I can’t help spreading the words about this site. www.easyeda.com.
It was hard to find a decent Schematic Capture and PCB layout that was suitable for me as a hobbyist. Desktop PCB Tools from Allergro/MentorGraphics/Altium of course are fantastic but you can’t never use them for hobby. The licences are very very expensive. Then I googled free tools and there were a lot of them available Eagle, ExpressPCB, PADs … etc. I used them but for each of them there’s always something not quite right, limitation of layers, difficulty of adding new parts/symbols or simply the UI is not attractive enough to work with.
I was thinking of doing some FPGA board design. Since FPGA is not mainstream in hobbyist world, so I need a tool that either has rich existing part libraries, or one that makes it easy to add new symbols and footprints. So I searched for another solution. And it seemed like I was a bit old-school. I didn’t know that the state-of-the-art tools are now all on the cloud. Those servers are so powerful these days, they can host lots of design tools that used to be installed on Desktop.
Then I got to know Upverter. This tool is great, UI is awesome, nice and professional. You can try them out for your self: www.upverter.com. I love everything about it. The part library is a killer feature. They also verify the component footprint for you. That’s awesome. Nothing is more disappointing than having a brand new PCB and the chip doesn’t fit. However, their price plans don’t target hobbyists. They have free plan for 2 private projects. The next level is $100/month subscription. That’s quite stiff for hobbyists like me. Because I don’t work full time on hobby projects and the commitment is prioritised among other things around the house. I did ask them if they had any project based pricing but no response.
So I kept on searching and finally settled to EasyEDA.com. Here are a list of things that I like most about EasyEDA. In terms of first impression of the UI, I have to say easyeda is a bit below compared to Upverter. I’ve been using it for my first project and I am totally happy and satisfied with the ease of use and quality of the PCB fab service. Here are few things that would make me highly recommend easyeda:
1) It’s free or $20/month
You can have a few private projects with free subscription. If you want more, it’s $20/month and you have 5% discount when ordering PCB. For an electronic enthusiast who only does 2 projects a year, I think $240 is worth it.
2) Community part library
EasyEDA has a rich built-in library of footprints and parts. The system library is supplemented by community library. All symbols and footprints you created are shared in the cloud with other makers. So if you just use common parts, it’s likely that the part is already created and in the system. Even if the part is not there, it’s very easy to create a new one. I didn’t even look at their help. The UI is very intuitive to navigate.
The lack of naming rules makes things a bit messy though because there exists multiple similar parts with slightly different names. You just have to be careful.
3) Cool PCB layout with integrated quotation
As long as length matching and impedance control are not concerned, I think EasyEDA tool does everything that you’d need.:
- Synchronise changes from schematics
- Design Rule Checking
- Manual/Auto Routing
- Copper planes
- Any board outline shapes
- BOM export
- Gerber file export
- No limitation on number of layers,
- Affiliation with PCB house whose capabilities is adequate for most hobbyists
The coolest feature I think is the fabrication quotation. Complete your design and just one click, export all gerber files and send to PCB fab house. Once you exported your project, they know your board size, your smallest drill hole. You just need to fill some other information, and straightaway you have a quote to manufacture your board. I still remember the time where I had to fill-in a very long list of my design and waited for at least one working day to have a quotation. Everything now is just one click away.
I think this tool would make a very big impact on the Makers’ movement. Makers and DIYers now are not limited by the tool any more and we can create professional looking gadgets in our spare time. Try them, you’ll not be disappointed.
This following board was made by them