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Free PCB Design Tools to make your Electronics Projects Interesting

Submitted By: 

Neha Rastogi
Working on electronic projects can be a time taking and complicated procedure, particularly for the beginners. However, the availability of so many apps and software acts as a guide and saves a lot of time spent on seeking information from multiple sources. After discussing the circuit design software, and online circuit simulators that help in dealing with the electronics, here we are going to talk about some free PCB design tools

In the following list, we have mentioned about free PCB design tools that are meant to be used by all kinds of users ranging from beginners to professionals and experts. Let’s have a look at them one by one.

1. NI Ultiboard (FREE DOWNLOAD)

NI Ultiboard

NI Ultiboard is a product by National Instruments that forms a part of a package of circuit design programs and is used alongside NI Multisim. It offers an easy-to-design environment, whereby users can make use of an interface that enables them to carry out an efficient layout and routing of PCB designs. The tools included in the program are- spreadsheet view, toolbox, and design wizards.

Some of the key features of NI Ultiboard are enlisted below:

Availability of speedy and efficient advanced Autoplace & Autoroute tools.
Finding and placing components with the help of Pick-and-Place along with Component Sequencer functionality.
Transfer of schematics to layouts owing to the seamless Multisim integration.
Export of designs to industry standard file formats like Gerber and DXF.
Integrated spreadsheet view to manage design constraints, copper routing, and part placement

2. Pulsonix

Pulsonix

Pulsonix is Windows based application which offers features like schematic capture and PCB layout design. It has three versions, whereby the first one is available with 1000 pins while the third one can be availed for unlimited component pins. It is mainly meant to be used by the business professionals for an affordable as well as advanced PCB design capability.

Pulsonix offers the following set of features:

Schematic Capture: Concise schematic drawings with multi-instanced hierarchy and electrical rules checking capabilities.
Spice Simulation: Pulsonix Spice is a mixed mode simulation package that offers a collective selection of analysis functions that can be applied to plot waveform data.
PCB Design: With Pulsonix, users get to use a sophisticated fully integrated PCB Design that carries intelligent features like report maker, e-cad to m-cad support, etc. 
High-Speed Design: Owing to this feature, the engineers can conceive and define the designs during the early logic capture phase.
Database Connection: With the assistance of database connection, users get instant access to corporate information systems that aids in rapid identification and selection of components.  
PLM Interface: Pulsonix can be integrated into corporate infrastructure thereby offering access to documents and design data

Pricing :

The trial version can be downloaded free of cost while the detailed versions can be purchased from the nearest local stores.

3. Design Spark (FREE DOWNLOAD)

Design spark

It’s free of cost EDA (Electronic Design Automation) tool for schematic capture and PCB layout. In order to use this service, the users are required to register with the website which in turn unlocks the disabled functions and programs. It’s claimed to be the world’s most accessible EDA platform for rapid prototyping and transforming your circuit ideas into testable boards.

The following features can be availed through the Design Spark PCB tool:

Seamless integration into design workflows.
No limitation on the number of schematic sheets.
Liberty to create libraries and access to embedded libraries.
No limit for the number of nodes, layers or connections.
Users can prepare and upload Bill of Materials to order the needed parts.
Users can order PCBs from their preferred manufacturers by preparing unrestricted Gerber and ODB++ files.
An additional tool in the form of electronics part wizard which enables users to create the models of the part that can’t be found

4. PCB Web (FREE DOWNLOAD)

PCB Web

PCB Web is a free CAD application for Windows users which aims at offering a platform for designing and manufacturing electronics hardware. It has got the following modules.

Schematic capture: It has a clean and tidy layout with sufficient amount of area for editing. The sidebar gives access to component selection while a toolbar is present for using editing tools and schematic symbols. 
PCB layout: the layout editor is simple to use and allows the user to focus on individual layers. Besides, there is a property sheet at the side with the help of which you can adjust the colors of different elements. 
Digi-Key part library: After the completion of design, the Bill of Materials is generated on its own and can be ordered from Digi-Key. Besides, the parts can be imported from Digi-Key library directly.
Component Editor: The application has two editors for symbols and footprints that can be operated separately.

