Connect with us

PCB design software for Mac?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by [email protected], Sep 30, 2006.

Scroll to continue with content
  1. Guest

    Is there any (preferrably free or low cost) software for Mac OSX that
    allows me to design electronic circuits?
    Just something simple and easy to use that allows me to draw component
    pins' holes (with the correct spacing/placement for connectors, ICs
    etc) and traces between them so I can finally print it out and make it
    into a PCB.

    I much prefer a simple but limited electronic "drawing program" over
    something sophisticated that takes weeks to figure out and has features
    I won't ever need :)
  2. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    McCad? (

    Google is your friend?
  3. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    Open source: KiCAD; gEDA
    Very usable demo: Cadsoft EAGLE
    Don't know anything about it: Osmond PCB
    The more the app can do,
    the less you have to struggle to get what you want.
  4. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    gEDA's pcb program works just fine under OS/X using the OpenMotif
    library (--with-gui=lesstif).

    If you have gtk, the schematic capture toolset will work too.
  5. Kevin White

    Kevin White Guest

    Eagle from Cadsoft ( runs on Mac, has a free
    version with page limitations and can do schematic and PCB layout.

  6. Guest

    I used VAMP years ago and it was not up to the quality level of PC
    software. To call it terrible is an understatement.
  7. Guest

    Yes, Google *is* my friend, but you really have to know what to look
    for when doing a search ;-)
    I've downloaded several of the packages mentioned here although a few
    of them seem very Mac-unlike, needing a command-line input to install
    etc. Probably ported from Linux/UNIX and suited for hackers to use. I
    need something that is easy to install and use.

    However, the following programs are now installed on my Mac and seem to
    work like they should:

    Osmond PCB (
    McCad EDS lite (
    Epoxy (

    Out of the three it looks like Epoxy is the most user-friendly one (at
    first glance at least), but I have to admit that I'm pretty clueless
    when it comes to software like this. It's quite overwhelming and I
    don't know where to start.

    Can someone please explain the basic concept/idea/procedure regarding
    PCB design using this kind of software?
    I've previously made PCBs the "manual" method using etch-resistant
    pens/rub-on transfers, etched the copper-clad board, then finally
    drilled the holes. I've also used the UV-light method with PCB layouts
    taken from electronics magazines etc. So I'm not completely new to PCB
    design, but I am to PCB-design *software*).

    So why am I looking at PCB design software?
    If I'm not completely mistaken the software will replace the Dalo pen
    and rub-on transfers allowing me to correct (expensive) mistakes, and
    also lets me get the correct pin placement/spacing for components such
    as connectors and ICs. And in the end I can print out the whole circuit
    diagram in 1:1 size to a transparency which is used with a UV
    photo-sensitive copper-clad board.
    Is this what I can do with this kind of software?

    The various software comes with manuals, but they assume you know the
    concept/procedure and only explain the keyboard shortcuts, additional
    features of that particular program etc. Not much help for me at this
    stage. So it would be helpful if I could get a short explanation of how
    these programs are used as tools to accomplish my task.
    Thanks :)
  8. [...] I've been using McCAD professionally since 1989. Despite its share of
    warts and quirks, I've found it to be the most user-friendly and
    complete (from a professional view) package available for the Mac.

    If I were to start over today, I'd give the gEDA suite a fair chance,
    though. It has a steep learning curve, but it also has a lot of
    possibilities. And the price is right...
    I've tried the "Classic" version of Epoxy, but it crashed so many
    times before I'd even finished a simple schematic diagram, so I gave it
  9. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Try out this guy's tutorial: ... it's quite complete,
    and he's tried to make it reasonably "generic" -- not tied to any one
    program -- although the author happens to use Protel.
    Yes, absolutely... or of course you can send out the artwork files to have the
    board professionally manufactured.

  10. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    First, this is NOT Google Groups; this is USENET.
    You should read this before posting again:'re.following.up+BOTTOM+qq+Usenet
    I am pointing specifically to the stuff highlighted at the 70% mark.
    :cool: The Steps in PCB Design -- Ken Smith

    :cool: The Steps in PCB Design (Part 2) -- George Gonzalez

    The advantage of ECAD over tape-up (with increasing PCB complexity)
    is that the DRC subroutine (Design Rules Check) double-checks your work
    making *correct once* == *always correct* when transfering to copper.
    The whole back-annotation thing (between schematic and layout)
    is also handy.
    It can also be replicated easily numerous times
    --with construction outsourced to a PCB fabrication house
    (who can do solder mask, silkscreen, plated-thru holes, etc.).
  11. Guest

    A $0.02 observation: If you are designing PCBs, per se, you ultimately
    want to be able to output standard CAM files that can be used by a PCB
    house. IMHO, working with drawing packages and the open-source
    offerings to hand is merely wasting effort that would be better spent
    learning how to do the basics in a real CAD package.

    By this criterion, only Cadsoft EAGLE qualifies. The free demo is
    limited to 2 layers, 1/2 Eurocard, and one schematic sheet (but it can
    be a big sheet).
  12. DJ Delorie

    DJ Delorie Guest

    Er, gEDA's PCB is open source, and produces perfectly valid gerber
    files as output. PCB houses don't seem to have a problem using them,
    either, and PCB doesn't place artificial limits on board size or
    complexity like some proprietary offerings ("trial versions") do.

