an early 90 software.