Project #1 – Part II

I finally got around to drawing the circuit board.  To do this, I decided to use the gEDA project, put the project into gschem, then use geda’s pcb software to draw the circuit board.

This was an unusually frustrating thing to do.  I selected gEDA, as I love open source, but like many open source projects it simply is not up to scratch.  Many problems occured, like not finding a few very basic parts in the footprint library (TO-5 and 10mm header), struggling to get the netlist working from gschem to gEDA-pcb, and also general frustration like the gEDA-pcb not working correctly in Ubuntu.  I guess they use a direct framebuffer to draw the PCB window over the screen, as I could not view anything beneath the PCB.  Also not being able to simply “ctrl-c, ctrl-v” to copy-paste is not very nice.

As frustrating as it may have been, I finished the circuit board.  I would not recommend using gEDA-pcb.  For other projects, I will use other free options, and having had good experiences with Designspark Mechanical, I’ll next try Designspark PCB.  gschem does seem to work nicely enough, though.

Here’s a screenshot of the final schematic I used:

The circuit board is shown here:

There are lots of problems with this PCB layout.  The biggest problem I can easily identify is that there is no ground plane.  I could not get the PCB software to draw a nice ground plane which was connected to the ground of the circuit, it insisted on having clearance to ground, and after some fiddling I simply gave up.  The gEDA-pcb project, while very ambitious and laudable, is just not ready for use yet.

I will share the schematics and PCB files on request.  Just pop me an email at !

Next step is to get the blank circuit board into a final circuit board.  I am going to CNC this board in a few days time and post the results!

All of the best and enjoy the day!

-Peter Peiser

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