Prototype board layout software?

Thread Starter

bignobody

Joined Jan 21, 2020
63
I'm still a beginner at building circuits. I am getting to the point where I am starting to use several integrated circuits, and with more ICs comes more complex layouts when it comes to actually soldering things together on a prototype board.

I've been drawing layouts on paper and moving sockets around on prototype board until now, but I have a software background so it's natural for me to wonder if a computer could help me with this.

What I am imagining is a prototype board display that would allow me to add ICs of different pin sizes to it, select which pins connect to what, and then allow some configurable algorithm to try and fit everything nicely into that space with sensible paths for the requested connections.

Before I go off half-cocked and try and make something myself, does such a thing exist already?
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
2,126
Sounds like Fritz but I wouldn't recommend it. There are several PCB design software apps but that is not for protoboard layout. I just do it by the seat of my pants. Layout the devices on the protoboard and when satisfied start soldering. I typically work from a schematic and breadboard it before going to a protoboard to test it out.
 

Thread Starter

bignobody

Joined Jan 21, 2020
63
Thanks for you reply, SamR! I recall seeing Fritz in a software list somewhere, but yeah, most of the software I've seen so far seem to be for layout out of PCB designs rather that through-hole protoboard... I'm not ready for that yet.

"Layout the devices on the protoboard and when satisfied start soldering" is where I am at. It's not bad, but I still wonder if it could be better.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,747
Most schematic editors include a PCB layout program with an autorouter. I use Eagle, but not the autorouter. I can always do a better job routing manually.

Even if you're using strip board, you can use a more general program to do the layout.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,420
I use Eagle for routing breadboards. It can be used for both solderless and solderable types. If the project is at all complex, I generally use solderable, and by extension, only simple stuff goes to solderless.

The one big advantage of Eagle over Fritzing and other programs that are available is schematic capture and ease of moving stuff around.

Here's an example from a recent project. I turned grid off. It is set to 0.1" to correspond the the SparkFun solderable breadboard:

1587627191599.png


On free versions, you are limited to 2 signal layers. Make up your own rules. On some boards, I use blue for existing tracks, and red for wires I add. I used a white dash to indicate need to cut an existing track. If you print black on white with a grid, you can just count spaces to know how long to cut the wires. I use Kynar-insulated 24 awg solid wire. The Kynar withstands considerable heat and doesn't get burned or melt like PVC does.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,747
Here's an example of a layout I did for 4 discrete clocked R#S# flip flops that's part of a clock project. I intend to make some boards, but hand wired the first for testing. The board I used had space for 6 flip flops, so I adapted the layout on-the-fly to add 2 more.
1587652751182.pngclipimage.jpg
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,296
Thanks for the input, everyone! Much appreciated. I'll have a look at these suggestions.
I second using Eagle (or equivalent) for breadboards. I use it too. The extra time to learn the very high level ultra-expensive software (there are still free versions) pays off in ways you can't imagine now. The ability to take something like this.

PIC32MX250 and two 45K80 controllers.
directly into a easily manufactured PCB consistent with the working prototype electrical schematic is priceless.
 
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