If you are thinking of dabbling in PCB design as a hobby, you are probably curious as to which software is best for you to use. That is why we have compiled this handy electronic circuit design software list. If you are unsure which PCB software to choose, this might give you some insight into how each one could help you.
Altium is used by many major corporations all around the globe. It is, without a doubt, one of the best PCB design softwares out there. While it is extremely popular amongst big corporations, it is also a favoured tool of many amateurs.
If you don’t want to splurge on the subscriptions from the get-go, you should consider looking at the free version. It has everything you need for most PCB designs without the hefty price tag and superfluous functions you will never need. If you think this might be the PCB design software for you, you can download Altium here.
This is a great alternative to Altium which many other designers prefer to opt for. It is frequently touted as having one of the cleanest and easiest UIs on the market. It is also often preferred as it is thought to be very easy to get to grips with for newcomers.
Another great advantage of Eagle is its pricing structure. You can opt to pay the subscriptions monthly or annually. Depending on your financial situation, it might have an option which suits you. Finally, Eagle can be installed on most operating systems including Windows, Mac, and most crucially Linux. This means that you will be able to work on your designs no matter which operating system you have in front of you; a bonus if you work across multiple machines.
One of the most popular free options for PCB design is KiCad. This is another option which is available to use with Linux so you should definitely consider it if you think you might not be able to afford the licensing fees for Eagle.
Included with KiCad come three libraries; one for schematic symbols, one for PCB footprints, and one for 3D models. They update on a weekly basis to make sure that they are top of the line, and you will find similar features with Altium, Eagle, and many of the other PCB design systems out there. You can also add to these libraries as you design your own custom components and schematic layouts.
So, to the question of which one of these would be good for amateurs? The answer is unfortunately one which can only be answered by an amateur as each person will have a different approach to PCB design. What one person might think is intuitive and easy to use, another might think is clunky and difficult. The only way to know if a PCB software is right for you is to try it out for yourself. Start with the ones listed above, and branch out in the unlikely event that you don’t like any of these.