TOP FIVE CIRCUIT BOARD DESIGN APPS
Apps can do just about anything! You can order food, track your sleep, monitor your home security—all with a swipe of the finger. Innovative apps aren’t limited to lifestyle, thankfully! With so many niche interests and professions out there, so come the niche apps—including electronic engineering
and circuit board design!Whether you’re a student, hobbyist, or professional, we’ve rounded up the top five apps for electronic circuit board design to help you choose the next addition to your app collection. In no particular order or ranking, here they are!
First up is Droid PCB, a PCB design app for Android Users. With this app, you can create, save, and load a project from an SD card; design double-sided PCBs and navigate between layers; hide unused layers; design your own Macro Library; and export your design to PDF or IMG. The app’s developers are working on Geber export, a bigger Library, and support for keyboard and mouse, should you want a little more technical dexterity. Overall, it’s a great app (especially at its zero dollar price point), with users already wishing for the library upgrade and mouse/keyboard support.
Platform: Android, iPhone, iPad
EveryCircuit is a “tap and play” app, where you build your circuit and hit go. With the highest price point we found, it certainly delivers in user experience, interface, and capabilities. You can adjust parameters while your “circuit” is running, and the adjustments are made in real time. And from the developer’s description: “You can even generate an arbitrary input signal with your finger!” It boasts features like a schematic editor, an ever-updated library of components both digital and analog, animations of voltage waveforms, current flows, & capacitor charges, oscilloscope, and a public community to share and access designs. You can shake your device to kick-start your oscillators too! And since it’s a paid app, there are no advertisements. EveryCircuit is valued by professional electrical engineers for things like testing functionality and simulating filter designs, and students use it to help them in their studies. It’s celebrated by beginners for its user-friendliness, and by experts for its sophistication.
Platform: iPhone, iPad
Schematics Lite is, according to its developers, “a sophisticated engineering database management system that allows the electronic designer to easily create and revise electronic circuit designs (digital or analog).” The app gives its users access to thousands of libraries, both in-app or online, and streamlines the editing process—you don’t need to have a complete schematic finished before editing. It has a level of complexity that is surprising for a free application, though some users have struggled with navigating the libraries. Overall, enthusiasts of Schematics Lite actually prefer it to PC-based programs!
Platform: iPhone, iPad
PCB-ST Lite is geared for those who work with printed circuit board design and layout. Developed by McCAD, the app claims it “is net list driven and supports full forward and backward annotation of all net and component attributes passed to and from our McCAD Schematics Lite (available separately).” The app allows for easy cross-checking, design rule checking, auto ground plane creation, auto thermal dispersion, and lets the designer place up to 150 pins. McCAD also hosts additional support tools on its website, and there is an educational version available (PCB-ST SE500) for those looking for an upgrade.
Droid Tesla Pro
Droid Tesla Pro is a Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis (SPICE). The simulator solves basic resistive circuits using Kirchoff’s Current Law (KCL), Gaussian elimination and sparse matrix techniques. For non-linear components, the app makes an initial guess and then improves its own solution with successive calculations via the Newton-Raphson iterative algorithm. Numeric integration methods are used to approximate the state of reactive elements (capacitors and inductors) as a function of time. Droid Tesla Pro can simulate resistors, capacitors, inductors, potentiometers, light bulbs, ampermeters, oscilloscopes, voltage and current sources, and much, much more. Some users do struggle using the app without Wi-Fi or a data connection, which is a point of contention for paid software. For those who want to try it before buying, Droid Tesla Pro also offers a free version.