PCB tools

  • Schematic & Layout
    • Eagle PCBis a relatively low price commercial PCB design suite that is very popular.
    • KiCAD is a free/open-source PCB design suite. While I have not used it myself yet, I believe it is similar in capability to Eagle PCB, and there are scripts to convert Eagle libraries and designs to KiCAD format. There is a site for component libraries in KiCad format here.
      • kicadocaml is an alternative layout tool for Kicad.
      • pcad2kicad converts Pcad designs to Kicad format.
      • xml4pcb coverts PCB123 design to Kicad board file.
      • csv2footprint helps make KiCad PCB footprints from spreadsheets.
    • Cern-KiCad is an effort to improve KiCad by Cern. I don't know if this goes up to mainline KiCad or not, but it sounds like they are working on some impressive improvements to KiCad.
    • Pulsonix is, I'm told, a higher-end PCB/schematic tool with FPGA and high-speed design features, and I'm told it costs about twice what Eagle does. I've not asked for a quote myself yet, so I'm just repeating what I've heard in SparkFun forums. Sounds like a decent tool.
    • DesignSpark is a free to use PCB design too, free models at ModelSource and 3d models
    • Layout Editor can do PCB design, as well as VLSI chip design, MEMS, etc.
    • ExpressLib reads and converts data from ExpressSCH/ExpressPCB.
    • gEDA PCBis another open-source PCB tool suite.
    • UpVerter is a free online schematic, PDB and simulation tool for open-source projects. Share your projects, fork others, share and fork symbol and footprint libraries, etc.
    • Autodesk 123D Circuits (previously known as Circuits.IO) is another online PCB tool
    • CircuitHub is a place for people to freely share footprints and symbols. If you need something, check to see if someone has already provided it from their project.
    • Ultra Librarian from Accelrated Designs is a tool-agnostic format for symbol/footprint libraries. It's commercial, but not horribly expensive (Lite version), exports to a variety of PCB tools such as Eagle, and I've seen a handful of component vendors offering their part libraries in this format now.
  • Autorouters
    • FreeRouting is a free to use PCB interactive and autorouter compatible with Eagle and KiCad. It is a web-based Java application that interacts with the PCB software. It is not open-sourced, and it is not downloadable/installable to your computer, it only works over the web.
    • qautorouter intends to be a Specctra format compatible PCN autorouter.
    • Electra autorouter tool that can be used with Eagle and other layout tools. Has a relatively lower price than some high-end tools, but ain't free.
  • PCB Layer Stackup
    • IsoStack is a free online PCB layer stackup tool.
    • Sierra Circuits provides free online tools for HDI Layer Stackup and Material Selection tools to aid in design. Not sure, but this may be somewhat specific to their own fabrication service.
    • A forum discussion points to an Excel spreadsheet calculator at pcbstandards.com forum.
    • Another Excel spreadsheet calculator at circuitcalculator.com.
    • EE Circle has an online stackup tool as well as other online tools.
    • Calculators
    • TxLine is a transmission line calculator for Windows9x.
    • mmtl does 2d and 2.5d EM modelling tool, spice extractor, etc. tool suite.
    • mcalc is a microstrip calculator.
    • wcalc can be used for things such as coupled microstrip lines.
    • impedcalc is a transmission line impedance calculator.
    • mdtlc is a 2D fieldsolver for transmission lines.
    • atlc is a transmission line calculator.
  • Field Solvers
    • OpenEMS is an open-source 3d Field Solver that can import HyperLynx .hyp PCB files. It interfaces with Matlab/Octave, and uses hyp2mat to import Hyperlynx format files.
    • FastMaxwell is an open-source 3d field solver from MIT, and other related tools such as FastHenry, FastCap, FastImp, etc.
    • MMTL is an open-source 2D and 2.5D field solver
  • Gerber Viewers/Tools
  • Note that most gerber viewers only do the rs274X format, not the rs274D stuff. The gerbv mailing list had a discussion about this and a perl script came out of it, and was later updatedas someone had issues. I used this successfully looking at some D gerbers from PLX.
    • Gerbv is a free/open-source Gerber file viewer tool and is part of the Geda (aka GPLeda) tool set.
    • Viewmate is a gerber viewer with a free cost version available.
    • GraphiCode offers a free cost version of their GCPrevue gerber viewer. The pay-for Plus version allows some editing and other additional features.
    • GBtiler is a tool to tile gerber designs together, for RS274X.
    • Wise Software Solutions has a free IPC-2581 viewer
  • Design Viewers (Pro schematic/layout tool formats)
  • Simulation

PCB Information/Books/Webinars


  • BEST provides single use stick & peel solder stencils as well as metal stencils. They also do BGA rework and repair.
  • Sierra Circuits does PCB fabrication and assembly, including HDI.

Other Lists

Other Circuit Design Tools