Cabe Atwell @ eetimes.com:
There’s nothing better than “free” when it comes to just about everything, even PCB software. Just because some software is more expensive doesn’t make it better than some of those free PCB packages found on the Internet. In this round up, we will take a look at some of the past popular platforms that are still consistently being supported and updated. One criteria… some sort of update has to be present on the software’s support website in the last two years.
First on our list comes from Mirko Bruno Sortini with his ZentiPCB platform, which features several freeware programs to help users design their own PCBs. ZentiCapture allows users to quickly and easily design schematics using an easy-feature tool set, which allows users to place parts (component symbols) using the orthogonal locking and snap to pin. Once the schematics (in netlist form) are finished, they can then be ported over to ZentiPCB.
10 free PCB CAD programs - [Link]
DipTrace is a sophisticated schematic and PCB layout software. I had it installed on my computer for over a year but have never really used it. Since I needed a super simple PCB for some 78XX / 79XX type linear regulators, I decided to use this opportunity for my first steps with DipTrace.
DipTrace offers different prices for different packages. The cheapest version, DipTrace Starter (300 pins, 2 signal layers), is available for $ 75. DipTrace Full offers unlimited pins and unlimited signal layers for $ 895. All versions of DipTrace come with a humongous parts library and 3D models for a large amount of general purpose parts. In case a part or footprint is not included in the libraries, DipTrace offers both a component editor and a pattern editor for custom parts.
I needed a super small PCB for 78XX type voltage regulators. This mini project was perfect for my first steps with DipTrace. Please be aware that this article is going to be extremely coarse as it is supposed to be a general overview of the DipTrace software. The functionality of this software is rather complex as this is a professional design tool. More detailed articles will follow.
PCB layout design with DipTrace – An overview - [Link]
PICsim emulates a microcontroller PIC16F628/16F877A/18F452 and periferics such as USART and timers, the simulator architecture permit easy implementation of external elements in c language. PicsimLab is a realtime emulator of development boards.
PICsim – PIC microcontroller simulator - [Link]
SAN FRANCISCO and MINNEAPOLIS, January 26, 2015 — Punch Through Design, a hardware and software development firm that brings Bluetooth Low Energy hacking to the masses, has released the Windows Bean Loader, the first-ever wireless Arduino programming app for Windows users. Using the loader app, Windows-based developers and hobbyists can easily upload code to their LightBlue Bean and experience the power of Bluetooth Low Energy, without cables or a physical connection to the LightBlue Bean.
“The LightBlue Bean represents a new method of wirelessly interacting with prototypes and projects; says Colin Karpfinger, founder and CEO, Punch Through Design. Previously, only Mac OS X and iOS users could program their Beans, and now we are extending that functionality to Windows users.
The full-featured app, available from the Windows Store, fills a void for Windows-based developers and DIYers looking to create smartphone-controlled devices.
Windows Bean Loader Enables Wireless Arduino Programming from Surface Pro Tablets - [Link]
by Dave Young @ element14.com:
A ULP (User Language Program) is a feature designed into EAGLE to allow users to generate their own processes to automate tasks that would otherwise be tedious and time consuming. While most users know that this functionality exists, very few want to write their own script. A casual user would have to dump far more time learning the system and designing/testing their code than just completing the task at hand.
EAGLE ULPs Every User Should Know - [Link]
The first approximation is based on a modification of an expression developed by Wheeler; the second is derived from electromagnetic principles by approximating the sides of the spirals as current-sheets; and the third is a monomial expression derived from fitting to a large database of inductors (and the exact inductance values).
Single layer Planar spiral coil inductor calculator - [Link]
by Michael Dunn @ edn.com:
When we first encountered the offspring of this Digi-Key/Mentor CAD collaboration, it was still in beta, and the pricing model was unclear. Now that it’s here for real, let’s take a quick look.
Mentor meets Digi-Key, low-cost CAD results - [Link]
by Kathy Yang @ elecfreaks.com:
We could often feel frustrated when programming using the Arduino IDE. Why? Not because of how many errors we encounter in the program, but it is so difficult to find out the errors in source code, which is really something freaking out. For example Arduino IDE does not seem to display the number of rows, the prompt window can show us in which line the error occurs, but we just have no ideas where the line it is. If you can double click to find exact position of that line, then we will not care about which line it is: line 1 or line 10. But that just hasn’t happened.
Use Sublime Text 2 to Replace Arduino IDE - [Link]
Kaspar of Monostable shared this helpful purchasing tool the 1clickBOM, a browser extension to quickly add electronic components to shopping carts:
1clickBOM is purchasing tool that let’s you keep one bill of materials (BOM) for items from multiple retailers. It’s a browser extension that fills your online shopping carts for you. To add items to 1clickBOM you simply paste from a spreadsheet or visit an online .tsv file.
Currently supported retailers are:
1clickBOM, a browser extension to quickly add components to shopping carts - [Link]
Raj writes with this technique for installing open source drivers on Windows.
I came across a surprisingly simple approach to installing USBasp and USBtiny drivers for all versions of Windows — XP, 7, 8, 8.1, whether 32-bit or 64-bit, all inclusive! As you may know, installing open-source drivers such as USBasp and USBtiny have been a great pain on some of the recent Windows OS, due to the enforcement of signed drivers. The typical solution involves rebooting Windows into a mode that disables driver signature enforcement. This can be a huge source of frustration.
While searching for ‘fully signed USBasp driver’, I came across this tool called Zadig, which can be used to install libusb drivers on all versions of Windows, and it’s digitally signed. Since USBasp and USBtiny are both based on libusb, it worked really well — I was able to install both drivers on Windows XP, 7 (32-bit and 64-bit), 8, and 8.1 instantly, without messing with driver signature enforcement at all. I was mostly surprised such a great solution wasn’t documented more widely online.
How-to install open source USBasp and USBtiny drivers on Windows - [Link]