Are you on the hunt for the ideal PCB design software? It can be an arduous process but it is entirely worth it when you find the right program for you. Here are some of the factors you should think about when you are searching for the right software.
Paid vs Free
If you are a professional PCB designer then chances are that your company has a budget to allow you a top of the range design software. However, if you are an amateur or a freelancer, you might not be able to afford the expensive subscriptions you need for the top-of-the-line software.
Luckily, there are plenty of excellent free PCB design softwares out there for you to trial. Some of them have just as many capabilities of their parent paid-for software, meaning that you can create whatever you need to without the need to pay for services you don’t need.
A Good UI
This is one that is very much down to you. The user interface is often what makes or breaks someone’s relationship with a piece of software and unfortunately, it is entirely subjective. One person might look at a PCB design software’s UI and think that it is simple and intuitive to use. Another might look at it and think that it is the worst thing they have ever seen.
There is no way to know how you will react until you see it for yourself and give it a go. However, many of the top software companies offer a free trial of their services. This will allow you to fully trial the software within a certain time period and then decide whether or not you want to commit to the full package.
All the Extras You Need
As we mentioned above, many of the free PCB design softwares have the same capabilities as the full system. You should check to see if you have all the extras you need in the free service as, depending on the complexity of your project, you might be able to get away with having just the free software.
There are some things you always need. A decent PCB router tool like Altium will help you to check that your components will be able to work properly on the board and that your topology is correct. Likewise, you should always check for compatibility with gerber files, although you will probably have to download a piece of third-party software to help with the conversion. Make a list of everything you need your design software to do and try to find it. There is probably a software out there which offers nearly everything you need.
The right PCB design software for you is out there, you just need to find it. Make sure that you find something which is completely compatible with you and the way you work to avoid frustrations and carelessness on your part. Before long, you will be designing high-quality PCBs on a design software which is effortless and easy to use.
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