What a Cad!


Need some PCB design software? Well you have a few options, free and not free. These are KiCAD, CadSoft Eagle and Novarm DipTrace or Altium respectively. The full Altium package costs around $15000. There is, obviously AutoCAD, but which hobbist has money for that? Although there is AutoCAD 360, which is free. However, which one is right for you?

See also

The options available

Now, both KiCAD and  CadSoft Eagle (now known as Autodesk EagleCAD) are great for hobbyist projects, and there is also an OS X version, but for more serious projects, Altium is an industry standard. You can’t really compare the two, Altium beats Eagle hands down. They are not even in the same category. Altium is proper CAD software, actually an EDA (Electronic Design Assistant) whereas Eagle is a glorified pencil/eraser/paper replacement. Eagle is essentially hobby level stuff, and doesn’t look nearly as good on the resume.

However, Altium has an expensive license requirement, and the free version of EagleCAD has restrictions on the size of the design. However, KiCAD, especially since the latest version 5 was released last year, is on theup, and is a serious contender for the hobbyist throne (and beyond), is totally free and has no restrictions on board layout whatsoever.

For your home PCB needs, both will get the job done, but it is better to take the opportunity to learn a proper package like Altium that’s widely used in the industry.

However, if you just want to get a PCB etched at home, then DipTrace is good enough, and there is a version for OS X, as well as Windows and Linux.

There is also PADS, which starts at $5000, and allegro from Cadence.


and Printed Circuit Board Layout Artwork (Rev A) for an MP3 player

mp3_pcb_reva_solder mp3_pcb_reva_component


This Beginners PCB Board Photo Etching Etch Simple Set Kit Powder Tweezers Photo New from Maplin


  • Download from CadSoft EAGLE for free, WIndows, OSX.
  • KiCAD, Windows, OSX and Linux
  • Download Altium, Designer, but it requires a license, although a 30-day trial is available.
  • Also from Altium, there is Circuitmaker, which is free, but Windows only. Also the schematics which it produces are, in my opinion, really ugly.
  • Download DipTrace, 200 pin limit on freeware


Two great tutorials, for Eagle, from EEEnthusiast

For Altium

For DipTrace, from bitluni’s lab

Creating the library

Designing the PCB


The is an online course at fedevel.com

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