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. 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 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.



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Measuring Impedance Virtually

    We always enjoy a [FesZ] video and we wonder if the “Z” stands for impedance? That’s the topic of his latest video series: measuring impedance with LTSpice. Of course, he also does his usual thorough job of mapping the virtual world to the real one. You can see the video below.

    LTspice tutorial – Measuring Impedance (part 1/2)

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SnapEDA tarjoaa CAD-mallit suoraan suunnittelijan käteen

    SnapEDA on nopeasti suosiotaan kasvattava elektroniikan komponenttien CAD-mallien hakukone. Nyt se on käynnistänyt verkoston, jossa suunnittelija saa CAD-mallit suoraan komponenttijakelijoiden, PCB-työkalujen kehittäjien ja eri sivustojen kautta. Syndication Networkissa on mukana yli 30 jakelukumppania.

    SnapEDAn verkosto avaa elektroniikkasuunnittelijoiden käyttöön miljoonien elektronisten komponenttien suunnittelusisällön. Sen avulla voidaan tehdä suunnitteluja nopeammin. Komponenttivalmistajille verkosta antaa mahdollisuuden saada arvokkaita suunnitteluvoittoja.

    SnapEDAN tilastojen mukaan yli 80 prosenttia sen suunnitteludataa lataavista suunnittelijoista ostaa tuotteen. Tämä luo kilpailuetua SnapEDAn verkostoon kuuluville elektroniikkakomponenttien jakelijoille ja valmistajille.

    Insinöörit voivat myös tuoda automaattisesti CAD-malleja SnapEDA-laajennuksilla Altiumille, KiCADille, Eaglelle ja PCB123:lle.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Scripting Coils For PCB Motors

    PCB inductors are a subject that has appeared here at Hackaday many times, perhaps most notably in the electromagnetic exploits of [Carl Bugeja]. But there is still much to be learned in the creation of the inductors themselves, and [atomic14] has recently been investigating their automatic creation through scripting.

    A simple spiral trace is easy enough to create, but when for example creating a circular array of coils for an electric motor there’s a need for more complex shapes. Drawing a trapezoidal spiral is a surprisingly difficult task for a script, and we’re treated to a variety of algorithms in the path to achieving a usable design.

    Having perfected the algorithm, how to bring it into KiCAD? The PCB CAD package has its own Python environment built-in, but it’s not the most flexible in which to develop. The solution is to write a simple JSON interpreter in KiCAD, and leave the spiral generation to an external script that passes a JSON. This also leaves the possibility of using the same code in other PCB packages.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Prototyping The Prototype

    For basic prototyping, the go-to tool to piece together a functioning circuit is the breadboard. It’s a great way to prove a concept works before spending money and time on a PCB. For more complex tasks we can make use of simulation software such as SPICE. But there hasn’t really been a tool to blend these two concepts together. That’s what CRUMB is hoping to solve as a tool that allows simulating breadboard circuits.

    Currently, most basic circuit functions are working for version 1.0. This includes passive components like resistors, capacitors, switches, some LEDs, and potentiometers, as well as some active components like transistors and diodes. There are some logic chips available such as 74XX series chips and 555 timers, which opens up a vast array of circuit building. There’s even an oscilloscope feature, plus audio output to incorporate buzzers into the circuit simulation. Currently in development is an LCD display module and improvements to the oscilloscope.


    3D Rendered Components based on real-life

    Our modern world is dominated by electronics. With a diverse range of careers in electronics available for young and adult minds alike, CRUMB offers an easy to use and interactive introduction to electronic circuitry

    Fully realised in 3D, you can construct prototype circuits as you would at the workbench without the risk of terminal component failure or the hassle of ordering individual components

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TI And Cadence Make PSpice Free

    We like simulation software. Texas Instruments long offered TINA, but recently they’ve joined with Cadence to make OrCAD PSpice available for free with some restrictions. You’ve probably heard of PSpice — it’s widely used in academia and industry, but is usually quite costly. You can see a promotional overview video below.

    The program requires registration and an approval step to get a license key. The downloaded program has TI models along with other standard models.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LT Spice – Boost Converter Design & Simulation -YouTube

    In This video,
    I have explained the design & simulation of boost converter using LT Spice.


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