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  • OT Circuit Diagram Software (Free?)

    Have a friend who is looking to do some circuit
    layout for some of his machines.
    Not PCB, but relay, push buttons, etc.
    He is looking for something that is somewhat
    basic and free if possible.

    Thanks for any help!!
    olf20 / Bob
    Last edited by olf20; 02-20-2019, 02:33 PM.

  • #2
    I use a cheap software for that.
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...vE6PqGWfFFK_33
    Helder Ferreira
    Setubal, Portugal

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    • #3
      Will Kicad or Fritzing do what you need?

      Comment


      • #4
        KiCad is a great program.

        Robert

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        • #5
          I use Mentor PADS PCB design suite, which combines schematics, PCB layout, and autorouting. I got it essentially free from a company I was doing work for, but the present version costs about $9000, plus an annual $500 maintenance fee for updates and support. But of course that is for high end PCB design, and I only use mostly its more basic features.

          Here are five recommendations for free software. It includes Kicad (which I evaluated many years ago and found difficult), and ExpressPCB, which I have only so as to view and edit designs of others who use it. Among the others, I know about DesignSpark, but not PCBweb or TinyCad.

          https://www.electronicproducts.com/E...available.aspx

          Other popular packages are Eagle and DIPtrace. More options and reviews:

          http://www.seeedstudio.com/blog/2017...sign-software/

          https://predictabledesigns.com/pcb-d...h-one-is-best/

          Another option, if you don't need to link the schematic to a PCB, is LTSpice. It is primarily a simulator, but the schematic editor is decent, and you can use the simulation to see how your circuit works. Also you can post the ASC file for others to try, and you can save the screen shot and show it here or other forums.

          Last edited by PStechPaul; 02-20-2019, 04:07 PM. Reason: LTSpice
          http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
          Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
          USA Maryland 21030

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          • #6
            Have him look at Express PCB.

            The libraries are what will have the specific schematic symbols he needs. If they're not included, he may have to create them personally.

            Comment


            • #7
              Many of the PCB manufacturing companies offer free software. The first step in designing a PCB is to draw a schematic and all of these free programs have that capability. They even have extensive libraries of available components and the ability to add new ones of your own. There is no restriction on their use and your friend could easily use them for circuit diagrams only. A component is a component and it looks the same on a schematic drawing regardless of it's physical size. So these programs are NOT limited to PCB schematics. You can draw ANY schematic that I have ever seen and I have over 45 years experience in electronic/electric design and maintenance. I have two or three of these free programs on my design computer and have never paid a single penny for them of their use.

              On The Other Hand, when I want a better looking schematic, I use my 2D CAD program. It is not free, but reasonably priced. And it came with a rather good library of electric and electronic components. And, like above, I can add new components as I need them: just draw them and save into the proper folder. I am using FastCAD. When I am doing a one-off circuit or one where only a few will ever be made I often use some form of perf-board instead of purchasing or making a PCB (yes, I have made PCBs at home). I often plan the layout on the same drawing as the schematic. They offer a free trial period so your friend can try it at no cost. I am sure other CAD packages offer the same or similar capabilities and many of them are free.
              Last edited by Paul Alciatore; 02-20-2019, 05:43 PM.
              Paul A.
              SE Texas

              Make it fit.
              You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

              Comment


              • #8
                The problem with using a general purpose CAD program for schematics is that you must redraw connections when you move a component, and it doesn't offer a net list for making a PCB or using design rule checking. Also beware of free software from PCB fabricators, as the design is often a proprietary format that can only be used to make PCBs by that manufacturer. You can get small boards made from www.pcbway.com, practically for free, but you need to supply Gerber plot files and NC drill files.
                http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                USA Maryland 21030

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sounds like the OP needs ladder type programming not PCB, although Kicad is great for that.
                  olf20 when you say 'lay-out' are you refering to the ladder or the wiring layout, these are usually the only two included in machine schematics.
                  Schneider Electric used to publish a electrical circuits PDF, but I see it is no longer on the site, I have a copy, if needed, also there is a copy of NFPA79 out there in PDF I believe.
                  Ladder format is pretty much the universal standard.
                  Max.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Max - I need wiring layout. Sorry I did not know what to call it.
                    Thanks for helping make that clear, and thanks for all the replies!
                    olf20 / Bob

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think Max has this right, the OP is looking for controls or ladder diagramming and/or "electrical", rather than "electronic" circuit drawing tools. Something that includes stuff like motor starters and protectors, contactors, circuit breakers, motors (maybe single and 3 phase), indicators and the like. You can massage PC software like kicad or Eagle into doing it but it's pretty tedious and just sort of not quite the tool for the job.

                      Max, you mention Kicad is good for ladder diagrams, I did not know it did that easily. Not looked at Kicad in a very long time as I've not needed it, it was still pretty new last time I tried it.

