Hello, I just finished creating a circuit, it's a drum machine, but I've done the whole thing on a solderless breadboard. I was wondering if anybody could give me any tips on how I could go about transferring my design onto a PCB. If anyone could reccomend any software or such that is good for this? I have a copy of PSPICE, but I'm not sure if that's mainly for simulations. I've seen the "do it yourself" kits with the photo-resist chemicals and everything, but that seems potentially messy and complicated. I was wondering if anyone was familiar with the places that you send the schematic to and then they mail you your PCB?
There aren't places that you just mail a schematic and get back a board
-- there are PCB houses to which you can send a board design and get back a board. The process works quite well, it costs way less to have a few boards popped out than having a technician build one from scratch, and you have a 'real' board.
But you still have to do the layout with a PCB layout tool, and that's not trivial if you haven't done it before.
If I have a circuit that is working right on a breadboard, and I want to make a one-off permanent circuit, and I don't care to make it smaller, I hie myself down to Radio Shack and buy one of those PCBs that has the same hole and solder pattern as a breadboard, and I transfer it -- wires and all -- to the PCB just exactly the way it was on the breadboard.
This is in the US -- I'm not sure if you can get those convenient little PCBs anywhere else.
Hi, Joshua. I'd second the motion that the easiest thing to do would be to use the Radio Shack perfboard (Model: 276-170, #3.29 ea) and just transfer over directly.
But everyone has a yen to try making an etched board at leat once. Hey, get it out of your system -- it's not too expensive anymore, if waiting a while for board turnaround is OK with you.
Try Express PCB. They've got free proprietary CAD software, and have a starter deal where you can get three 2.5" x 3.8" boards made for just $51. You might be amazed what can actually fit on a board that size.
Many swear by them. Many swear at them. They do go to some lengths to make it easy for newbies, and engineering students doing senior projects. Just remember their software locks you in to buying from them or redoing the board in another CAD package -- the files are incompatible with other CAD software.
True not all CAD software are compatable however some are like CADkey and AutoCAD. AutoCAD has applications for electronic drawing and with some work CADkey is also available to draw electronic design. Using standard Electronic shop practices you can adapt any CAD software drawings as circuit board drawings. How do you thing electronic drawings are made? By hand? haw haw... Here is a list of CAD programs Active-Cad Active-VHDL Alias ANVIL EXPRESS Ashlar Vellum AutoCAD Avanti Bentley CADAM CADDS Cadence Cadence Allegro Cadkey Cadmax CADnetix Cadstar CALMA CATIA CoCreate Computervision Designcad 2000 HP Solid D I-DEAS Ironcad Macdraft Mentor Graphics Microstation Orcad PADS
makers of Eagle has a lite version. FREE limited to
The OP seems to be a newbie and those other packages are way too expensive for someone just experimenting. Eagle has a usenet newsgroup, so plenty of support if you need it.Look for the tutorial pdf file on their website.
Problem with expresspcb is, you can not make gerber files, you are STUCK with their crap. stay clear away from them.
Depending on the complexity, you might want to do this by hand. I have used various CAD programs, and they make the job much simpler, but the problem is that they have a big learning curve, especially the first one you encounter. If you expect to be doing more of this work, then investing the time to learn a program may make sense. But there is also a certain satisfaction to doing it by hand, and it's not too hard if the board can be single-sided. (You may need a few jumpers to make that work.)
Use graph paper with a 10th-inch grid. Draw copper as black lines, component outlines in red. You may need to redraw several times as you try different layouts. The hardest parts are the purely-digital sections, since there are no components to break a trace and allow another to cross in the same plane. I typically do rough sketches on plain paper just to get an idea of the best approach. If you don't care about jumpers (if you are only making one of these) this can be much easier. Otherwise, you can spend (waste) a lot of time optimizing.
Then you can make the whole thing with a Sharpie marker, a dental bur in a Dremel tool, and ferric chloride etchant. Full details at
Hope this helps!
Bob Masta dqatechATdaqartaDOTcom D A Q A R T A Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
Scope, Spectrum, Spectrogram, Signal Generator Science with your sound card!
If you're going to do it often I'd recommend you learn how to use EAGLE and go with PCB Express (pcbexpress.com -- they're different from expresspcb.com, and I always get the wrong URL). The learning curve is steeper with EAGLE, but EAGLE will give you industry-standard Gerber format files that you can shop around anywhere.
OTOH, if ease of use is of paramount importance, use Express PCB and their baby CAD software.
Whoa! I appreciate all the responses, I didn't think it was gonna be this complicated to get my schematic over to PCB format (I'm new to all this). This is something that I would like to get into, so I am willing to invest some time and energy to learning some of the better software than taking an easy way out of this. I have access to a copy of OrCad 10.5, if I learn how to use this and draw my schematic on it, would this give me a file that I could send somewhere to have it made? I mean if I'm willing to invest some time and energy into learning software for circuit designing, what is a good, generally universely accepted type of program to go with?
I have used Eagle and Kicad and _both_ are excellent, but as with _all_ real CAD programs they have a sharp learning curve for those who have never laid out a board before. [I've also used the very expensive and hard to use stuff from others ;) ]
Kicad has a schematic capture module although I actually *like* some features of OrCad (ok, so I'm a masochist) and you can use that and the integrated flow to go from design to gerber - same with Eagle AFAIK. I think you can import a netlist into Kicad, so it would be a matter of generating the right netlist out of Orcad if you use that.
If you want to do any serious designs, then you'll need to learn layout and layout tools sooner or later anyway - you might as well do it with something you *already know works*.
With any electronic CAD program, you have to both draw your schematic, and lay out the PC board based on that schematic. The PC layout program will normally produce "Gerber" files that can be sent off to almost any board shop to get the boards made.
There may be some contract board layout shops who will produce a board layout from your schematic and specs, but I expect that they will be much too expensive for hobby use.