How to design PCBs:
If you're designing a PCB, then you need to learn how to design PCBs. There are so many different types of designs out there and it can be difficult to know which one is best for your needs. For example, some people use traditional methods such as drawing the circuit by hand with pencil and paper before using CAD software like EagleCAD or KiCad. But others might want something that's more straightforward and easier to use than either of those options; in that case they would choose an online tool like EasyEDA or CircuitMaker (or both!). This tutorial will help guide you through the process of choosing what type is best for your needs and show you step-by-step instructions on how to get started with PCB design software.
PCB Design Software: Choosing the Right One for You
There are a lot of different PCB design software programs on the market these days, and it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. The good news is that most of them offer free trials so you can try them out before committing to anything. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your software:
- Ease of use - How easy is it to learn and use? Is there a lot of jargon or complex commands that you need to remember? Or does the program walk you through each step so you don't have to worry about any details?
- Supported platforms - What type of do you have? Some programs only work on Windows or Mac, while others are cross-platform and can be used on any type of computer.
- Features - What does the program offer? Are there a lot of bells and whistles that you might not need, or is it more streamlined and simple to use?
- Price - How much does the software cost? Is it a one-time purchase or do you have to pay for updates or support?
PCB Design Software: EagleCAD vs KiCad
When it comes to PCB design software, two programs that come up frequently are EagleCAD and KiCad. They're both popular options with their own strengths and weaknesses. Here's a brief overview of each
- Easy to use and learn - This is a great program for beginners who aren't sure how PCB design works. It's easy to get started, there are plenty of online resources available in case you run into any issues or questions (such as this tutorial!), and the interface will be familiar if you've ever used other CAD software before.
- Cross platform support - EagleCAD can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems which makes it extremely flexible when it comes to choosing what type of computer you work with. You don't need anything fancy either; pretty much anyone should be able to at least give the trial version a try without having any special knowledge beforehand!
- Open source:
- One of the biggest advantages to using KiCad is that it's open source, which means you don't have to worry about any hidden costs. It also has a great community behind it and lots of useful resources available online for learning how everything works.
- Platform specific:
- The downside with KiCad is that there are only versions available on Windows and Linux, so if you're a Mac user then this probably isn't the best choice for you without spending extra money on getting Parallels or another virtual machine just to run your software.
PCB Design Software: EasyEDA vs CircuitMaker Both DeisgnSpark (formerly known as SparkFun) and Seeed Studio offer free PCB design software options under their own brand names - EasyEDA and CircuitMaker, respectively.
Here's a quick comparison of the two:
- Ease of use - EasyEDA is definitely more user-friendly than CircuitMaker; it has a simple drag-and-drop interface and walks you through each step so you don't have to worry about any details. CircuitMaker is a little more complex and might take some time getting used to if you're not familiar with PCB design software already.
- Supported platforms - Both programs are cross platform and can be used on any type of computer.
- Features - EasyEDA offers more features than CircuitMaker, such as the ability to add text or images to your circuit board, whereas CircuitMaker is more limited in what it lets you do. It's also worth noting that CircuitMaker does not offer any auto-router functionality while EasyEDA has a built in auto route tool which can save you some time if it works well for your needs.
- Price - As is the case with most of these free PCB design software options, there are no hidden costs involved here either! There might be some limitations compared to what you get when buying EagleCAD or KiCad, but this one comes at zero cost so even those features feel like an added bonus.
PCB Design Software:
Other Options So far we've talked about two relatively popular programs (EagleCAD and KiCad) as well as Seeed Studio's offering under their own brand name (CircuitMaker). But what if none of those options are the right fit for your needs?
- This is another well known program that's been around since 2004, and it has quite a lot to offer. It includes features such as an auto router, DRC functionality (for checking your design against manufacturing requirements), and even PCB reverse engineering capabilities which can be useful in some situations! However you do get hit with more of a price tag than Seeed Studio or DesignSpark; while CircuitMaker costs $0, this one starts at about $150 USD although there are discounts available depending on how many users will need access to the software.
- As we've mentioned before , this is definitely the Cadillac of PCB design software and can be quite expensive. However it does come with a lot of features, such as the ability to create schematics as well as circuit boards, simulation capabilities, and library management tools which can make your workflow a lot smoother.
It also has broad platform support - Windows, Mac, and Linux versions are all available - making it a good choice if you're working with multiple people in different locations.
- This is another program that's been around for a while (since 1989) and is popular among hobbyists and students. It's not as complex or feature rich as Altium Designer but it's much more affordable; the student edition is currently free which makes it an attractive option if you're just starting out.