In the 1990’s there was a push to build EDA frameworks, however they all failed because no user wanted to be locked into one EDA vendor tool flow. Fast forward to 2014 and there’s an emerging trend to use web-based EDA tools as a framework, instead of downloading and installing software to your desktop or device. I just learned from Andy Fiermana design engineer at Zetechtics about a new company called EasyEDAoffering free EDA tools on the web that give you the following three major capabilities in the cloud:
- Schematic Capture
- SPICE circuit simulation
- PCB layout
I’ve played a bit with their web-based tools at www.easyeda.com . They have a 5 minute video on YouTube accompanied by music, but no voice over, and it visually walks you through the process of creating a schematic, simulation and PCB layout.
With most commercial EDA tools there’s a somewhat lengthy process that you must follow to even evaluate or try out their tools, not so with EasyEDA, just visit their web site and click the Free Trial button. In the web browser you quickly see a demo schematic using a 555 timer, LED, MOS device, resistors, diode and capacitors.
I next selected to simulate this design with transient analysis, and in a few seconds had the results ready to view:
The circuit simulation tool is called Ngspice, and it’s an Open Source tool.
They offer many part libraries:
Switching from schematic to PCB layout takes just a click, and then you can position your parts while viewing the rats nest. Routing is fully manual, so this is adequate for small projects.
Learning the system takes only a few minutes to hours of your time. There’s a helpful tutorial if you like to follow a guided set of steps. A list of features include:
[*=left]PCB Design Rules and Checking
[*=left]PCB netlist in
[*=left]WaveForm simulation plot data (in CSV format)
[*=left]Creation of BoM reports
[*=left]Altium/ProtelDXP Ascii Schematic/PCB
[*=left]LTspice Schematic/symbols (may require editing for Ngspice compatibility)
[*=left]Kicadlibs/modules (footprint libraries)
[*=left]Spice models and subcircuits
[*=left]Symbol creation and editing
[*=left]Multi-sheet and Hierarchical schematics (passive drawings and active simulation schematics)
[*=left]Spice subcircuit creation
[*=left]Post simulation measurements
[*=left]PCB footprint creation and editing
[*=left]Simple but powerful general drawing capabilities
[*=left]Schematic symbol, spice model and PCB footprint library management
[*=left]Online sharing of – and collaborative working[SUP][/SUP]on – schematics, simulations, PCB layouts, designs and projects
Like I said, it’s free, however if you want to actually fabricate your PCB then they do offer a PCB layout service.
EasyEDA has a promising start here with the concept of using a web-based design approach, free EDA tool cost, and PCB production services for hire.