6 Best Free Open Source PCB Design Software For Windows
Here is a list of best free open source PCB design software for Windows. Using these open source PCB design software, you can easily design a printed circuit board (PCB) consisting of tracks and components or components name. As all of these software are open source, hence you can also download and make modifications to the source code of any of these software.
In these software, you get various tools to design a PCB like PTH, Connectors, Arc, Polygon, etc. Plus, you can also find many electronic components (AnalogIC, Contributed Parts, DescreteSemi, etc.) which you can add to your PCB design. To differentiate tracks of PCB from each other, you can assign different colors to each track in some of these software. Plus, it is quite easy to assign a name to each track and component using the Text tool, that you can find in most of these software.
After completing a PCB design layout, these software let you save the design in Images (PNG, JPEG, BMP, etc.) and PDF document formats. A few of these software also let you export components and components connectivity information in the form of a Netlist. In a few of these software, you can also import a netlist to gather all the information about a PCB design. These software also offer some additional tools like Measure (to measure the distance between two points), Autoroute (to automatically create PCB path according to the selected components), 3D viewer (to view PCB design in 3D view), etc. Using available tools and features, you can easily create a PCB design. Go through the list to know more about these software.
My Favorite Open Source PCB Design Software For Windows:
Fritzing is my favorite software because it offers almost all the required tools which you may need to create a simple or complex PCB design. Plus, I like its ability to show entire code behind the PCB design.
Fritzing is a free open source PCB design software for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Using this software, you can make a PCB design. Apart from PCB design, it also lets you create PCB schematics and breadboard designs. It offers a lot of inbuilt electronic parts which you can use in your PCB design. Plus, other important tools like Routing (to specify the connection between electronics components), Viewing, Layers, etc., are also present in it. The interface of this software is also quite interactive and user friendly.
How to design PCB using Fritzing:
- Launch this software and go to the PCB section of this software.
- After that, go to Parts panel and select a Parts section from various available ones such as Electromechanical, AnalogIC, Contributed Parts, DescreteSemi, etc.
- Now, select electronic components which you want to use in your PCB design and drop them over the main editing section of this software.
- Next, place all the components in the right position and then use Routing (connection) or Wire tools to start joining the components to complete the PCB design.
If you move to Breadboard and Schematic sections, you can view respective diagrams based on your PCB layout design. You can also access the code behind your PCB layout by going to the Code section.
After creating the PCB layout design, you can export it in Etchable PDF, Etchable SVG, and Image (PNG and JPG) formats.
- Layer View: Using it, you can easily view below, above, and in between PCB layers.
- Autoroute: It is an advanced feature that automatically routes or join components according to the types of components used by you.
- Rotate: It is another handy tool that allows you to change the orientation of individual PCB components and PCB layout design.
It is a comprehensive open source PCB design software through which you can create both simple and complex PCB designs.
Minimal Board Editor
Minimal Board Editor is another free open source PCB design software for Windows. It is also a portable software that you can use on the go without actually installing it in your system. Through this software, you can create a PCB path layout, specify PCB components name and components’ connections. To do that, it offers various PCB designing tools like Connection Check, Measure, Arc, Text, Line, and more. After completing a PCB design, you can easily export it in PDF format. Plus, an option to export the components list and connection information of a PCB layout in the form of a Netlist (.net) is also provided by it.
How to design PCB using this open source PCB design software:
- Launch this software and select PTH (Plated Through Hole) tool from its interface and start placing them over its interface to specify PTH locations over the PCB.
- After that, select the Text tool and write names of components at different parts of the PCB to specify the locations of the component.
- Next, select the Line tool to create the PCB path that will determine the connection between different components of the PCB. At this time, you can also use other available tools to specify more connections like Arc, Polygon, Hole, Pad, etc.
- When done creating the PCB design, you can export it in a PDF document.
- Color: It allows you to change the default colors of different components and path of the PCB layout.
- Measure: It is a handy tool that you can use to accurately measure the distance between any two points present over a PCB design.
It is a simple and easy to use open source PCB design software through which you can create a PCB design without much hassle.
Note: On the provided download page, please scroll down to Minimal Board Editor software to get its download link.
