Possible for novice to create PCB?

  • I would like to create a custom PCB for RFM69,battery or ac-relay and an arduino mini pro 5v or 3.3v. But where do I start? What program do I use and are there any easy programs where you just place the components and the software makes all the traces in a optimal way?

  • Admin

    you could go with kicad, and then use the "official" mysensors kicad repository for components, where both rfm69 and arduino mini have footprints available

    See https://github.com/mysensors-kicad/part_management for information on how to set things up..

  • Hardware Contributor

    I use http://fritzing.org/home/ for the design. I am usually looking for an existing design in the community, that does nearly what I want and then change it to my needs.

    Then I upload the exported gerber files to https://oshpark.com/.

    It is quite simple.

  • Hardware Contributor

    Ki-Cad or Eagle are both free PCB design software packages that will work. Eagle is commercial and limits free designs to 8cm x 10cm. Google for "Eagle vs kicad" and you'll see lots of discussions. Both have YouTube videos which are the best way (IMO) to learn them (search for "eagle/kicad tutorial" on youtube) and both have tons of parts libraries that are easy to use. I came across Eagle first so I started using that. If you can handle a basic schematic, you can be designing your first PCB in a week or so.

    You have to position your components on a board first, then both programs have an "auto-router" which will lay out the traces for you but it won't be good. At least for me, the fun in PCB design is doing the traces yourself.

  • Contest Winner

    I second that on autorouting. It may sound like a good idea, but it rarely works out as you hope.
    Also, it is good to start of with a large board. As large as possible (given constraints like cost, boxes, mounting area etc).
    Things get tricky when space is scarce. Take my word for it 😉 You can have a look at my 5x5 board which is pretty crowded.
    Another problem with crowded boards (as you see with mine) is that you usually won't be able to place components in neat rows which is also a good design practice. An example of that is @tbowmo's new gateway.

  • @Cliff-Karlsson Fritzing should be a good start for a beginner and as FotoFieber said - export your design as "Gerber" files (fritzing has these function on board), zip the gerber-folder and upload it to oshpark.com.

  • Hardware Contributor

    Eagle is much easier than it looks. I started a few ago with my first pcb. After looking one or two tutorials, i got my first successful schema. Just give it a try. One evening and a beer or glass of wine is enough to learn eagle.

  • Contest Winner

    I don't want to start another Eagle - kicad flame war here, but I would recommend kicad for the following reasons:

    • Open source. Always the safest option if you want to use open hardware licenses (some are more demanding when it comes to tools than other)
    • limitless in terms of board size, layers, number of holes, etc.
    • good MySensors support in terms of common modules and components related to MySensors networks (see tbowmo's link above) (the core team uses kicad for all new "official" boards (and quite some unofficial too))

  • Admin

    I second on the opensource, and open hardware licenses.. I know that I can't get into any legal mumble jumble, when using kicad. And as I make use of open hardware licenses, I know that others can open / edit my files, without getting into any legal twists, due to the chosen layout program.

  • I am trying to install the Kicad Mysensors library on a windows maching but don´t get it.

    I have added

    MYSGITHUB & https://github.com/mysensors-kicad
    then it says I should

    "On Windows, KiCad does not permit free-text entry to this location. Instead you have to edit your environment variables and add a "User variable" named MYSLOCAL instead (with the appropriate value)."

    What should I do ? and are there more steps?

  • Admin


    I think it was @blacey that wrote the windows specific stuff. I haven't got a windows machine (where I am allowed to install kicad). My pc simply refuses to start with windows (BSOD). So I am unable to help you on that part.

  • Contest Winner

    @Cliff-Karlsson yes, you need to add a user variable on Windows. If you are unfamiliar with this here is a link to help you out. Replace PATH with MYSLOCAL.

  • Thanks but what are the "appropriate value"?

  • Contest Winner

    @Cliff-Karlsson said:

    Thanks but what are the "appropriate value"?

    From the text: "The path must be named MYSLOCAL and it should point out the root of your cloned libraries."

  • I have tried and failed trying to add the mysensors.org items to kicad. If anyone have time I would really apricioate a step by step instruction.

  • Contest Winner

    @Cliff-Karlsson can you be more specific on what information you lack? There are detailed instructions in the repos for how to set it up: https://github.com/mysensors-kicad/part_management

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