PCB design Program¿?¿

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Dr.killjoy, Nov 2, 2014.

  1. Dr.killjoy

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
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    I know another PCB build program question.. Sorry ..
    But I am looking into building my own PCB's ... I have real hard time trying to learn any electronic building program .. My plan is build mostly thr-hole boards with a possibility of smd work but also putting font on the top side for components... But I am looking for a simply program with not exact components just basic symbols that I can change to correct name later and can be turn into a file I can print with my laser jet and then thermal transfer... I was checking out Lt spice but wssnt sure if I could PCB layout to print or is there something better to try???


    Thanks
     
  2. ronv

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 12, 2008
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    Last time I used Copper Connection. It was free, and was easy to make components which I found difficult with the fancier ones.
     
  3. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

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  4. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    Eagle should also work. You can export the gerbers to allow you to print it out. You may or may not need another program to make sure everything is the right size, etc, but if you do that shouldn't be hard to find.

    I have tried many programs, and Eagle is still by far my favorite.
     
  5. shortbus

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 30, 2009
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    I vote for DesignSpark too. Take any component with the correct number of pins, and rename it and rename the pins and save it, there you have the new component. Simplest I've found.
     
  6. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    I tried getting DesignSpark a few times, but every time they never sent me the account verification email. After three email addresses I simply gave up.
     
  7. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    Admittedly, I haven't tried it, but I can't believe it is that simple. If it is, then how does it do ERC? Can it help you know when the power pins are reversed? What happens if you take a PIC12F509 and re-name it an NE555 or visa versa? What happens if one component with 40 pins is a wide dip and the other is a square? Or, one is a wide DIP versus an SOIC? How does the PCB come out?

    There are drawing programs and then there are design programs. I thought this thread was about design, and there are plenty of good programs that can be of enormous aid in doing that. Oh, BTW, you can do that same thing with EAGLE (and probably many other programs), but then you lose most of its functionality.

    John
     
  8. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    E-mail verification is pain in the ass.


    It has design error check and can compare schematic and PCB connections to look for errors but I never used it so can't really speak much about it.
    http://www.rs-online.com/designspar...gnspark/electronics/tutorial/checking-design=
     
  9. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    There's no single answer to what software is "best", since it depends so much on what you do with it. I have a history with traditional drawing programs such as Freehand, Illustrator and the likes. (I currently use Intaglio.) Because of that history and since I have no need for error-check or to send PCB files off for production, it's best for me to use the tool I'm already familiar with. A working EE designing something for mass production would obviously use something different.
     
  10. elec_mech

    Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2008
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    Based on your desire for something simple without the need for a lot of design checks, I second ExpressPCB. It's free and dirt simple. Having used Eagle once to do a small board for work (which took several weeks to figure out how to use) and not touching a PCB program since for 4-5 years, I was able to figure out ExpressPCB in ten minutes and put together a board easily. If I could send their files to other board houses, I'd use it exclusively because it really is easy.
     
  11. DerStrom8

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    Feb 20, 2011
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    The downside to ExpressPCB is that they don't allow you to export the Gerbers--you're limited to using their board house, so I don't think the OP would be able to use his own printer for the designs as he requested.
     
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  12. elec_mech

    Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2008
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    I'm not so ambitious as to build my own PCB's at home, but as I understand it, you only need to "print" the top and bottom traces onto a blank PCB then etch correct? ExpressPCB allows you to print out just the top, just the bottom, just the silkscreen or any combination thereof. This is the program Bill Marsden uses in his blog under How to Make PCBs.
     
  13. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    While this is true it leaves out an important point: the printout needs to be in 1 to 1 scale. As long as you have a method to make this conversion while keeping the resolution you should be fine, but it is a bridge to cross.

    I oft make PCB's myself completely on my computer. I use Kicad to create the artwork, then email the Gerber files to a vendor who mails me complete boards. Multiple boards cost me just a few dollars a piece. Excellent quality and no messy chemicals to deal with !!!
     
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  14. Stuntman

    Active Member

    Mar 28, 2011
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    Few things to consider:

    ExpressPCB is an excellent tool. Easy to learn, easy to use, and dang good pricing for quick low production boards. I use Altium for large scale projects at work, but I STILL like express pcb in the right situations.

    Correct , the Gerbers are not directly exported, but for $60 (as of a few years ago) they will send you the gerbers AFTER you have purchased at least one batch of boards from them.

    All that said, you can readily print 1:1 scale images of the bottom or top layer of traces. I do this often for quick spacing tests for the board in its enclosure, or components.
     
  15. shortbus

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 30, 2009
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    Guess I should have added, "the same package" to my first post,thought that would be understood. But I did say, "rename the pins". By that I mean what the pins do. :) So if the power pins are reversed, you do that in the 'renaming'.
     
  16. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
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    Sorry about that. I thought you were making a distinction between how easy that program was and Eagle. In fact, what you describe is all you need to do in Eagle too. That is, find a component with the same package, set the pin properties, and rename it for a new device. The schematic representation is meaningless, except for the pin properties, and can be just a blank box with the right number of pins and properties. Eagle has the advantage of a very large library of device packages.

    In years of helping people with Eagle problems, the most common stumbling block seems to be when they cannot find an appropriate package. Eagle may be a little more difficult for drafting a completely new package than other programs are. I haven't tried them. It is certainly more difficult to use then the CAD program I use for mechanical design. However, that factor is much improved compared to early versions. In reality, it is rarely necessary to draft a completely new package, because of the extensive Eagle libraries. I have had to do that only maybe a half dozen times since I started with Eagle v. 3.x in the 1990's. In all other cases, I simply get something that is similar and modify that, which is quite easy to do. My first step is to make the changes that look about right. Then I use the "Information" button and adjust the sizes and positions just as you can do with any other CAD program. You can also use the graphics measure tool and pull the changes to appropriate locations, but I find the edit function in the Information dialog easier to use and more accurate.

    John
     
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  17. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    GPLEDA is very good software for linux.

    I hear good stuff about PCB123 but didnt try it yet.
     
  18. nigelwright7557

    Senior Member

    May 10, 2008
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    I use pcbcad53 off ebay.
    It is quite powerful in the printer department.
    It allows scaling, inverting and mirroring to get the print right for laser printing.
     
  19. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    I tried PCB123 once, and was not very impressed. It seemed very low-quality from what I could tell.
     
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  20. Dr.killjoy

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
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    Well I was checking out Designspark and Diptrace tonight .. I like designspark and not so much diptrace .. Designspark is pretty simple and I just pick and place a component and keep it moving ..Diptrace I have to find the right size or pad style and that gives me a huge headache and just really annoying..
    So now to try some more and see what happens .. Any other suggestion ?¿?
     
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