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CircuitMaker (12229 views - EDA & PCB (Electronics))

CircuitMaker is electronic design automation software for printed circuit board designs targeted at the hobby, hacker, and maker community. CircuitMaker is available as freeware, and the hardware designed with it may be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes without limitations. It is currently available publicly as version 1.3 by Altium Limited, with the first non-beta release on January 17, 2016.
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Altium CircuitMaker
CircuitMaker v1.3 running in Linux Mint 18.1, showing a project page.
Developer(s) Altium
Initial release January 2015
Stable release / August 2016
Development status Released
Written in Delphi, C++, C#
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Size ca. 600 MB
Available in English
Type Electronic design automation
License Proprietary
Website www.circuitmaker.com

CircuitMaker is electronic design automation software for printed circuit board designs targeted at the hobby, hacker, and maker community.[1][2] CircuitMaker is available as freeware, and the hardware designed with it may be used for commercial and non-commercial purposes without limitations.[3] It is currently available publicly as version 1.3 by Altium Limited, with the first non-beta release on January 17, 2016.[4]


CircuitMaker 2000

Electronic design automation software (EDA) developer Protel marketed CircuitMaker 2000 as a schematic capture tool, together with Traxmaker as its PCB layout counterpart, as a powerful yet affordable solution for circuit board needs.[5] Its ease of use and comparatively low cost quickly gained it popularity among students, and the software suite was commonly used to teach circuit board design to engineering students in universities.[6] The wide availability of plug-ins and component libraries have accelerated adoption, and quickly amassed a worldwide community. When Protel was acquired by Altium Limited in the early 2000s, engineering efforts were redirected towards the development of DXP2004,[7] and CircuitMaker 2000 was eventually discontinued. Due to its new status as abandonware, CircuitMaker 2000 remained popular among hobby users and students.[8] This popularity has been observed by Altium, and the most successful features of CircuitMaker 2000 have since been integrated in DXP2004 and later were incorporated into Altium Designer.


Open source hardware and easy-to-use development boards such as the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi have increased community interest in electronics, particularly in fablabs,[9] hackerspaces and makerspaces. The leading EDA software vendors traditionally lack free versions, and professional licenses are unaffordable for amateurs. This resulted in high piracy rates for professional software packages, or users sticking to outdated software, including CircuitMaker 2000. Several initiatives such as Eagle have attempted to fill this void, releasing restricted versions of semi-professional EDA tools. The rise of KiCAD further fragmented the market. This pressure eventually provided the incentive for Altium to release a simplified and more user friendly version of their professional EDA software package and flagship product, Altium Designer, targeted at less complex circuit board projects. This culminated into the rebirth of CircuitMaker as schematic capture and PCB design software.

Despite the resemblance in naming, the current CircuitMaker differs entirely from CircuitMaker 2000 regarding features and graphical user interface: the SPICE simulation module has been removed; the library system has been overhauled; and the controls changed from classic menus to a more modern and visually appealing ribbon interface.


CircuitMaker implements schematic capture and PCB design using the same engine as Altium Designer, providing an almost identical user experience. The schematic editor includes basic component placement and circuit design as well as advanced multi-channel design and hierarchical schematics. All schematics are uploaded to the Altium server and can be viewed by anyone with a CircuitMaker account, stimulating design re-use.[10] CircuitMaker supports integration with the Octopart search engine[11] and allows drag and drop placement of components from the Octopart search results if schematic models are attached to them. Users can build missing schematic symbols and commit them to the server, called the Community Vault, making them available for other users. The continuously growing part database eliminates the need for a custom schematic symbol or footprint design for common parts, increasing user-friendliness for beginners.

Concurrency editing was added in version 1.3[12]

Transfer of schematics to a PCB is a straightforward process in CircuitMaker since PCB footprints are automatically attached to any component on the schematic that was picked from the Octopart library. PCB footprints may have simple 3D models or complex STEP models attached to them, enabling real time 3D rendering of the PCB during development.[13] CircuitMaker supports design rule configuration and real time design rule checking. Some advanced features, including differential pair routing and polygon pour management, are also available.[14] Production files can be exported directly, although an external Gerber viewer must be used to check the exports. The entire PCB can also be exported as a 3D STEP model for further use in mechanical 3D CAD software.

Open Source Hardware

CircuitMaker requires a free account to represent its users in the community.[15] An active internet connection is required to start and use the software.[16] Users are allowed to have 2 private projects, the so-called sandbox mode for practicing. By default, all schematics and PCBs are uploaded to the server and can be viewed by other users as soon as they are committed through the internal git engine. While this renders CircuitMaker undesirable for closed source projects, it encourages collaboration in the community. Users are allowed to fork existing projects, or request permission to collaborate in existing projects. Importing schematic documents and PCBs from other EDA packages (OrCAD, PADS, P-CAD, EAGLE) is supported. Users are allowed to own unlimited projects, and there is no hard limit on board complexity.[17] However, Altium warns that users may experience a performance drop for large projects.[18]

All documents are under version control by default, allowing users to revert changes made in their projects, and build new versions of existing schematic symbols or footprints in the Community Vault. Users can comment on each other's projects and parts, rate them, and propose improvements.

CircuitMaker supports direct generation of production files in industry standard formats such as Gerber and NC Drill, as well as printing of stencils for DIY circuit board etching.[19]

Online Community

As of April 2017, there are over 110,000 registered users within the CircuitMaker Community,[20] together authoring over 12 000 PCB projects.[21] The ease of use has led to rapid adoption of CircuitMaker by schools and universities to teach PCB design.[22][23]


As a result of its reliance on the Altium Designer schematic capture and PCB design engine, CircuitMaker is only available for the Windows operating system. This requires users to have access to a Windows license to use CircuitMaker. Dependence on Windows has been cited as a weakness of the CircuitMaker project, and Altium has reported to current users that a cross-platform solution is in development.[24][25] As of 2017, CircuitMaker can be run in Wine on Ubuntu, with limitations,[26][27] but the installation procedure is cumbersome, and many users reported it does not work on their Linux distribution.[28] This currently forces most users to fall back to a complete virtual machine. Unofficial support for Linux and BSD users is provided by Altium staff and volunteers on the CircuitMaker forum.[29] CircuitMaker currently does not install or run on ReactOS due to a .NET Framework related error.[30]

A second concern is the lock-in resulting from CircuitMaker's cloud centric approach. While users can import resources from competing EDA software packages,[31] CircuitMaker does not support exporting design resources itself. Reviewers consider this in conflict with the open source ideology. However, a workaround for this issue is provided by Altium Designer 15 and 16 which do support the import of CircuitMaker files.[32] A trial version of Altium Designer can be requested free of charge from Altium for this purpose.

See also

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0. There is a list of all authors in Wikipedia

EDA & PCB (Electronics)

Electronics, Electro, EDA, PCB, Circuit, Schematics