Earlier this year, I’ve tried Gumstix Geppetto, a web-based application that let you easily design and order boards. You can just add some building blocks in Chrome browser, connect them, and you’re ready to order a PCB. However, the setup fee of $1999 reserves it to businesses. Don’t worry If you’re just a hobbyist as Fritzing, an open source software supporting Windows, MacOS and Linux, allows you to draw breadboard connections, and automatically route the schematics, and the PCB layout. You can then export the gerber files, or order directly from Fritzing Lab. The software is not exactly new, but it’s the first time I’ve come across it.
I’m using Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit, so let’s download, install and run the corresponding version:
tar xvf fritzing-0.8.3b.linux.AMD64.tar.bz2
I’ve decided to connect an LED on the breadboard, and control it with an Arduino Leonardo board to try the software. Alternatively, you could also play around with one of the examples accessible via File->Open Example. The software provides three views: Breadboard, Schematics and PCB that you can select in the top right window.
The Breadboard view starts with a lone breadboard, but you can select several board and components from the library (mainly from Sparkfun) to add to the view. I added Arduino Leonardo, an LED, and a resistor, and connected the LED to D4 pin. Time to move to the Schematics view.
I’ve just clicked on AutoRoute to let the software do the job automatically. The result is not really pretty, but it works. Time for the PCB view!
I’ve moved the components a bit, as well as the silkscreen markings, reduced the PCB size, and clicked AutoRoute for the result above. If you indeed want to receive the PCB, you can click on Order PCB to get Fritzing Lab manufacture it for you. Alternatively, you can also export the PCB as an image (PNG,JPG, SVG, PDF or Postscript), as Etchable PDF or SVG if you want to create the PCB yourself, or as Extended Gerber (RS-274x) if you want to order the PCB from somewhere else.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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