Best Software for Schematic and PCB layout for hobbyist

Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
334
There are a lot of possible solutions out there on the market for Schematic/PCB layout software. A long time ago I used Express PCB which at that time allowed for only 4 layer boards. Now they have 6 layers as well.

Question:
Of all the PCB/Schematic software out there. What ones have been found the easiest to use, along with board manufacturing and reasonable cost?

I am creating a new project that will have at least a 4 layer PCB. Interested in getting other peoples opinions about all the options.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
23,619
After dropping an old version of Autocad due to the cost of upgrade, I found that Kicad fit the bill exactly, there is a little learning curve, but plenty of tutorials out there.
There is a major upgrade due this summer/fall, evidently, there is also a forum for questions.
 

zophas

Joined Jul 16, 2021
115
I used to use Eagle many years ago but just for the schematics. I was about to go look for it again yesterday when I came across the Wiki page for Eagle. There I read about some funny business they pulled awhile ago. So now I downloaded Kicad. I will try it out in the next few days. I have given up trying to make my own boards after I got acid stains in places I did not want them. Stripboard is good enough for the tiny stuff I do.
 

eetech00

Joined Jun 8, 2013
2,573
I recommend the latest DesignSpark PCB (free version) software. Been using this for a few years and works great.
I recently used DesignSpark Mechanical software, imported the DSPCB layout(3D) into DSM, and created a 3D printable plastic enclosure. Had it printed and it came out great!
 

Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
334
I recommend the latest DesignSpark PCB (free version) software. Been using this for a few years and works great.
I recently used DesignSpark Mechanical software, imported the DSPCB layout(3D) into DSM, and created a 3D printable plastic enclosure. Had it printed and it came out great!
Does it have a lot of built in parts (schematic and layout) or do you have to create most things from scratch?
 

Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
334
Yes. I started to count for you and gave up.
Thanks! Appreciate your input. The current tool I am using does not have these parts, just curious if the one you are using does:

SSM3K15AMFV,L3F MOS-FET N-CHANNEL TOSHIBA
S-814A50AMC-BDOT2U 5V IC REGULATOR
S-1318A33-M5T1U4 3.3V IC REGULATOR
 

eetech00

Joined Jun 8, 2013
2,573
Thanks! Appreciate your input. The current tool I am using does not have these parts, just curious if the one you are using does:

SSM3K15AMFV,L3F MOS-FET N-CHANNEL TOSHIBA
S-814A50AMC-BDOT2U 5V IC REGULATOR
S-1318A33-M5T1U4 3.3V IC REGULATOR
There is "Library Loader" that will automatically load the library part into your library and PCB design if its active. It uses "Component Search Engine" web site that can be searched for parts. I found the two regulators but library parts don't exist. However, the parts can be created on-line, or a request for them to be made. The PCB software has a "Wizard" for creating parts that's very easy to use and its very likely the footprint already exists. The part may exist under another name.
 

Thread Starter

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
334
Thanks for everyone's input! Greatly appreciated. First thing I tried was EasyEDA, mainly because it was fast to down load. I plan to try KiCad next and check out Design Spark PCB. I have only Satellite Dish connection which is rather slow for downloads. Currently downloading latest of KiCad.
 

ronsimpson

Joined Oct 7, 2019
1,465
SSM3K15AMFV,L3F MOS-FET N-CHANNEL TOSHIBA
Opened up schematic/place part/ searched through 100s of MOSFETs could not find one with the input protection (might be there) so I just picked a symbol for a "mosfet" with a different part number/ placed the part/ edited the part to give it the SSM3K15AMFV part number/ change foot print/ could not fine L1B foot print/ used a SOT-23 for now. Later I will go back and edit SOT-23/ rename to 2-L1b/ move the three pin locations if needed/change pad size if needed/ save in my library. Go back to schematic and change from SOT-23 to 2-L1B.

S-814A50AMC-BDOT2U 5V IC REGULATOR
Found that the AP2204 has the schematic symbol. Used it.
I see it comes in a standard SOT-23-5. Use that every day. OR standard SOT-89-5.

Out of time must move on. RonS
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
7,827
I use Diptrace. I found it much easier to learn than Eagle or Kicad. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve used it, but I didn’t find their library limiting. Plus, in the rare case a part wasn’t available, creating a custom footprint was simple.
 
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