free PCB design software

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
7,861
I use DipTrace. When I went through the software search process, I found it the software with the best balance between power and ease of use.
 

AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
11,524
+1 for Kicad, there is a much anticipated new release (Ver6) supposed to occur soon.!
I keep thinking that I ought to give kicad a serious try. I use eagle at the moment. Just how difficult am I going to fine the transition? I have quite a few custom parts I have created eagle library for. Can these be imported/translated for kicad?
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
7,861
I use LTSpice to simulate my designs.

Then I manually recreate the matching PCB design in DipTrace to export to Gerber files for manufacture.
 

hrs

Joined Jun 13, 2014
342
I keep thinking that I ought to give kicad a serious try. I use eagle at the moment. Just how difficult am I going to fine the transition? I have quite a few custom parts I have created eagle library for. Can these be imported/translated for kicad?
There's an "Import project -> Eagle CAD" entry in the file menu. I think it's for importing complete projects but if you can post one of your custom parts I could try to import it if you like.
 
I'd suggest taking a look at EasyEDA, offered by JLCPCB. I'm a long-time Eagle user, but I was using an out of date version and decided to give EasyEDA a try. EasyEDA is indeed easy to use, and the transition was pretty simple.

EasyEDA is vendor-provided and cloud-based but their is a PC client, you can store your files locally and Gerbers are free and easy to generate, so you're not tied to JLC.

One advantage of EasyEDA is the huge component library provided. It covers most of the components supplied by LCSC (Chinese equivalent of Digikey) and western parts. The library is supplemented by user-provided symbols and footprints. Library components can be imported from Eagle and other packages, and if you still can't find a component, it's not difficult to create your own. Note that this is the one place where you are forced to share your files (library parts); otherwise your files are private.

A big advantage of EasyEDA is simple use of JLC's free PCB assembly service. Makes it easy to determine components in the program and easy to create the required BOM (bill of material) and centroid files.

BTW – I'm just a happy user of EasyEDA and satisfied JLCPCB customer.
 

ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,183
Kicad has a lot going for it, though you must follow the steps it needs to create a PCB. For e3xample, you cannot just lay down pads and conductors without the backup work.

You start with the schematic using either pre defined symbols or ones you make yourself. You can define the pins in ways to highlight mistakes, example pins may be defined as POWER IN or POWER OUT. Connects two INs or several INs without an OUT and it gets flagged in the Design Rules Check (DRC).

Then you associate each schematic symbol with a footprint of the PCB pads and create a netlist. Again, there are many pre defined parts but you are free to make your own.

Next you can start on your board. Importing the netlist gives you all the parts bunched together, so you need to move, rotate, swap sides, whatever to create your layout.

Finally you can start routing traces, which MUST have a connection on the schematic or they will not be allowed, along with any other design constraint (ie, spaciing) that must be met

Lastly, run a DRC on the board and export Gerber files. A Gerber viewer is also included.
 
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