Laying out and ordering PCBs

meaCulpa

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Jun 14, 2022
Messages
125
for small design I use easyEDA, it has massive library and template, not perfect, but not complicated to use, and it can run inside your browser.
eagle cad is easy too..free version even does auto-route.. how's that for 'easy'..lol
 

Warpspeed

Solar Addict
Joined
Jun 11, 2021
Messages
401
Its very easy to be seduced by free CAD software, and I must admit it will open up a whole new world for you, being able to lay out high quality boards at home.
Once you learn to use one particular free starter kit, you are pretty much locked into that, unless you later decide to ditch the whole thing , and start again almost completely from scratch learning something completely different.

All the free stuff sets definite limits on what you are able to do, and one day you discover that your current project is just too big for the free software version you have, and you need to spend some serious money for an "upgrade".

There seem to be two ways these limits are set, either physical board size, or the number of components or nodes of the design.

If you are into microcontoller type projects using surface mount parts, the board size is not usually going to be huge, so being limited that way may not be a serious problem.
On the other hand, if power electronics are your main interest, with larger through hole components , inverters, or solar controllers, etc... the board size is likely going to be much larger, but the number of components or nodes probably not that great.

So check what sets the final limits of what you can lay out with your favorite free CAD software version.
Read the fine print !!
Also check the cost of upgrades. You might think now that you will never upgrade, but a year from now that may change, once you really start to get into it.
 

meaCulpa

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Jun 14, 2022
Messages
125
Its very easy to be seduced by free CAD software, and I must admit it will open up a whole new world for you, being able to lay out high quality boards at home.
Once you learn to use one particular free starter kit, you are pretty much locked into that, unless you later decide to ditch the whole thing , and start again almost completely from scratch learning something completely different.

All the free stuff sets definite limits on what you are able to do, and one day you discover that your current project is just too big for the free software version you have, and you need to spend some serious money for an "upgrade".

There seem to be two ways these limits are set, either physical board size, or the number of components or nodes of the design.

If you are into microcontoller type projects using surface mount parts, the board size is not usually going to be huge, so being limited that way may not be a serious problem.
On the other hand, if power electronics are your main interest, with larger through hole components , inverters, or solar controllers, etc... the board size is likely going to be much larger, but the number of components or nodes probably not that great.

So check what sets the final limits of what you can lay out with your favorite free CAD software version.
Read the fine print !!
Also check the cost of upgrades. You might think now that you will never upgrade, but a year from now that may change, once you really start to get into it.
eagle freeware version limits are the board size and only 2 layers..
but they have generous step levels including 'student' and such, so I dont see any real terror in going eagle..I've used eagle for 30 yrs..it works good, even in linux..
 

Goboatingnow

Solar Addict
Joined
Jul 3, 2022
Messages
828
For a hobbyist , and some professionals. Kicad V6 is the best EDA around , if you have to learn a package learn Kicad , it’s better then Eagle , DipTrace and nearly as good as Altium. And it’s completely free. V7 is going to be awesome

I use allpcb and jclpcb. Both do excellent jobs. At last count I’ve about 40 designs with jcl and no issues.
 

BiduleOhm

Electronics Sorcerer
Joined
Jan 30, 2020
Messages
1,884
Location
France
I agree, Kicad is the way to go (no cloud/subscription BS, no artificial limits on layers or whatever, open source, ...) ;)

I use allpcb too, no problem so far.
 
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