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ASKING FOR PCB LAYOUT SOFTWARE SHOULD

Zoe313

New Member
Hello,

I was thinking to try and do my own PCB layouts myself, and then generate the gerber files so I can give them to my PCB manufacturer.

But I never used such a software and I would like to ask this forum which one I should use?

It should allow me to design layouts from the smallest. To the biggest pitch sized electronic components for example 0402 components up to normal sized ones and chip pitches from 2.54mm to 0.5 mm.

I also need an electronic website that is simple and popular to use with plenty of accessible tutorials that can allow me to design multi layered PCB with ground planes. I have searched many websites to find out, such as the Instructables.com, Electronics-Tutorials.ws, Allaboutcircuits.com, Apogeeweb.net and something like that. But most of them are more theoretical, I hope there are expressive videos to describe them.

All suggestions are appreciated. Many thanks.
 

Visitor

Active Member
Try EasyEDA from JLCPCB. It's free and pretty quick and easy to learn, with many tutorials and an active forum. Ordering circuit boards from JLC is a single click away but it also let's you generate Gerber files to be used at any vendor you like.
 
DesignSpark is a freeware package I've looked at in the past.

 

picbits

Well-Known Member
I'll second Kicad - we've just had an undergrad in who has never designed a PCB before and within a week he's gone from zero to double sided PCB which looks pretty amazing. He's also done presentations with the 3D modelling part of Kicad.

I've not used it for PCB work personally but I use it on a daily basis for schematics.
 

MaxHeadRoom78

Well-Known Member
I started using KiCad for about 2 or 3 years now, from schematic to board production.
Many tutorials out there from Kicads own to 3rd party ones, also on Utube etc.
There many Chinese board production companies that make an excellent result for low $$'s.
Max.
 

KeepItSimpleStupid

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I struggled with Eagle (free version) and KiCAD (open source). I bought a version of Target 3001 because of their reverse-engineering capability. Every year around xmas they offer a discount to upgrade. Proteus is pretty well respected. Altium Designer is probably what the big boys use.

DIPTRACE was pretty easy. The last software I really used was DOS based EasyTrax. and I did my own boards in our photo lithography lab.
I had to modify the postscript printer code to get a specific ground plane,
 

Beau Schwabe

Active Member
It's not the tool so much as the "toolee" ... I have been doing PCB layout is some form or fashion for almost 30 years. There is an art to good layout that just comes with experience. Pick a tool and just learn everything there is about it.
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
I tried Eagle and KiCad and didn't get on with them, then I tried DesignSpark. Never looked back since. You have to try a bit harder if you want to do some things more of interest to professionals (eg, funny shaped holes, fiducials), but for sheer ease of use, and now reasonable integration of the Samacsys libraries, it's brilliant.
 

Beau Schwabe

Active Member
Sometimes working backwards has its benifits .... i.e. maze solving, etc. Several years ago we got tired of buying really expensive printer ink for our printer .... So I looked to see what the cheapest (or more reasonably priced) ink was. Then I looked for printers that would use THAT ink. Anyway my point is, if there really is one, look around "outside of the box". Digi-key has a really nice deal where they provide a PCB footprint with most of their components under "Details". There are several PCB software flavors to choose from. If you see your particular PCB software package your in business, if not, then consider another PCB software package. Not that creating your own component library is a valuable exercise to learn, but why do it if you don't need to?
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
Interesting point about component libraries. The ones provided with the early versions of DS work well enough, but some of them are wrong. I've tried creating a few myself, it's great because you get exactly what you want, on the other hand it can be hard to set up correct dimensions.

What I've found with SamacSys is that you get really good footprints, in formats for the major layout programs. If they don't have it you can create it using the footprint engine on their website, it will eventually get checked and tweaked by them. The only fault is you get a box as the schematic symbol for most component types, so you have to associate it with the correct symbol yourself.

Interesting that DigiKey are promoting KiCad (I had to check out the footprints!) I thought KiCad was a wrapper for the gEDA suite, but apparently not.

I am reminded that "pcb" is an excellent layout program. You do have to import a netlist, though is now handled by the wrapper I thought was kicad....
 

Visitor

Active Member
EasyEDA from JLCPCB has a huge range of parts libraries. Libraries support most of the components at LCSC (the Chinese equivalent of Digikey, with both "normal" parts and Chinese parts). For components not covered, self-created libraries cover even more parts. Additionally, libraries from Eagle and other programs can be imported, including component libraries provided by Digikey and Mouser.

I've recently switched to EasyEDA from an old version of Eagle. Extremely pleased with EasyEDA.
 

throbscottle

Well-Known Member
Zoe - multi-layered PCB's often dedicate a layer to gnd, a layer to power, and have 2 or more signal layers. Not my bag, but you pick stuff up as you go. I have found some useful resources when I've been searching for info on grounding and shielding. Going solely by the fact that you are interested in multi-layer design, you might find some of the same material to be of use:
https://www.intel.com/design/pentiumii/applnots/24333402.pdf this is about computer pcb design, but there is info likely useful to you
https://www.analog.com/media/en/technical-documentation/application-notes/an47fa.pdf well worth reading, you may also find it relevant
https://www.analog.com/media/en/training-seminars/tutorials/MT-095.pdf not about pcb design but interesting and you might find it relevant
https://www.analog.com/media/en/technical-documentation/application-notes/an47fa.pdf interesting reading, may be relevant to you
http://www.ti.com/lit/an/szza009/szza009.pdf a bit more what you want!

This is just stuff I have sitting in my library. If you search for "top pcb design tools" you get a load of results you might find helpful, also try searching "pcb best design practice", also gets you a load of useful stuff.
 

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