When to use a schematic VS a block diagram VS a Fritzing

I thought it would be interesting to hear people's opinions on block diagrams, Fritzings, and schematics and when they should be used.

Personally, I think Fritzings/TinkerCAD Circuits are great for project which use a lot of ICs or parts without a schematic symbol like Arduino boards or motor drivers. They are also great for projects using a huge amount of connections because you can color code the wires easily. Another use case is tutorials for absolute beginners who might get intimidated by a schematic.

Schematics should be used ONLY if the project uses very few ICs or parts without symbols. For basic electronics projects they are great, but for anything super complex they get out of hand fast.

Block diagrams are nice but there's really no excuse not to use a schematic.

I personally use connection tables. These are tables showing where a wire starts and ends and can include other info like what gauge the wire has to be.

For example:

Start End
Arduino D3 Servo Data
Adapter 5V Servo 5V
Adapter GND Arduino GND & Servo GND


This will be an interesting discussion.

I only know KiCAD, but after an hour or two of reading and examples it only takes a few minutes to make a block diagram with the correct pins for any component.

KiCAD is the best.

Speaking of custom symbols, one area where Fritzing falls flat on its face is usability of more advanced features like custom ICs or parts. I spent a solid hour trying to make a 6-pin IC and got literally nowhere.

So if a system is not capable of serving your needs unless you do backflips, is it really worth it?

An easier to read schematic can be produced faster in KiCAD than in can in fritzing. Plus the codebase for fritzing is terrible. It's not a program, it's three racoons in a trench coat trying to get into an R-Rated movie.

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I got it for free using some Linux black magic.

sudo apt-get install fritzing

Somehow it's in the Ubuntu repositories meaning any random dude with an Ubuntu-based OS can just download it. And it actually WORKS.

Generally, for more basic projects, Fritzing is perfect. But as you start going into more and more advanced projects, it becomes annoying to use, being too basic. Then when you try to fix the problem by making a custom part, you're faced with a wall of guidelines and information and crap that just doesn't make sense for a platform designed around user-friendliness.

Wall of Shame - Community / Bar Sport - Arduino Forum
Read this thread

This is freaking hilarious! A golden example of the reason that connection tables are superior.

Well I'm not wrong. A schematic that has just, say, an Arduino connected to a Neopixel strip is just a block diagram. Two boxes connected with some lines. At that point just use Fritzing/TinkerCAD.

If the thing uses parts that aren't available in either tool, sure, use a schematic.

:thinking:

Or at least I don't think I'm wrong. If I posted a tutorial on how to wire up a blinking light controlled by a potentiometer or something, do you think more people would build it if I showed a Fritzing or a schematic?

I will say that if the entire wiring of an Arduino UNO was put into a Fritzing, I would have to be hospitalized just looking at it.

As complexity increases, the usefulness of Fritzing decreases.

Maybe I should reword.

Alright I've decided to reword my original post because it wasn't very clear.

Fritzings - Great for beginner tutorials and ultra-basic circuits but becomes useless when things become remotely complex or start using parts that aren't included in the libraries.

Schematics - Not a great idea for a beginner tutorial but works great with very complicated circuits and obscure parts.

Connection Tables - Great little diagrams showing where a connection should start and end. Good for beginners but might lose some people who require visual cues. Furthermore, a connection table of a complex circuit turns into a four-mile long spreadsheet.

EDIT - Also, never post screenshots of your custom PCB designs because only people who are familiar with eCAD applications can kind of understand them.

And then there is one BEYOND schematics. I recall trying to read sheets of schematics showing ALL the logic connections in main-frame computers. Not just chip pin connections, but the internal logic parts in the chip and the pins connecting to them. Quickly gave the book back to the engineer!
Paul

I think those diagrams have ascended beyond the level of us mere mortal hobbyists.

Perhaps as it applies to you and your projects. Its great you found a system that works for you :slight_smile: and I'm sure there are like minded folks.

However the rest of the industry disagrees, schematics are the universal electronic documentation standard.

To your point, personally I can absorb an electrical concept/circuit/etc in moments when shown on a schematic. I literally have to draw a schematic to understand a tabular representation (with the exception of a circuit with < 5 parts (or so).

This is freaking hilarious! (from your post #8)
What particular aspect of the Fritzing do you find hilarious? While I've never used Fritzing, this particular example is quite helpful to someone wiring up such a design. In addition to connection information it conveys things like how grounds are made etc. I don't see that information in a table.

Of course there is the possibility you are "yanking our collective chain" just to see how folks react.

EDIT - Also, never post screenshots of your custom PCB designs because only people who are familiar with eCAD applications can kind of understand them.

If you are capable of converting a design from tabular form to working hardware (successfully) you will be able to understand a PCB layout. Early in my career our PCB designs were laid out by a design house. Technically I didn't know how eCAD worked however I sure as hell knew how my circuit needed to be laid out.

With respect, you do not know what you are talking about.


Good for you !

I've worked with similar things like this over the years, they are completely unmanageable when things get large and have no place when things are small.

A properly drawn schematic gives both connection and a functionality overview of the system.

As example, these 3 sheets of a 6 sheet system:

I'm getting a feeling someone's yanking our chain :face_with_monocle:

Needs to be repeated:

image

Dunno about you but I'm a hobbyist, not an industrial engineer. If I want to follow my thing I will. A lot of times I make a table based off a schematic for my own sanity.

These look nice. I don't think I've ever thought to do it in several sheets which is why they end up looking messy when I build them. And I've NEVER done anything that complex, so the use case there makes sense.

EDIT - My reaction on that Fritzing diagram was like it was because Fritzings are dumb for circuits that complex. Use a table. Maybe it'll be long but the reader can read one line, make a connection, read another line, make another connection, etc.