How do I get started?

Thread Starter


Joined May 1, 2016
OK ... it has been about 15 years since I designed a PCB online and ordered them.

I need 2 first for approval then about 10 boards ... say 5" x 7" ... not very populated.

I plan on populating the boards myself.

I asked a few weeks ago .. you guys gave me the names of manufactures ... PCBWAY, OSHPARK, JLCPCB, ...

So, now I am confused a bit.

I know I need Gerber files ... and AutoCad does not do this ... at least not directly.

I see I can go on several sites and design online ... but I don't want to be tied down to ??? company I choose in case try getting quotes from a few, I want the Gerber files.

I see people talking about KiCad. I just looked at it ... says open source so I am guessing it is free?

Is the the best thing to do ... start with KiCad or ???


Thread Starter


Joined May 1, 2016
Yes, you need software that can generate Gerber files and drill files.
KiCad is popular and free.
Eagle is now supplied by Autodesk. There are free evaluation versions.

Which software to choose? This topic is discussed in another thread.

Have a look here:
Exactly the info I needed!

I remember I had to teach myself how to use it last time ... started on a Friday night ... by Sunday night I had the boards on order.

You guys are the best ... always have the info I am looking for ... Thanks!

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
I suggest EasyEDA provided by JLCPCB. It is indeed easy to use, has a huge parts library (pretty much everything LCSC sells, which is not limited to Chinese parts, and it's free and the provide Gerber files any fab house can use.

Your board files are private, unless you want to share them. Any symbols/footprints you create are shared, but that's a minor downside.

A big feature is the direct tie-in to JLC's nearly free assembly service if you ever want to make a number of boards or want to use some of the tiny surface mount components. Using EasyEDA makes it easy to find parts in their assembly program and to prepare the required documents for assembly.


Joined Jul 29, 2016
and places like SnapEDA have plugins directly for fusion360 (the software that eaglecad was rolled up into) so you can pick the part from the plugin and it downloads the appropriate footprint and symbols for the part. Mostly. The flow for the different types of software are different, but no that different from my experience. If you learn one, you're not "locked down" to it. The learning curve is steep, but doable.