When designing a printed circuit board (PCB) it's often desirable to create a 'schematic' which shows the components to be used and their connectivity in an abstract fashion. The connectivity information is then used to help when designing the actual circuit board.
gsch2pcb is a command-line tool, part of the gEDA suite, which is used to generate and update a PCB layout. It works with schematics created by gschem, part of the gEDA suite, and layouts created by pcb, a PCB layout system commonly used with gEDA.
xgsch2pcb provides an intuitive, user-friendly graphical interface to gsch2pcb.
The main window is divided into three main areas:
- The toolbar at the top offers the usual options to quit the program and to load and save project files.
- The left hand 'Schematic' frame shows a list of schematic pages that the PCB layout will be based on. The 'Edit schematic' and 'Edit attributes' buttons respectively launch gschem and gattrib to edit the selected schematic page.
- The right hand 'Layout' pane shows the name of the PCB layout file associated with the project. The 'Edit layout' button launches pcb to edit a file, and will offer to update your PCB layout if necessary. The 'Update layout' button forces an update of the PCB layout even if one isn't strictly necessary.
The update process will carry out the following actions to modify your layout, after launching pcb if isn't already running:
- Remove any elements from the layout that are not in the schematic.
- Find any elements that are in the schematic but not in the layout, and add them to the layout (in the top left corner). N.b. that it's probably a good idea to leave this corner of your layout clear until the layout is more or less finalised, to avoid new elements interfering with elements which have already been placed and routed.
- Clear your rats and load a new rats nest.
- Update the component pin names to match the pin names on the schematic symbol.
Note that the update process won't modify your PCB file on disk, and will take into account any changes you have made since you last saved.