Young engineering minds always have a lot of innovative design ideas. Unfortunately, they might not always be able to materialise those in a PCB design because they take more time, consume more money and they cannot always reuse and redesign the board. As an ideal developer’s tool for freshers in electronics design, the Lochmaster helps in design, documentation and testing of project boards.

The world of electronics is so fascinating that once you begin designing something on your own, you will no longer be satisfied with the breadboards. You need your designs to last forever. The obvious choice of most of the designers is to go for PCBs. Unfortunately, in many cases going for PCBs is not the best option. It can drain your savings, time and ultimately, by the time the PCB reaches your hand, you might lose interest in the project itself.

Strip board is a good option but it becomes difficult when it comes to complex circuits. Use of a software-aided strip board design will be the best option to reduce the overall complexity. as a beginner, you do not want your software to be too complex. Lochmaster v4.0 software from Abacoma is an exceptionally simple and easy-to-use developer’s tool for strip board projects.

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Features of LochMaster 4.0
Let us take a look at the features of LochMaster 4.0 that we found to be interesting.

Easy-to-use design environment. LochMaster 4.0 can help us in designing, documenting and testing project boards. In order to increase the overall simplicity of the tool, functions like auto-generation of components lists, a connection test, an editable library with a large number of symbols and components are incorporated in the tool.

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The developers’ tool also has the provision of an integrated board editor. In case our desired board is not predefined, we can use the integrated board editor to create our own boards. Another major advantage with LochMaster 4.0 is its backward compatibility. We can load and edit any project we have already designed with LochMaster.

Fig. 1: Interconnections of components in a Lochmaster display
Fig. 1: Interconnections of components in a Lochmaster display

Realistic component library. The component library in LochMaster4.0 is very large and realistic. Apart from having the standard components like resistors, diodes and capacitors, the library also has a lot of mechanical elements like screws, nuts and spacers that makes it more realistic.

The new, extended library looks almost like real components. Besides this, there is a whole new set of practical features like parallel usage of mm and hole grids. Altogether, you can have a display similar to that of a real board. This feature is not only good to visualise but also helps us have clarity in our design.

We also have the provision for designing our own components and symbols using this developers’ tool. We can extend the library as we like. LochMaster 4.0 provides us with an easy-to-create standard components or often-needed contours with the help of the new object assistant.

Test mode to help in tracing signals. LochMaster has a very special feature—the test mode. We can easily figure out the way in which a signal flows and sort out the wanted and unwanted connections with the help of the test mode. If we click at any point in the circuit, the program automatically determines all areas of the board that are connected directly to that point. The program determines all the wires, connections and pins. The areas that are connected will be marked.

Instalaltion
The size of LochMaster is less than 10MB and it can be run even in machines with lesser specifications. The software is distributed electronically after purchase. It is compactable with all versions of Windows, from XP to 8. We can have a backup of the installation file once it is received. It is a quick install and we do not need any extra framework software.

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Fig. 2: Window showing components list
Fig. 2: Window showing components list

Top competing tools
Mentioned below are some other similar strip board designing tools.

VeroDes. Veroboard is the same as a strip board. VeroDes is yet another easy-to-use design program for all those who wish to design circuits. We can easily accommodate board sizes up to 70 holes by 70 tracks in the design. With this software, we can easily visualise both sides of our circuit with links, breaks and component pins marked. It also helps us to modify the design as per our requirements. We can also create our own components having up to 25 pins by 25 pins.

VeeCAD strip board editor. VeeCaD strip board is used for prototypes and small-quantity designs. The tool helps in making the prototyping practical, replacing the need for a PCB. We can draw our own components and save these in the library for future use. In fact, this tool helps us save hours of planning layouts on graph paper.

Strip board magic. This is a Windows application, developed by a British company called Ambyr, for designing PCB layouts on strip board. Although the interface seems to be quite primitive and a little strange, it is functional even on Windows XP and Linux. One major issue that we face while working with this software is the size of some circuits, which are larger than normal because of the inability of the program to change the orientation of components on the board.

Wouldn’t you want to try it out?
If you are a beginner and wish to design something unique for yourself, LochMaster 4.0 could be an ideal choice for you. The tool helps you with an easy-to-design environment with realistic components library and test mode for tracing signals and connections.

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Download Latest version of the software: click here


The author is a member of the EFY editorial team

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