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Fritzing Open Source Software Designs PCB Layouts from Breadboard Drawings

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:

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.

Fritzing Schematics View (Click to Enlarge)

Fritzing Schematics View (Click to Enlarge)

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.

Fritzing Schematics View (Click to Enlarge)

Fritzing Schematics View (Click to Enlarge)

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!

Fritzing PCB View (Click to Enlarge)

Fritzing PCB View (Click to Enlarge)

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.

  1. Noloqoq
    August 12th, 2013 at 15:14 | #1

    Very interesting tool, searching on wikipedia for more information (or eventually add it), I noticed, as it was already there, hat there are other free software related to electronic design automation, at least two are dedicated to editibf of PCB and/or circuit : gEDA and KiCad.


    Not sure there are really intuitives and well designed like Fritzing ? This one seems really well designed for fast hacks. Thank you vey much for the information.

  2. August 12th, 2013 at 15:20 | #2

    I’ve tried KiCad last year – http://www.cnx-software.com/2012/05/14/schematics-capture-and-pcb-layout-in-linux-with-kicad/
    It’s a more traditional tool, and several open hardware projects used it: EOMA-68 and HackRF for example.

    So if you already know how to draw schematics, and layout PCB, it’s probably a very good tool. But Fritzing allows people who basically don’t know anything about this to design their own (simple) PCBs.

  1. August 1st, 2014 at 14:25 | #1