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Old Jan 11, 2014, 10:21 AM
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Cody f86saber's Avatar
Canada, NB
Joined Apr 2006
433 Posts
Question
Advice for PCB Design Software

I want to thank the community in advance for the help. Presently, I am using LTSpice for circuit design and I really enjoy the way it works. I want to get some PCBs of a design made, but I am having trouble importing any spice schematics, or even manually creating new ones with Eagle. The ADD component function and component search tools give nil results, thus impeding any progression. I am unsure what the problem is, but I would greatly appreciate recommendations for a program that allows for manual schematic creating, auto-route and trace manipulation. I do want to note that I don't want to spend any more big dollars on CAD programs, so free or low cost would be great.

Quite a few people here solve their own problems by producing their own parts. I know there are a couple programs that are over-simplified and can hamper intuitive designs by auto-routing traces in noise-generating configurations, leaving much more work than usual for the user to clean it up. I appreciate the input and experience.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 10:46 AM
Thermite + ice = Big boom.
boaterguy's Avatar
Canada, ON, Ottawa
Joined Apr 2009
2,257 Posts
Express pcb may not cover everything you want but it is free.
It also comes with a schematic program (express sch) which I have never used but it claims you can link your schematic into the pcb cad program and it will help you through the design of the pcb (telling you what needs to connect to what etc.)

It is a bit of a learning curve but it has lots of parts and the part building is pretty easy.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 12:25 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar
Illinois
Joined Sep 2001
22,473 Posts
Express PCB and schematic work and are easy to learn. Linking the files together is good, but it does not automatically mean that your layout will be error free. I found it much simpler to use than Eagle, but Eagle parts are easier to find.

I still prefer Accel and P-CAD.

Andy
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 01:44 PM
Stuart
srnet's Avatar
UK, Cardiff
Joined Dec 2008
3,160 Posts
Eagle is fine, but its not designed to be used for circuit diagram only work.

The symbols you add to a circuit diagram are components, which have to have a circuit symbol and a physical component layout (pads, pins).

Its extremely unlikely you will ever find a PCB program that has all the parts you need already done, there are always physical differences, so you do need to choose a program where you find it easy to make your own parts, its almost inevitable you will need to do it at some point.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 03:30 PM
Registered User
United States, ID
Joined Sep 2011
417 Posts
Eagle can be a big PITA, but it's by FAR the best free/low-cost program out there. Kikad and design Spark are OK, but you'll run into dead ends with them since they aren't mature.

Eagle has a crap search feature, so try using *'s and short search phrases. Get the SparkFun library, it has most components you will need and makes it much easier to find things through the list since the search in Eagle is so crappy.

There's a big learning curve with Eagle, but just suffer through it. It really is the most powerful program out there and will do everything you need, you just have to figure out how.

Read some tips and guides. Every problem you will have has been discussed to death, so the solutions are out there.

-Jake
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Old Jan 12, 2014, 03:30 PM
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United States, KY, Pikeville
Joined Dec 2013
49 Posts
Thumbs up for Eagle. I use it more than Proteus/Isis which pretty much bankrupted me lol. Once you get the hang of it you will LOVE it. The learning curve is a little steeper than others *Fritzing comes to mind), but over time it'll be second nature. YouTube is also your friend (look up Eagle tutorial, you'll get oodles of results)! I use it for all my board design too.
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Old Jan 12, 2014, 05:58 PM
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France, Ile-de-France, Plaisir
Joined Sep 2010
461 Posts
Eagle is very hard to learn, but once you understand how it works and that you are able to use all the options, it's very easy.

The search in the libraries is not user friendly, but the creation of a missing component or one you can't find in the libraries is easy to do and even funny.
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Old Jan 13, 2014, 01:01 AM
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slebetman's Avatar
Malaysia, Selangor, Kajang
Joined Jun 2009
1,391 Posts
One thing that initially stumped me with Eagle is exactly what you describe: finding the parts to place on the schematic. It took me a while to realize that Eagle is very specific about part names and you won't find parts by generic names like "resistor" or "header" or "audio jack". Instead you'll need to search for "molex" or "vero" or "Atmel" - names of manufacturers. Even if you're using knock-off no-brand parts you still need to know who made the original to find it in the library.

