Open Source PCB Design Tools

Braddock Gaskill (
24 September 1999

This list was compiled by Braddock Gaskill ( on 24 September 1999. It is a list, with links and descriptions, of available Open Source electronic printed circuit board design software.

This was compiled for the Open PowerPC Project. The Open PowerPC project ( is an effort to make an "Open Source" PPC CPU-based motherboard design. But first we need Open Source tools to do it with! Please contribute or correct me any way you can (Braddock Gaskill - Thanks.

Table of Contents


Graphical PCB Layout Application
Description: "PCB" program seems stable and flexable. Needs support for more layers and groups. Outputs Gerber, NC drill file, and Postscript. Saves/Loads in a well documented format. Large existing parts library. Well documented.
Part Library: Yes
Primary authors: Thomas Nau (, Harry Eaton (
Web Page:
Mailing list:

gEDA - GPL Electronic Design Automation

Web Page:
Mailing List:
Description: This is a very ambitious project to create a sophisticated integrated electronic CAD application suite. [Most of the tools, however, are in very early stages of development and may or may not be ready for production use.] The suite uses the GTK GUI toolkit (like GIMP and GNOME).

Caltech "Chipmunk" tool collection

These tools date back to the early 80's.
Web Site:
Contact: John Lazzaro (
"Log" - Log is a circuit schematic capture tool and simulation environment. Log supports schematic entry for documentation, simulation, and netlist creation. Schematic printouts can be previewed on-screen, and Postscript and HPGL output. Can generate SPICE and "NTK" format netlists. Has extensive (?) analog and digital simulation capabilities.
"Wol" - IC mask layout environment.IS THIS ADAPTABLE TO PCB LAYOUT?
Numerous other supporting tools.

MUCS PCB - University of Manchester PCB Software

A suite of PCB layout tools, from schematic capture, to auto-routing, to layout.
Authors: Doug Edwards, Alistair MacIntosh, Zahir Moosa, Fred Hoyle
Web Page:
Description: The main feature of this tool-set is it's stand-alone auto-router, which seems quite advanced and implements several algorithms. Documentation seems very good. File formats are well documented. This router is just asking to be integrated into PCB or gEDA...
Other MUCS tools include: Ncap, a textual schematic capture interface; Place, a graphical device placement tool; and various other utilities for manipulating and editing the design and generating GERBER or HPGL output.
Part Library: Yes


Schematic Capture drawing tool.
Description: Very appropriate for parts-library based drawing, but of unknown maturity (?). Can save "netlist" format files for layout or simulation tools.
Part Library: Yes
Author: R. Timothy Edwards -
Web Page:

Electric VLSI Design System

Web Page:
Description: This is a very extensive CAD system. It used to be commercial until "Electric Editor, Inc" released it under GPL for pubicity to sell their commercial modules for it. Electric can handle many forms of circuit design, including: The free version of Electric supports a number of file formats, but EDIF and SDF require a commercial module from Electric Editor, Inc (though you're free to write a GPL'd one!) Electric includes a fairly extensive manual.
Contact: Steven Rubin (


Description: This is a very small C program to convert HPGL or DXY files to PostScript. This is from comp.sources.misc, Volume 1, 1987. [I have not been able to get this to actually work, even on the supplied test case.].
Author: Don McCormick ( ???)

Edif Parser

Description: This is a BISON parser for EDIF 2.0.0 level 0, which is a standard CAD format (see , though they want a couple hundred to buy the spec [Anyone know where else we can get the spec??]). This would require a lot of work to make useable.
Author: Roger March ( ???)


Description: An old ('89) DOS PCB autorouting package. It may be useful, however, because it comes with C source (6000+ lines), and an article describing the algorithms used, and routing algorithms in general, with references. Licensing is GPLish.
Author: Randy Nevin

Related Links

The Electrozone
Electronics info page
Green CirKit Instrument Prototyping Homepage
Electronics software
EE CAD FAQ (comp.lsi.cad,comp.lsi)
XCircuit drawing program home page
The Chipmunk Home Page
PowerPC Reference Designs and Evaluation Boards
Allied Electronics - Specializing in Electronic Components and Equipment Distribution.
schematic interchange
schematic interchange
Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ: Home Page
Homepage of gEDA
PCB Home Page
Links to other free EDA software
Project Sarlacc
EE software dsp, embedded, applied computing, system-on-a-chip, and more!
Electric Editor, Incorporated