FreePCB is yet another free open source PCB design software for Windows. Through this software, you can create a PCB layout using various available PCB designing tools. The process of creating a PCB design is also quite simple in this software. You can access all the required PCB components from the Part section and all the connecting tools like line, arc, etc., from the bottom part of its interface. Before designing the PCB layout, you can adjust the PCB units (mil or mm), Visible grid area (1 mm, 2mm, 5mm, etc.), and Routing line width (1mm, 4 mm, etc.) using Toolbar tools. From the Leftside panel of this software, you can also manually change the color of different connections and routing lines in this software.
How to design PCB using this open source PCB design software:
- Open the interface of this software and create a new project.
- After that, go to Project tab and select PCB components which you want to put in your PCB layout.
- Next, use Routing tools to specify the path of copper lining over the PCB board to complete the PCB design.
- Lastly, use the Save option to store the PCB design as a local project file or use the Export CAM option to save the design in a CAM file. You can also export the components list as a Netlist file.
- Check Connectivity: It helps you find out all the broken connections or unconnected components present in your PCB layout design.
- Design Rule Check: It checks your PCB design according to PCB design rules to find wrong connections and faulty PCB design.
It is another decent open source PCB design software that anyone can use to create good PCB designs.
KiCad EDA is the next free open source PCB design software for Windows, Ubuntu, Linux, MacOS, OpenSUSE, etc., operating systems. In this software. you get many different modules like Gerber Viewer, Page Layout editor, Pcbnew, etc. From various available modules, you need to use its Pcbnew module to create a PCB design. In the Pcbnew module, you can find a large PCB designing area along with various PCB designing tools like Add footprints, Add vias, Add graphics line, Add graphics arc, Add text, Add layer alignment, etc. It also allows you to load an external Netlist to quickly import all the required PCB components and connections’ information of a PCB design.
How to design PCB using this open source PCB design software:
- Launch this software and select Pcbnew module.
- After that, use available PCB designing tools and components to create a PCB design. You can use your mouse to specify the position of tracks and connections over the editing area.
- Next, use the Text tool to name the components and track names.
- Lastly, use the Export option to save the PCB design in formats like GenCAD, VRML, STEP, SVG, etc. You can also export PCB design in various fabrication output formats like .pos, .drl, .rpt, etc.
- Measure: Using it, you can accurately measure the distance between components and lengths of connections between components.
- Design Rules Check: This feature checks whether the PCB design created by you follows the PCB designing rules or not.
- 3D Viewer: This feature lets you view individual components and the whole PCB design in a 3D view.
It is another very capable open source PCB design software through which you can create great PCB designs.
FidoCadJ is one more free open source PCB design software for Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. Through this software, you can quickly create a PCB design layout as it offers all the essential PCB components and connecting lines on its interface. All the components (PCB Footprints, PCB Symbols, Electrical Symbols, etc.) are present on the right-side panel and all the connection tools (PCB Line, Polygon, Bezier, Text, etc.) are present on the toolbar of this software. Using available tools, you can easily create a PCB design as you want.
How to design PCB using FidoCadJ:
- Open the interface of this software and select one component at a time from its right-side panel and place it over the PCB editing area. Similarly, you can add more PCB components to your PCB design.
- After that, use connection lines from the top toolbar and start connecting the components. To differentiate the copper side connection from the component side connection, you can choose either copper side or component side option that assigns a color to the selected connection.
- Once the PCB design gets completed, use the Print option to save the design in PDF format and use the Export option to save the design in formats like PNG, JPEG, SVG, EPS, etc.
- View Code: Using it, you can view the actual code behind a PCB design created by you.
- Image as background: It allows you to set an external image as a background of a PCB design.
It is another simple and easy to use open source PCB design software that anyone can use without much hassle.
SimulIDE is yet another free open source PCB design software for Windows and Linux. It is primarily a circuit design software that can also be used to design PCB layouts. The unique thing about this software is that it can also simulate the circuit and the behavior of its components at different frequencies. The process of designing a PCB circuit layout through this software is pretty simple.
How to design PCB using SimulIDE:
- Open the interface of this software and go to its Components section where you can find a lot of components like stepper, gates, converters, ICs, text tool, and more.
- After that, drag and drop components which you want to use in your PCB design to the main editing area of this software.
- Next, start joining the components with the use of your mouse.
- After joining the components, use the text tool to name each component.
- Now, you can save your PCB design in image formats like PNG, JPG, BMP, SVG, etc.
- Power Circuit: It allows you to start the simulation that you can use to check the behavior of your design at different frequencies.
This open source PCB design software not only lets you create PCB design, but you can also create and simulate a circuit design in it.
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