Circuit design software list

What is the best free or cheap electronics design software? It is hard to say in this ever changing field. I some time ago mentioned some software examples in Top Free Electronics Design Tools posting and you can find a long comparison list at Wikipedia Comparison of EDA software page.

For the circuit design I would say that this list from  Mostly free engineering software article is a good list of free/cheap software I can agree:

  • KiCad seems the best known open-source EDA system.
  • gEDA looks very similar.
  • EAGLE is a commercial package with a free version that will handle small double-sided boards.
  • DesignSpark PCB is not open-source, but looks very capable given the cost ($0). It is adware

From has done some playing with KiCad and gEDA (years ago) but I felt that they were lacking something in easy to use (some improvement needed here I think). From those alternatives EAGLE feels the best for me.

Here are also some new on-line focused alternatives:

CircuitBee is an online platform that promises to allow you to share live versions of your circuit schematics on your websites, blogs or forums that I covered three years ago.

Digi-Key Corporation and Aspen Labs launched two years ago one-of-a-kind online ‘Scheme-it’ tool for drawing schematics.

HackEDA is an interesting looking new on-line electronics design tool introduced last year. The premise is simple: most electronic projects are just electronic Lego: You connect your microcontroller to a sensor, add in a battery, throw in a few caps and resistors for good measure, and hopefully everything will work.

circuits.io was promising looking free circuit editor in your browser introduced two years ago. I has browser based schematic and board layout. Anyone familiar with Autodesk knows they have a bit of a habit of taking over the world. Autodesk started with 123D modeling tool that is suitable for designing models for 3D printing. Now Autodesk has followed with 123D Circuits: Autodesk’s free design tool. 123D is web-based software, and using it requires account creation on the circuits.io website. Anything you design sits on the cloud: you can collaborate with others and even embed your circuit (with functioning simulation). All your work is public unless you pay. There are many things similar to Fritzing in this.

CircuitMaker from Altium posting that tells that Altium recently announced CircuitMaker, their entry into the free/low-cost PCB design tool market. They’re entering a big industry, with the likes of Eagle, KiCad, gEDA, and a host of other tool suites. CircuitMaker from Altium posting has introductory video on CircuitMaker and discussion on it. CircuitMaker’s website is pushing the collaboration aspect of the software. The software is still in pre-beta phase.

EasyEDA is an integrated tool for schematic capture, circuit simulation and PCB layout that you use with your web browser. Read more about it from my posting on EasyEDA.

 

Related links: Check my postings on electronics design software.

 

107 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Adding Spice to Your Workbench
    http://hackaday.com/2016/02/26/adding-spice-to-your-workbench/

    One of the best-known electronics simulators is Spice, which Berkeley created in 1973.

    There are several paid and free versions of Spice (and other simulators) that include a GUI. One of the best for a casual user is the free offering from Linear Technology called LTSpice.

    Linear makes LTSpice available and populates it with models for their devices in the hopes you’ll buy components from them. However, the software is entirely usable for anything, and it has a powerful set of features. Linear produces the software for Windows, but I can attest that it runs just fine under Wine on Linux. The Web site will invite you to register, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

    http://www.linear.com/designtools/software/#LTspice

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The EAGLE has landed: at Autodesk!
    http://hackaday.com/2016/06/29/the-eagle-has-landed-at-autodesk/

    The selloffs continue at Farnell! We’d previously reported that the UK distributor of electronics parts was being sold to a Swiss distributor of electronics parts. Now it looks like they’re getting rid of some of their non-core businesses, and in this case that means CadSoft EAGLE, a popular free-for-limited-use PCB layout suite.

    But that’s not the interesting part: they sold EAGLE to Autodesk!

    Autodesk had a great portfolio of professional 3D-modeling tools, and has free versions of a good number of their products. (Free as in beer. You don’t get to see the code or change it.)

    What does this mean for those of you out there still using EAGLE instead of open-source alternatives?

    Comments:

    I REALLY hope Autodesk makes EAGLE’s UI a bit better…

    I feel the same. Eagle sucks on so many levels but still I feels better to work with than all the other open source programs. Hard to explain. I hope they make make eagle a modern CAD tool with a actual usable UI.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    EAGLE Make
    http://www.cadsoftusa.com/product-overview/eagle-make/

    With the EAGLE Make product line, CadSoft introduces a brand new product portfolio for engineers that are just getting started with PCB design or are just starting out on a new commercial venture. Our EAGLE Make portfolio offers you flexibility with full functionality at great value.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Future Of Eagle CAD
    http://hackaday.com/2016/07/05/the-future-of-eagle-cad/

    Last week, Autodesk announced their purchase of CadSoft Eagle, one of the most popular software packages for electronic design automation and PCB layout.

