Designing PCBs is a much more fun and accessible activity for any electronics enthusiast. Once you understand how to design your own PCBs, you can order custom boards to put in your electronics projects. PCBs underpin just about every electronic device in the modern world.
Altium is probably the most widely-known PCB design software on the market. Not only does it enable users to design PCB blueprints, but Altium also features a circuit simulator that allows you to do some basic testing and troubleshooting. You can use Octopart to search for components like dip switches and solid-state relays, then use the datasheets provided to integrate those components with your Altium design. The circuit emulator isn’t perfect, but it is a good way of verifying the validity of an initial design.
Altium’s feature set is by far the most comprehensive on the market. Like many premium PCB designers, Altium is available under a subscription model. But with prices starting above $7,000, this isn’t going to be in everyone’s price range.
PCB Artist is produced by Advanced Circuits, a developer who has already made a name for themselves in the industry. Not only does PCB Artist come to you from an established and reliable developer, but Advanced Circuits have packed myriad features into the products.
Whether you are an enthusiast looking to get serious about electrical engineering or you are gearing up to start your own small business, PCB Artist is an intuitive and powerful tool to have on your side.
Solidworks PCB is among the best entry-level PCB designers on the market. Most of the software on offer is either open-source or carries a premium price tag. Solidworks PCB provides powerful design technology to the mid-range market.
There are lots of good reasons to embrace open-source software in your business. Going open-source can enable you to save money without compromising on the quality of the software you use. Not only is KiCad free to use, but a dedicated community ensures that the software is getting better all the time.
As well as providing you with all the standard features you expect from PCB design software, KiCad also offers a 3D viewer and schematic capture. KiCad is versatile enough to be used for just about any electronics project you are planning.
DipTrace’s standout feature has to be its autorouting. By combining autorouting with smart manual routing, DipTrace makes it easy to get to grips with the basics of printed circuit board design without having to worry about managing every aspect by yourself.
XCircuit is a schematic capture program that aims to automate as much of the electronic design process as possible. XCircuit produces some of the best schematic circuit diagrams of any PCB design software today.
These are our recommended options for PCB designers in 2020. There is no single designer that is better than all the others. Altium is the industry standard, but it is a pricy option. For enthusiasts and small businesses, there are better alternatives.