A printed circuit board (PCB) mechanically supports and electrically connects electronic components using conductive tracks, pads and other features etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. Components (e.g. capacitors, resistors or active devices) are generally soldered on the PCB.
There are many PCB design packages available on the market, a few of which are freeware, shareware, orlimited component full versions. Protel is the defacto industry standard package in Australia. Professionals use the expensive high end Windows based packages such as 99SE and DXP. Hobbyists use the excellent freeware DOS based Protel AutoTrax program, which was, once upon a time, the high-end package of choice in Australia. Confusingly, there is now another Windows based package also called AutoTrax EDA.
Before you even begin to lay out your PCB, you MUST have a complete and accurate schematic diagram. Many people jump straight into the PCB design with nothing more than the circuit in their head, or the schematic drawn on loose post-it notes with no pin numbers and no order. This just isn’t good enough, if you don’t have an accurate schematic then your PCB will most likely end up a mess, and take you twice as long as it should.
Custom and predefined footprints
Layout rules verification
Full control of PCB views and layers
Automated ground-plane wizard
Auto-generate nets from traces