What Open Source Schematic Capture is widely used? Ditto for PC Board Layout

Thread Starter

Fran3

Joined Mar 28, 2019
35
1 - What Open Source Schematic Capture program is widely used?
I ask because a large user base means the program may have some legs and possibly a good support forum.

2 - Once the schematic is captured will it convert it to a PC Board layout... or output a file that can be used by another PC Board layout program?

3 - Is there a widely used open source PC Board Layout program that will output a file that most PC Board manufactures can use? If not what?

3 - What file format will PC Board layout programs be looking form the Schematic Capture program?
Is there a standard, defacto standard, or other widely used such format?

4 - Once the PC Board layout is done what file format will PC Board manufacturers be looking for?

5 - I prefer not to use proprietary apps supplied by PC Board manufacturing companies as I would be concerned about being the design being locked into their program and their company's manufacturing... am I right about this?

I've more or less been out of the loop for an extended period of time so thanks in advance for helping me catch up.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
25,469
I personally have used the free open source Kicad, it's 30 yrs old now and new versions/updates are still coming out .
It will produce Gerber files for PCT board manuf.
Also has a good support forum.
 

drjohsmith

Joined Dec 13, 2021
421
1 - What Open Source Schematic Capture program is widely used?
I ask because a large user base means the program may have some legs and possibly a good support forum.

2 - Once the schematic is captured will it convert it to a PC Board layout... or output a file that can be used by another PC Board layout program?

3 - Is there a widely used open source PC Board Layout program that will output a file that most PC Board manufactures can use? If not what?

3 - What file format will PC Board layout programs be looking form the Schematic Capture program?
Is there a standard, defacto standard, or other widely used such format?

4 - Once the PC Board layout is done what file format will PC Board manufacturers be looking for?

5 - I prefer not to use proprietary apps supplied by PC Board manufacturing companies as I would be concerned about being the design being locked into their program and their company's manufacturing... am I right about this?

I've more or less been out of the loop for an extended period of time so thanks in advance for helping me catch up.

To clarify
do you mean open source , as in GNU etc, and as such source code is available
or do you mean free to use ?
 

Jon Chandler

Joined Jun 12, 2008
251
I'd suggest looking at EasyEDA offered by JLCPCB. A few points:

* It is indeed easy to learn and to use.

* It offers a huge component library, covering most of the parts offered by LCSC (Chinese equivalent of Digikey) and most parts you're likely to use. If the standard libraries don't cover the components you need, there's also a huge user-contributed library and components can be imported from Eagle and Altium libraries, and therefore popular library managers offered by many suppliers.

* Standard Gerber files that can be used by any board fab house are a click away, free and with no limitations.

* EasyEDA makes it simple to use JLC's virtually free assembly service – you have to use components in their assembly library and there's a nominal setup charge for less commonly used parts, but assembly is essentially free for the cost of the board fab and components.


Unlike some vendors, your designs are private, and you can download source files that can be used locally. The only place you are forced to share is if you create your own library components.

I'm just a satisfied customer who upgraded to EasyEDA from an outdated version of Eagle.
 

Thread Starter

Fran3

Joined Mar 28, 2019
35
To clarify
do you mean open source , as in GNU etc, and as such source code is available
or do you mean free to use ?
Probably open source, as in GNU etc... meaning I think some PCB vendors offer free schematic capture and pcb design programs but then you are locked in to using their services. If there are other free schematic capture and pcb design programs that I should consider let me know. Thanks for the help to all.
 

drjohsmith

Joined Dec 13, 2021
421
Probably open source, as in GNU etc... meaning I think some PCB vendors offer free schematic capture and pcb design programs but then you are locked in to using their services. If there are other free schematic capture and pcb design programs that I should consider let me know. Thanks for the help to all.
Two types of cad software

one , the integrated package, has schematic and PCB layout in the same package
the other, is a dedicated schematic or PCB layout program,

The key point I see,
is what do you want to be able to do in ten years with the cad you have ?

over time, most of your work will be in making and maintaining the libraries,

I have seen many a company with the problem that schematics they did a few years ago,
they no longer have access to ,

My rule is always ensure you have a PDF of the schematic as ultimate back up,

For PCB's , the Gerbers you produce are fairly transportable,

so its good your asking about forward availability

Also be aware, that some of the Big names, such as OrCad have small free versions that might be of use for you

Also that over time, some of the free / Gnu ones have been purchased by the big ones,
other GNU ones have come and gone,
To be honest so have some of the paid ones.

KiCad is the one that currently pops up
https://www.kicad.org/

There are good reviews here on whats around,

https://www.electronics-lab.com/top-10-free-pcb-design-software-2019/


I have also seen a lot of people use design spark
https://www.rs-online.com/designspark/pcb-software-comparison

Its hooked into RS components,
but there is no compulsion to purchase from them etc,

I have also seen a good few people use seatrax
https://seetrax.com/prices-&-ordering-1

its been around a long time,
Schematics is low cost and does most of what you would want to do
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
25,469
Kicad originated over 30 yrs ago as open source, and in recent years has been assisted and sponsored by CERN, it is not tied or locked in to other proprietary S/W etc.
Has an official forum site where questions are answered promptly, also many tutorials out there.
 

drjohsmith

Joined Dec 13, 2021
421
Kicad originated over 30 yrs ago as open source, and in recent years has been assisted and sponsored by CERN, it is not tied or locked in to other proprietary S/W etc.
Has an official forum site where questions are answered promptly, also many tutorials out there.
Totally agree Max,
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
2,167
1 - What Open Source Schematic Capture program is widely used?

Among open source products notable versions are KiCa and EasyEDA. Personally i Use KiCad

2 - Once the schematic is captured will it convert it to a PC Board layout... or output a file that can be used by another PC Board layout program?

No. You decide board shape, type of cumponents, their location on hte board etc. For example 10 Ohm resistor can be tiny SMD component of large high power wirewound version. Board design editor uses information from schematic capture and assist you with making decisions or routing. You can of course also chose to use manual or automatic routing or combination...

3 - What file format will PC Board layout programs be looking form the Schematic Capture program?
depends on used software

4 - Once the PC Board layout is done what file format will PC Board manufacturers be looking for?
manufacturers do not care what software you used. they expect gerber files. of course, any EDA software will have gerber export function.

5 - I prefer not to use proprietary apps supplied by PC Board manufacturing companies as I would be concerned about being the design being locked into their program and their company's manufacturing... am I right about this?

not sure if that is the case today and it may well be. if you are investing in product, you are getting something that works on current operating systems and may not work on next generation. years ago when i was exploring different options before deciding on which route to take, i created coupe of designs with free to use software. but it still had license that would periodically expire. after while i needed to access the files and it needed new license. normally this is done automatically through email and it takes mere minutes. bit just when i needed it, this was not working and took almost 10 days of emailing and phoning to get issue resolved. that was sobering moment for me. so at that point i put some effort to explore alternatives and found KiCad to be a solid choice, it is actively developed and files are plain text files readable by humans. this allows manipulation when needed.

all options have pluses and minuses and there is a learning curve to all of them. i like freedom to install it any time on any machine without licensing or being forced to have internet connection. i like that it has no restrictions on size of the PCB or number of connection or what i plan to do with my designs (commercial or not) etc. this is common set of limitations if you go for demos and cut-down versions of the commercial products. many of them cost thousands (or many thousands...)

it is good to have plenty to choose from. feel free to decide what works for you.
 
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