Learning to make pcbs

You don’t necessarily need to make the art in another package - you can draw vectors straight onto boards. Though the tools in EAGLE/Kicad are nowhere near as nice as Illustrator.

Non rectangular is not an issue, you can make the layout any shape you want relatively easily, and the fab house will just cut it.

(brief because at airport)

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I think Eagle is still free for hobby use up to 80x80mm boards?

There’s Fritzing which is very simplified, but kinda janky in its own way

(Just googled this) Here’s a list of software to check out

I figured this out in Eagle - and maybe have since forgotten the exact steps - but you can import a shape from illustrator into the “dimension” layer in Eagle.

Maybe this is one of those skill share things and we should do a google hangout or something.

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I might try making a guitar pedal first. It would be a good way to introduce yourself to Eagle :eagle: and work out the process.

count me innnnnnnnnn


Hmm, that might be a problem for controller-sized PCBs.

(had a quick google, and look’s like you’re right, 80x80mm is the limit for free accounts)

Oh yeah, I forgot about Fritzing. I used it years ago to make a simple Teensy diagram thing for a glob post.

I would love that…

Wait a second, the chart says 80cm2, so does that mean 80cm by 80cm (almost a square meter?!). The translation says 12.4"2, which doesn’t seem to line up with 80cm (or 80mm for that matter).

The square root of 80 is


Duh, that makes sense.

So I could make a ~9x9cm board with the free version (if it was perfectly square).

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i’m still baffled at the relative unpopularity of the gEDA tools for DIY electronics. the suite is mature, truly free/OSS, simple, wealth of I/O options, &c. link above is a tutorial for blinky-board from start to finish.

i’ve never gotten along with eagle. always PROCAD for commerical work and gEDA for little things.

kicad gets honorable mention just for having a nice XML file format that is relatively easy to work with programmatically for Weird Stuff.


I’ve been using DipTrace for the last couple of years and have been pretty pleased with it. While Eagle might be better documented or have more libraries (which you can still use anyway in DipTrace) I’ve yet to run into something I can’t find a solution for, and it is a significant upgrade from Fritzing. Only irritating thing I have found is running it on a mac with Wine it doesn’t like the right click function on the track pad, I have to use an external mouse (which is easier for doing this kind of thing anyway…). Fritzing is really easy, especially if you want to drag and drop sparkfun parts and things like that, but its also so simple I found getting things done with it incredibly frustrating. If you are doing basic layouts the non-commercial use free version of DipTrace doesn’t limit you by board size, just the number of pins (300) and to two signal layers, which should be plenty for doing basic stuff. Beyond that you can buy versions again based on number of pins/signal layers needed rather than having to go all or nothing.

I’m working on my first panelized board which I’ll probably send out soon. Trying to get the whole mouse bite/router thing sorted so my bites give a clean break without indentations on the finished board, but I anticipate the first time I’m bound to make some sort of mistake.

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