Creating PCBs in Eagle is a straight-forward process once you understand how EAGLE works. In fact, most users can get up to speed enough to draw a Schematic and then layout a simple PCB. Making the connections between components is not only fun but can be a form of artwork.

Often overlooked is how much space is left wide open. For example, a board might look like this:

The area in black will have no copper. For circuits that don’t require a ground plane, this may not be an issue. However, it rarely hurts to fill in empty area with a ground plane. EAGLE makes it very easy to do this, after your circuit design is complete.

This screen shot is an all-layer view of my TLC5940 painter board.  The 1st draft featured two TLC5940s, but I decided it made the board too large.  Instead, I wanted the ability to mount the painter boards around the LED’s shadow box.  This should make routing all the wires much easier.

In an attempt to find a free set of schematic and PCB tools for hobby work, I looked back at gEDA. The last time I used it was when the project first started, years and years ago. I was happy to see that OS X had a set of fink packages for the gEDA suite. After figuring out how to get X11 in Leopard (since I didn’t include it when I installed 10.5) and install fink, getting gEDA going was a snap.  The user jluciani in the Arduino forums has provided some free pcb footprints he has used from previous projects.