These days I use DesignSpark PCB for designing my PCBs. A few years ago, I judged it to be the best of the free software after trying Eagle, Kicad and others – and I like the way that RS is continuously developing it. Ultimately though, whatever CAD tool you choose, the most important thing is to become familiar with it.
I used DesignSpark to generate a PCB for my vibrating wristband from the schematic that I had already captured. I manually positioned the components, but let the auto-router route all the tracks. I had to move the components slightly over a few iterations to get the auto-router to be able to complete all the nets. I have previously had two sets of PCBs made at ITEAD Studio, and been very happy with the results. Certainly their prices are good at $1 per 5cmx5cm board.
Just be aware of minimum sizes in your design. In the past I have specified silkscreen text and lines that were too small to be printed. It is very easy to lose touch of just how small things really are when you are looking at a full screen CAD view. ITead has posted guidelines here, but basically you should be fine if you don’t need to go below 0.2 mm.
I designed the board with exactly the same dimensions as the Adafruit battery that I plan to use, since the board will sit on top of this battery (37mm x 30mm). The process for generating the correct files for an ITEAD Studio 2-layer board is quite simple, but you should follow the following steps once you have finished your design: Continue reading