Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for electronics and electrical engineering professionals, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Do you know of any freeware or low cost circuit / PCB design software?

I know a few which I have listed below but I was wondering if there were more of its kind. Please mention the good features and issues you've faced with the software.

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Olin Lathrop, PeterJ, Fizz, Nick Alexeev Nov 3 '15 at 21:34

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

It looks like you're looking for free as in 'free beer', not free as in 'free speech'. Is this correct? – Kevin Vermeer Jan 25 '11 at 10:50
... For those, like myself, that read @Kevin's comment [above] a bit too early in the morning, he is asking if Edward is looking for low/zero cost software ("free beer") or open software ("free speech"), as colloquialized by R. Stallman. – tyblu Oct 25 '11 at 14:21
This question is not a fit for this site. It needs to be closed, despite the many upvotes. Popular is not the same as on-topic. – Olin Lathrop Nov 3 '15 at 11:53
FWIW, we now have a Software Recommendations site that this question would be on-topic at. Alas, it's too old to be migrated there. – Ilmari Karonen Nov 13 '15 at 19:17

15 Answers 15

Kicad is free and open source, and it is a relatively well-integrated package of schematics and layout editor.

gEDA is free and open source. It is older than Kicad, has more tools which produce nicer output, but is less well integrated.

Since they are open-source packages there are no arbitrary restrictions on the free version (like e.g. board size in Eagle) and no license hassles.

share|improve this answer
Kicad seems to have a lot of momentum right now and is soon to release a new stable version with lots of cool features. – avl_sweden Jul 17 '15 at 17:54

Eagle seems to be the most popular free PCB tool.

share|improve this answer
There are excellent tutorials for it at sparkfun.com. – edebill Dec 22 '09 at 3:43
Eagle is not free but there is a light freeware version with board area limited to 100 x 80 mm (4 x 3.2 inches) It's excellent but necissate some time to learn and once it's done you'll get perfect result – mba7 Dec 23 '09 at 23:25
The free version of Eagle is lacking much of the functionality of the full version. – Michael Eakins Nov 17 '10 at 12:57

This may not count as a PCB design software, but it takes a new, creative approach to circuit and PCB design, and lets you prototype around with a breadboard view.

It's called Fritzing and there are versions for Windows, Linux and Mac.

View screenshots of the main feature modes:

Breadboard view

share|improve this answer
It crashes every 5 minutes on my Win 7 x64 – Jader Dias Oct 19 '10 at 0:33

I personally prefer using Diptrace


It is available for non-commercial use in a limited form (250 pins) for free and then hasd a scale of different costs depending on use and scope.

I have tried Eagle and find diptrace easier to use with a fairly extensive library and more importantly an easy to use parts designer.

I have used this to create gerbers which I had turned into PCB's with no issues whatsoever.

I would thoroughly recommend giving it a try, I think it is as powerful as Eagle and simpler to use...

share|improve this answer
Diptrace is my favorite as well. Free is 300 pins, two signal layers. Also, if you are non-profit or a student then you can upgrade to the lite version, 500 pins 2 layers, for free. – Mark Aug 1 '13 at 22:21

I use gEDA/PCB. The file formats are open an ASCII. The open file formats make a wide variety of EDA automation tasks possible. The ASCII format makes them easy.

I have switched from Eagle to gEDA/PCB. I have found gEDA to be a more productive tool. The schematic capture is better but the PCB layout seems more difficult. The scriptability is what has made the difference. There are also tools for simulation.

Be careful of choosing a free version of an EDA tool that is crippled or a tool that locks you in to a specific PCB vendor. There is a learning curve associated with any EDA tool or other complex piece of software. It will be very time consuming to switch tools.

The footprint library that I use is available at http://www.luciani.org Also I have a variety of EDA automation scripts on my site.

