Best Free PCB Design Software

11 Best Free PCB Design Software

Several PCB design software is currently on the market.  Before these were developed, engineers designed circuits by hand manually.  While PCB design software makes the job of an engineer much easier, it can be a hard task to pick the best free PCB design software.  Do not fret though!  We have done the job for you by selecting our top picks for the best free PCB design software today.

When looking for the best free PCB design software, we took several factors into consideration.  We wanted to make sure that the program was not only easy to use and navigate but also fast for someone to pick up and learn.  It was also crucial that the software has features that one would actually use.

While it is great that many software have lots of features, some of them may not really be that useful to everyone. We also wanted software that would not pose a threat to our end goal.  It was important for us to find a program that has been used by many before us without issue.

Each of the software below makes a great choice for free PBC versions.  They provide an engineer the chance to test out a platform without spending a dime to ensure it is right for their wants and needs.   If you are a student or are just starting out, these versions can provide you with a great experience for designing and creating your own circuits.

The Best Free PCB Design Software

  1. KiCAD.
  2. DesignSpark PCB.
  3. TinyCAD.
  4. AutoDesk Eagle.
  5. ZenitPCB.
  6. Osmond PCB.
  7. Fritzing.
  8. EasyEDA.
  9. UpVerter.
  10. ExpressPCB Plus.
  11. gEDA.

1. KiCAD

KiCAD is completely free to use.  It can be used on MAC, Windows, and Linux.  Engineers can make up to 32 copper layers and include a 3D layer.  This allows you to rotate your design to inspect all details.  Various rendering options will allow one to hide or show features to inspect it easier.

A built-in schematic symbol editor will allow individuals to get started in a fast manner on designs they would like to create.  Tools provided with KiCAD allow tracks to be rerouted if need be, tune trace lengths for high-speed designs, and provide a footprint editor.

KiCAD utilizes a graphical user interface, which can be used with both a mouse and a keyboard.  Downloads available include 3D libraries, packages, and symbols.

2. DesignSpark PCB

DesignSpark PCB is a popular option as it is so easy to use.  Engineers are pleased with how intuitive it is.  The software is updated on a regular basis, which allows one to improve their layouts and boards.  There is no limitation on the schematic size, and you can use as many layers as you need to.

A library is available to use, or you can make your own.  And if that was not enough, you can also create a design of the bill utilizing a format that you like.  We liked how one can either upload their own parts or allow the software to find it for them.

3. TinyCAD

TinyCAD can help design circuit diagrams.  Symbol libraries are provided to get started on a project.  Once completed, you can copy and paste into a WP document or you can opt to save it as a PNG bitmap to use on the internet.

Features of this PCB software include flat or hierarchical schematic entry, support for embedding graphical images in drawings, and a list of PCB layouts compatible with netlist formats. We like how you can use the library that they have or make your own and update it as needed. We were also grateful for the small install at only 5mb.  And if you are having issues, the support forum is an excellent place to ask for advice.

4. AutoDesk Eagle

A very well known PCB software, this program can be used on Windows, Linux, or MAC.  Features include push and shove routing, modular design blocks, and real-time design synchronization.  We appreciate how you can test your ideas with the SPICE simulator or validate the schematic design with the electronic rule checks.  Tools are simple to use.  We appreciate how one can seamlessly connect schematic diagrams, component placement, PCB routing, and comprehensive library content.

5. ZenitPCB

ZenitPCB is highly appreciated due to the ability to create professional PBCs. Easy to use, this software is fast to use and can be used from the schematic capture or from the layout.  We liked the user interface of ZenitPCB.  It truly is perfect for personal and semi-professional use.  The program allows you to hide or show elements and makes layers transparent for easy viewing when multiple layers are used.

6. Osmond PCB

Osmond PCB can be used with MAC and supports both metric and imperial units.  Tools provided with the software allow one to move and re-orient parts, connect and route traces, modify existing traces and edit pads and pad-stacks.  With a flexible grid and the option to import any PDF document for backgrounds, your work can be made a lot simpler.  We appreciate how precise this software is with a spatial resolution of 10 nanometers.

7. Fritzing

Fritzing allows you to create a board inexpensively without having to worry about time.  It is very easy to use.  We love how easy it is to create circuits that are professional looking.  Fritzing also allows you to share with others, which is a wonderful learning outlet. This will also cut down on production costs.    The breadboard view can be used in this software, which we found helpful when fitting elements together.

8. EasyEDA

EasyEDA is zero-install and is web-based.  With well over 1 million free libraries, this software allows you to really focus on the design.  Complete with schematic capture, project management, team collaboration, PCB design, and library designs, EasyEDA allows one to create public or private projects on SPICE circuit simulations.  This platform works well for anyone from those just starting, those who fancy tinkering with circuits, teachers, and professionals.

9. UpVerter

UpVerter allows for schematic design with a real-time syncing, and error catching.  This provides teams the chance to work on the same design at the same time. UpVerter features a PCB layout that is responsive and intuitive.  We like how you do have to manually import any changes as the netlist and footprint updates automatically. 

The system design allows engineers to capture their high-level thoughts without losing them as the design moves ahead.  Real-time collaboration provides the chance for teams to work together while actions are logged, synced, and stored. 

The library is updated and continuously growing.  As a starter under the free version, you are allowed 2 private projects per month.  Design tools, custom parts creation, and more are provided under this free plan.

10. ExpressPCB Plus

ExpressPCB Plus was designed for MAC, Linux, and Windows.  Easy to use, the main focus of this software is to save you time.  This software provides 2 – 6 layers, silkscreen 2 sides (Top/Bottom), copy and paste between designs, and integrated manufacturing. You will be able to view instant quotes for your board or order the board for fabrication.

11. gEDA

Easy to use, gEDA provides tools to allow one to produce an electrical circuit design on Linux.  Other features include schematic capture, net listing, electronic circuit simulation, attribute management, bill of material (BOM) generation/management, and printed circuit board (PCB) design.  With gEDA, you can make the changes you desire to your board.

Final Thoughts

The best PCB design software will make an engineer’s job a lot easier.  It does not matter if a person is just starting off, or has been doing this as a career for years.  With the help of a good quality PCB, a person can complete their job in a much faster time.  By utilizing one or more of the PCB design software listed above, an individual can decide which platform works best for them without having to invest in one that may not work so well for them.

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