Introduction: Render 3D Images of Your PCBs Using Eagle3D and POV-Ray

Picture of Render 3D Images of Your PCBs Using Eagle3D and POV-Ray

Using Eagle3D and POV-Ray, you can make realistic 3D renderings of your PCBs. Eagle3D is a script for EAGLE Layout Editor. This will generate a ray tracing file, which will be sent to POV-Ray, which in turn will eventually pop out the finalized image of your PCB.

Step 1: Things You'll Need

-EAGLE Layout Editor -- This is the PCB CAD/CAM program used for making your PCBs. Westfw has some great tutorials on how to make a schematic and turning that into a printed circuit board using EAGLE.
-Eagle3D -- This will generate the file used by POV-Ray
-POV-Ray -- This will render the final image of the PCB.

Step 2: Create a POV-Ray File

Picture of Create a POV-Ray File

After installing the required software, you need to generate a POV file that is read by POV-Ray. To do this, open up your board in EAGLE. Then, click File>Run. You want to find the install directory of Eagle3D, and find where the ULP files are stored (mine were stored at C:\Program Files\Eagle\ULP\Eagle3D). If you are running a version of EAGLE later than 4.1x, you'll want to select 3d41.ulp. If not, select 3d40.ulp. Click Open and a file generation interface should pop up. This is where you will make your selections on how the rendered board will look. I usually leave the settings to their default positions, unless I am using custom created parts. Then click Create POV file and exit. A message should appear telling you that your POV file has been created successfully.

Step 3: Let POV-Ray Include Eagle3D Files

Picture of Let POV-Ray Include Eagle3D Files

Method A
Eagle3D uses special #include files when it is scripting, and you need to give these files to POV-Ray for your image to render. First, go into your Eagle3D program directory. Find the folder named POV-Ray, and copy the files to the "include" folder in the POV-Ray root directory. (Picture 1)

Method B
To make life a bit easier, you could also specify the directory where the original Eagle3D include files are located. To do this, open your POV-Ray root directory, open the "renderer" folder, and edit the POV-Ray.ini file. Add the following line to the base of the file:

Library_Path="C:\Program Files\Eagle3D\ulp\Eagle3D\povray"

Of course, you should change the "C:\Program Files\Eagle3D" to where ever the root directory of Eagle3D is located. (Picture 2)

Step 4: Generate the Image!

Picture of Generate the Image!

Open POV-Ray, then open your .pov file generated by Eagle3D. Click Run, and you should see the image being generated, with a live preview. This generated image is automatically saved in the same directory as the .pov file, and is also named the same. If you would like to change the camera angle, you can do so by regenerating the pov file with Eagle3D, and changing the Camera Settings tab. If you would like to change the image size, you do so in POV-Ray beneath the "New" icon.

Step 5: Other Ideas

Creating your own parts
Eagle3D only includes a number of parts, and you can expand your library. Here is a link to a tutorial showing you how to create your own parts.


bigdawgte (author)2013-10-27

I am an Eagle newbie. Can anyone tell me what device/library are the spade/quick connectors that the author used for ground sground out and +5v? I was trying to make those b/c I couldnt find them in Eagle's libraries

Faulty LED (author)2013-09-09


jdorne (author)2012-07-16

What if I use Eagle 6.2.0?

rocketman221 (author)2011-08-16

Will this render on the graphics cards or is it stuck rendering on the CPU?

nitrox027 (author)2011-07-10

I copied over the eagle3d files but povray says its unable to open
what can i do to fix this?

nitrox027 (author)nitrox0272011-07-10

i am running eagle 5.10.0 and povray version 3.62

andres2504 (author)2009-07-14

I have this problem: Cannot open INI file 'C:\Users\user\Documents\POV-Ray\v3.6\ini\povray.ini'. Could you help me to solve this? Thanks

andres2504 (author)andres25042009-07-19

sorry i've fixed it and i have obtained good results!!! thanks for the info... :D

steastiw (author)andres25042011-04-07

how did you fix it. i have the same problem. i am using windows xp.