As an example of gEDA/PCB I did a remix of the Drawdio circuit design that ladyada did. The remix includes the EDA files and documentation. All of the files are at http://tinyurl.com/bq8pq4

share|improve this answer
In case it goes bad in the future, that tinyurl resolves to wiblocks.luciani.org/remix/index.html – Michael Kohne Dec 22 '09 at 18:39

Easy PC from Number One Systems works really well for small/medium sized projects, it supports multi-layer PCBs, includes a Schematic editing tool, and has an entry level Autorouter, or you can buy the pro Autorouter as an addon. Grab a free demo from their site.

PCB routing by hand is quick and intuitive, and you can create the netlist right in the PCB editor itself, by simply wiring any pin to another. All unconnected wires show up as a ratsnest. Then as you connect wires with tracks, the ratsnest line disappears.

share|improve this answer

Mentor PADS is another one with a free eval. It has unlimited size and 8 layers. Its limitation is the number of devices: 30.

share|improve this answer


The latest version of our free PCB design-tool has an intuitive CAD interface that lets you create new PCB designs quickly; offering freedom and flexibility in your schematic and layout editing.


  • New board wizard.
  • Ability to import net lists from multiple CAD vendors.
  • 145,000+ parts in the library.
  • Fast, accurate DRC/DFM.
  • Two-, four-, and six-layer support with soldermask and silkscreen.

Link to comparison with other products: Compare PCB Design Tools

share|improve this answer

You can also get DesignSparkPCB which is a unlimited package given away free by RS Electronics - www.designspark.com

It's based on Easy-PC, but the files are not compatible.

share|improve this answer
I've tried a variety of free PCB design/layout/etc tools recently, and found that Design Spark PCB is really good, and it's amazing that it's free. In particular, while Eagle was an early front runner, the licensing issues regarding output of the program left me leery. By contrast Design Spark has done everything I've wanted, include custom board shapes. – Michael Sparks Nov 6 '14 at 23:58

If you don't need gerber output, the demo of omnyglyph (formerly circad) at http://www.holophase.com/ should be enough. I've used this almost unknown software from the very first version for MS-DOS.

share|improve this answer

Altium is releasing a new free PCB design tool: http://circuitmaker.com/

share|improve this answer

I use ExpressPCB, which is a free unlimited software package that allows you to design schematics and PCBs. You can also send off your design to ExpressPCB and they'll manufacture the board for you.

Screenshot: ExpressPCB Screenshot

share|improve this answer
I looked at that briefly a while ago, can you generate Gerbers or other netlists/BOMs for export, or are you locked into ExpressPCB forever? – Kevin Vermeer Jan 26 '11 at 20:45
Yes, you are locked in. No, it doesn't even support netlists/BOMs or anything. It's purely a layout package, you have to manage all your netlists yourself. – Connor Wolf Jan 26 '11 at 22:10
Just had a look, you can export a DXF mechanical drawing (not too sure what that is), and import a netlist. The schematic program allows you to copy a BOM to the clipboard. – BG100 Jan 26 '11 at 22:30
@BG100 - DXF is a fairly well supported, ASCII-based format (it's short for Document Exchange Format) which is most prominently used by AutoCad software. It suffers from versioning and standardization problems (everyone has their own little subtle changes), but many other PCB programs have an import/export option for DXF. So, no schematic export, but at least you can get your board. I'd say DXF is not quite as good as Gerbers, but it looks like they weren't aiming for lock-in as a software feature. – Kevin Vermeer Jan 28 '11 at 18:56
@Fake Name: My understanding is that ExpressSCH (schematic) and ExpressPCB (layout) can be linked together, so you don't have to manage your netlists yourself. – davidcary Apr 1 '11 at 15:33

I want to put in another pitch for Circad now OmniGlyph. I've used it since it first came out. I started out with OrCAD when it was new so that gives you an idea how long I've been pounding away on CAD systems. I tried to use Tango (Didn't care for it), Protel and ahhhh my memory is really fading. Schema? I think thats what it was called.

