Instructables
Picture of PCB Creation with Eagle for Beginners
Eagle is one of several PCB layout programs that you can get for free (other programs include KiCad and DipTrace).  The free version of Eagle is somewhat limited in what it can do, DipTrace slightly more so.  KiCad is open-source, and hence is completely free.

I use Eagle because its limitations are reasonable for what I need to do, and I believe that it has a better interface than KiCad.

Eagle can be downloaded here.

If you're just installing Eagle, you probably will want to use the 'Run as Freeware' licensing option when it comes up.  Note that for this instructable, I'm assuming that you have Eagle 6.1 or higher installed.  The files that I upload are stored in Eagle 6's xml format, and as such can't be opened by earlier versions of eagle.

First we'll cover moving around a finished project, then we'll start from scratch and design a board from start to finish.
 
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Step 1: A Quick Note on How Eagle Works.

Eagle's UI is designed with what is called a modal interface.  That is, you select one mode, perform it a bunch of times, as opposed to selecting an object and applying an single operation at a time.  When used properly, this allows you to work very rapidly, but it can also be a major source of aggravation if you are used to the Windows-y way of doing things.

Eagle has four basic views:  Library, Schematic, Board, and Control Panel.

Control Panel is the main window, it launches everything else and when you close it, all subordinate windows get closed.

Library - Allows you to manage and edit parts.  Advanced usage of this will not be covered in this tutorial

Schematic - This is where you draw the schematic for your project.  It defines the parts you have in your project, and which pins on the parts should be connected.

Board - This is where you lay out the pieces of your project and physically connect the correct pins as defined in the Schematic.

Note that the Schematic's job is only to define the parts and the connections between them.  Only in Board layout does it matter where the parts physically go.  On Schematics, parts are laid out where they make sense electrically, on Boards, they are laid out where they physically make sense, thus a resistor that is right next to a part in the Schematic may end up as far away from that part as possible in the Board.
tdipoce1 month ago

I followed your guide and found that it was very useful! Everything was easy to follow and straight forward! I've already been applying what you taught me to some my very first PCB's. Thanks for the great guide!

thanks for posting! what pcbs have you made? have you posted projects around them?
I've made a dual 500W Motor Controller, above compass board (although I haven't had time to assemble it after I got it back from the fab a while back), a LED-based wireless quadrature signal transmitter/receiver pair (fabbed, assembled, in debug), and a wireless e-stop (failed first etching attempt and haven't had time to retry).

Youtube video playlist of the full robot in action