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Fritzing Around Project Documentation

fritzing around

Fritzing around is a great way to document your breadboard design, and perhaps more.

Fritzing is an open source, cross-platform electronic design automation tool from Germany. In theory, it links together three views of a small electronic project: the breadboard, the schematic and the printed circuit board.

First, you design your project on a virtual breadboard. Fritzing provides models of your components, such as resistors, transistors, motors, and so on. Each model contains both visual and wiring details. As you place the component on the breadboard while Fritzing around, the component is wired into the breadboard. Then, you add virtual connections between the breadboard and component pins.

The second view is the schematic, which is automatically created from the breadboard layout. Sort of. There is still a lot of work needed to arrange the components spatially and simplify the wiring diagram.

Finally, the third view will provide an auto-routed layout for a printed circuit board. Again, lots of fine tuning is needed.

Not bad for a free electronic design automation tool. It is designed primarily for non-engineers who want a lightweight, free tool for small projects hooking up components and modules.

My Fritzing Around Experiences

From my perspective, Fritzing is not yet ready for prime time. Perhaps that is why after two years of Fritzing around, it is still beta software. It’s worth trying to see if you like it, though.

I think my best current use for Fritzing is for documenting breadboard experiments. Compared to a photograph (see above) Fritzing provides a nice clean picture of your breadboard layout. Shown above is a small proof of concept project as I learn how to connect my NodeMCU to hardware, in this case servo motors and a relay.

Some problems are experienced with the software. Fritzing seems to become unresponsive for quite a few minutes after first loading. Running program update fails repeatedly. Perhaps this is because I am using an older Core Duo PC in my lab.  The good news is that there are many community-build component models and they are easy to download and install manually.

After spending an hour trying to get a good looking circuit schematic of the above layout, I gave up and turned to other tools.

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