Software design tools
Some people still build circuits without ever using any software tools. For complicated circuits, software design tools can save a lot of time.
This section is being reorgnized and expanded, it may be a bit messed up for a few days.
The design tools fall into several classes:
Listed in Class as SchCap
Listed in Class as PCB, generally includees a footprint editor to make new parts.
Listed in Class as CirSim.
Other tools that do not fall in the classes above
"Suites" that combine schematic capture, component editor for the components used in schematic capture, circuit simulation, PCB layout, autorouter, and footprint editor for the footprints used in PCB layout. A suite can be nice as you need draw the circuit only once.
Quite often people mix-and-match tools -- using a schematic capture from one suite to generate pretty schematics and a netlist, then importing the netlist a third party Specctra autorouter, then importing the result into a PCB layout program from another suite for the final manual clean-up and design rule checking. For this to work the tools must have compatible import and export tools.
(Is there another place for listing stand-alone tools such as a switching power supply "wizard" and a RF analysis tool? -- yes as this section is not limited to suites [anymore] )
In no particular order:
|*PCB||Liquid PCB||Linux, Win32||GPL||no||Liquid PCB wiki at SourceForge Liquid PCB is a computer aided design application for designing printed circuit boards. You are not restricted to straight tracks and 45º angles, you can draw tracks any way you like. The tracks will move and bend as required to maintain your design rules. It is open source, and still in the Alpha stage.|
|*PCB||gEDA||Linux, *BSD||Free, OSS||autorouter||This may be the goto open source tool for schematic capture through PCB. Generally does not run on Windows. There are no restrictions on the package to cripple it for a paid version. Boards may be very big. Would be nice to have a full review sometime. gEDA wiki includes schematic and PCB for makeing gerbers etc...|
|*PCB||McCAD EDS Lite||MacOSX, Win32||Free demo max 200 pin||autorouter||Free demo version available for download, 200 pin limit|
|*PCB||McCAD EDS SE||MacOSX, Win32||"free"?||autorouter||Free with book, "Apple I Replica Creation". Supports 750 pins, 11"x17" sheet size, 6-8 data layers. <tangent>(any useful tips in this book for those who want to build a CPU from scratch?) <reply>No, there are not. The book is more entry-level. - Tom Owad</reply></tangent>|
|*PCB||FreePCB||Win32||GPL||can use FreeRoute||PCB Design Software|
|*SchCap||TinyCAD||Win32||LGPL||n/a||Schematic Drawing Software. TinyCAD wiki.|
|*tbd||KiCad||BSD, Linux, MacOSX, Win32||GPL||autorouter||http://www.lis.inpg.fr/realise_au_lis/kicad/ EDA suite ; KiCad wiki. Free and open-source.|
|*SchCap *PCB||Express SCH/PCB||Win32||Free use crippleware||?||ExpressPCB's propietatary free schematic capture & PCB layout designer locking you to use ExpressPCB for manufacture explicitly. Manufacture in 3 business days of two boards for ~100 USD.|
|*PCB||Protel DXP||Win32||autorouter||independent Protel users FAQ; Protel users wiki|
|*tbd||Eagle Eagle Links||Win32, Linux||Free use crippleware||( Russ Hensel says>> ) I have been kicking around as a hobbyist for a while and Eagle seems to be the main hobbyist circuit/pcb cad program. It supports schematics and board layout with an auto-router. The free version can easily support 2 dual op amps with wide traces and a one sided board. There is quite a lot of info on the Internet and many projects supply eagle files. There is also a $125 non profit version supporting larger boards. It then gets expensive. Eagle is not really easy to learn: cut for it would be copy in almost any other program. It probably deserves a page or more of its own. ( << end RH ) |
Eagle tutorial from Sparkfun