    Eagle has been around for nearly thirty years, and has evolved to become the standard PCB design package for electronic hobbyists, students, and engineering firms lead by someone who learned PCB design with Eagle. The reason for this is simple: it’s good enough for most simple designs, and there is a free version of Eagle. The only comparable Open Source alternative is KiCad, which doesn’t have nearly as many dedicated followers as Eagle. Eagle, for better or worse, is a standard, and Open Source companies from Sparkfun to Adafruit use it religiously and have created high-quality libraries of parts and multiple tutorials

    Eagle is famous for the free version of its software. 20 years ago, in the days of Protel and other expensive EDA and electronic design packages, Eagle always had a limited freeware version. Arguably, this is the reason for Eagle’s popularity; a free educational version means schools can use it, and those students will enter the workforce with a desire to use what they already know. A freeware version of Eagle means electronics hobbyists can design their own PCBs at home, using the same tools used by professionals. The freeware version is not going away.

    Aside from a freeware version, buying the correct license for Eagle was not easy.

    Now there are only six Eagle products. The commercial licenses range from one schematic sheet, two signal layers, and a 100x80mm routing area to the Ultimate license with 16 signals and a four meter square routing area. For non-commercial licenses, the free educational edition features 99 schematic sheets, six signal layers, and a 160x100mm routing area.

    The big question when it comes to Autodesk licenses is an auspicious cloud looming on the horizon. The Internet is a thing, and now software phones home. Altium’s Circuit Maker is inexorably tied to this cloud, and locks your designs up in an online vault. Will the same be true of Autodesk’s Eagle?

    Despite being a near-standard when it comes to PCB design, there are a ton of features Eagle doesn’t have. To do a design or electrical rule check on a project, you have to press a button – it doesn’t happen automatically.

    What does [Matt] have planned that he can say to the press? Eagle’s core, mostly – hierarchy, modularity, mechanical integration (in keeping with integration with other Autodesk products), and revision management.

    With a new direction comes possible changes to the UI.

    Autodesk’s acquisition of Eagle didn’t happen in a vacuum. In 2014, Autodesk bought Circuits.io, an electronic design software that, like Fritzing, is based around the solderless breadboard paradigm.

    Circuits.io, Tinkercad, and Autodesk’s series of 123D apps are their play at the Maker market. Yes, you can design a simple circuit and have it do real work, but you’re not going to implement an FPGA or anything designed for EMC compliance with these tools.

    This is the reason people don’t use better software packages: I know Eagle, and in the time it would take to learn KiCad, I could finish the project I’m working on, make a sandwich, take a nap, and get my boards in the mail. Yes, it’s lazy, but Eagle is good enough.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    PCB Design Basics: Example design flow
    http://www.edn.com/design/pc-board/4426878/PCB-Design-Basics–Example-design-flow?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_pcbdesigncenter_20160711&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_pcbdesigncenter_20160711&elqTrackId=f72b276ae8274c27b57ed9e8a0d88efa&elq=be2ca2fef9c044df9eb3879aaa940e63&elqaid=33024&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=28850

    This series of articles discusses the different steps of PCB development from the basics of creating a design schematic with specific requirements, to finalizing a board and preparing it for fabrication. The articles are written in the context of the National Instruments circuit design tools NI Multisim and NI Ultiboard.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Multisim Live (Beta)
    http://www.ni.com/newsletter/53193/en/

    Multisim Live is a fully web-based, schematic capture and circuit simulation tool powered by the industry-standard accuracy of SPICE technology. Discover, explore, and analyze circuit designs anywhere, anytime, using any device.

    Try it for free for a limited time!

    Sign up today at beta.multisim.com.

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Texas Instruments’ WEBENCH is a neat program, especially because it has Mentor Graphic’s FloTherm built in to help you see the hot spots in switching regulators. This is what taught me that a modern buck regulator will have more heat coming out of the catch diode than the pass FET.

    http://www.ti.com/lsds/ti/analog/webench/overview.page

    How to use WEBENCH Sensor AFE Designer—A step-by-step tutorial
    http://www.edn.com/design/sensors/4404605/How-to-use-WEBENCH-Sensor-AFE-Designer-A-step-by-step-tutorial

    Designing a sensing application involves circuitry for amplification of a sensor signal, its conditioning and, in most cases, conversion into digital form. This is achieved conventionally by using discrete operational amplifiers (op amps), analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and passive components which are expensive, complicated, hard to design in, and less flexible to design changes. However, the configurable sensor analog front-end (sensor AFE) introduced by TI offers a highly integrated, single-chip solution to a wide variety of sensing applications, thereby solving the challenges faced by conventional sensor signal path designers.