    Please don't disparage "open source" en masse. If you have complaints
    about specific packages, fine, but lumping them all in a "broken"
    category does a disservice to us all.
  13. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    Assuming you're talking about Corel Draw or similar, we agree so far.
    The open source apps mentioned so far are KiCAD and gEDA.
    Which of these do you think does not output Gerber/Excellon?
    Disagree strongly with *only*.
    That's 2 COPPER layers--full functionality on mask, silk, keepout, etc.
    True. Cadsoft's demo is very usable for many folks.
    ....and if you want to sell what you produce with it,
    $50 will get you legit.

    At this point, someone usually mentions
    EAGLE's counter-intuitive user interface.
    Having no experience with a Mac, I can't comment accurately on that
    but I know that Windoze users need to
    put aside the GUI conventions they have learned
    and adapt to the Cadsoft paradigm.
  14. Guest

    Are you referring to the following section?:

    When you click "Reply" under "show options" to follow up an existing
    article, Google Groups includes the full article in quotes, with the
    cursor at the top of the article. Tempting though it is to just start
    typing your message, please STOP and do two things first. Look at the
    quoted text and remove parts that are irrelevant.

    I don't understand what this has to do with my postings as I haven't
    quoted anything in this thread yet! And yes, whan I do quote I do trim
    it before replying.
    I'm also unsure what you mean by this not being a Google group but
    Usenet. Please explain.
  15. Guest

    I've had a look at a few more software packages now, and the open
    source ones may be fine, but to the average Mac user, delving into
    compiling, command-line installations and such is a but off-putting to
    say the least. I believe most Mac users (and Windows users as well of
    course), are spoilt by software that is as simple to install as
    download it, then double-click to install. All self-explanetory.

    CADsoft Eagle light: a little cumbersome to install, but by following
    the instructions I managed to install it and give it a try. However, as
    JeffM mentiones, people usually mention its counter-intuitive user
    interface, which is what comes to mind here. It's very Mac-unlike and
    seems a tad user-unfriendly.

    kiCAD: this one is a puzzle!
    I've downloaded and installed it here, but can't figure out how to run
    it. There's the usual myriad of folders within folders (typical
    UNIX/Linux style), but having found a folder named "MacOSX" I did find
    several icons which looked like applications, one of them being named
    "kicad" which I double-clicked resulting in MacOS classic starting, but
    then nothing!
    There's no information about the Mac version at the kiCAD site
    (, although
    Google helped me locate a Mac download here:
    Alas, no instructions to be found, so I think this one is a timewaster
    for the Mac platform at least.

    gEDA: this one has me even more confused and baffled. Google led me to
    this page:
    and more specifically for the Mac:
    However, it's confusing as to what I should download, and from the
    looks of it I get the impression that I need to compile it myself and
    so on. Things that I know nothing about. There are long-winding and
    cryptic FAQs to be found, but frankly I think this sort of thing is
    more for people who have a lot of free time and special interest in
    computers. I just want to get on with it and make my PCBs.

    Actually, as long as I can get the job done I don't really care if the
    user-interface isn't completely "Mac like" though I do prefer the
    latter. At the moment however all of these programs look more or less
    the same to me. Equally confusing and non-intuitive, be it Mac-like
    looking or not.
  16. Guest

    Thanks. Actually I found it myself just before reading this posting :)
    Yup, again, Google is my friend in need ;-)

    Not quite understanding the basic concept of PCB creation software, but
    having read a little, played around with some programs etc. I believe I
    might start getting an idea. Correct me if I'm wrong, but is this the
    basic idea?:

    - a PCB design program is actually two programs (or parts) rolled into
    a) a schematic design program
    b) a circuit board design program

    - Unlike a normal drawing program, a schematic drawing program "links"
    parts together with wires, so that the parts can be moved around and
    the connections will follow. In other words, there's some
    "intelligence" behind what you see, not just a picture.

    - You first have to create a schematic diagram of your circuit which
    means placing all of your components together, and connecting them
    together with wires to form the finished circuit.

    - Having completed the schematic (and checked to see if everything is
    OK) you save it as a file, then open (or transfer) that same file into
    the circuit-board section of the program.
    I'm taking a guess here, but I believe the circuit-board program
    understands the schematic file in such a way that it knows which
    components are wired together in which way, then "translates" all of
    this information into a real-life circuit board, with PCB traces and
    everything. Basically, the work involved in making a PCB is designing
    the schematic diagram! Correct?

    If the above is correct I assume that once the PCB program (or section
    of the program) has "translated" the schematic, all that is left to do
    is move the components around to your liking (e.g. you might want the
    connectors on the side of the PCB etc. and possibly move the traces
    around in a different way, then print out the whole circuit board to a
    transparency which can be used to actually etch the PCB (or send the
    PCB file to a professional manufacturer).

    So, have I understood the basic concept?
  17. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    Google Groups is only *one* way of accessing Usenet
    --at this point, many will say the INFERIOR way.*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
    Usenet was around before Google, before the WorldWide Web,
    and before the Internet.
    Being accessible thru the Internet has not, however,
    changed the conventions of Usenet.*-*-*-*+qq-qq+adapt-your-own-*-accordingly

    [email protected] wrote {WITHOUT CONTEXT]:
    Think: Community. Think: Lowest-common-denominator.
    That's the point.
    MOST people reading Usenet use a NEWSREADER
    Indeed, the distributed nature of Usenet
    means that some folks may not see *some* posts AT ALL.

    In all **responses** you make, put a reference that shows
    1) To whom you are responding
    2) Some indication of WTF he was talking about.
    (Often you can trim it to just a few words.)
    - Many newsreaders auto-insert the Message ID of the previous post;
    many users see that inclusion as useful.
    I hadn't seen that evidence
    Of course with your generic username, that would be easy to forget
    --even if I had seen it.
Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day