5. Upverter (Free Sign Up)

Upverter

It’s a web browser based EDA system that facilitates the designing, sharing, and reviewing of schematics and PCBs. It can be suitably used for open source projects without making any payments for editing schematics and designing layouts for PCBs. It also carries the additional features like generating Gerber files, Bill of Materials and a 3D rendering of the designs.

This tool offers a wide range of features out of which the following list mentions the key points:

Multiple Object Inspection for Applying Property Edits
Assisted Net & Bus Routing
Component & Module Search & Placement
Built-in Flag Symbols
Configurable Design Rule Parameters
Component and Module Swap
Embedded Design Viewer
Live Multi-user Collaboration
Translucent Non-Active Layers
Flexible Silkscreen Sizing & Alignment

6. Mentor Graphics Xpedition

Free PCB Design Tools

Mentor Graphics is an MNC which offers the Xpedition package, an innovative PCB design flow, and aims at integrating system design into manufacturing. A wide variety of tasks can be performed with the help of this package that includes collaborative placement and routing of complex PCBs, making use of an automated and fully integrated workflow, single solution for library management, etc.

Xpedition’s layout tools render the following features:

Concurrent team layout with multiple designers 
3D layout and MCAD collaboration
3D rigid-flex design & validation
Automated placement planning and management
RF/analog/digital/embedded passive/active co-design
Advanced integrated, planning, place and route editing environment

7. Altium Designer

Altium Designer

 
Altium Designer is a combination of scientific knowledge with a natural design intuition that aims at harmonizing one's engineering potential so as to create a highly advanced and innovative PCB design applications. It offers the following advantages to its users - :

With interactive routing modes and an intelligent auto routing assistant, the users can take complete control of their PCB layout.

One can easily save, share, and reuse the design assets from the past projects with the help of snippets, schematic sheets, and component library templates.

Flexible output documentation tools enable the user to instantly capture and communicate the design intent to manufacturing within seconds. 

Availability of more than 300,000 ready-to-use components allows the users to leverage the efficiency of the component creation process.

Users can avail a flexible life cycle management system so as to decide what design data can be used in the projects, thereby tracking every design change.

Native 3D editing to let the users visualize their electronic designs in the mechanical world and fix collision errors within seconds.

With the help of Suppliers Links, one can get access to real-time pricing, availability of parts and updates regarding the most frequently used components.

Pricing

The trial version is available free of cost after filling a form which gives access to a 15-day full featured evaluation license. On the other hand, the other versions can be availed either after contacting the local Altium offices or by filling a form which contains all the information of the user regarding his/her job and product interests.

8. Express PCB (Free Download)

Express PCB

Express PCB is free of cost PCB layout software where users can design and develop their electronic schematics and printed circuit boards. Its aim is to handle low-cost projects with respect to the software and manufacturing concerns. Here users not only get to design their circuits but they can also order them later. The customer base of Express PCB includes individual engineers as well as companies and entrepreneurs.

In order to use the PCB layout one can follow the steps rendered below:

Select the components from Component Manager Dialog box, where Digi-key part numbers are included so as to make the ordering convenient.
Drag the components to the desired spot and use the Snap to grid feature to get them aligned.
Add the traces and link the schematic file to PCB; this will help you in wiring the pins together.
Edit the layout by using copy, paste and rearrange the parts. You can also set the properties of the item in the layout.
After the completion of the design, order the boards online through the Internet command.
 
These are free PCB design tools that offer a wide range of services in the interest of engineering students, hobbyists, and professionals so as to ensure an efficient designing and development of electronic projects. If you wish to add more tools to the list, let us know about them in the comments section below.
 
You may read our blog and article section for more topics on electronics engineering, industry, and technology.

Comments

Sir , KiCAD is very good alternative. It's full feature and free.