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

Watcher: I particularly like the fact that when you add a component in the schematic view, it automatically appears in the PCB view for you to place it. Something which doesnt apply for KiCAD :(

True - don't know how that works for Eagle but KiCAD uses a strong separation of symbol and footprint, so it's not possible to just add a component to the PCB layout without first telling what footprint it should have. Many parts have default footprints assigned, others (resistors, capacitors) not as there are numerous footprints possible for the same part. This makes it easy to add breakout board based footprints for certain parts for use with protoboard layouts (I use KiCAD for that, too), and then later just switch to the SSOP housing for a real PCB design.

A bit more streamlining in that process would be great, though. Library management in KiCAD works but it's really hard and non-obvious to set up.

What I like very much about KiCAD is that it's FOSS. No risk to suddenly be forced to start paying, or stay behind with outdated software, or lose access to old files.

No one has mentioned RS Designspark PCB yet

They have now.

Care to express an opinion on it?

I did try it once, long ago. I remember it seemed very slow to start up, and the screen updated slowly. My PC's spec was pretty good for the day. (Notice the correct use of an apostrophe there!) Hopefully Designspark has been optimised significantly since then.

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.


pert: I'm far from expert, but KiCad should definitely be mentioned here. Unlike Eagle, KiCad is free open source with no limitations. Eagle has long been the most popular program for hobbyists but KiCad has become increasingly popular over the last few years and I think it's safe to say that Eagle and KiCad are now the two most popular options.

^ This.

I agree.

IMHO.. EAGLE has held the top dog position for MANY years...

With the recent buyout from Autocad and the new pricing..etc.. people have been seriously turning toward KiCAD.. and from what I have read.. has some great community support/features..etc..

I personally still use EAGLE.. (its what I know.. and was somewhat daunting to tackle/learn)...

Once I read a few 'tips-n-tricks' post about it.. and understood it was designed to be used with a 3-button mouse (left/right/mouse wheel).. exploring those menus got me more familiar with hose things work.

Also.. (at least here is the US/for me).. we are taught to select something.. then click on the 'tool' (ie: highlight/select the text... THEN click the bold icon).. where as in EAGLE its reverse.

The support for EAGLE, libs, scripts, tools, plug-ins..etc..etc.. is insane!

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!

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 :)


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?


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....


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...


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.