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PCB Layout software - what to use?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Keith, Sep 13, 2004.

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  1. Keith

    Keith Guest

    Looking for suggestions on what to use for doing up some pcb layouts.
    I am doing up some simple circuits for guitar effects and amplifiers. I
    would like something that is not too complex.
    Hoping for something that is free, but has support for printing. (going to
    try the laser printer / photo paper trick)
    I have tried ExpressPCB, and i liked it, but the copper trace printouts have
    dots all over them (am i doing something wrong?)
    Suggestions are appreciated. Thanks
    creekchubbAThotmailDOTcom (replace AT with @, DOT with .)
  2. Anand Dhuru

    Anand Dhuru Guest

    How about Eagle? The lite version is free; completely functional, but
    restricted to 4" X 6" (I think); this should suffice for most hobbyist

    Available at


  3. See my notes and links to some 60 ECAD programs at

    Terry Pinnell
    Hobbyist, West Sussex, UK
  4. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

  5. Joe

    Joe Guest

    Hi Keith,

    I use pcbexpress also, but you have to save the pcb traces file ( I use a
    screen capture program-saves it as a bitmap) and then go into a photo editor
    (I use paintshop pro) and using a pixel resize command, change the density
    from 24 pixels per inch to 150 pixels per inch. Then I crop at the yellow
    guide lines and resize the image to 3.8"wideX2.5"high (using bilinear
    resample). I don't have a laser printer, so I print it out on my inkjet and
    take it to staples where they laser copy it to staples picture paper (sku
    471861, I know it says inkjet paper, but it works the best) in their black
    and white copier set to maximum darkness. If you have a laser printer you
    can skip the staples step. With my small circuits, I can usually have
    anywhere from 4 to 8 on the same page and they only charge 14 cents per
    page. It's a good deal. Now, if only I had a laser printer...

  6. Keith

    Keith Guest

    Thank you all for the replies
    Still using ExpressPCB then a graphics program to clean up after. Wishing it
    had more features, but it is the easiest one i've found, and also the
    cheapest (free). I will want something more for future designs, so I will
    try out more of the programs from the lists (thanks).
    Tried out Eagle, still working through the tutorial. Seems a bit complex for
    me right now (eg. I want to put a simple resistor here - I want the pads to
    be spaced 500mil apart - I want the pad to have 40mil hole, 60mil
    diameter --- i must be stupid? because i spent 10 minutes wading through ui
    and didn't figure it out)
    Anyways, it seems like i will be demoing a stack of software for the next
    week or so! Back to work...
    creekchubbAThotmailDOTcom (replace AT with @, DOT with .)
  7. AtPCLogic

    AtPCLogic Guest

    Subject: Re: PCB Layout software - what to use?
    Free is nice, but isn't this a lot of work just to save a few bucks?
    PC Logic

    Schematic entry and PCB design software
  8. Keith

    Keith Guest

    For me, free is very important until my needs are better determined. In the
    past i have wasted thousands of dollars on software packages that looked
    like they were exactly what i needed. This ended up in a ton of work
    changing my workflow to suit the developer's vision, or a useless box
    sitting on a shelf.
    Electronics is a new hobby for me, and I don't want to spend a lot of money
    unless I find a product that I really love. As I am just getting started in
    computer pcb layout, I expect that my workflow will be strongly influenced
    by the software package.
    There are a ton of layout programs out there, with prices ranging from free
    to insane. I'm pretty sure, for my basic needs, there is something out there
    for me for free or cheap. I just need to do the research and find something
    that I can work with, and that will suit me in the future.

    Currently trying out ARES Lite, part of the Proteus Lite suite. Going to do
    the tutorial this evening.

    creekchubbAThotmailDOTcom (replace AT with @, DOT with .)
  9. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

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