I like the simple ascii format files. *And the format is not some secret format. I hate buzz words like "seemless" but it does take you from schematic to PCB with a perfect pass fail on your connections. Or to make it simpler... All the connections on the Schematic get to the PCB which is the point. And lost btw on so many other CAD systems. I also like that this program is not a constant mouse for this keyboard back and forth. And on that topic its not filled with Left Shift h type keyboard commands.

You can mouse around or type. (its all optional either way) The non secret file format is valuable if you want to parse our things or replace components or any other thing you can think up.

Tech support is better then any other program I've seen. It clear that English is the primary language (Not Indian) and whoever you speak to has (for me) the answer or gets the correct one back asap. Oh, this might just be an impression I got, but I've reported a couple things (One that was an obscure bug) It got fixed in days and I got an email sending me the fixed version. This happened in DAYS!? And NO I'm not kidding.

I don't know if that happens all the time but I know for sure it doesn't happen with any other software I own. I've heard second hand about feature requests being added which totally blows my mind. Windows is updating weekly but that seems to be mostly to slow my system and only causes new improved screens of death.

I forgot the last maybe most important thing. Its unbelievably small (Thus Fast) and setup can be as easy as making a directory any putting OmniGlyph into it. So - Backing up everything (Program, Libraries, Schematics, Mechanical drawing parts etc) fits on a thumb drive (And you can tun it from that btw) So if Windows coughs up a furball your back up running instantly. Or at least as fast as you can fix or reinstall windows.

5 out of 5 stars for me.

Download the free version at http://holophase.com/ Check out this user group I set up on E-Groups (Now Yahoo Groups) I'm the really handsome gent who looked perplexed on the left side of the site

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/CIRCAD/ I think I was trying to understand an 8080 memory test program.

#1 Fan - Jay

share|improve this answer

Here's a free one that I haven't seen mentioned that is pretty nice for simple layouts:


My company primarily works with PADS and Eagle, so +1 on recommendations for those. However, as mentioned, not free!

Fritzing and Diptrace are both worthwhile to take a look at.

Edit: please see comments below

share|improve this answer
Nothing I found in a quick look around where you linked says that ngspice can be used for layout. Can you link to something that specifically shows how ngspice is used for layout? – The Photon Jul 2 '14 at 23:39
Oops, sorry. I guess this is a circuit simulator and not layout software. An engineer at my company recommended it. Here are 2 others that are free: CADstar express 300 pins; 50 component maximum limitations CometCAD 102x102mm, 2 layer limitations – SFCircuits Aug 3 '14 at 13:38

I'd like to recommend EasyEDA.It's a free web based PCB tool for anyone involved in electronics design and able to share the work with others.

I have been using EasyEDA for over a year now with great results. The most startling things about EasyEDA are not just that it is free up to the point where you want to physically buy a (low cost) PCB directly from EasyEDA but that, unlike ExpressPCB and some others, you are not tied into buying the PCBs from EasyEDA: you can download Gerbers and send them off to any PCB fab house at no charge from EasyEDA.

It has some pretty impressive import (and export) options. For instance it can import schematic and PCB designs from Altium and Eagle. Library import from KiCad is also provided.

EasyEDA also has good simulation support using ngspice. Many LTspice simulations can be run in ngspice with little editing effort.

If people are interested to try it, I’d recommend looking through the Tutorial and the Simulation eBook before diving in.https://easyeda.com/Doc/Tutorial/

share|improve this answer
As I understand it, If you ever need PCB's manufactured, then you are tied to purchasing PCB boards from this single supplier. But if you are happy with this limitation then yes it does look good. – Icy Nov 3 '15 at 10:27
-1 for adding even more noise to a question that should have been deleted years ago. – Olin Lathrop Nov 3 '15 at 11:57
Yes,it's good if his single supplier happen to meet your need.but most people would like to have more choices.so EasyEDA can solve this problem. – MaxBlack Nov 4 '15 at 6:29

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.