Home GuitarPCB Forum General DIY Pedal Discussion designing circuits and PCB’s

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    So I’m wondering, as I’m learning about these circuits involved in guitar effects, I’ve been reading a bunch of online articles about how to read schematics, trying to glean as much as possible from others on how they are tinkering with known circuits to produce different results, and so on, I keep seeing pictures that look like they are made in some sort of software. A quick google search points me to things like a software called “eagle” and so on… which inevitably leads to something stating “use the schematics to design the PCB and then have it printed by a board manufacturer”…

    so I guess I never really thought about it before, but I would assume that most people that are designing boards are probably using some software to design it and then some path to having it made, so my question is this, while learning this hobby, what software (preferably of the free download type variety) could a beginner use to start to 1. understand the process of building a schematic and 2. try to (eventually, after much much more learning) try to design and build their own circuits and PCB’s for effects, and finally, 3. is there any value in trying to learn that stuff early on like this or should I just stick to trying to follow what I’ve been following so far, which is notes from online builders and just tinkering?

    as always, I appreciate the opinions here, you guys are very informative on what you do and how you do it. so far this has been a treasure trove of knowledge for me to come across.


    There are a few CAD programs for pcb design

    KiCad is completely free and you can get free versions of Eagle and Diptrace although they are not the full version they are fine for guitar effects pcbs

    I’d suggest reading comparisons then once you decide which program you are going to use, follow a tutorial that takes you through the process of completing a simple pcb or download and try them all I’ve tried eagle and Kicad

    Eagle is probably the most popular it being one of the first ones available I myself use KiCad, with all of them there are different learning curves, Eagle apparently isnt the most user friendly but does have a lot of component libraries available for guitar effects

    KiCad full version is free and perhaps doesn’t have as many component and footprint libraries available but is definitely catching up as it grows in popularity in the DIY community and you can of course make your own components and footprints

    Diptrace I’ve heard good things about but have never tried it

    I think the biggest thing you’ll learn is an appreciation for pcb suppliers especially those that offer a large amount

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with having a go especially if it’s a free programme you’ve got nothing to loose

    Imo it wont teach you why a circuits laid out the way it is for example why a pots wired as a voltage divider or variable resistor but it will lead you to finding out why

    Like most things you can do it parrot fashion although it helps you don’t need to be an expert on how to draw a schematic from scratch you can simply copy a schematic into your software

    Again you’ll learn by using Google to find out why a resistor or whatever is where it is and what it’s being used for

    There are plenty of user groups and forums and again you’d simply Google eagle tutorial etc to find videos and so on






    Thank you Billy!


    Billy is awesome!



    In the 80’s and 90’s I used OrCad Professional and had PCB layout down to a fine art. But I’ve slept since then and no longer use any PCB layout programs. I downloaded “Easy EDA” when it put its stuff up for free. (I still haven’t gotten around to installing it.) You can select between an online app or a downloadable client. Does schematics, PCB and circuit simulator. The web version address is: https://easyeda.com/editor

    Just create a free account and login. Their download center is here: https://easyeda.com/page/download


    Thank you! I’ll check that out too!

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