    In this article, we delve into how WEBENCH Sensor AFE Designer software helps system engineers design, configure and evaluate the sensor AFE platform in just minutes.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Home> Community > Blogs > The EMC Blog
    Free PC board viewers
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/the-emc-blog/4414595/Free-PC-board-viewers?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_pcbdesigncenter_20160725&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_pcbdesigncenter_20160725&elqTrackId=4962073e2f394853a68dbd3d338f979e&elq=81004ad65cc74928982454780d6362ed&elqaid=33164&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=28995

    board layout files are usually saved in multiple file formats using many common CAD design tools, such as Mentor, Altium and others. Obviously, purchasing PC board design software from multiple vendors is beyond my budget. Fortunately, most vendors of board design software also provide free “viewers” that will allow the display of color-coded individual or multiple layers of the traces and planes. Most will load in multiple file formats.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Spaghetti Breadboard

    A simple online editor for electronic breadboards

    https://hackaday.io/project/6035-spaghetti-breadboard

    https://github.com/cristiingineru/spaghetti

    A simple online editor for electronic breadboards based on facebook/react and immutable-js libraries. http://cristiingineru.github.io/spaghetti/

    Try: http://cristiingineru.github.io/spaghetti/

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LPTshield… Arduino-compatible
    A DB25 “standard” parallel port for the Arduino family of boards.
    https://hackaday.io/project/13254-lptshield-arduino-compatible

    A friend of mine wanted to drive some ancient LPT-port equipped devices. Printers, DAQ modules, and a few other ancient but still handy widgets.

    As I haven’t yet found a fully capable “LPT” port shield, the next logical step is to just make one. Maybe this shield could be useful for the many Arduino-based CNC projects out there?

    Some design goals for this LPTshield:
    * Supports ALL the standard LPT-port pins, buffered & protected.
    * Flexible, input/output direction capability on all pins, wherever possible.
    * Conserve Arduino pins, because using them all up for just this shield just doesn’t seem right.
    * For any Arduino pins being used, I think it’s important to allow easily re-assigning pins functions. Just to be neighborly with other potential shields.
    * Leave the primary Tx/Rx pins alone.
    * On-board 5V regulator, just in case the MCU board’s regulator is already overtaxed.
    * Some kind of interrupt capability would be nice.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CoilChoice
    https://hackaday.io/project/13282-coilchoice

    A free graphic tool for analyzing coils to compare MMF, amperage and heat produced for various dimensions and wire gauge.

    This is a tool that I needed for designing my own coils and to understand the tradeoffs in choosing coil width, depth, and most importantly, wire gauge. These impact the magnetomotiveforce (you usually want more of that) and the heat (you want less of that) and the the amperage (which you may have to limit to match your circuits other components.)

    It is completely fee and online, and completely open-source, implemented completely in javascript using free tools. In addition to being a specific design tool, I feel like the 3D display helped me to finally fully understand the tradeoffs in coil design.

    CoilChoice
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwtDHIT8LFM

    CoilChoice, a tool for understanding coils : http://pifah.github.io/CoilChoice/

    See the code here: https://github.com/PubInv/CoilChoice,
    I part of PIFAH: https://github.com/PubInv/PIFAH

    Coil Choice
    Designing electromagnetic coils for magnetomotive force.
    …brought to you by Public Invention For All Humanity (PIFAH).
    http://pubinv.github.io/CoilChoice/

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Circuit Design? Spread the Joy
    http://hackaday.com/2016/08/31/circuit-design-spread-the-joy/

    Accountants and MBAs use spreadsheets to play “what if” scenarios with business and financial data. Can you do the same thing with electronic circuits? The answer–perhaps not surprisingly–is yes.

    Many spreadsheet programs can also solve optimization problems.

    Reply
  13. Roy says:

    I ‘d like to recommend a new free online electronic circuit design tool.
      There are several free EDA tools around and some excellent FOSS tools such as KiCad and gEDA but the reason I thought people might be interested in this one, EasyEDA, is because it has a few twists to it.

      i) it’s web based so, with nothing except a bit of javascript to install, it can be used by Linux, Mac and Windows users and – if they have a big enough screen – Android and iOS users too;

      ii) work can be shared and – with a bit of agreement on who saves what, when via a 3rd party instant messaging service – it supports collaboration;

      iii) it has some pretty impressive import and export options such as importing Altium, Eagle and LTspice files and exporting spice netlists and svg, png and pdf files for documentation. It also uses open standard JSON format files internally so it’s easy to do some quite whizzy things just using a text editor;

      iv) all use of the tool is free even to the point where the user can download PCB Gerbers and send them off to any PCB supplier;

      v) it also offers a low cost PCB service: PCBs can be ordered directly from within the tool (this seems to be the way the money is made to keep the whole thing afloat);

      vi) it can even be used without registering with files being saved in an Anonymous mode that works a bit like pastebin where files can be retrieved and shared just by their urls.

      It’s easy to drive for there are lots of examples on the site and a useful tutorial.
    https://easyeda.com/Doc/Tutorial/

    Thanks

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    This EAGLE Script Gets Quotes For Your Boards
    http://hackaday.com/2016/09/11/this-eagle-script-gets-quotes-for-your-boards/

    Weary of manually entering manufacturing parameters into PCBShopper’s web form, [Jeremy Ruhland] created an awesome shortcut: His ULP script lets you obtain quotes from 26 PCB manufacturers around the world directly from your EAGLE board layout.

    The script extracts all relevant data from your layout, including board size, the layer count, minimum trace widths and hole diameters.

