PCB Design - Footprints

Currently I am trying to create my first PCB using Eagle. It’s out of the question, that this task needs some solid skills and requires hours of search on Google, where to find components etc. . In my case, I am using a CAT5114, SOIC-8 packaging, which has no footprint data available I could use for Eagle. The table is there, but I was not able to figure out, how to use this data within Eagle without a third party app. Fortunately I found “Library Expert Lite” on the net. This thing allows me to create footprints for SOIC-8 and other packaging (standards? formats?). And I wonder where to find this functionality within Eagle itself (if there is something like that).

EAGLE does not have a land pattern creator function. You would need to create a library and know the locations of the pads and the sizes. Most datasheets will indeed give you a recommended land pattern. However, if they do not, searching the Internet is one of the only options to find the appropriate footprint.

There is an option if you can find the EAGLE files online that have the component in question to just copy it from that schematic to your own.

1 Like

Thanks Aron :slight_smile:

This kind of information is hard to find. Especially the right wording like “land pattern”. I will fight my way trough the jungle. Have created my part (or component). Now I will try to use that thing.

There’s a great resource on GitHub. I’ve used it extensively. A number of Element14 components also have Eagle templates too.

Let us know how you get on with you PCB endeavours.

1 Like

@ Jason - That’s really an extensive list of libraries! Just cloned it. Thanks :slight_smile: I will keep you informed about my progress.

This is what I have so far:

1 Like

@ AWSOMEDEVSIGNER - Nicely done 8)

@ PiWi - Thanks :slight_smile: Took me a while to understand a bit of how EAGLE works.

@ AWSOMEDEVSIGNER - Once you get around it’s kind of OK. The licensing fees are quite some once you go commercial …

I’m waiting for Altiums CircuitMaker, got an email 8 days ago mentioning that in 3 weeks as of than an open beta will start … if my intel is right that will be an on-line version with the complete Altium libs avail … not sure about the costs though, I heart it is for free :dance: , if not it is way out my league concerning the costs of Altium, 4k or so, and than an annual maintenance fee of another k … :wall:

@ PiWi - The costs are really high. You need to sell a lot of boards to buy these software licenses. But let’s start small and create something really useful :slight_smile:

@ AWSOMEDEVSIGNER - Now we can see why custom board development is so expensive; the software tooling costs.

EDIT: DesignSpark is supposed to be pretty good; but i have not used it. http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/eng/page/designspark-pcb-home-page

1 Like

@ Mr. John Smith - Interesting. Thanks for sharing this link :slight_smile: I have used EAGLE (latest version) Light-Edition. This let’s me design 2-layer boards with a specific size. I don’t know the exact restrictions. However - If you want to do serious business with custom boards, you sure need some excellent board-designers and some good piece of software, an excellent part-library and so on. I just started. It can be fun, if you know your design-tool. Starting with EAGLE is not hard, but you have to put some serious effort into it.

I just though that I should impart some understandings to you that would have been helpful when I started ecad (and I’m still learning so pros feel free to chip in).

  1. Consider the ECAD software as a Vector Graphics Application. If you’ve used Illustrator or those ilk, then you’ll understand vector graphics already.
  2. Everything requires a footprint. If the footprint is bad, the board may not be build-able. Test these things. Design a break out board for all footprints of question, and if you can afford it have it built. You can even combine multiple footprints (if they are small) in 1 design file to save time.
  3. Behold the IPC standard http://www.ipc.org/default.aspx. They are like the W3C but for electronics.
  4. A hole is an unconnected VIA :slight_smile:

Also Dave from the EEVblog has some good info EEVblog #127 - PCB Design For Manufacture Tutorial - Part 1 - YouTube


@ Mr. John Smith - Thanks a ton for this great guidance ! I like the footprint suggestion best. Sounds pretty good and very useful to me. And why did not think myself of “Dave”? Learned some good stuff about soldering from him. Thanks again :slight_smile:

So the thing I would suggest for new PCB design folk is - avoid Eagle. Not because it’s bad or anything, but just that I think you can get similar capabilities in other tools, and unless you’re interested in learning many kinds of tools, you’re likely to learn one and just keep using it, so spend time picking the tool you’re going to keep using.

