CircuitBee makes sharing schematics and circuit diagrams easy

circuit_bee_schematic_hosting

When looking for things to write about, there is nothing we like to see more than well-documented schematics and code available for download. In the case of schematics, we realize that they can be a bit of a pain to publish. Many times we see them in the form of blurry JPEGs or humungous PDF files, neither of which are incredibly convenient to use. The folks over at CircuitBee thought the same thing, and have been working diligently to make it easier for everyone to share their awesome ideas with the world.

Their free service requires registration, and not much else. Once you’re in, you are free to upload your Eagle or KiCAD circuit diagrams, which are then run through CircuitBee’s servers. They convert your drawings into embeddable objects which allow others to view your project without a lot of fuss. Their embeddable schematic window can be rendered in full screen mode, and gives users the ability to zoom in on any portion of the drawing to see the circuit’s finer details.

[Ben Delarre] from CircuitBee says that the product is in the alpha stages right now, so there are plenty of features and useful tools coming in the near future. If you like to build and share, it’s definitely something worth checking out!

[via Make]

[Thanks, Sanchoooo]

Comments

  1. vic says:

    Might be useful is registration wasn’t mandatory to view some schematics and if you could print correctly. It is also impossible to export the schematics, which looks to me like another lock-in attempt.

    Has the potential to become great or another instructables (which sucks).

  2. Ben says:

    Hi vic,

    You should be able to view public schematics without having to signup for an account, please let me know if this isn’t working for you.

    As for printing, thats on the roadmap, and shouldn’t be too far away either, we’ll probably offer a choice of DPI resolutions too so people can output to the size they need.

    With regard to exporting, we’re planning export to KiCAD format soon, and certainly downloading of original source files. We’ll try and address other formats when we can get specifications for them together, and we’ll be opening up our file format as open source as well so hopefully that should alleviate any lock-in concerns.

    We’re hobbyists ourselves, and really don’t want this to become an ad-filled mess like instructables.

  3. spiralbrain says:

    Ladyada had posted a link to something similar a month ago. here is the link http://www.dz863.com/index.php

  4. Pedro says:

    If you’re exporting from Eagle anyway, why not just export as .png? Lovely crisp lines and tiny file sizes!

  5. svofski says:

    Cool idea, but unless someone makes one that doesn’t require registration, I’m not interested.

  6. Bogdan says:

    I don’t see much use for this. Why would i want the schematic on my website to be visible as something other than a graphic file? It’s enough and it is simple (it can be viewed from movile phones etc). If i want to share the original eagle/kicad/orcad/whatever file i’ll just attach the file.
    For viewing purposes there is noting more required than a .jpg/.png file. If someone wants to edit the file he will still want to do that in the software on his computer so the file will be downloaded.

  7. Ben says:

    Hi Bogdan,

    The aim here is to make it easier to view complex schematics. A jpg or png of a medium sized schematic, at a useful readable zoom level is often too large to view in your web browser, and since your browser doesn’t provide good zoom and pan controls for images you’ll have a hard time reading the schematic.

    Certainly original files are better, if you have the same software as the original author of the content – and we will be providing those if the author wants them available.

    But quite often when you are just discussing designs on a forum, or seeking help from someone then forcing them to have to use the same software as you, or having them painfully look around a very large image of your schematic can serve as a hindrance to getting the help you need.

    We aim to make it easier to do that discussion of a design, we’re going to add other useful features to make that easier as well such as annotations and links from within the comment stream to specific points or components within the schematic. This should make it easier to discuss a schematic and actually have the people reading your plea for help understand what you are talking about.

    I hope that clears things up for you.

  8. SpudGasket says:

    With all the negatives mentioned I still think it’s a good idea. What I would like to see is an open source repository of circuits. Something like the Encyclopedia of circuits book TAB puts out that people can contribute too. A one place shopping of sorts.

  9. SpydaMonky says:

    Super awesome! means, hopefully, that it will put all open source circuits in one place!

  10. i like the idea, it is cool :)
    i don’t mind registering, just as long there is no e-mail verification or whatever…

  11. Squintz says:

    So far I’m not a big fan of it. I see the potential but as of right now it looks like you can upload your KiCad files and it converts them to a PDF for you. They may not call it a PDF but that’s what it looks like to me. I would want to see some interactive features. Perhaps the ability to click on each part to add additional details about the part. This could also be used to generate a BOM.

    I do like the clean look of the website. I was able to register in seconds. Not sure why I needed to register at this point but I thought it would be nice to claim my username in case it does take off.

  12. svofski says:

    What we need is not this but a fix for Eagle (or your tool of choice) that would export searchable PDF files. PDF as such is nearly perfect format for sharing circuits, but e.g. Eagle has this regrettable “feature” of exporting text as vectors. Makes it a little bit hard to locate the other end of that A14/TOSC2/SCK/GRFJX wire lost somewhere on another page. On the other hand, this has never been easy.

  13. raged says:

    Ben, is there a public roadmap of coming features? (I’m assuming you’re part of the project by your post) What about an ability to search schematics by part id or maybe have a part list for each schemtic.

  14. Techie says:

    Sort of pointless to me. Eagle and others can create .png/pdf and download them from a website to print them. Lame…

  15. Ben says:

    Hi all,

    Lots of questions and opinions, one of the reasons I like Hack A Day, so many places get no comments or discussion at all!