    PCBShopper.com Quote Generator
    https://github.com/JeremyRuhland/pcbshopper

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Optimizing the Spread: More Spreadsheet Circuit Design Tricks
    http://hackaday.com/2016/09/14/optimizing-the-spread-more-spreadsheet-circuit-design-tricks/

    Last time I showed you how to set up a reasonably complex design in a spreadsheet: a common emitter bipolar transistor amplifier. Having the design in a spreadsheet makes it easy to do “what if” scenarios and see the effects on the design almost immediately.

    Another advantage that spreadsheets offer is a way to “solve” or optimize equations. That can be very useful once you have your model. For Excel, you need to install the Solver add-in (go to the Excel Options dialog, select Manage Add-Ins, and select the Solver Add-In). You might also enjoy OpenSolver. You can even get that for Google Sheets (although it currently lacks a non-linear solver which makes it less useful for what we need).

    http://opensolver.org/

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SnapEDA launches on-demand PCB symbols
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-products/other/4442703/SnapEDA-launches-on-demand-PCB-symbols?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_productsandtools_20160919&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_productsandtools_20160919&elqTrackId=8117874b7bed4944982961374dee8975&elq=ea986553477f4ecba593c6b9dcc3aa4c&elqaid=33923&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=29657

    SnapEDA, a provider of multi-platform EDA symbols and footprints, has added the InstaPart service to their repertoire.

    If a part already exists in SnapEDA’s library, users can download it for free. If it isn’t present, a user can pay a $29 fee to have the part created within 24 hours.

    Library parts are compatible with Eagle, Altium, KiCAD, Cadence OrCad/Allegro (Beta), Mentor PADS (Beta), and Pulsonix.

    https://www.snapeda.com/instapart/

    Reply
  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Multi-instantiating a symbol: Free EDA advice #1
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/benchtalk/4442704/Multi-instantiating-a-symbol–Free-EDA-advice–1?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_today_20160922&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_today_20160922&elqTrackId=756b111c78c741eebc26bddb1a485332&elq=2fafbca6168c428da1ed96e55806b383&elqaid=33985&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=29708

    So. FPGAs, microprocessors, and microcontrollers, with hundreds, or even 1,000+ pins (no, I will NEVER call them “balls”). They present a challenge when drawing a schematic.

    Invariably, the part is broken down into multiple sub-blocks to make it manageable on the page. However, it is utterly impossible to divvy up a symbol in such a way that it will be useful for more than one design. FPGAs in particular suffer from this problem, with their many I/O banks, and pins with three, four, or five possible functions. A designer often ends up placing a sub-block symbol on a page, then adding off-page connectors to half its pins because they are used in some other system subsection.

    So, here’s my brilliant and free idea:

    Allow for multi-instantiation of a part symbol in a schematic. That is, allow, for example, U3g to be placed four times, on four different sheets (U3g might be, say, an FPGA I/O bank). If a pin is connected on one sheet, it changes to a specific marker in all other instances, showing that it’s used elsewhere and can’t be connected again. There could also be an option to label such pins with the page number they’re used on.

    Reply
  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    PCB Artist: Free PCB Design Software Upgrades
    https://www.eeweb.com/news/pcb-artist-free-pcb-design-software-upgrades

    Advanced Circuits has released version 3.2 of its free professional-grade PCB design software, PCB Artist™, the most active PCB software on Downloads.com with over 265,000 downloads. Since its first release in June of 2007, Advanced Circuits’ PCB Artist has become well known in the printed circui board industry as the best free PCB design software for its ease-of-use, comprehensive tools, and advanced layout capabilities.

    The new 3.2 version includes upgrades to the software’s “Library Manager”, improving the way users search and identify components from a library of over 500,000 parts.

    Free Printed Circuit Board Design Software
    http://www.4pcb.com/free-pcb-layout-software/

    Reply
  19. 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
  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    EasyEDA – Online PCB design & circuit simulator
    https://easyeda.com/

    A Tale of Two Browser PCB Tools
    http://hackaday.com/2015/08/21/a-tale-of-two-browser-pcb-tools/

    Reply
  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Creating A PCB In Everything: Protel Autotrax
    http://hackaday.com/2016/11/10/creating-a-pcb-in-everything-protel-autotrax/

    Protel Autotrax is a PCB design tool first released for DOS in the mid-80s. Consider this a look at the history of PCB design software. I’m not recommending anyone actually use Protel Autotrax — better tools with better support exist. But it’s important to know where we came from to understand the EDA tools available now.

    A freeware version of Autotrax is still available on the Altium website and can be run from inside a DOS virtual machine or DOSBox.

    http://techdocs.altium.com/display/ALEG/Freeware+downloads

    Reply
  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Creating A PCB In Everything: KiCad, Part 1
    http://hackaday.com/2016/11/17/creating-a-pcb-in-everything-kicad-part-1/

    This is the continuation of a series of articles demonstrating how to Create A PCB In Everything. In this series, we take a standard reference circuit and PCB layout — a simple ATtiny85 board — and build it with different PCB design tools. Already, we’ve taken a look at the pre-history of PCB design with Protel Autotrax, we learned Fritzing is a joke for PCB design, and we’ve done a deep dive into Eagle. Each of these tutorials serves two purposes. First, it is a very quick introduction to each PCB design tool. Second, this series provides an overall comparison between different PCB design tools.

