EAGLE PCB Software

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PCB is the abbreviation of Printed Circuit Boards. They house all the components and contain electrical traces to connect them together. A PCB software helps in designing a PCB whether it is for a huge production or just self-made PCBs. In my college, I was taught how to use the Protel PCB software (now called Altium) and I was told that it is an industry standard. But almost 80 percent of the time when I am browsing an electronic website, they all talk about EAGLE. EAGLE is another type of PCB software and it performs similarly to the Protel software. Well, it’s good that I’ve been taught how to use Protel but I have to do something myself, if not I will be left out in the dark.

So, in my free time I went online to search for tutorials and tried to learn EAGLE myself. Initially the learning curve was very steep but after some time when I’m familiar with the software interface I felt comfortable. At times I really do feel that EAGLE is more user-friendly than Protel (maybe that’s because I was using a very old version of Protel in college). Soon I felt confident so I tried to design a PCB for my Electronic Dice project (you can read more about it here) but before I start, I want to explain why EAGLE is so popular among students and hobbyist.

The biggest difference between EAGLE and Protel/Altium is it’s FREE. They do offer the Light Edition as a freeware and of course it has some limitations but for personal or educational purposes, these limitations will not bother you at all. In their website, they listed the limitations and there are only THREE!

1. The maximum PCB area is only 10cm by 8cm.
2. The user is only limited to designing PCBs with top and bottom layer (most of us use bottom only anyway).
3. The schematic editor is only limited to one sheet.

To read more about it, go to their website. If you need to design PCBs that exceed these limitations, you can opt for the education version which is cheaper. For me, the Light Edition is more than enough so let’s get to it.

When you launch EAGLE, you are welcomed with the Control Panel where you can find your project files, view the library, edit the design rules, and etc.

To start, create a project and then a new schematic file. For any PCB software, you have to design the schematics first and then the program will generate a board file. Here is my completed schematics.

Then, just click on the Board button on the top toolbar and EAGLE will automatically generate a board file. The user still have to arrange the components on the board according to their liking. Then, the user have to route the connections either manually or by using the Auto Route feature. For small projects I recommend using manual routing for tidier results. Also, I added a ground plane to avoid wasting copper during the etching process (I personally think that ground planes make the PCB look very cool). Here is the finished product.

I wanted a silkscreen so I isolated the unwanted layers and here’s how it looks like.

Not forgetting the most important part, the bottom layer of the PCB.

Lastly, these are the final images to be printed out (I’m not planning to do a PCB based on this project, I did this just as a practise).
Note : The below images are enlarged to 150% for better viewing.

If you’re into electronics I highly recommend learning/using EAGLE to design your PCBs. It’s FREE 🙂

  1. Hi, after reading this remarkable article i am as well happy to share my knowledge here with colleagues.

  2. Jimmy09-28-2012

    Hi,

    Waihong,

    i very new to eagle pcb and like to learn more from you. Please advice me how to wiring bus for double pcb board.

    Thanks and Best Regards,

    Jimmy ( malaysia).

    • waihung09-29-2012

      Hi.
      To wire for two different layers, you can select top or bottom from the pull down menu on the top left, after selecting the wire tool.

      By default bottom layer is in blue while top layer is red.

      Hope this helps 🙂

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