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 firstname.lastname@example.org !
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!