What do you do when you want to make your first PCB?


This is what I did:


  1. Ask around to see who else has made one and how they did it.
  2. See what free / inexpensive PCB design software is available - I may hate it and only ever make one.
  3. Download some software and have a play.


I have found that the "having a play" is great - up to a point. It is something like an adventure game "There are three options - which do you chose?" (Chose the wrong one and you'll only find it was the wrong choice after 3 hours more work). Also, there's the jargon: what is a ratsnest? Will autoroute actually route everything nicely? Why can't I do x, y or z.


So the next steps became:


4. Get stuck.

5. Google it.

6. Swear.

7. Give up, phone a friend, or keep trying on your own with the help of the internet. Or even Read The ... Manual.

8. Giving up for me is usually only temporary.

9. Finally design the PCB.

10. Get the gerber files ready and send off to a PCB manufacturer.

11. Run around with excitement when my very own PCB turns up in the post.


This series of blog posts will (hopefully) help you to design a simple PCB using CadSoftusa EAGLE PCB design software - without the getting stuck and swearing stages.


First go to CadSoft's site and download the freeware version of Eagle Light. There are versions for Linux, Mac and Windows.


When you first start EAGLE, you will be asked whether you have a personalised license disk, or whether you want to run EAGLE as Freeware. To use the Freeware license select the “Run as freeware” button.


EAGLE Light Edition can do anything the Professional Edition can do - except:


  •     The useable board area is limited to 100 x 80 mm (4 x 3.2 inches).
  •     Only two signal layers can be used (Top and Bottom).
  •     The schematic editor can only create one sheet.


However, you can load, view and print drawings that exceed these limits.


The Freeware version of EAGLE Light adds these limitations:


  •     Support is only available via email or through the forum (no fax or phone support).
  •     Use is limited to non-profit applications or evaluation purposes.


So if you want to sell the PCB you make, for example on Kickstarter, you need to buy the Professional Edition. one of the editions - there are pricing details here. (Thanks to Workshopshed for pointing this out)


The next post in this series <link will appear here> will assume you have Eagle loaded and are now looking at the Control Panel page ...


Last year Workshopshed wrote a good blogpost on starting out on Eagle - where he mentions the pdf tutorial and some videos and a project he made. You may also like to check that out