FreePCB - What Should You Know?(Helpful)
FreePCB a free, open-source PCB design editor for Microsoft Windows. It was designed to be easy to learn and easy to use, yet capable of professional-quality work. Some of its features are 1 to 16 copper layers, board size up to 60 inches by 60 inches, imports and exports PADS-PCB netlists and more.
*I have used FreePCB to create the last three boards for my low vision barcode reader, I used ExpressPCB in the first version. I have also sampled other layout software such as PCB Artist (a proprietary program offered by Advanced Circuits) and the freeware version of Eagle (mention above).
*I use FreePCB and find it easy and intuitive to quickly create circuit layouts since it has a very short learning curve. It is mainly for the hobbyist in that it doesn't have a lot of the bells and whistles that KiCad and others have.
*In all of these programs I have always found the generation of, and/or access to footprint libraries as the biggest hurdle to overcome. And, when I first began using FreePCB it had the unique FOOTPRINT WIZARD! Inputting the package dimensions from your chosen components printed datasheet the FOOTPRINT WIZARD created a custom footprint that could then be saved in the "User" library folder and added to your PCB again and again! Additionally, you can toggle parts in-and-out of your board layout to make minor adjustments.
*When I begin a schematic I usually print out the pin-outs from the datasheet of the various components I plan to use. I then cut out the layout with scissors and paste them to a large piece of drafting paper, penciling in the connections between pins. At this point, I go to my local print shop and have a copy made. From there I lay all my traces by hand in FreePCB!
*If you are a novice you may want to choose a local board house (like Advanced Circuits) that can help you to configure the software to generate the CAM files properly. The nomenclature can be daunting and most board houses will not correct your mistakes. However, the "free call back" service offered by AC circuits is priceless for a novice!
*FreePCB does not include a schematics editor. You have to enter your netlist by hand!
*Suggest that newbies to PCB design read the getting started doc, it has a super introduction to the PCB designing process, something often overlooked by manuals (which assume you have some idea of what you're doing).What do you, other users, use for schematic entry?How is the autoroute-package?