Video: Learning Eagle CAD Part I – Schematic & Custom Parts

This week we are starting in on a series of videos that are pretty different from the past few. Most hackers go through a phase where they etch their own circuit boards. This lasts for a few projects until they need to use a surface mount part, need many circuit boards to be made, or just don’t have the time needed to do everything themselves. In this video [Jack] starts a multi-part series about how to use Eagle CAD, which is a program that allows you to design your own circuit boards that you can then send out to be manufactured. Eagle CAD has a free version of their software that fits just perfectly with a beginner’s budget. There are other free layout programs out there but this one is arguably the best. Eagle CAD has a steeper learning curve than others but has some pretty powerful features to justify the extra effort that you have to expend to get going with it.

This video starts showing the schematic and library portions of the program. We have also added several supplementary videos on our YouTube channel that explain some of the tools in the tool palette in greater detail.

33 thoughts on “Video: Learning Eagle CAD Part I – Schematic & Custom Parts

    1. EAGLE is still widely used (SparkFun has most of its stuff in EAGLE, element14 sponsors the Freemium version) in the hobby industry. It has good support and is good for small hobby work. I think the biggest aspect of EAGLE is its large library offering. Many parts have already been drawn so you wont need to again.

      That and some of the techniques taught here could easily apply to those others.

      1. Being widely used doesn’t equals to be the best nor the most adequate to the hacking community (eg: MS OSs).

        If companies like Arduino or Sparkfun would have donated a dollar for each of their sold products to the development of KiCAD we would probably already have a completely FLOSS EDA tool with top class features. Fortunately, we are still getting there thanks to community support and some awesome developers.

        The Sparkfun library has been converted to KiCAD.

    2. Please explain “embrace” and “support”.

      I embrace KiCAD and support gEDA by using Eagle. They are super-awesome as long as I don’t have to use them, touch them, remember about them or have them anwhere in the vicinity.

    3. You can tell gEDA and kiCad are open source/free programs. The interface and stability of the program lack the polish and finesse of a real, professional, commercial software program.

      EagleCAD is the best software out there for what it does that is accessible to everyday makers.

    4. @Fabio: what do you mean “disagree with me”? Did I say something that contradicts with someone somewhere receiving an order prepared in KiCAD?

      I don’t mind other people using KiCAD and gEDA: if they like it and they’re willing to spend all of their time fighting with funny software, more power to them. I just don’t want to do that myself and I would never encourage anyone to do that either. Unless things change radically somehow in gEDA world that is, but I’m not sure how is that possible.

      Eagle too has limitations: the tools are great for simple half-eurocard sized designs, but they are way too primitive for larger projects. The component editor is one of the most counterintuitive editors in the world. The interface is sluggish even on modern computers. But it works out of the box and, in the sense that suits me fine, it’s free.

  1. YES! My office (yes a professional office) has finally decided to move from ExpressPCB to EAGLE and some of the guys are having a hard time picking it up. This should help move some along.

    I have 2 requests:
    1) could you please upload the videos to Vimeo as well (as just an alternate video link) as our office filters YouTube.
    2) Will you at the end talk about picking a board house and sending your file off? We have yet to pick a prototyping board house and a run down on what to look for would be very helpful. Thanks.

      1. Well we need a direct to gerber solution. When we got to playing around with it we found that the number of eagle tutorials (and the price) was such that we could get up and running pretty quickly.

        Our production board house (the one that makes our commercial products, not our prototypes) is annoyed that any change we make requires us to go back to ExpressPCB and buy the gerbers again. We decided that we needed something to get off of ExpressPCB and needing something that would clear management’s approval. We showed them EAGLE and they said “OK”. Best? Likely not. Better then that lock-in ExpressPCB? Absolutely.

  2. Yeah,
    The community really needs to get away from Eagle. I know, but nearly every single program out there is easier to use and more intuitive. Also, pretty much all other programs don’t have the asinine restrictions that Eagle has. The community needs to stop being so stubborn and get away from this out dated POS piece of software.

      1. So glad to hear that i’m not the only one who thinks Eagle sucks. I tried picking it up so many times thinking it was “what all the pros use” and just hated it.. so many stupid little problems, creating a board layout is infuriating. Great library and schematic editor though.

  3. While I was searching for PCB prototype/hobby production I found the following:

    MakePCB is the cheapest, but searching the internet they don’t deliver as ‘fast’ as they promise (fast still being a month). I used jackaltac myself, which delivered spot on time.

    Eagle isn’t the best piece of software in the world (still it beats the open-source alternatives). If you are looking to pay a bit, I found Proteus from labcenter quite good to work with, as a plus, it also has a very nice circuit emulator that emulates analogue and digital logic (including microcontrollers)
    It’s not cheap, but it can safe you months of time.

  4. Nice with the tutorials! Great idea!
    Another program one might consider is the DesignSpark from RS. Also free.. Although it might also have a steep learning curve.. but hey.. free :)

  5. A lot of people use Eagle, those who want to learn it will appreciate this, thanks HAD.

    A lot of people use KiCAD, maybe in the future you can do some tutorials on it as well.

    A lot of people use OrCAD, but most individuals can’t afford it… I doubt you will waste time covering it because it’s not as accessible to your users. There is a free version but I hear it’s crap.

    I’ve used OrCAD for the last 16 years, but would like to learn Eagle as the Open Hardware community seems to have embraced it as the EDA tool of choice. I would also like to learn KiCAD as well though. Can’t know enough ;-)

      1. Protip on filming screencasts: Record the screencast first and the VO after. You only have to think about one thing at a time and its easier to hold on something you want to talk about more, or edit out something you screw up or takes too long. You have about 3:30 of content in you 10 minute video, most of the extra time comes from you being obviously distracted and nervous. Shooting the screencast and the VO separately will address that.

        Also don’t bother with video you in an inset, your mug, as lovely as it is, isn’t adding any information and is blocking things you may want to show on the screen.

        There is a lot of good content in there!

  6. I have to agree with everyone else who dislikes eagle. There are far better free/unlimited alternatives. I personally use Designspark, which has a built in eagle converter, and my productivity must have gone up threefold. I’ve had the opportunity to use some industry level software before at universities and have drawn the conclusion that the Eagle interface is not complex because it is for ‘pros’ but because it is fundementally crude. IMO it’s not worth learning to use with its board size limitations, start with something unlimited and you’ll only have to learn one piece of software. JM2P

  7. I gave Eagle a good couple of weeks, but in the end found it to be pretty crashy (on Linux), and it takes a long time to get anything drawn up. It’s just uncomfortable to use – klunky. Since I switched to KiCAD I haven’t looked back. KiCAD is awesome.

  8. When the HAD is creating original content, kinda a hard to blame them for sticking with what they know. In regards to videos of alternatives to Eagle, convince the experienced users of those alternatives to make instructional videos. The good(and bad) thing for me is that I’m unlikely to get that involve in a project anymore to need tools as this. Although I enjoy learning about them.

  9. I think I’m going to start looking into KiCAD. I watched a couple tutorial videos last night and I like what I see! The way you create things seems a little more straight forward than Eagle. I also found Eagle->KiCAD symbol and part converters so there’s really nothing holding me back.

  10. What would be really useful is a post on best practices for PCB layout – going beyond the normal “avoid 90deg corners” and such found in most places.

    If anyone has a source for such things I wouldn’t mind being pointed in the right direction!

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.