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Circuit design tools for beginners and professionals

18 Jun 2015  | Bernard Cole

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Similar to CircuitMaker, the Fritzing site has a library of components from which you can create your basic designs. Though it is not as comprehensive as CircuitMaker, it does allow you to create your own custom components and add them to the library on the site.

Because the breadboard view is similar to the Arduino physical layout, it will allow DIYers who want to create a product based on what they have created to go to the next step and use it as the template using the Fritzing tool.

Playing around with the Fritzing tool has inspired me to think more seriously about a couple of ideas I have, such as a glucose blood tester that is actually useful to a diabetic. I have a couple of old ones that I can tear apart and use their components to create a design on an Arduino board, and if that works I will take it to the next step with the Fritz tool.

Some caveats

Similar to most free-open source PCB tools, Fritz limits design of printed circuit boards to no more than two layers, while CircuitMaker places no limits on the number of layers.

Schematic view

The Fritzing tool has a schematic view that shows the electrical specs and connections of the components you have selected, which can then be modified and corrected. (Source:

If you want to progress to a more sophisticated design with all of the professional bells and whistles, the developers of the Fritzing tool have provided a migration path to the Eagle PCB design tool.

All in all, between the two online tools I now have a combination that will allow me to be more informed about developments in PCB design: Fritz for hands-on experience in an environment that allows me to just putter around, and CircuitMaker for learning from a community of more experienced PCB developers.

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