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sparky

What program to use for schematic and PCB design

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I was planning to get some PCBs done for my Launchpad when they come in. This will also be a good starting point for me to learn schematic PCB design.

Does anyone have any suggesstions?

 

I know Eagle is widely used. Is this mostly preferred?

Thanks!

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I vote for Eagle as well. The learning curve is a little steep to start, but you can get going pretty quickly. I went from zero to my first (3 boards) order in a couple of weeks.

 

I'd like to give a shout out to the place I ordered my boards: http://www.dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/pcb_order They have a great price and really good tolerances (you just don't see 6mil this cheap!). Laen aggregates a bunch of small board orders into a full(ish) panel and orders once or twice a month. Check the site: top AND bottom mask/silkscreen, 6mil traces, at $5/sq. in. for THREE? You just can't beat that.

 

Best of luck.

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There are lots of tutorials out there, but here are a few I used:

 

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/tutorial_info.php?tutorials_id=109

 

Videos:

http://tangentsoft.net/elec/movies/

 

There are also a lot of projects that will post their '.brd', and sometimes their '.sch' files. The boards are good to learn from, but the board/schematic set is the best; you can learn how they are related and why you should do the schematic first to get the true purpose of the CAD system.

 

The one thing that frustrated me with teh free version of Eagle at first is that you can only place parts at POSITIVE coordinates (i.e.: above and to the right of the zero mark, where Eagle puts your board outline), but it will drop your parts in negative coordinates (when you add them in the schematic). Just remember that when you first move the part, you have to drop it in the allowed area; you can't organize the parts off the board first. Annoying, but acceptable for a free version.

 

I'll be posting my Eagle files on my blog once I'm sure they work. http://blog.DocsTech.net

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I started off using Eagle and still use for some stuff, but lately I have been using Kicad (http://kicad.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page) more often.

It is open source and has no restrictions on board size and can handle up to 16 layers.

 

Thanks for the link! I do love me some open source! I'll definitely look into it when I get some time.

 

I'll probably stick with Eagle for now, though. I'm finally getting the hang of it, and the place I ordered boards from takes the Eagle output file.

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hvontres,

 

Question for you, does KiCAD have a good amount of libraries built in? For example, do they have a good amount of TI products for the schematic editor that also has the correct PCB footprint?

 

I do not really need the extra size or the extra layers (just yet); I just HATE Eagle. Plus I might run into problems in the future once (if) I start selling some projects.

 

NJC

_________________________

http://msp430launchpad.com

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I don't know abou Kicad but in Eagle it's easy to make new components with symbols and footprints. If you don't find one in the library then just make your own.

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