    Now, finally, and after many complaints, it’s time for the tutorial everyone has been waiting for. It’s time for KiCad.

    Reply
  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Welcome to Infineon Designer
    https://www.infineon.com/cms/en/tools/landing/ifxdesigner.html

    Infineon Designer is the first online prototyping engine combining analog and digital simulation functionalities in an internet application. Requiring a web browser only, it is a perfect match for supporting customers in selecting the right product for a defined application. Infineon Designer works intuitively in a very short time, and neither installation nor licenses are needed. Please start with one of the following application circuits.

    Reply
  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Infineon Designer
    https://www.infineon.com/cms/en/tools/landing/ifxdesigner.html

    Infineon Designer is the first online prototyping engine combining analog and digital simulation functionalities in an internet application. Requiring a web browser only, it is a perfect match for supporting customers in selecting the right product for a defined application. Infineon Designer works intuitively in a very short time, and neither installation nor licenses are needed.

    https://design.infineon.com/tinademo/designer.php?elq_mid=2576&elq_cid=489977&ic=&path=EXAMPLESROOT%7CINFINEON%7C&file=ChristmasPresent_2016.TSC&act=ITR:30&ic=0590030ifxmas&elqTrackId=6a80f981a1c24a30b564f37a306867dc&elq=b72c61f536e84483be5af7c36305165c&elqaid=2576&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=915

    Reply
  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Free PCB ECAD: The Ultimate list
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/all-aboard-/4441802/Free-PCB-ECAD–The-Ultimate-list?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_pcbdesigncenter_20161226&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_pcbdesigncenter_20161226&elqTrackId=c8530b9ece6a425b914032c7a2f61c88&elq=ef2d9af15be34a7ca087ea9a1cc98fd5&elqaid=35298&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=30845

    The world of PCB CAD software has been very active in recent years – so much so that it’s easy to lose track of all the players and products.

    The lower end in particular offers many new options, including many FREE ones, so let’s take a look. You’ll see that free no longer means toy.

    The approaches to these ECAD (electronic computer-aided design) systems are varied, ranging from open-source, to proprietary (some with upgradeability to more capable paid versions), to cloud-based, work-anywhere systems that run in a Web-browser window. Read on to learn about the products in each category. Which will you try for your next project?

    Reply
  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Building Beautiful Boards With Star Simpson
    http://hackaday.com/2016/12/23/building-beautiful-boards-with-star-simpson/

    Over the last decade or so, the cost to produce a handful of custom PCBs has dropped through the floor. Now, you don’t have to use software tied to one fab house – all you have to do is drop an Eagle or KiCad file onto an order form and hit ‘submit’.

    With this new found ability, hackers and PCB designers have started to build beautiful boards. A sheet of FR4 is no longer just a medium to populate parts, it’s a canvas to cover in soldermask and silkscreen.

    The idea that PCBs can be artistic is certainly a modern creation. Most of the time, electronics are tucked away in a plastic enclosure. There’s no opportunity for anyone to even see these boards, and in any event the board needs to function correctly first and foremost before any aesthetic considerations can be made.

    In the last few years, the homebrewer has had access to the same tools as the professionals, and with that comes an exploration of materials and techniques. There is a lot to consider. The substrate for a PCB can be fiberglass, teflon, cardboard, and even ceramic. The depth of soldermask and silkscreen color is second only to the depth of your wallet. Even the finishes can be a beautiful matte gold or a shiny reflective silver.

    https://www.crowdsupply.com/star-simpson/circuit-classics

    Reply
  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Autodesk Moves EAGLE to Subscription Only Pricing
    http://hackaday.com/2017/01/19/autodesk-moves-eagle-to-subscription-only-pricing/

    EAGLE user? We hope you like subscription fees.

    Autodesk has announced that EAGLE is now only available for purchase as a subscription. Previous, users purchased EAGLE once, and used the software indefinitely (often for years) before deciding to move to a new version with another one-time purchase. Now, they’ll be paying Autodesk on a monthly or yearly basis.

    Lets break down the costs. Before Autodesk purchased EAGLE from CadSoft, a Standard license would run you $69, paid once. The next level up was Premium, at $820, paid once. The new pricing tiers from Autodesk are a bit different. Standard will cost $15/month or $100/year, and gives similar functionality to the old Premium level, but with only 2 signal layers. If you need more layers, or more than 160 cm^2 of board space, you’ll need the new Premium level, at $65/month or $500/year.

    This is a bad deal for the pocket book of many users. If you could have made do with the old Standard option, you’re now paying $100/year instead of the one-time $69 payment.

    Autodesk also killed the lower cost options for non-commercial use, what used to be a $169 version that was positioned for hobbyists.

    The free version still exists, but for anyone using Eagle for commercial purposes (from Tindie sellers to engineering firms) this is a big change.

