by Tara Tiger Brown

September 5, 2016

Whether you are a student, hobbyist or engineer, there are free online tools that make it easy to design, simulate and share your electronic circuit diagrams.

Before You Dive In

If you are brand new to electronics, then before you dive into designing electronic circuit diagrams, we recommend you first try some basic projects to familiarize yourself with the concepts and parts.

One of the first projects that many educators recommend is to light up a light-emitting diode (LED) with a coin cell battery. Once you understand that concept, you can move on to build a simple circuit on a breadboard. There are lot of great tutorials online that will help you start breadboarding. We like Sparkfun's how to use a breadboard. All of the KitHub lesson plans come with basic circuit projects including how to light an LED. Feel free to download the lesson plans from any of our Classroom kit or STEAM program pages.


Educator Prep

If you are an educator and plan to introduce your students to electronics, we recommend you first familiarize yourself with electricity and tool safety tips and some basic terms such as electricity, conductor, electric current, circuit atoms, electrons and switch. You can align most electronics projects to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). All of this information can be found in the KitHub lesson plans that are available to download for free.

Electronic Circuit Diagram Tools

Once you are comfortable with the basics of building an electronic circuit, you can move on to design a project. Here are a few tools we use when designing electronic circuit diagrams for a breadboard or a printed circuit board (PCB):

Fritzing allows users to document their prototypes, share them with others, teach electronics in a classroom, and layout and manufacture professional PCBs.

Autodesk Circuits is a free set of tools to allow you to simulate and program Arduino and breadboard components. Design a PCB board and then have the option to order it once you are done.

CircuitMaker is a free electronic design automation (EDA) software tool from Altium. They have a pretty active community forum.

More Tools

Here is a list of more software design tools to design electronic circuits and PCBs.

Share Your Favorite Tools

What circuit design tool do you recommend using for beginners through experienced designers? Share your recommendations in the comments below.

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About the author 

Tara Tiger Brown

Tara Tiger Brown is a technologist and author exploring the intersection of the environment, education, and wellbeing. As founder and CEO of KitHub, she develops STEAM education programs focused on hands-on learning and environmental monitoring.

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