EDA on the Cloud: An Engagement with Designing Online

Saurabh Durgapal

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While doing heavy calculations on a calculator or a computer, we often forget to realise the basis of these electronic systems. Since the creation of a device or instrument involves many stages, right from inception of the idea to getting the final product in hand, every electronic system today consists of some form of miniature Printed Circuit Board (PCB).

Today we have designers using various software to look into the development of these PCB’s. These generally offer higher precision and accuracy in implementing the circuit on screen before disaster strikes on the copper. After designing and testing via simulation for errors, the electronic circuit is implemented on a PCB.

Latest software provide drag and drop interface for easier usability. Once the user has finished designing the system, we can get a highly optimised PCB layout from the EDA software itself.

Where does EasyEDA stack up?

The typical software that designers use are heavy and often require similarly heavy system configurations, which calls for high-end system hardware. This is often a problem for designers beginning anew in the field. This is a problem that can be looked after by online EDA solutions like EasyEDA.

Let’s take a look at the EasyEDA Interface.

EasyEDA
Fig: The EasyEDA Interface

The required features in an EDA tool would be,

User friendliness is a significant factor when you spend a lot of time into design and painstakingly place each connection to the right component. The clear interface seems inviting and proper placement of libraries aids in easy selection of the right component. These are very basic functions but make a very big difference to a designer. Easier search system for libraries is another factor in EasyEDA favour.

Fig: EasyEDA Library Menu
Fig: EasyEDA Library Menu

In-built library: Another factor in an EDA tool is the available component list. EasyEDA solves the problem of a limited library by allowing the designers to add their private libraries into the system and open them for public use.

This keeps the libraries updated with different components being added on a regular basis. The incorporation of large number of components also increases the size of libraries. With new components being launched every day, these further require constant updates for latest component support

EasyEDA

Symbol creation: Every time you want to make a circuit, you look for a component. It is very rare to have missing components with online library tools. However the option to add your own component has been an added bonus. Any registered user can design and control the symbol for their component. This allows for additions in the library for newer components on a daily basis. The ease to operate and create a new symbol is another factor that motivates designers on a selection of easyEDA.

Hierarchical designs: This is not a factor with easy circuits involving a couple of microcontrollers, but becomes a significant parameter when we talk of developer circuits. This becomes a necessity and EasyEDA addresses this issue with multi sheet designs. There are connections between different layers, and naming has to be done right because, “All nets in EasyEDA are global, so if you create a netlabel DATA0 in schematic A and then create a netlabel DATA0 in schematic B, they will be connected when Schematic A and schematic B are in the same project.”

Connectivity Checks: Any good EDA tool supports check for proper connections in the circuit. Simulation is in part the attractive feature of EasyEDA. While designing a circuit, the tool alerts the designer by marking any improperly connected wires in red. This helps in catching silly mistakes as soon as they happen and not later, when the entire design would be affected.

Experience hands-on

The interface looks very clear and clutter free. The controls are all over the monitor but you will get the hang of it once you get through the learning videos in the tutorial section. The design area is free of any unwanted controls, which helps in clear circuits. The left panel consists of basic components, like the resistor, capacitor, inductance, power supplies etc.the wiring tool as a popup can be placed as per our convenience.

Designing a basic circuit

Once we get the aesthetics out of the way, we can begin with a basic project. We designed some circuits on the free and open source software without any registration. The first was a basic two-stage RF amplifier circuit. Schematic designing does not even require active effort on your part.

The designing feels very easy and smooth, with all the circuit components in the left library panel. The software also provides an option of developing your own library, with support for designing every single component to your specifications. These libraries can be then shared with public with you marked as a contributor, or kept private for your own personal use.

The help section caters to a lot of your doubts, and the forum provides additional answers not covered in the help section.

For whom?

image00As of now, “Hobbyists and small companies are the major users,” says Dillon He, founder EasyEDA. The easy feel of the tool makes it easily understandable, and hence attracts developers in the early stages of their projects. The work capability of this EDA tool is only limited by the Internet speed. So this can also be an alternative for students, working on learning basic design skills. “We don’t have a way to go to students, at present the teachers don’t use our tool, but students are also our target,” adds Dillon He.

Multiple people on the same project can also work through EasyEDA. Newer features are being added to this service to make it easier for people working on the same project to work in synchronisation.

What else can you do?

The EasyEDA team also takes in orders for PCBs, and helps in checking any errors. There are options available to ask the EasyEDA team to help with errors in your personal designs as well. Once the designs are completed, you can send the designs for order through them as well.

In short, EasyEDA provides a complete setup for developing interest in beginners developing their first design. With guidelines for almost, every part this becomes easily understandable. For personal problems, forums and help from the EasyEDA team gets you going. And if you feel like keeping a hardcopy of your project with you, you can just share the design with the team, and they will get it made for you.


Inputs from Dillon He, founder EasyEDA.

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