Archive for April 30th, 2010

On Schematic Capture and PCB Layout Programs

This useful comment thread showed up in relation to a post about a chainsaw repair, which would hide it from any rational collection of search terms. Here’s the thread in all its glory, as there doesn’t seem to be a way to move comments from one post to another.

Feel free to continue the topic in the comments to this post…


Offtopic: have you ever used gEDA for schematic or pcb? I’m looking for something with reasonable abilities, and the crippled demo versions of orcad, eagle, and winqcad all look fairly crippled. I’ve zero use for autorouters and autoplacers (because they suck for analog design) but it’d be nice to have something that’s fairly usable for schematic and layout.


used gEDA for schematic or pcb?

Nope. Every time I’ve looked at it, the status seems to be heartbreakingly close to being useful by someone who really doesn’t want to work around a morass of limitations. That’s becoming less true and maybe by now it’s practical… but I haven’t done a serious examination for maybe a year.

I actually coughed up half a kilobuck for the Standard version of Eagle schematic & layout, as an autorouter doesn’t do much for the little bitty boards I build. Works fine, no complaints, but if I weren’t doing columns and suchlike, it’d be hard to justify.

Neal H.


I have used it for both a small project and a slightly bigger project, (schematic) (render of layout)

It is quite usable, but the version that ships with most linux distros is pretty old, I had much better luck building it from source following the instructions on the gEDA homepage. The hardest part is creating symbols for the PCB tool, that is a little tricky to learn, but there are a lot of them pre-created for you on


Thanks to both of you. I’ll probably give it a run. I currently spend much of my day creating symbols for Cadence, and I consider it impossible for any other part-creation process to be as painful or difficult as that. I’m more worried about general usability. Eagle’s the back-up plan.

John Rehwinkel

I still haven’t found a PCB layout program I like (and I’ve gotten tired of the truly primitive one I wrote 20 years ago). For schematics, I use DesignWorks Lite, which is apparently no longer offered (though DesignWorks Professional is still available).

John Rehwinkel

Ah, it is still offered (only $40), just not at the main Capilano site. The companion PCB layout program is Osmond ($200), which I keep meaning to try out. You can download the trial version at



Monthly Aphorism: On Supplies

  • Never put a part back in the supply cabinet

The Great Green, another excellent manager from my IBM days, mandated that very simple stockroom rule.

He knew, even if we didn’t, that the next engineer would spend two days figuring out that the part you returned was defective, costing far more in the long run than just tossing the part.

Of course, we never tossed the parts…

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