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.

 

159 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ARduino. This tool enables you to interact with and debug hardware using augmented reality.

    Accelerate Hardware Development
    https://www.inspectar.com/

    Enable electronics work like never before. Overlaying every aspect of a design directly onto the board, inspectAR enables interactions with hardware intuitively. Inspect, debug, rework, and assemble PCBs in less time, without mistakes or frustration.

    Use inspectAR Free of Charge
    https://www.inspectar.com/sign-up-free

    You spoke, and we listened. Create a free account to get instant access on iOS and Android to an Arduino Uno r3 and the 2019 Hackaday Superconference badge.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    We know GitHub has become the de facto standard for source control and has morphed into a collaboration and project management platform used by everybody who’s anybody in the hacking community. But have you ever wished for a collaboration platform that was a little more in tune with the needs of hardware designers? Then InventHub might be of interest to you. Currently in a limited beta – we tried to sign up for the early access program but seem to have been put on a waiting list – it seems like this will be a platform that brings versioning directly to the ECAD package of your choice. Through plugins to KiCad, Eagle, and all the major ECAD players you’ll be able to collaborate with other designers and see their changes marked up on the schematic — sort of a visual diff. It seems interesting, and we’ll be keeping an eye on developments.
    Source: https://hackaday.com/2019/12/08/hackaday-links-december-8-2019/
    Link: https://inventhub.io/

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    InspectAR Augmented Reality PCB Inspection Has Come a Long Way in Four Months
    This tool uses augmented reality to test, debug and rework your circuit boards.
    https://www.hackster.io/news/inspectar-augmented-reality-pcb-inspection-has-come-a-long-way-in-four-months-c21c57c77c0b

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Commercial Circuit Simulator Goes Free
    https://hackaday.com/2020/01/08/commercial-circuit-simulator-goes-free/

    If you are looking for simulation software, you are probably thinking LTSpice or one of the open-source simulators like Ngspice (which drives Oregano and QUCs-S), or GNUCap. However, there is a new free option after the closing of Spectrum Software last year: Micro-Cap 12. You may be thinking: why use another closed-source simulator? Well, all the simulators have particular strengths, but Micro-Cap does have very nice features and used to retail for about $4,500.

    The simulator boasts a multipage schematic editor, native robust digital simulation, Monte Carlo analysis, 33,000 parts in its library, worst-case and smoke analysis, Smith charts, and it can even incorporate spreadsheets. There’s a built-in designer for active and passive filters. Have a look at the brochure and you will see this is a pretty serious piece of software. And now it’s at least free as in beer.

    The number of models supported for active devices is impressive and includes some very recent MOSFET models, not just the old standard models. It can also read just about any regular Spice or IBIS model. It can also export Spice files if you want to use another engine or share designs with other Spice users. There are also quite a few examples provided. There are also over 2,000 standard digital parts including all the usual 7400 families, CD4000 CMOS, and even ECL.

    As a bonus, we tried it under Wine and it worked well — at least the 32-bit version.

    Why Free?

    The software was under development since 1982. We don’t know the circumstances of Spectrum’s closing but we hope it was to move on to something great. However, we appreciate the free release of this powerful simulator that can give LTSpice a run for its money. True, we expect there won’t be future development, but the package seems very complete and with the ability to import models, it will be very useful for a long time to come.

    http://s-iihr64.iihr.uiowa.edu/MyWeb/Teaching/ece_55041_2014/Labs/SPICELAB.pdf

    If you’d rather do LTSpice, we have a tutorial. Then again, for just playing around, the Falstad simulator is pretty nice and requires no installation.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Use LTspice to simulate mixed continuous and sampled systems
    https://www.edn.com/use-ltspice-to-simulate-mixed-continuous-and-sampled-systems/

    Did you know that you can use LTspice to do Digital Signal Processing (DSP)? Actually, I should say it is useful for validating the operation of a signal-processing algorithm under development. This article summarizes how to use LTspice to simulate the operation of a mixed continuous and sampled systems.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    After 36 years as a paid product, the Micro-Cap Circuit Simulator is now free.

    http://www.spectrum-soft.com/download/download.shtm

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Review: Testdriving LibrePCB Shows That It’s Growing Up Fast
    https://hackaday.com/2020/01/22/review-testdriving-librepcb-shows-that-its-growing-up-fast/

    There are a host of PCB CAD tools at the disposal of the electronic designer from entry-level to multi-thousand-dollar workstation software. It’s a field in which most of the players are commercial, and for the open-source devotee there have traditionally been only two choices. Both KiCad and gEDA are venerable packages with legions of devoted fans, but it is fair to say that they both present a steep learning curve for newcomers. There is however another contender in the world of open-source PCB CAD, in the form of the up-and-coming LibrePCB.

    This GPL-licensed package has only been in development for a few years. LibrePCB brought out its first official release a little over a year ago, and now stands at version 0.1.3 with builds for GNU/Linux, Windows, MacOS, and FreeBSD.

    https://librepcb.org/

    Reply

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