    On the flip side of the coin, we can assume that Eagle was sold partly because the existing pricing model wasn’t doing all it should. Autodesk is justifying these changes with a promise of more frequent updates and features

    The new EAGLE Subscription has landed
    http://www.autodesk.com/products/eagle/blog/the-new-eagle-subscription-has-landed/

    Reply
  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Creating A PCB In Everything: Upverter
    http://hackaday.com/2017/02/03/creating-a-pcb-in-everything-upverter/

    For the last five months, I’ve been writing a series of posts describing how to build a PCB in every piece of software out there. Every post in this series takes a reference schematic and board, and recreates all the elements in a completely new PCB tool.

    Upverter was founded in 2010 as an entirely web-based EDA tool aimed at students, hobbyists, and Open Hardware circuit designers. This was one of the first completely web-based circuit design tools and Upverter’s relative success has been a bellwether for other completely web-based EDA tools such as circuits.io and EasyEDA.

    I would like to take a second to mention Upverter is a Y Combinator company (W11), which virtually guarantees this post will make it to the top of Hacker News.

    Upverter is a business after all, so how are they making money? Most EDA suites offer a free, limited version for personal, hobbyist, and ‘maker’ projects, and Upverter is no exception. The professional tier offers a few more features including CAM export, 3D preview, an API, simulation (coming soon), BOM management, and unlimited private projects for $125 per seat per month, or $1200 per seat per year.

    To give you a basis of comparison for that subscription fee, Eagle CAD’s new license scheme gives you everything – 999 schematic sheets, 16 layers, and unlimited board area – for $65 per month, or $500 per year. Altium’s CircuitStudio comes in at $1000 for a one-year license. There are more expensive EDA suites such as Altium Designer and OrCAD, but you have to call a sales guy just to get a price.

    Reply
  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Free Routing for gEDA
    http://hackaday.com/2017/02/08/free-routing-for-geda/

    If you lay out PC boards using software, it is a good bet you have an opinion about autorouters. Some people won’t use a package that can’t automatically route traces. Others won’t accept a machine layout when they can do their own by hand. You can, of course, combine the two, and many designers do.

    The open source gEDA PCB package (and pcb-md) have an autorouter, but it is pretty simplistic. [VK5HSE] shows how you can use a few tools to interface with the Java Freerouting application, to get a better result.

    http://www.freerouting.net/

    Reply
  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Altium CircuitStudio review: The glory
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/all-aboard-/4458209/Altium-CircuitStudio-review–the-glory?_mc=sm_edn&hootPostID=5147b0eda157a67723eb6fae1b7d3067

    downloaded a trial of the Altium CircuitStudio circuit board CAD (computer-aided design) program. It’s buggy, slow to load, crashes occasionally, and has a new and infuriating user interface. I absolutely love it. After a month of misery being a stubborn guy learning something new, I gave Newark, the exclusive distributor of CircuitStudio, $1000

    Reply
  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Tool For KiCad Board Renderings
    http://hackaday.com/2017/04/17/a-tool-for-kicad-board-renderings/

    If you’re producing documentation for a PCB project, you might as well make the board renders look good. But then, that’s a lot of work and you’re not an artist. Enter [Jan]’s new tool that takes KiCad board files, replaces each footprint with (custom) graphics, and provides a nice SVG representation, ready for labelling. If you like the output of a Fritzing layout, but have higher expectations of the PCB tool, this is just the ticket.

    PcbDraw – Awesome Looking Drawings

    http://blog.honzamrazek.cz/2017/04/do-you-like-nice-pinout-diagrams/

    To draw boards I use KiCAD Python API to exctract board layers as SVG and to get a list of components. Then I supply module library – SVG drawings of footprints and glue everything together using a Python script

    Reply
  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    JTAG offers mapping tool for Altium Designer
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-products/other/4443078/JTAG-offers-mapping-tool-for-Altium-Designer

    A free utility from JTAG Technologies, JTAG Maps for Altium Designer PCB design software lets engineers assess JTAG/boundary-scan resources on their design, before committing to layout. The application extension maps boundary-scan nets to the schematic and assists with the design-for-test process.

    https://www.jtag.com/en/content/jtag-maps-altium

    Reply
  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Free PCB ECAD: The Ultimate list
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/all-aboard-/4441802/Free-PCB-ECAD–The-Ultimate-list

    The world of PCB CAD software has been very active in recent years – so much so that it’s easy to lose track of all the players and products.

    The lower end in particular offers many new options, including many FREE ones, so let’s take a look. You’ll see that free no longer means toy.

    The approaches to these ECAD (electronic computer-aided design) systems are varied, ranging from open-source, to proprietary (some with upgradeability to more capable paid versions), to cloud-based, work-anywhere systems that run in a Web-browser window. Read on to learn about the products in each category. Which will you try for your next project?

    We start our survey with the open-source systems:

    Reply
  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Top free DIY tools every EE needs
    http://www.edn.com/design/diy/4430357/Top-free-DIY-tools-every-EE-needs

    Every electrical engineer who does DIY projects knows that dozens of free resistor calculators are out there that can save quite a bit of tedious work. Other simple tools can be found, but traditionally the free tool arsenal would stop there. Sure, there are base platforms such as SolidWorks and Autodesk, but what happens when they are missing a feature needed at that exact moment?

