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

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.

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

Maybe because KiCad has less features than Eagle ?

Does it? I find KiCAD got quite a few advanced features in the last few years. Not surprisingly, with CERN behind it. I never really used Eagle, but a colleague of mine recently switch over from the paid version, because he needed some features. May have been differential traces. Besides that, "push and shove" is not "promising", but it is an extremely great feature that you will never want to miss again after you used it once. At least for me, adding a feature and then having to route a trace between others is quite a common task and what am I going to do, redraw all the traces around that? But I thought Eagle had that too?

I'm still using Eagle. I want to switch to KiCad but the interface is a bit different and I'm still not used to KiCad yet. I am hoping to master KiCad before Adobe does something stupid like making free version obsolete or locking them out with stealth update.

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.

I have exactly the same experience: I have used EAGLE and KICAD, but for me, the very best and simplest ones are SPRINT LAYOUT and SPLAN.
The price is < 50$, they have no limitation unlike most freewares, and they have the best ergonomy (at least for me !).

Since I have used them 10 minutes, I have definitely abandoned all the other software…