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Converting schematic to PCB????

Thread starter #1
I am wanting to take a schematic that i have and convert it to a PCB and was wondering what was a good program that will do this????

Thanks

Dean
 

DerStrom8

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
#4
Take your pick. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, out there that are commonly used. For hobby level I highly recommend the free version of Eagle or KiCAD. For professional level I highly recommend Altium, though as dknguyen said it is expensive.

How large do you want your board to be? How many layers? How many components? Answers to each of these questions will help you pick a suitable tool for the job.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#5
There's also Eagle which is now owned by Autocad but still has a free version.

Mike.
Let it go on record that I do not recommend Eagle. Horrible, obtuse interface. Even by PCB CAD standards. That is, unless AutoDesk has heavily modified the Eagle interface since they bought it out and made it more AutoCAD-like. AutoCAD has a great interface.
 
Last edited:

crutschow

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#6
If you just want to make a few boards you might want to consider a program that directly connects to a fabricator, such as PCB123.
The tool is generally easy to use and, being associated with the the PCB fabricator, you don't have to worry about the interface between the layout tool and the fabricator (the gerber file), making it simpler for a beginner.
 

JonSea

Well-Known Member
#7
Let it go on record that I do not recommend Eagle. Horrible, obtuse interface. Even by PCB CAD standards. That is, unless AutoDesk has heavily modified the Eagle interface since they bought it out and made it more AutoCAD like. AutoCAD has a great interface.
Eagle takes some time to learn. Once you figure it out, it works well. It has a steep learning curve admittedly but I put on a seminar for a group who found it totally unusable. In 2 two hour sessions, they were up to speed.

If you just want to make a few boards you might want to consider a program that directly connects to a fabricator, such as PCB123.
The tool is generally easy to use and, being associated with the the PCB fabricator, you don't have to worry about the interface between the layout tool and the fabricator (the gerber file), making it simpler for a beginner.

The downside of this is being locked to specific board sizes and paying $57 (last time I checked) for 3 copies of a board instead of $5 for ten copies, and having to pay ransom to get your Gerber files.
 

Pommie

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#8
Autocad are releasing a new version of Eagle about every 6 weeks. They seem to be (very slowly) changing the interface. The first big change seems to be the autorouter.

Mike.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
#9
Eagle takes some time to learn. Once you figure it out, it works well. It has a steep learning curve admittedly but I put on a seminar for a group who found it totally unusable. In 2 two hour sessions, they were up to speed.
Before I used Eagle, I had used both Altium and OrCAD with no issues. Eagle didn't come off to me as having any steeper a learning curve than the other two as much as it came off as having ackwardly archaic layout/interface. Many things seemed to have multiple, seemingly needless and ackward, uninuitive steps. I found out later on that Eagle has been around a long time (since the DOS era I think?) and that was the reason the layout of the interface was so unusual and that they were afraid to change their interface for fear of upsetting legacy users. I remember copy/pasting components in the schematic to be one of the most unintuitive, mult-step processes I had ever run across for such a simple operation.
 
#10
I learned the same way you did: a few years back a very valued member of this community ("spec") learned me to try and use Eagle. I have never regretted the choice altough I also concur with most of the posters here.
Once a schematic is done and converted to a pcb taking the design rules into account I have been most happily using USD10 services of www.elecrow.com for multiple boards since so far.
 

DerStrom8

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
#12
I never had a problem with Eagle. I first started with ExpressPCB but quickly switched to Eagle, and within a day of self-teaching I knew how to use it pretty fluently. I used it for several years before I gained access to Altium through my job.
 

tomizett

Active Member
#17
In case this was all sounding too positive so far, I'd like to recomend against PCBCAD51. It's a shame, as it's clearly the product of a lot of hard work by an honest individual, but if you thought Eagle had an obscure interface... just try this!
 

eTech

Active Member
#18
Does that one require you to share your files to the world? One of does....I don't necessarily want to share everything I do, and certainly not have it open for inspection before I'm done with it.
No...it does not.

Designspark is an excellent tool...I’ve been using it for a few years now.
Eagle has some features that design spark doesn’t, but nothing that’s a show stopper for Designspark. I hate eagles clunky interface.
Designspark has no board size limitation either and I believe it can support up to 16 layers..also has awesome 3D board renderer and viewer..

eT
 

JonSea

Well-Known Member
#19
Oh yeah, I guess it's the Altium free offering that requires sharing files.

Does DesignSpark allow you to build your own pcb packages? I looked at one of the vendor-offered packages a few years back, and you only had the option to use packages they supplied and that was pretty limited at the time.

Don't get me wrong. I use an old version of Eagle because I bought the pro version. After using it for many years, most stuff is easy but I will admit I usually learn something new each time I use it. If I could find a free layout program that has the features I use and is understandable to me[/u], I'd be all for it. I tried KiCad and I was so lost. The best software for you depends on what you use and what you can understand.
 

eTech

Active Member
#20
Oh yeah, I guess it's the Altium free offering that requires sharing files.

Does DesignSpark allow you to build your own pcb packages? I looked at one of the vendor-offered packages a few years back, and you only had the option to use packages they supplied and that was pretty limited at the time.

Don't get me wrong. I use an old version of Eagle because I bought the pro version. After using it for many years, most stuff is easy but I will admit I usually learn something new each time I use it. If I could find a free layout program that has the features I use and is understandable to me[/u], I'd be all for it. I tried KiCad and I was so lost. The best software for you depends on what you use and what you can understand.
If by packages you mean parts, yes, you can make any custom part you want just about any way you want. However, it does have a vendor library if you want to use it. Also has a flexible gerber file generator.

You do have to create an account at their site to obtain a free license. Some people complain about that but it hasn’t been a problem for me.

eT
 

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