pls help

(kindly post your reply as a comment on this post. my email id has changed. so dont mail it)

coleyy (author)2010-11-18

for some reason, my switches/relays/9v battery snaps/capacity diodes all show up as disc capacitors
please help me get it to work

ongissim (author)coleyy2010-11-20

Sorry, but not all parts are modeled in 3D. Most parts, unfortunately, don't show properly. I suggest modeling your own components (step 5) if it's crucial.

danger89 (author)2010-08-08

My how-to:

Cybergeek004 (author)2010-06-16

Hi I noticed that you are missing a cap in the render that happens to me to I also miss pots and other parts how can I make it so I can add all the parts in it?

poddy69 (author)2009-09-27

This is just the thing I have been looking for. I love Eagle because it is so full of usefull tools and library's, and to find out that you can now make 3D images of your work is great. Only 1 problem!!!! I can't get the thing to work. Everytime I run go to render my board in POVRAY, it stops at the '#include "". I am using the latest version of all the programs, including Eagle (which is 5.6 I think). Any ideas guys????

Rportal (author)2009-08-29

it worked well thank you

lunuwaththa (author)2009-08-27

please post a article for PCB Design using Proteus 7 Professional

pyroten (author)2009-06-05

Could you possibly do an i'ble on how to make a small video/animation of a flyby or circling the board? I can't work it out :( According to the docs, it's possible. : D


pyroten (author)pyroten2009-06-05

oh yea, and also i can't get the background to change. I'v tried everything in the settings dialog but nup.

cyberian (author)2009-02-24

Excellent contribution!

Seifpic (author)2009-02-19

I always get an error:

Seifpic (author)Seifpic2009-02-23

It's OK, it works now. Anyone know where to get a free working printer with its software?

ongissim (author)Seifpic2009-02-23

Are you sure that you used the correct Eagle 3D script file (.ulp)?

societyofrobots (author)2008-06-26

I had written up a nice Eagle3D Tutorial in 2007. Its definitely worth reading through for more details . . .

what is the difference in eagle 5.4?

brandon borick (author)2008-11-12

is eagel safe to download

ian (author)2008-06-04

Instead of copying the include files (step #3) I added the Eagle3D path to the last line of povray.ini.

ongissim (author)ian2008-06-04

Thanks, I'll add that as another method.

awkrin (author)2008-05-03

Crocodile 3d(which is not free) can make pcb in the same program, but it cannot render, yet is a time saver

ftking_83702 (author)2008-04-01

Thank you so much!

thats cool, i guess it helps to see it beor you build it right? What was the circuit for, I see a 555 chip in there...

Depending on the resister values, that'll send a 5 volt pulse to the "out" pin at a regular interval. If you hooked up an LED going from "out" to "sgnd" it would blink. Also, that's really slick, good Instructable!

ongissim (author)skawesome2008-03-28

To be specific, it would make that LED blink around 17khz ;). This circuit was just designed so I could annoy people by hooking up a piezo speaker.

James Moxham (author)2008-03-27

This is great - especially for creating the image on the first page of an Instructable. It also looks clearer than a photo of a real board which would be very useful for showing someone where all the parts go. +1 rating. James Moxham aka Dr_Acula

guyfrom7up (author)2008-03-27

:O This is the coolest thing I have ever seen related to electronics on a computer, this is like.. I dunno.. awesome!!!! +5, eh really +1 cause that's all I can do.

westfw (author)2008-03-25

I was hoping someone would write this up. Thanks!

GorillazMiko (author)2008-03-25

Great job! These look awesome, now I can make some instead of having to draw everything out, with all the PRESSURE PUSHING DOWN ON MY SHOULDERS, CAUSING ME TO BURN INTO A PILE OF ASHES.

About This Instructable



Bio: -Forever inventor -Want to be an Electronics Design Engineer -Windows will give you a glass of wine, but Unix will give you the rest of ... More »
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