Software recommendations to create PCBs from LTSpice

Discussion in 'Electronics Resources' started by Robin66, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. Robin66

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 5, 2016
    102
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    I've recently started using LTSpice to simulate microprocessor driven DC-DC converters and have been blown away by it. I found it intuitive to use and it's already saved me a lot of time in understanding and tweaking my circuit. However now I want to create a PCB. I've started to use DipTrace but I'm sad to say the experience has not been as good. Firstly recreating the schematic is very annoying. However even once that's done it seems needlessly clunky e.g.I had 3 different apps open last night to add a new SMD inductor layout.

    Are there any other PCB tool recommendations knowing that I'm getting on v well with LTSpice? FreePCB looks much simpler and supports netlists so I was thinking of giving that a shot.

    I'm an intermediate enthusiast and I view 2 layers as a luxury so I can't see myself going beyond that any time soon.
     
  2. gregctaylor

    New Member

    Jan 28, 2016
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    Eagle free edition is my favourite. You are restricted though to two layers and quite a small pcb. I get round it by connecting more than one board to make something larger (eg cpu, memory and rom on one board, I/O on another).
     
  3. Robin66

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 5, 2016
    102
    3
    Do you find the LTSpice-->Eagle transfer straight-forward? Is there any duplication of effort here? Is it intuitive to create your own pad layouts in Eagle?
     
  4. gregctaylor

    New Member

    Jan 28, 2016
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    Haven't tried transfer but I have LTSpice so will give it a try. Easy to make new components.
     
  5. eetech00

    Active Member

    Jun 8, 2013
    648
    110
    Hi

    You might try DesignSpark PCB. The tool and the library part editor is excellent.
    I've used this for about three years. The LTspice interface works very well in that you can design the schematic in DesignSpark then select a menu item to simulate. It then launches LTspice for simulating the schematic.
    DesignSpark comes with a few parts predesigned (mainly for demonstration) for exchange with LTspice, but you really have to create your own library of parts for this purpose.

    Some people complain about the adware that is displayed when you first launch the tool, but it only displays once. Once you close the adware window, it doesn't re-appear until you launch the program again. This isn't a problem for me.
     
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  6. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
    10,510
    2,369
    Kicad does it for me, lots of tutorials out there.
    Max.
     
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  7. Robin66

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 5, 2016
    102
    3
    Ok, I'm not really getting on with Eagle and I can see the board size limitation biting soonish. I'll give DesignSpark a try tomorrow. Thx for your suggestions.
     
  8. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    1,190
    156
    Check out Diptrace too..
     
  9. Robin66

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 5, 2016
    102
    3
    Yeah I started off with DipTrace per OP but I was shocked at how clumsy it seemed. However, after trying 2 other packages I now realize that it's not an outlier in this regard. I was getting on fairly well with FreePCB but I seem to be the only person using it which doesn't make sense. I'll try DesignSpark today, and I may circle back round for DipTrace
     
  10. Robin66

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 5, 2016
    102
    3
    I've been working with DesignSpark today. Again slow progress but I've managed to create a schematic including new components. Annoyingly the EPW which is required for all new components going-forward requires Excel which I have no other need for so I'm put off paying £70pa to microsoft just for this. Also this was my first test of auto-placement and I've found it to be worse than useless. In fact it's incredible how bad the decisions it's made are. If my schematic has components A - B - C in series, and I manually place A and C with plenty of space in between then I'd expect a simple heuristic to place B in the middle with the shortest wire length. Instead the components are scattered all over the place.
     
  11. eetech00

    Active Member

    Jun 8, 2013
    648
    110
    I use designspark but I don't use auto-placement function. You have seen why.
    I always do a manual place. I haven't seen any free (or inexpensive) tool that does a good job of auto placement.
     
  12. Robin66

    Thread Starter Member

    Jan 5, 2016
    102
    3
    Ok, I think KiCad is the one for me. There's an interesting feature that the component-to-pad mapping is a separate step. But on the plus KiCad's free, unlimited, doesn't require Excel, and seems as fast to pick up as any other EDA (FreePCB is easier but it's buggy and unsupported).
     
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