Comparison with KiCAD and Eagle: https://librepcb.org/compare/
Talk by Urban that explains why he started LibrePCB, and how the library concepts are different from other similar tools like KiCAD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu-h5y6tK34 (Slides: https://archive.fosdem.org/2018/schedule/event/cad_librepcb/...)
If you want to try it: https://docs.librepcb.org/
Previous HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18569969
* It's simple, but what is there works reliably.
* Library management works really well.
* There are some issues with grids and alignment
* DRC was available in the ui but could not find any errors (have not tested 0.1.3 yet).
* No auto place/route. Horrible default placement.
* Minimal manufacturing support but what is there works
I moved from kicad when my old designs started looking different/broken due to updated components (!!). How can kicad team allow this?
Note: I think there was no DRC available in the board editor before 0.1.3, only an ERC which reported things like unplaced components. In 0.1.3 you have an actual DRC that checks things like copper clearance, minimum drill diameter, etc.
PS: If you have a nice project to share, feel free to post it at https://librepcb.discourse.group/t/projects-madewithlibrepcb... !
 - https://github.com/horizon-eda/horizon
- the modularity (+inheritance) allows you to reuse a lot of existing stuff and change things in one place while affecting all
- the simple json format allows you to create parts/packages/etc from scripts very fast
- the package footprint editor is great and has generation scripts for a ton of existing packages (SOIC, QFN, etc.)
I heard it was planned to release a 1.0 on the next FOSDEM in january.
The bigger problem than the number of hobbyists is that the vast majority can't even afford to prototype the high end of what PCB designers can do. For example, a 12-24 layer board with mixed RF and 1ghz+ digital signals (like the hundreds of smartphone main boards connected to a camera that are design each year) can cost thousands or tens of thousands to fab in small quantities, let alone assembly and parts to put it together.
Edit: And to your latter point (and it is a reasonable one), the HackRF was done in KiCad. This demonstrates that something at that level of complexity can be done with open source tools and still make enough profit to be open hardware. Promising!!!
And yeah, I was considering going into that but didn't want to talk too much out of my knowledge zone. There is definitely a huge divide between the professional PCB designers and what hobbyists (like me) tend to make. My most complicated board is a 2-layer with mostly through-hole and a few surface-mount. BGA, the really small surface mount parts, any anything crazier than maybe 4-layers is just completely out of my reach - I could theoretically design them with a lot of learning, but the expense of getting the design fabricated and the impractically of soldering them manually just makes it a complete non-starter. But yet, those parts are pretty much all that you'll see on modern boards. What I'm doing is so much simpler than what professionals are doing it's really not comparable. I mostly don't need the complexity of something like Eagle, but for companies doing modern PCB design those complex features are an absolute requirement.
The same thing goes for small surface mount stuff. Ex. I was looking at using a TSSOP package for a project, but I just couldn't justify the cost of ~10$ a chip when I was unsure I could even solder it. Even for my last project, I messed up a few boards because I had trouble soldering the leads for the Micro-USB connector on it.
On the topic of 0402's, I agree I could probably solder them with enough patience - though that goes back to the risk issue, if I can't then I blew a bunch of money on boards I can't put together. For my projects, I thankfully haven't yet run into a situation where I needed to go that scale, so the lowest I've gone are 0805's, which are nice and chunky.
And to be fair, I don't really know what qualifies as "professional level", I'm mostly thinking of things like computer motherboards, phones, smart watches, etc. Tons of things have PCBs in them that don't require that level of detail, and I don't know the percentages of people doing each - perhaps there is a decently sized professional market for a tool that can do smaller boards with less layers/complexity much smoother.
Can we put a number on the cost?
Seems to me like if you want a "serious amateur" electronics lab for doing things like prototyping boards with BGA components then you need a budget of around $300 - $1500. Price depends on whether you want cheap-and-cheerful starter kits that will eventually be replaced verses professional stuff that ought to last for decades.
On the one hand that's real money but on the other hand that's also what it costs to buy a new laptop or travel to a conference.
Also, to other commenters’ points, I expect to use Altium or something “worse” for >6 layer boards and pick a free, open source tool for <=6 layer. This is due to the capabilities of the tools, familiarity from contract manufacturers, and the low likelihood that a hobbyist is going to get high layer count or HDI boards fabbed and stuffed in any case.
Every single tool in your list has it’s own pros and cons and some of them are targeting a different audience altogether (e.g. Fritzing).
I liked the ease of use with which LibrePCB allowed users to use existing Libraries, so I proposed a similar thing for Horizon.
As a tool targeting beginners I feel it deserves a better UI (some stability would not hurt either).
I try my best in helping to keep the entry barrier low and to smooth rough edges or paper cuts where needed. My goal is to make it not impossible for people who start out with electronics, while still maintaining a tool professionals can work with. Documentation is a big part of that: https://horizon-eda.readthedocs.io/en/latest/feature-overvie...
positive only when managed correctly. Kicad includes tons of low quality libraries. I have had non-working pcbs thanks to crappy kicad libraries.
I like them both but kicad has excellent tutorials on all aspects of the process. See for example the Conceptual Electronics videos on YouTube.
Any open-source effort is welcome.
If it were up to me, I'd dedicate the rest of my life to developing open-source engineering s/w alternatives, so I could play a small part in thoroughly crushing the commercial land$cape of engineering $$$$ware.