    Now we’re seeing a relative explosion in free tools for engineering electronics. It is easy just to hit the Net and use the myriad resources available. Some of those online tools prove to be worthless, and it’s back to blind searching or some paid tool, but free software extends far beyond the functionality of a simple calculator.

    Reply
  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Top free DIY tools every EE needs
    http://www.edn.com/design/diy/4430357/Top-free-DIY-tools-every-EE-needs

    Every electrical engineer who does DIY projects knows that dozens of free resistor calculators are out there that can save quite a bit of tedious work. Other simple tools can be found, but traditionally the free tool arsenal would stop there. Sure, there are base platforms such as SolidWorks and Autodesk, but what happens when they are missing a feature needed at that exact moment?

    Now we’re seeing a relative explosion in free tools for engineering electronics. It is easy just to hit the Net and use the myriad resources available. Some of those online tools prove to be worthless, and it’s back to blind searching or some paid tool, but free software extends far beyond the functionality of a simple calculator.

    Mostly free engineering software
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/benchtalk/4434930/Mostly-free-engineering-software

    We’re living in a golden age of software, where many useful programs are available – for free!

    Let’s survey some of what’s out there that just might interest an engineering crowd like the EDN community.

    Reply
  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ST-OPAMPS-APP
    Operational amplifier and comparator application for smartphones and tablets
    http://www.st.com/en/development-tools/st-opamps-app.html

    ST-OPAMPS-APP is a free application for smartphones and tablets that allows you to select the appropriate operational amplifier, comparator, or other signal conditioning product. An op amp cross reference tool is embedded within the application to ease product comparison. In addition, standard and applicative schematics are available with product proposals and component value calculations.

    This application guides you to select your product from parametric or schematic searches, it includes datasheet visualization, and it allows product purchase from STMicroelectronics’ distributors.

    Reply
  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mentor tries the low end, again, with PADS Maker
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-products/electronic-product-reviews/other/4458447/Mentor-tries-the-low-end-again-with-PADS-Maker

    For the second time in recent years, Mentor is taking a stab at entry-level PCB CAD.

    In late 2014, EDN reported on a Mentor-DigiKey collaboration called Designer that was to bring lower-midrange capabilities to users for $600. It’s unclear how long this software remained active, but I can’t find any trace of it today.

    Mentor has again teamed with DigiKey to release the $499 PADS MakerPro and the free PADS Maker. And good news for the abandoned Designer folks: these PADS systems will import your files.

    Not surprisingly, the free version is fairly limited, though not as much as some other free CAD software. The largest board supported is 25 in2, 1,500 connections are allowed (unclear if that means nets or pins), and 6 layers (4 single layers max).

    In true big-company fashion, a license key is still required, and it only lasts a year. I find that troubling. If Mentor drops support, your software will soon die. Unlike some other free ECAD software, designs remain private and local as opposed to being shared in the cloud.

    Reply
  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mentor tries the low end, again, with PADS Maker
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-products/electronic-product-reviews/other/4458447/Mentor-tries-the-low-end-again-with-PADS-Maker

    For the second time in recent years, Mentor is taking a stab at entry-level PCB CAD.

    In late 2014, EDN reported on a Mentor-DigiKey collaboration called Designer that was to bring lower-midrange capabilities to users for $600. It’s unclear how long this software remained active, but I can’t find any trace of it today.

    Mentor has again teamed with DigiKey to release the $499 PADS MakerPro and the free PADS Maker. And good news for the abandoned Designer folks: these PADS systems will import your files.

    Contrast and compare

    Not surprisingly, the free version is fairly limited, though not as much as some other free CAD software. The largest board supported is 25 in2, 1,500 connections are allowed (unclear if that means nets or pins), and 6 layers (4 single layers max). What’s a “single layer” you ask? Could it be a “signal” layer? I’m already unimpressed by the documentation.

    In true big-company fashion, a license key is still required, and it only lasts a year. I find that troubling. If Mentor drops support, your software will soon die. Unlike some other free ECAD software, designs remain private and local as opposed to being shared in the cloud.

    The MakerPro version has no connection limit, a maximum PCB size of 50 in2, and handles up to 8 layers (6 single [sic]).

    Unexpectedly, the Pro license is perpetual.

    Reply
  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SnapEDA Helps Make Hardware Design Chores a Snap
    http://www.electronicdesign.com/embedded-revolution/snapeda-helps-make-hardware-design-chores-snap?code=UM_Classics07217&utm_rid=CPG05000002750211&utm_campaign=12259&utm_medium=email&elq2=d65fb7392f9a474bb6e9f9f205f0c8aa

    SnapEDA is a website that provides free schematic models, PCB footprints, and 3D models for a growing list of electronic components.

    Managing a large library of components can also be a challenge. Building and maintaining this library becomes much easier if component information is provided by a third party instead of having to be created or recreated. Component vendors often provide this information in one form or another and there are a number of standard exchange formats, but no single format provides all of this information or is used by all tools.

