Fritzing

I mentioned Fritzing two years ago and now I find coming back to use this software. Fritzing is an open source software initiative that was to support designers and artists ready to move from physical prototyping to actual product. Today Fritzing is an open-source hardware initiative that makes electronics accessible as a creative material for anyone. It gives an wasy way to document Arduino-based prototype (and several other devices as well) and create a PCB layout for manufacturing.

Fritzing can be seen as an electronic design automation (EDA) tool for non-engineers. It is very easy to start to use compared to many other EDA tools, which typically have quite steep learning curve (I have used PADS, CadSoft EAGLE and KiCad). The Fritzing software has improved considerably over last few years, so if you have tried the software some time ago last time, then it might be a good idea to take a second look. This is the easiest way to covert small circuit hacks on breadboard to circuit boards that can be manufactured!

4 Comments

  1. Teddy says:

    Hi Tomi,

    It’s exciting to see that Fritzing is working for you that well

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Creating A PCB In Everything: Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Fritzing
    http://hackaday.com/2016/10/11/creating-a-pcb-in-everything-friends-dont-let-friends-use-fritzing/

    We’re done with Eagle, and now it’s time to move onto Fritzing.

    Fritzing came out of the Interaction Design Lab at the University of Applied Sciences of Potsdam in 2007 as a project initiated by Professor Reto Wettach, André Knörig and Zach Eveland. It is frequently compared to Processing, Wiring, or Arduino in that it provides an easy way for artists, creatives, or ‘makers’ to dip their toes into the waters of PCB design.

    I feel it is necessary to contextualize Fritzing in the space of ‘maker movement’, DIY electronics, and the last decade of Hackaday. Simply by virtue of being an editor for Hackaday, I have seen thousands of homebrew PCBs, and tens of thousands of amateur and hobbyist electronics projects. Despite what the Fritzing’s Wikipedia talk page claims, Fritzing is an important piece of software. The story of the ‘maker movement’ – however ill-defined that phrase is – cannot be told without mentioning Fritzing. It was the inspiration for CircuitLab, and the Fritzing influence can easily be seen in Autodesk’s 123D Circuits.

    Just because a piece of software is important doesn’t mean it’s good. I am, perhaps, the world’s leading expert at assessing poorly designed and just plain shitty PCBs.

    Fritzing has its place, and that place is building graphical representations for breadboard circuits. Fritzing has no other equal in this respect, and for this purpose, it’s an excellent tool. You can also make a PCB in Fritzing, and here things aren’t as great. I want to do Fritzing for this Creating A PCB In Everything series only to demonstrate how bad PCB design can be.

    You cannot create completely new parts in Fritzing.

    Of course, you can create new parts in Fritzing

    This is unnecessarily complex for any EDA suite.

    I will not be demonstrating how to make a part in Fritzing. It’s far too much effort for far too little payoff. No one should use Fritzing to create a PCB, anyway, much less create their own parts from scratch.

    There are three steps to creating a PCB in Fritzing. The first is to create a breadboard circuit, the second is to turn that into a schematic, and the last is turning that schematic into a board. This is simple enough, the search function works, and the circuit we’re building can be easily built on a breadboard.

    There are no nets and no busses in the Fritzing schematic view. The only way to connect parts together is by connecting individual pins together. You can’t name connections like you can in Eagle, or in any other EDA suite. This is the bare minimum of what schematic design can be. It can be done, but it’s not done well.

    Step 3: Making A PCB

    This is the meat of this post. No one needs to know how to connect parts together on a physical breadboard and a bunch of wires. The breadboard interface makes sense – it should, anyway, since the greatest use case for Fritzing is creating graphics of breadboard layouts. The schematic is ugly, but it “works”. Now it’s time to actually build a board in Fritzing. What does that look like?

    In Fritzing, you can make a two-layer board. The color for the top layer is yellow, the color for the bottom layer is… darker yellow.

    Several board outlines are included, from a resizable rectangle to Arduino and Raspberry Pi shields (a neat feature!). Holes are possible, and despite what nearly every PCB made in Fritzing says otherwise, traces with a width smaller than 24 mil are possible. This is important because the micro USB port we’re using is unusable with 24 mil traces.

    There are a few cool features to the Fritzing PCB mode. Nets are color-coded, for instance, which would be welcome in any piece of software intended to build PCBs. There are shortcomings, though. Copper pours are separated into two categories: ground fills and copper fills. What’s the difference between these two? Ground fills may only be applied to ground signals. Copper fills can be applied to any signal.

    One frequently repeated falsehood concerning Fritzing is that it is fundamentally incapable of doing curved traces; that’s why all boards made by Fritzing look terrible. This is not true. You can curve a trace by holding CRTL while dragging it.

