EagleCAD is a computer-aided tool for schematic capture and designing printed circuit boards that runs on Macs, Linux, and Windows. There is a free (as in beer) version available here:
The free version is slightly crippled in terms of the size of the board you can design but is perfectly fine for most hobbyist use. In fact, it's the hobbyist industry standard and there are a wealth of resources from instructions to example parts and boards. (For example most SparkFun open hardware boards come with EagleCAD layout and schematics.)
Next scheduled workshop
Following a very successful and popular Eagle CAD workshop back in June 2009, we'll be having some in December 2010. Come to one or any: no commitment, no charge (though a small donation to Noisebridge is in excellent taste)
- Monday Dec 6, 7PM-10PM -- Getting started with EagleCAD
- Unless someone has a stunning idea, let's make a NoiseNoise board: crunchy goodness yet simple!
- Monday Dec 13, 7PM-10PM -- Getting Stuff Done with EagleCAD and Not Punching Out the Monitor
- Further progress on the NoiseNoise board. If you missed the first session we'll have a refresher.
- Download the SparkFun EagleCAD library from here: https://github.com/sparkfun/SparkFun-Eagle-Library
- Monday Dec 20, 7PM-10PM -- Tape Out, DFM, and PCB manufacture.
- Finish the layout, lick the silkscreen, make the Gerber files, check 'em, and possibly submit for manufacture.
We can cover most of the basics in 3 nights. Feel free to add topics.
- What is EAGLE, 15 minute refresher on making a schematic and laying out a board.
- Expanding into new topics
- Making custom devices and libraries
- How to make the pin outs and footprints from a data sheet, possibly recycling someone else's similar part.
- How to label the part correctly and control what layers show on the board view (this can be confusing!)
- Autorouting: worth it or not?
- Error checking: ERC and DFM.
- How to fab a board.
- "tape out:" Exporting gerber and drill files using a CAM processor
- Checking the gerber files in a non-Eagle viewer program
- Uploading to fab houses
- Panelizing (step-and-repeat copying) designs using gerbmerge (one way around EagleCad board size limitation)
- More advanced tricks like logo images in the silkscreen layer
- Making custom devices and libraries
Very introductory Sparkfun tutorial, has some good info on outputting gerber files.
More info, tutorials, etc. from the SWARM wiki: http://wiki.orbswarm.com/index.php?title=The_PC_Board_Page
List of EagleCAD "gotchas"
I promised I would post my list of "gotchas;" hope this helps avoid some irritation! Jtfoote 23:38, 27 April 2009 (PDT)
- IF BOARD AND SCHEMATIC GET OUT OF SYNC, YOU ARE SCREWED. This can happen if updates on the schematic don't make it to the board. To avoid this, always keep board file open when editing schematic, and vice versa! Use "rip up" instead of "delete" on the board. DRC will tell you when you are not in sync, otherwise you won't know. Use it often, and save often.
- Don't click on "Drop" button when adding a component. Hit "cancel." "Drop" "drops" the library (!)
- tOrigin layers must be visible to move/rotate components.
- Overlapping wires sometimes don't logically connect. Add junction (green dot) if a problem. Check by moving component and seeing if wire moves with it.
- "Cut" (scissor icon) is really "copy to paste buffer" and only works on groups! Use "copy" for single items. In V5, use shift-right-click or menu item to copy/move groups.
- Pay attention to messages in the status bar, they are often helpful. For example when trying to select things on top of each other, clicking will cycle through each and the status bar will tell you how to select the one you want.
Checking Gerber file output
You will want to check that things look OK. Use a gerber file viewer like ViewMate (reg req) http://www.pentalogix.com/Download/download.html#item8
or GerbView (free, open source, a little buggy) http://sourceforge.net/projects/gerbv/
PCB Fab Houses
Where to get your printed circuit boards fabricated after you've designed them
Lady Ada has a PCB cost calculator with most sources: http://www.ladyada.net/library/pcb/costcalc.html
The following is a biased list from Jtfoote 09:36, 5 May 2009 (PDT)
- Gold Phoenix: cheapest, longer turn-around (sent from China), fine quality, no charge for "panelization," can submit multiple boards for one run. SparkFun uses them; so could we, if we want to combine orders. They don't have web upload; you email your gerbers to some dude, but it worked great for me.
- Sierra Proto Express: I found this best combination of price/turn around time for small orders and prototypes, and they're local (Sunnyvale). Silkscreen was a little smeary if that bugs you; still perfectly readable.
- Advanced Circuits 4pcb.com (same as 33each.com and others) Good quality, slick marketing, more expensive than they seem (not-well-advertised setup charges and minimums). Avoid for small runs, but definitely use their free gerber file check site: http://www.freedfm.com/
- Windell at EMSL recommends ourpcb and his boards always look great. Haven't personally tried.
One reponse to Skory's list email said: