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Old 10th March 2013, 02:53 PM   #1
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Default PCB design and layout software

Hi all. I am new to electronics and am very interested in power amplifiers. I have bought several books on the subject from the likes of Randy Sloan, Douglas Self, and Bob Cordell. I am at the point now where I would like to start designing and making my own printed circuit boards. Obviously starting with simple stuff like DC speaker protection circuits would be a good idea as designing an amplifier is a bit out of my reach at this point in time.

In one of Randy Sloan's books (Understanding Electricity and Electronics) he recomends the use of Multisim and Utiliboard to turn schematic into PCB artwork, however National Instruments wants about 5 grand for the full version of the software. Eventually I would like to get to the point where I could design, tinker, and test my own amplifiers however I can't justify spending that sort of money for something that at this stage is still just a hobby.

I have downloaded diptrace however I couldnt get it to work. (I found the instructions to be not all the usefull either).

Does anyone have any recomendations for a good program that wont cost me the world to buy, that will turn a schematic into PCB artwork?
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Old 10th March 2013, 04:49 PM   #2
DUG is offline DUG  Canada
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Try here:

pcbcad



I've heard Eagle is OK to use.
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Old 10th March 2013, 04:52 PM   #3
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I think there are several threads on pcb software , many are free. Do a search on this forum or on Google.
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Old 10th March 2013, 08:06 PM   #4
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One thread with rather recent information is "Best free schematic/pcb software?" at < Best free schematic/pcb software? >, and the thread "Getting flexible circuit boards made" at < Getting flexible circuit boards made > contains a few more useful comments.

Dale
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Old 12th March 2013, 04:24 PM   #5
Tom88 is offline Tom88  Germany
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Hey Jensky,
I recommend EAGLE, and would try out the free trial version first.

Greetings, Tom
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Old 12th March 2013, 05:39 PM   #6
mlloyd1 is offline mlloyd1  United States
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my personal opinons:

i like diptrace. if you want schematic capture and pcb layout integrated together in a single package, it's worth spending a little time to understand why diptrace isn't working for you. it's easy to use and you get a lot for the money (or use the free version).

if you just want to do layouts, it's hard to do worse than sprint layout. i would use this much more if didn't care about integrated schematic capture.

many people use Eagle. I've tried it but determined after several evaluations that "Eagle's user interface does not align with my intuitional expectations." Is that diplomatic enough?


I've used Altium, P-CAD, Mentor Graphics, PADs in my day jobs. For my home projects, i like to apply KISS.

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Old 12th March 2013, 05:50 PM   #7
Mooly is offline Mooly  United Kingdom
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I find Diptrace really good tbh, printing the layout onto a transparency using an ordinary inkjet printer to make the PCB.

(I would say that auto routers and audio tend not to be a good combination because a good layout needs the correct routing and placement of ground traces and so on)

These two were done with Diptrace,
GERMANIUM Single ended Class A Headphone Amp.
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Old 14th March 2013, 12:47 PM   #8
marce is offline marce  United Kingdom
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I do believe Diptrace allows more than two layers, which if you go on to do further designs such as digital you will need. Played with Diptrace and found it quite intuitive, dont use it myself though I use Cadtsarm but that isn't free, unless you get hold of the Express version, but that is limited.
Some generic PCB related links in the attached text document that may be of use, and download the Saturn PCB toolkit.
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Old 15th March 2013, 07:25 PM   #9
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Try this for FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
Introducing DesignSpark and DesignSpark PCB
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Old 16th March 2013, 04:37 PM   #10
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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another vote for diptrace here, I found it quite intuitive, easy to use, reasonably powerful and with extensive libraries. I thought the videos/tutorials were pretty good... I love the convert to 3D model function for checking everything is looking right. On the free version you can have 2 signal layers, but you can have as many planes as you like, they can be ground or power planes. so you can for example have a 6 layer board with 2 signal, 2 ground and 2 power
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