    Of course, there are problems. Vias, or running a trace from one layer to another, is unnecessarily hard. I would rather use any other EDA suite except for Fritzing, but you can make a board in it.

    Does it work? Yes, probably. If that’s the measure of a success, Fritzing is an acceptable PCB design tool.

    Right at the bottom of the screen, you can find a ‘Fabricate’ button that will send your board to a fab house in Berlin. The cost for my board is €6.26 for one. Of course, you can export a Fritzing board as a Gerber, and send that off to any fab house on the planet.

    Fritzing has a place, though, and that’s making graphics for your Medium blog on how you made a Raspberry-Pi-powered weather station. Here, Fritzing excels. It has everything you need, a relatively simple user interface, and makes great graphics. Friends don’t let friends use Fritzing for PCB work, but if you need a graphic of a breadboard layout, I haven’t seen anything better.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Creating A PCB In Everything: Creating A Custom Part In Fritzing
    http://hackaday.com/2017/01/06/creating-a-pcb-in-everything-creating-a-custom-part-in-fritzing/

    Of Course You Can Make Custom Parts (It’s Just Tedious)

    The Fritzing FAQ is wrong. Of course you can make custom parts in Fritzing. This summer, Adafruit created a whole bunch of Fritzing parts that still haven’t been added to the core libraries. Instead of complaining about the relatively small core library, or the difficulty in adding custom parts, I’m going to do something better: for the next two thousand words, I’m going to demonstrate how to create a custom part in Fritzing.

    Step 1: Creating A Breadboard Footprint

    Download Inkscape. It’s like Illustrator, only it doesn’t send your soul back to the Adobe mothership.

    Fritzing uses zero-indexed numbers to label all the pins on the breadboard view.

    Once all the pins are labeled, select all, group everything and name this group ‘breadboard’ in the Object Properties window. Save this file to your desktop as a plain SVG (not an Inkscape SVG).

    In Fritzing, create a new part just like you did in the ‘Easy, Dumb Way’ above. In the Parts Editor, select File -> Load Image For View, and select the SVG you just saved from Inkscape.

    In the Parts Editor, select File -> Load Image For View, and select the SVG you just saved from Inkscape.

    For each pin on our 64-pin monster, click the ‘select graphic’ button, and then click the gray rectangle of the corresponding pin.

    Save the part

    Step 2: Creating The Schematic Footprint

    The breadboard view is only one-third of what’s required to make a part in Fritzing. Now we’re going to move on to the schematic view.

    First, create a new Inkscape document with a width of 1.5 inches and a height of 3.3 inches.

    Step 3: Creating The PCB Footprint

    You know the drill by now. Create a new Inkscape document.

    Fritzing requires you to name these pads, so name them ‘connector0pin’ through ‘connector63pin’.

    Save this as a regular SVG, open up Fritzing, go to the Part Editor, and replace the PCB footprint with the SVG you just saved.

    With that, we’re done. That’s how you create a part mostly from scratch in Fritzing. Hit save, close Fritzing, and throw your computer in the garbage. It’s tainted now.

    What this all means

    Admittedly, I didn’t make this easy on myself by creating a 64-pin DIP from scratch in Fritzing. Making a part in Fritzing is a tedious process and should not be done by anyone. It’s possible, though, and if you have enough time on your hands, you can create beautiful vector graphics that are also real, working parts in Fritzing.

    Supporters of Fritzing say its greatest strength is that it’s an easy tool to use, and useful if you want to whip up a quick PCB for prototyping. They are correct, so long as all the parts you want to use are already in Fritzing’s core libraries. It is possible to create parts from scratch, but this is a task that could be done faster in literally any other PCB design program.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Making an Arduino Shield PCB with Fritzing
    https://hackaday.com/2017/11/26/making-an-arduino-shield-pcb-with-fritzing/

    [Allan Schwartz] decided to document his experience using Fritzing to design, fabricate, and test a custom Arduino shield PCB, and his step-by-step documentation makes the workflow very clear. Anyone who is curious or has been looking for an opportunity to get started will find [Allan]’s process useful to follow. The PCB in question has two shift registers, eight LEDs, eight buttons, and fits onto an Arduino; it’s just complex enough to demonstrate useful design features and methods while remaining accessible.

    PCB: from Concept to design to fabrication and testing using Fritzing.
    http://www.whatimade.today/pcb-from-concept-to-design-to-fabrication-and-testing-using-fritzing/

    Because it’s free and designed for hobbyists, I decided on Fritzing. Fritzing lets you go all the way from breadboard design, to schematic design, to board layout, and even to board fabrication. In addition, I’ve found a board house that fabricates 10 small boards for $5

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*