My suggestion is Kicad. Free as in free beer, and now CERN are contributing to it, it means the development is moving forward. Learning the workflow is different to the Eagle workflow, and I’d suggest using the Contextual Electronics free videos to learn the basics


@ Brett - Yes, picking the right tool for me is not an easy job. I thought EAGLE is the one that is used the most. So I started with EAGLE. Three recommended apps should be manageable:

KiCad EDA Software Suite


and the DesignSpark software:

What I learned from the posts here and videos (The ones @ Mr John Smith recommended, the EEVBlog ones), is that I need a tool with strong support for part-libraries, good BOM-Management, footprints and so on. And of course, like you said: the basics. I have a Safari-Books-Onlline subscription and I am working through the huge amount of maker and electronics basics books. As well as bluetooth LE and some other things.

I am super thankful for all the help, ideas and suggestions I received from the community.

EDIT: Here is the book that’s next on my List

Eagle is well supported, and has a long history of people producing learning aids. It’s also well used across makers for many years (I always suspect it is because of the available training resources over the years). But there are limitations - the no-charge version is size limited, the “maker” one is non-commercial (where does that line blur if you want to sell a few spare PCBs to friends here for example?) and the commercial versions are far from cheap. Many companies use it, many makers use it, and in general that is not likely to go away. GHI’s open designs were/are delivered in Eagle format. Heck, it’s even my only installed PCB layout tool.

But if I had my time over, I’d go KiCad. When I was deciding, there were a plethora of Eagle tutorial videos and virtually none on KiCad, but Contextual Electronics has addressed that (Chris is eevblog Dave’s cohost in The Amp Hour). https://www.youtube.com/user/contextualelectronic/videos is the videos. Unfortunately I’ve learnt Eagle’s quirks, and that means a mental shift plus a lot of time to unlearn them and learn something new - but when I have a small project to do, I’m always going to default back to what I know instead of struggling with the unfamiliar ways in KiCad. All these design tools have quirks, all different, and while the general concepts are easily transportable, often times the approach to something is quite different. Maybe I am unusual in opting not to re-learn a new tool, but I suspect not - maybe I need a 100mmx100mm project to make me learn something new !

I’d argue you need a good parts library and good BOM management if you’re making a lot of stuff. If you’re tinkering, making a few modules or one-off projects for yourself, it’s probably less of an issue. Sure, its easier if you don’t have to make a part or a land pattern, but you need to know how to make one anyway - perhaps you like longer pads for your SOIC8 pads to solder them easier, you’re going to have to build that to your own recipe. (again, KiCad is improving in the existing library space these days)

Anyway, my suggestion is out there - be careful what you pick, it could be with you a long time. Kinda like tattoos, but at least you can pay someone to reduce a tattoo’s impact :slight_smile:

1 Like

@ Brett -

Agree. @ Piwi mentioned the same problem already with the licensing. This is indeed a problem. I will design a board in each of the listed apps and decide then.

Maybe :slight_smile: The problem I have is that I always want to learn something new and that leads to chaos very often. Better stick with one tool and learn that the right way (like it did with Visual Studio or VIM for example) instead of switching from one app to another every few days, just because of the quirks you mentioned before. I had the same thing with GIMP and Photoshop. I really liked to use GIMP but at the end, it was Photoshop again. It’s the way you work with a tool for years. And if I need more time to produce something useful, just because of a new tool I have to learn, I stick with the stuff I know. But it heavily depends on the situation like doing something on the job for a customer or just playing around in my spare-time with something I am interested in. As soon as PCB-Design would (let’s just assume that) become my daily bread & butter, I would stick with one solution.

Agree on that I have to learn it anyway and that I am not doing high-volume production here :slight_smile: Just tinkering - for now.

Oh, and here is a funny little tip. Remember I said that the PCB design tool is a Vector graphics application (at least when it comes to layout). You should try making your pcb but drawing by hand (with a sharpie). Then using a graphics application :slight_smile: Try something small like a astable multivibrator. Try it in each of the tools you’re looking at. It will give you an appreciation for which tool suits you best.

Have you ever made any pcb’s by hand (with the sharpie method)?

@ Mr. John Smith - Never tried the “sharpie method” - heard about it for the first time. I will try that as well. And thanks for the idea - will try the multivibrator. I think that will be a good exercise.