Eagle tutorial (makezine)
|*tbd||DipTrace||Crippleware||250-pin Freeware or Purchase more advanced versions|
|*tbd||WinQcad||Crippleware||Demo with max 499 pins available for download|
|*tbd||Rimu Schematic and Rimu PCB||Win32||Payware||Schematic & PCB design for MS-Windows|
|*tbd||SuperCAD and SuperPCB||Win32||Mental Automation schematic & PCB for MS-Windows|
|*tbd||autotraxeda.com||AUTOTraxEDA needs MS-NT, won't work on MS-W98/ME. User forums have shown a certain lack of satisfaction with the program.|
|*tbd||holophase.com/dleval||Win32||Crippleware||Circad's DOS version is free for non-commercial use.|
|*tbd||geda.seul.org||BSD, Linux, MacOSX||GPL||autorouter||xNIX Electronic Design Automation project has Schematic capture with PCB CAD.|
|*tbd||vutrax.co.uk/pricing||Win32||autorouter||Vutrax for MS-Windows. Free for under 256 component pins.|
|*tbd||interactiv.com||Electronic Workbench, 400 USD for 500 pins. Includes schematic capture and simulation, virtual instruments and PCB layout. Said to be stable.|
|*tbd||Harry Eaton's PCB||BSD?, Linux?, MacOSX?, Win32||GPL||autorouter||PCB design program which can work under any POSIX compliant operating system like Linux (or BSD under API compability layer). Have Gerber and PostScript output options.|
|*tbd||labcenter.co.uk||They have a lite version "PIC bundle" ~149 USD includes schematic + simulation + pcb layout. You can write pic code for your pic schematic design and simulate. Even multi-pic, keypad, lcd display. Right now it can only simulate PIC16x83, PIC16x84 (lite version limited to 1k program code). Working on more pic modules. Will not produce Gerber or Excellion drill files. Only dxf, bmp, hpgl, tiff output (not sufficient!).|
|*tbd||ivex.com||Payware||Winboard PCB Layout, now calcentron.com.|
|*tbd||illuminated.com.au||Linux, Win32, DOS||Draftcad, Schematic Capture and PCB Design|
|*tbd||"PCB ARTIST"||Win32||?||schematic + layout. Seems to lock you into using Advanced Circuits for manufacture (?).|
|*tbd||PCB123||Win32||?||schematic + layout. Seems to lock you into using Sunstone for manufacture (?).|
|*tbd||ProSchematic||Win32||"free trial"||no||can make schematics that look almost like photographs of a solderless breadboard.|
|*CirSim||Spice||Various||Various||na||The generic term for many simulation programs.|
|*CirSim||LTSpice||Windows||free||na||A free version of Spice from Linear Technology. Draw the schematic and see its simulations. Many components. Seems to be very popular. Should ( will ) have a page here of its own.|
|* PCB||PCB 3.0|
|* PCB||VeeCAD||autorouter||VeeCAD Stripboard Editor|
|* CirSim||Java Breadboard Simulator|
|* SchCap, PCB||Fritzing||autorouter|
|* CirSim||GarlicSim||Windows, Linux||mostly LGPL2.1||If you want to write a circuit simulator or a microcontroller simulator, GarlicSim may be a nice starting point.
(Some of this information in this table came from the list of software design tools at the Massmind).
A SourceForge search for "schematic" lists dozens of tools. Other than the ones already listed above, what tools in that list are useful for open circuits?
Is there any way to objectively compare these tools? How well did they do at the PCB Top Gun contest ?
- GTKWave Electronic Waveform Viewer http://intranet.cs.man.ac.uk/apt/projects/tools/gtkwave/
- TimingTool http://www.timingtool.com/
When you want to post a picture of a schematic or timing diagram on a web site, should you use JPEG or PNG? I hope these 2 pictures answer your question:
- hardware tools
- Even though PCB part of a stripboard circuit was more or less "finished" years ago, some people use the above schematic and PCB layout tools to design and document the parts placement for new gadgets built on stripboard.
- A similar list of software tools at RepRap: CAD software for electronics lists tools that people working on the RepRap project have found useful. (Have we already listed all those tools here?)