    To answer a few of the questions, currently there isn’t a public roadmap as we’re still trying to figure out what users most want to see added next. Thats why we’re collecting the ideas on the UserVoice forum (hit the Feedback & Support tab on the website). Lots of ideas have already been posted, and we have a bunch more we haven’t added yet.

    Searching schematics for part ids, and part lists are definitely in the plan. As is net highighting so you can trace wires through the schematic more easily. If you have more ideas, please add them to the forum http://circuitbee.uservoice.com

    We’re hoping this service can be more about making discussion and iteration and improvement of circuit designs easier for us all to do. A PDF or PNG of a schematic is fine, if your schematic is small enough to fit on a readable size that doesn’t require scrolling to read on your monitor. But it can’t provide the features we’re planning to implement such as component search, net highlighting, versioning, branching, annotations and various interactions with the comment text (hot linking to parts etc). Thats what we’re aiming for here, making it easier to discuss a schematic and get people to help you improve your designs.

    We’ll be posting more of our thoughts and plans on the blog (http://blog.circuitbee.com) so check back there or follow us on twitter (@circuitbee) for more updates as we make them.

  16. macona says:

    What is the big deal about registering?

  17. salsaman says:

    There should be better circuit viewing tools online, yes. Suggestions:
    1) Text should be more legible when zoomed out. As it is, I can’t tell what I’m looking at until I can zoom in tight enough to read some names, at which point I’ve lost track of the bigger schematic.
    2) Signals should be selectable or color codeable to make sense of where things are going, since the best schematics break sections apart yet share signals

  18. DragonMinded says:

    This reminds me of an old project I started and never updated regarding online rendering of Xilinx schematics. I threw together a nopaste-style service when I was doing work in the schematic editor of the Xilinx toolkit that can take a schematic file and parse/render it online as an image. Never went anywhere with it aside from providing an analog symbol library. The one problem was, without the part definitions, it was impossible to know 100% what pins were on a symbol, so the information has to be inferred based on the connections. Anyway, the work is at http://nopaste.dragonminded.com/

  19. smoketester says:

    Forced registration is an issue but I did it and got the user name I wanted which makes it more palatable. All in all I like what they are trying to do here. The fact that they started with KiCad gives me hope that it could integrate nicely with other open source tools in the future. Best of Luck.

  20. yetihehe says:

    Why registration? So that it’s a little harder to make a script which spams the site with thousands of penis schematics.

  21. vic says:

    @Ben: thanks for replying. I read the blog and I see that my concerns were already brought up and will be addressed in the future, which is great. I’ve seen too many projects similar to yours go haywire to be optimist, sorry !

    I still think mandatory registration is an error, however. Look at what stackoverflow did : anybody can post questions, but if you want advanced features you need to get an account and gain “points” which works very well. You could adopt a similar system to post comment, edit comments, edit schematics, etc…

  22. Ben says:

    @vic: no problem I completely understand where you’re coming from. Don’t get too jaded though! :-)

    You may be right that registration for commenting and so forth might be unnecessary, or a hindrance in fact. We’ll try and find a good middle ground.

  23. Steve-O-Rama says:

    I see this as having a great deal of potential, especially for the FOSS and maker communities. A number of the things Ben’s posted as being “on the roadmap” are also some things I personally dislike about EAGLE, e.g. hotlinking parts.

    I’d like to see (easy!) exportable parts lists, and MUCH better net highlighting. I remember LoL’ing when I first learned EAGLE’s way of ‘highlighting’ a selected net. Ooooooh, a semi-minuscular-brighter RED!!! Wow, I can see that so easily! B0 lol

    Best of luck with this project, Ben.

  24. Jimmy says:

    Thanks! I expect to use this quite a bit in the future (especially if I get permission from work to use this).

    In the Terms of Service, you have: “…the Content is not spam, is not machine‐ or randomly‐generated, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content…”

    I understand that we don’t want spam, but I don’t quite understand forbidding machine-generated content (kinda hard to make EDA files without a computer (i.e., a machine)).

  25. Ben says:

    Hi Jimmy,

    Hmm, thats a good point. We’re not really very good at the legal stuff yet, going to need help with that.

    But I think this clause is basically to protect us from getting lots of automated postings, that while not necessarily spam (think reblogging) are automated and run by a bot.

  26. axodus says:

    @ben
    first let me say your site looks really usefull.
    if you want to filter automated postings you can include somting like “ReCAPTCHA” on your posting page with or w/o registration.
    i hope egale format will be supported as well in the future, caouse most of the projects i see online use eagle rather than kicad.

  27. Ben says:

    Hi axodus,

    Thanks for the kind words. ReCAPTCHA is definitely an option, though I personally like LadaAdas resistor catpcha :-)

    Eagle is already supported through the use of a ULP script you can get here http://www.circuitbee.com/help/eagleimport

    Like the rest of the site its in alpha and has a few issues, namely it doesn’t align the output with the grid properly, and if you use Frames in your eagle designs things can sometimes go a bit wrong. But I’ve been working on this today, hopefully it will be improved soon.

  28. dannystaple says:

    In some ways this is great – however, I think a really good set of textual open standards for electronics would be better – such that github or similar could be used for electronics collaboration, and a choice of editors can be used. Having circuitbee as a neat viewer online for such things would then make a good fit.

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