                      I have somewhat been looking for the same. I have a project coming up doing a sizeable retrofit of PLC control system for a piece of machinery for a friend. It's sufficiently complex that I want to document it well so that I won't be utterly confused when I come back a year later to change or fix something. So I was looking for the same sort of software and found it to be strangely difficult to find unless one wants to spend significant money to buy Autocad electrical or something of similar magnitude. I'm not in a position to do that, really, at least not from a logical standpoint. There are a few out there in the several hundred dollar range which look capable and that's not totally out of the realm, but still, I may be a bit too cheap for that yet.m

                      It is odd because this seems to one of few things where there are not multiple low end or open source choices that I've found. There are typically at least a few choices (not all of which are great, I know) to try out and you can usually find something that's close enough to work. Seemingly not for this.

                      I did find this open source package for just this sort of stuff:

                      https://qelectrotech.org/

                      I downloaded it and it actually looks to be pretty nice and capable package. The documentation is still pretty sparse at least in English. My French is not all it could be I guess. So while I've messed around with it a bit, I don't feel anywhere near competent enough to use it for anything I feel important. But that's my shortcoming, not the software. OP may want to take a look at that and should probably invest more time and effort that I have to learn it properly...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by alanganes View Post
                        ...

                        I did find this open source package for just this sort of stuff:

                        https://qelectrotech.org/

                        ...
                        Interesting... just ran up the Linux appimage version and it seems useful. It doesn't have the pcboard output, all the netlists, etc., but that means it doesn't have to force the perfection that those require. It's got Arduino's to plumbing fixtures built in... lots of specific manufacturing stuff, and it seems quite easy to modify what's there.

                        I've found having to find the exact component that has the right pin numbering to be frustrating when I just want to make a schematic to, you know, use as a schematic. I might actually use this on occasion.



                        Which is not bad for 15min of messing around, and mixing electronic and plumbing on the same drawing. And... no, I don't expect the above to work, nor be any kind of wonderful example... other than what can be done by someone that's never used the application, doesn't read French (some of the plumbing stuff seems to be French suppliers), and doesn't really care about form nor function at this point in the evening.

                        Thanks for the link,

                        David...
                        http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by fixerdave View Post
                          Interesting... just ran up the Linux appimage version and it seems useful. It doesn't have the pcboard output, all the netlists, etc., but that means it doesn't have to force the perfection that those require. It's got Arduino's to plumbing fixtures built in... lots of specific manufacturing stuff, and it seems quite easy to modify what's there.

                          I've found having to find the exact component that has the right pin numbering to be frustrating when I just want to make a schematic to, you know, use as a schematic. I might actually use this on occasion.



                          Which is not bad for 15min of messing around, and mixing electronic and plumbing on the same drawing. And... no, I don't expect the above to work, nor be any kind of wonderful example... other than what can be done by someone that's never used the application, doesn't read French (some of the plumbing stuff seems to be French suppliers), and doesn't really care about form nor function at this point in the evening.

                          Thanks for the link,

                          David...
                          I thought it looked pretty promising as well. I'm pretty sure that not having PCB output and netlists and the like is 100% intentional. This is aimed at people doing electrical (and I guess plumbing as well) layouts for power distribution in a building or shop and for stuff like industrial and machine control cabinets. It seems to have wire numbering schemes more typically found in those sort of schematics.
                          Doing cabinet wiring and ladder style diagrams in PCB software can be done but I found it annoyingly cumbersome for anything even marginally complex. Just not the correct tool for the job.

                          I really need to spend more time with this particular package myself as it looks to be pretty useful. Hopefully it gains enough interest and traction to keep developing.

                          (And in spite of your disclaimer, I'll be waiting for someone to chime in here pointing out why that "circuit" you posted can't possibly work well and that they would do it this way which is way better... )

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by olf20 View Post
                            Max - I need wiring layout. Sorry I did not know what to call it.
                            Thanks for helping make that clear, and thanks for all the replies!
                            olf20 / Bob
                            I have never found the wiring layout diagrams particularly useful, I prefer to use ladder diagrams when viewing systems.
                            There is a few copies of NFPA79 out there via Google.
                            I see now that NFPA79 also includes the EU version of ladder which has the top and bottom horizontal type power references and each rung progresses from top to bottom, but the standard N.A. version is also shown where the power conductors are are right and left, And the rung progresses from left to right. Which I am used to using.
                            The main reason for the wiring layout is to locate component parts and the location of termination points etc, but for basic trouble shooting, I believe the ladder is far better.
                            But as already mentioned, they are usually both included in machine documentation.
                            Max.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This will be considered old school stuff by many but look into Visio Pro 2000 or something close to that vintage. I'm not familiar with the later versions of Viso but the early version work quite well for what you are trying to do. It doesn't assist in electrical design, that is left up to you but it does help you create electrical drawings simply by dragging and dropping components onto your design sheet. I've found Visio to be the easiest program to use when drawing instrument loops, electrical drawings, plumbing and flow charting.

                              Ebay has some older versions in the $11 to $30 range. Caution, I'm not sure Visio 2000 vintage software will work with operating systems past Microsoft 7

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