I recommend you spend some time just browsing the library. Start to place a part in order to bring up the library browser but instead of selecting a part and placing it just browse the library to familiarize yourself where things are. It's like your first day in a new lab or workshop - go through the drawers and cabinets to get a rough idea of where things are. The key is not to memorize everything - that's not humanly possible unless you have photographic memory or something. You just need to get a rough idea of where things are and what they're named so later you have a better idea of what to search for.
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Old Jan 13, 2014, 04:05 AM
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United States, ID
Joined Sep 2011
417 Posts
Just get the SparkFun parts library. It's stupid that Eagle doesn't come with a standard library like this that is organized into things like capacitors, resistors, jumpers, etc..

Eagle doesn't do anything for simulation, so it's stupid to have manufacturer parts at all in it. They should just do stuff like "Capacitor, 0.1 leads" and "MOSFET, TO-220". In fact, they should just have the basic parts and let you chose the pin spacing or footprint from a drop down list.
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Old Jan 13, 2014, 05:05 AM
Just me..
cgroen's Avatar
Denmark (Jylland)
Joined Nov 2004
82 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by jakestew View Post
Just get the SparkFun parts library. It's stupid that Eagle doesn't come with a standard library like this that is organized into things like capacitors, resistors, jumpers, etc..

Eagle doesn't do anything for simulation, so it's stupid to have manufacturer parts at all in it. They should just do stuff like "Capacitor, 0.1 leads" and "MOSFET, TO-220". In fact, they should just have the basic parts and let you chose the pin spacing or footprint from a drop down list.
Jake,
could not agree more! We use PADS at work for schematics and layout, and at home I use Eagle PCB. It takes a little "getting used to" but once you have overcome some of the learning curve it is "ok". I do all my homebrew stuff in Eagle and uses PCB-POOL for prototypes (they accept the eagle layout files direct).
I find the biggest complait being the librarys and the lack of standard delivered with the program. It is sometimes a jungle out there when searching for librarys (maybe because I'm too lazy just to do them myself )
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Old Jan 13, 2014, 05:43 AM
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jpparisy's Avatar
France, Ile-de-France, Plaisir
Joined Sep 2010
461 Posts
My approach is different: having not the patience of slebetman, I use only a limited set of basic libraries, as rcl, linear, pinhead, wirepad, microchip and atmel.

If a component is missing from these, I search if the manufacturer has published Eagle files. Else, I copy one component similar in my own library and modify it to suit my needs.

If nothing is similar and there are no Eagle files, I take the data sheet of the new component and I create it, using the library tools. It's not a hard task, and, depending on the complexity, it's less time consuming than searching in the quadrillion libraries.
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Old Jan 13, 2014, 06:54 AM
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jpparisy's Avatar
France, Ile-de-France, Plaisir
Joined Sep 2010
461 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by jakestew View Post
Just get the SparkFun parts library. It's stupid that Eagle doesn't come with a standard library like this that is organized into things like capacitors, resistors, jumpers, etc..

Eagle doesn't do anything for simulation, so it's stupid to have manufacturer parts at all in it. They should just do stuff like "Capacitor, 0.1 leads" and "MOSFET, TO-220". In fact, they should just have the basic parts and let you chose the pin spacing or footprint from a drop down list.
Jake, as I knew only the old Sparkfun library, I disagreed with you.

Given your insistence, I've searched and found that the big libray has been splitted into parts, more practical to explore.

So, I second you, with an orthograpical change: get the Sparkfun parts libraries.
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Old Jan 13, 2014, 08:59 AM
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HillbillyBrewer's Avatar
United States, KY, Pikeville
Joined Dec 2013
49 Posts
I didn't know SparkFun had an updated library

Another thing is the parts library supports wildcards, so you can type in *4004* or *atmega*, etc.

You'll probably use rcl more than any other Eagle is quite popular too, there are tons of googly info on a specific aspect. While not nearly as full featured, Fritzing is probably a lot more friendly to use at first.

EDIT: Oh wow, those new Sparkfun libs are AWESOME. I am in heaven!
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Old Jan 14, 2014, 12:13 AM
Registered User
Malaysia, Pahang, Kuantan
Joined Oct 2013
28 Posts
Before you can add any components in eagle you have to first load the wanted library or you load them all. In the main window click "File, Library, rightclick-load all libraries.
Eagle already contains hundreds of parts.
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Old Jan 14, 2014, 12:46 AM
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lovefool's Avatar
Japan
Joined Mar 2004
173 Posts
This is a bit old, but it still help me to find a parts sometime.

http://sparkle.tribbeck.com/eaglesearch/index.php

love
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