As you can tell from some previous posts, I (very) occasionally wield a soldering iron in anger, and knock together the odd circuit or two. I don’t do it often enough, or on a large enough scale to justify spending the time and money on making up proper printed circuit boards, but instead use veroboard (or as it’s generically known, stripboard).
This is always a bit of a pain though, and rather open to error, especially since I don’t do it very often.
But recently I came across a program called VeeCAD, which is specifically intended to take a circuit schematic, and lay it out for stripboard. Of course, you also need a program to create your schematic that can feed it’s output into VeeCAD, and the recommended offering for that is a program called TinyCAD. Which is great, but despite both these programs being open source, they only run under Microsoft Windows. And I run Linux.
So today I experimented with Wine, which is an emulation layer, allowing Linux to run some programs that are only designed for Windows. Installing it was as easy as entering sudo apt-get install wine in a terminal. I was then able to install VeeCAD and TinyCAD into that Windows emulation environment by simply downloading and executing their installers.
VeeCAD installed flawlessly. TinyCAD complained about some issues with the level of Jet libraries that were available to it. It turns out that Jet is the name for Microsoft Access databases, which TinyCAD uses to store the information about all the electronic components it understands.
After a little searching on the internet I discovered that you can apply the Jet 4.0 Service Pack 8 (SP8) for Windows 95/98/NT 4.0 to Wine (again, download the installer from Microsoft, and execute it), and it solves the problem completely.
So now I am able to design simple electronic circuits in a nice editor (rather than on bits of paper), and then transfer them to VeeCAD, which will work out how to lay them out on veroboard, and draw diagrams of exactly where the components, links and track cuts go, to build the circuit.
Perhaps the only problem I’ve found so far is that the catalogue of electronic components that TinyCAD understands is a little limited, so it may be necessary to add some of the components that I use, as I go. Which will be a nuisance, but worth it for the convenience of automating the layout later.
Perhaps also of interest to people reading this, it appears that TinyCAD can export a PADS-PCB netlist, which can then be imported into FreePCB, which can layout multilayer PCB’s and produce Gerber and drill files suitable to send to a PCB fabrication company.