Free Schematic Capture Programs

My friend and former boss, Jon Titus KZ1G, sent me this:

Fellow techies,

When it comes time to draw schematic diagrams, take a look at DesignWorks Lite, a nice shareware version of the Capilano Computing professional DesignWorks software. You can use a free version for 30 days, or register for $40 and have unlimited use, plus access to new symbols and devices. It took me an hour or so of practice and fooling around, but I found it easy to master the software, which Capilano supplies for Windows or Mac OSs.

I particularly like the ability to change the attributes of devices. I can hide IC pin numbers, re-label gates, select generic parts, etc. But if I want an SN74ALS373 buffer, I can find one, with all of the pins called out. I can also flip, rotate, and reflect the diagrams to make sense for my layout. Connections “rubber band, so when I move a device, the connections move, too. I’ve tried Visio, but because it’s a drawing package, it lacks the EE look and feel of DesignWorks lite.

Here’s another recommendation for schematic drawing by my friend Martin Rowe. He writes:

I’ve always believed that what engineers most want to see in an engineering magazine are schematics and source code. This morning, I found a little schematic-capture program that you can download for free. It’s called TinyCAD. It does more the just drawings, but that’s all I’ll even need.

The user interface could use some simplification. Finding circuit symbols could be easier but I was able to get started in just a few minutes. Cost: Free. Download size: about 4.5 MB.

Update 10/7/04
From KE0X via the Elecraft mailing list:

I just found Eagle Version 4.13 which is available FREE for non commercial use at their website. I know nothing about these programs but I was using it in 5 minutes and made a template for a PCB in two days. Best of all you can print either layer and make your own PCB (ala laser masking, etc.) and not have to get it made from the supplier of the “proprietary” software that wont even let you print it. Yet, this program is sophisticated enough to make 8 layer boards….Rich, KE0X


  1. Y am pasion in electronix and ned for create my own schem create to the paper ,the paper is degrade in time and y wish to seve my schematics to electronic interface.
    Thank you

  2. Hi , I use ExpressPCB and FreePCB for designing my pcb’s but I always wonder if I can find software to analyze schematics, something like an osciloscope… Is there any ?

  3. Dan KB6NU says:

    What you’re looking for is circuit simulation software. Google “spice circuit simulation software” and you’ll find a bunch of programs, some of them free.

  4. I need advice on:

    RE: Schematic Capture. Hi. Ive been a consulting engineer for 30 years, analog, digital, hardware, software. Im no genius, but I am at the end of my rope. On your web page, a fellow says he was up and running with Eagle, in a short time. GOODY FOR HIM. Like an ancient lawn mower, I can’t get the darn thing even started. We are a SMALL company, and my boss invested in Eagle a few years ago.

    Heres my experience, Orcad v. 1.x decades ago. Unigraphics (God I barely made that work)
    And Orcad 9.x 10 years ago.

    Normally, I dont have to use captures programs. I used to have “people” who did that. I hand draw anything first anyway. In my not so humble and possibly hyperbolized opinion, there isnt a program, or a man under 50 that can draw a decent schematic. Young ones don’t understand that there is information theory and flow there….. (for humans, not just the cnc machines). Its akin to reading sheet music!!!! Ant poop on A size paper is what passes for top shelf work these days.

    At any rate, I walked in and with a little coaching, Used Orcad 9.x just fine. in ’99 at TRW

    NOW I feel like the most retarded kid on the EE play ground, and beyond frustrated, I am angry.
    I do the work of 3 to 4 people, 13 hour days. I dont have time for steep learning curves, Ive got
    enough already. I can’t even stand to look at that xxxxx manual with eagle, let alone load it and use it again, or try to that is.

    I would be MOST grateful if you or one of your friends could give me a recommendation beyond tiny
    cad or designworks )which I am willing to try……………………

    but every on has different learning styles, so…….. MY GUIDELINE is, if it walks, talks, crawls, smells
    or is even parked in the same lot as ‘Eagle’ then it isn’t for me. You think their CEO remembers


    I would appreciate and help you can give me.

    best regards to all,
    KPJHall, mean cranky frustrated old EE

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