Introduction: Prototyping Circuit Boards With DrawingBoard Pro

DrawingBoard Pro is a free windows 8.1 app for prototyping and archiving circuits on stripboard, perfboard, breadboard or PCBs. It is aimed primarily at hobbyists wanting to quickly sketch down and save their circuit ideas.

The image above shows the main design screen of the app annotated with the basic functions of each of the buttons (hover over the image to view annotations).

Step 1: Selecting a Board Type

To select the prototyping board on which to build your circuit, right click/swipe from bottom to open the bottom app bar and choose the correct board from the "Board Type" menu.

Other buttons on the bottom app bar provide the following functionality:

1. Reset View: Sets the view back to the origin at a the default zoom level - useful if you accidentally pan away from your circuit and cannot find it again.

2. Wires View: Toggle hiding of all components except jumper wires/PCB traces.

3. Save As: Save your circuit as a circuit file (.cir) or as an image (.bmp, .jpg, .png, .xaml).

4. Open: Open a .cir circuit file for editing.

5. Print: Print the currently visible area.

Step 2: Creating a Jumper Wire

The animated GIF above shows the process of creating and editing a jumper wire:

Creating a wire

1. Select the wire button from the top app bar.

2. Select the desired colour of the wire from the drop-down menu.

3. Right-click and drag (desktop) or swipe (tablet) on the board from the start point of the wire to the end point to place the wire.

Editing a wire: First right-click (desktop) or tap (tablet) the wire to select it - it will flash yellow. Then drag the wire to move it around, or drag the (red) anchors of the wire to change the start and end points of the wire. You can also change the colour of a wire by selecting it and then tapping the wire button and selecting a new colour from the drop-down menu. Click/tap away from the wire to deselect it.

Step 3: Placing Components

Broadly speaking, electronic components are either "leaded" or "pinned". A leaded component (e.g. a through-hole resistor) has a body with (long) leads protruding from each end. These leads can be stretched between two points on the prototyping board. Pinned components have several short, rigid pins which define the component's fixed footprint.

DrawingBoard Pro can handle both leaded or pinned components:

To create a leaded component:

1. Select the component using the icons on the top app bar

2. Click-and-drag/swipe across the board between the points where you want the component to be.

To edit a leaded component:

1. Click/tap the component to select it (it will flash in yellow)

2. Move the component by click-and-drag/swipe on the flashing part

3. Adjust the start/end points of the component leads using the circular red anchor points.

4. The video above shows how to alter the labelling of a component using a 3-color resistor code and optional text.

5. Click/tap outside the component to deselect it.

To create a pinned component:

1. Select the component using the icons on the top app bar

2. Click/press the point where you want to place the component and drag/swipe to define the orientation of the component.

To edit a leaded component:

1. Click/tap the component to select it (it will flash in yellow)

2. Move the component by click-and-drag/swipe on the flashing part

3. Adjust the orientation of the component by clicking-and-dragging/swiping the circular arrow anchor.

4. The video above shows how to alter the labelling of a component using and optional text.

5. Click/tap outside the component to deselect it.

Step 4: Panning and Zooming

To move your view around the design area, right-click-and-drag (desktop) or swipe two fingers across the screen (tablet).

To zoom in or out, use the mouse scroll wheel (desktop) or pinch with two fingers (tablet).

Step 5: Creating Custom Components

The video above shows how to use the custom component creator to create a new leaded component, a new pinned component or edit an existing custom component in the library.

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