    SnapEDA is a website that helps simplify the chore of designing a system with new components. It provides free schematic models, PCB footprints, and 3D models for a growing list of electronic components. Designers can simply search for a part on the website and then check out the details

    Developers can download information to a range of platforms, including Eagle, Altium, KiCad, OrCAD, Cadence Allegro, Pulsonix, and PADS.

    Users can also view details like the 3D models

    Datasheets and even product availability from a number of sources is available with most parts. It’s also possible to purchase parts from a wide selection of partners like Digi-Key, Arrow, and Mouser, or directly from some vendors.

    Obtaining the information provided by SnapEDA may seem like a trivial exercise—until it needs to be done for hundreds of components in a project. Even if SnapEDA only delivers a large fraction of the components you use, it will save a significant amount of time and effort. Best of all, it’s free.

    https://www.snapeda.com/

    Reply
  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Ultimate PCB Design Software Comparison Guide comapres the Top 5 PCB CAD Programs.The article is going to run through a step-by-step tutorial of the same design to show how each critical feature grades out in the top PCB programs available.

    https://www.sfcircuits.com/pcb-school/pcb-design-software-comparison-guide

    Reply
  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Laser Cut Enclosures from Eagle Files
    http://hackaday.com/2017/08/09/laser-cut-enclosures-from-eagle-files/

    Once a project is finished, it might still need a decent enclosure. While it’s possible to throw a freshly soldered PCB in a standard enclosure, or piece of Tupperware, or cardboard box, these options don’t have the fit and finish of something custom-made. If you have a laser cutter sitting around, it’s a simple matter to cut your own enclosure, but now that process is much easier thanks to [Ray]’s latest project.

    Since [Ray] was already using Eagle to design his PCBs, it seemed like a short step to using the Eagle files to design the enclosure as well. The script runs from those files and creates everything necessary to send to the laser cutter for manufacturing. Right now, [Ray] points out that the assembly time for each enclosure can be high, and this method might not be suited for large numbers of enclosures. Additionally, some of the calculations still need to be done by hand, but there are plans to automate everything in the future.

    An EagleCAD Script for Creating Laser-Cut Project Enclosures
    http://rayshobby.net/eaglecad-script-for-laser-cut-enclosures/

    Reply
  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Release Makes EAGLE and Fusion 360 Besties
    http://hackaday.com/2017/08/09/new-release-makes-eagle-and-fusion-360-besties/

    The latest release of EAGLE builds a bridge between mechanical design and electronic design. Version 8.3 rolls in the ability to synchronize between EAGLE and Fusion 360. You can now jump between mechanical design and PCB layout without the need for extra steps in between. This is the first release of EAGLE that highlights what the Autodesk purchase actually means.

    Just over a year ago, Autodesk bought EagleCAD which is one of the more popular PCB design suites for students, electronic hobbyists, and Open Hardware engineers. While there were some questions about the new license structure of EAGLE under the Autodesk banner, there was a promise of a faster development schedule and the possibility for integration of EAGLE with Autodesk’s CAD programs. Now it’s finally time for EAGLE and Fusion 360 to become besties.

    The EAGLE and Fusion 360 integration update includes an online library editor with managed libraries. These online libraries are the ‘cloud’ solution to a folder full of custom EAGLE libraries filled with parts. These libraries package 3D models with the EAGLE libraries, simplifying mechanical design. You can place components on your PCB, then pull that layout into Fusion 360 to see how the board will work with your enclosure. Component placements that collide with the enclosure can be adjusted in Fusion before jumping back to EAGLE to fix the routing.

    Reply
  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Free Printed Circuit Board Design Software
    http://www.4pcb.com/free-pcb-layout-software/

    PCB Artist™ vs Other CAD Software
    Compare PCB Artist™ to the competition for printed circuit board design software

    Reply
  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Noo-D(l)eus Ex Machina – Freeform PCB design proto
    https://hackaday.io/project/19904-noo-dleus-ex-machina-freeform-pcb-design-proto

    The very first prototype PCB testing the new pcb-rnd->FidoCadJ->pcb-rnd toolchain easing freeform bezier & cubic spline track/PCB creation.

    A longstanding desire of mine has been to improve the ease with which cubic splines and cubic bezier derived tracks can be implemented in PCB layouts. My preferred layout editor is pcb-rnd, a fork of the gEDA PCB project.

    Recent development efforts with pcb-rnd include modular import/export infrastructure, including KiCad, various autorouter formats and also netlist import from tools such as TinyCad and LT-Spice, in addition to the gEDA schematic tool gschem.

    FidoCadJ is a simple and efficient cross platform Java layout and schematic design tool, prompting the addition of FidoCadJ layout export to pcb-rnd.

    With this new capability available, I decided to tackle an export module within FidoCadJ to pcb-rnd. FidoCadJ lacks Gerber export… so… I thought, what better way to stress test the free form track layout capabilities of the new pcb-rnd -> FidoCadJ -> pcb-rnd toolchain than to do a board depicting his extraterrestrial noodliness… the FSM?

    Reply

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