This document has been translated into English from another language (the author is not responsible for the inaccuracy of the translation, if any)
FreePcb is a unique PCB design program with a function key interface. Version 2.0 presented on this site is a fork of version 1.359, taken for revision in 2014. FreePcb-2 contains new features not available in version 1.359 and provides more freedom for circuit board developers. If you don’t want to waste your time mastering complex PCB design applications, download FreePcb-2, which can do a lot of what CADs can do, but is easy to learn and takes up little disk space on your computer. FreePcb-2 does not have a huge number of buttons as in other CAD systems, the purpose of which is not immediately clear. There are only 9 buttons (F1 … F9), the Functions of which change depending on the type of the selected element (part, vertex of trace, segment and etc.), so FreePcb-2 can be studied even without instructions. There is also a right-click context menu with additional features.
In FreePcb, you can create a netlist manually by adding parts and then connecting their pins. But you can also import a netlist in the PADS-PCB popular format from FreePCB2 compatible Schematic Editor. See description on this page
Uploading Gerber files
If at least one of the following programs is installed on your computer:
You will be able to upload gerber files into it for viewing, using the menu command directly from the FreePcb-2 window. (available from November 26, 2019)
Put a shortcut to the viewer in the “Shortcut” folder, which is provided in the root directory of Freepcb2, and then this item will appear in the main File menu.
Improved display of the merge name
Open the PCB file and from the PCB editor switch to the schematic editor by selecting the “View-> Switch To PCB” menu. Now in the PCB editor, when you hover the mouse cursor over a pin, the same pin is highlighted in the schematic
The outline line is always shown as a solid fill in the color of the “Board Outline” layer for visual convenience
Added “Protection” option to the “Project” menu. This can be useful after the design and order of the printed circuit boards from the factory has been completed. By enabling protection, you will not be able to edit the file
The netlist generated from the schematic editor is automatically loaded in the PCB editor by clicking the YES button
In the footprint of a part, you can place a cutout in the board. Wherever you move the part, the cut will move with it. Press F1 to add a cutout (in the footprint editor)
The solder mask on the pins is displayed in Transparent mode
Automatic alignment to ratlines. When positioning, the pins of different parts connected to each other are almost always located on the same axis - horizontal or vertical. for example, when we put a capacitor near the microcontroller leg. Previously, to align, you had to use the Alignment menu or press the Align softkey. Now this happens automatically if the ratline offset is less than the grid spacing. Select a sufficiently large Placement grid at the top of the window - for example 0.5mm to see how this function works. And if you do not want to use this function, then select a smaller grid step, or temporarily turn off the visibility of the Ratlines layer
If you want to make all layers visible, then you can do it by pressing a single button on the keyboard: [~] it is located next to the  button. Click again to restore the previous visibility of the layers. If your project contains more than 2 layers, then press this button a third time, and only the inner layers will be shown.
You can keep track of the full length of a net or trace when you move a trace segment using the arrow keys on your keyboard. This parameter is displayed in the status bar at the bottom. The same happens when you move a group of selected trace segments.
1) Rectangle (F1 button)
2) Square (F2 button)
3) Circle (F3 button)
4) Oval (F5 button)
5) Ellipse (F6 button)
6) Rounded rectangle (F7 key)
7) Cloud (F8 button)
Schematic Constructor 1.3 can read the names of footprints of other PCB editors (in particular, P-cad). If you are using the Schematic Constructor, but for some reason do not want to use FreePcb2 to route printed circuit boards, then you can specify the path to the library of your CAD system so that the Schematic Constructor downloads footprint names for itself and then suggests them in the drop-down list.
Improved polyline properties editing menu. Select the side of the polyline and press F7 (Polyline properties). You can change the color of the polygon fill and make it lighter in relation to the color of the polyline itself (from 3% to 70% of the main tone). This option also works when exporting to PDF.
The “Select” item and the “Unselect” item have been added to the main menu “Editing”. Thus, you can select only polylines or only attributes, etc., in order to then edit the properties of a group of objects (for example change the text size or the polyline width)
Added menu item “Open from project folder” to the “File” menu. This is a tree menu that allows you to directly open files from the project folder, bypassing the standard file dialog box
Improved “Magnet” function that helps when drawing connections between pins. The magnet works when the cursor approaches not only the vertex of the polyline but also its side
Added “Protection” option to the “Project” menu. By enabling protection, you will not be able to edit the file
You can create project branches with index increments in filenames whenever you want to make new changes to a completed project. The branch folder will appear next to the project folder. This option automatically changes all texts that match the file name (increments the index) inside the new schematic and PCB file, so as not to do it manually. This “Item” is in the Project menu
Lines style grid is displayed in Transparent mode
Improved import of parts from another project. You can check the “import with default polylines width” checkbox. In this case, the width of the polylines for the part will always be the same, as specified in the project options. And another super useful improvement is that if the pattern of the imported part is already present in the current project, then it is replaced from the local library
Added “Component Description” item to the right-click menu on the part. The program can create a text file or a PDF file to store any information about a component (a component is for example “10MOhm @ 0805”). You can also attach an existing Datasheet of this part
When there are many different netmarks in the project, you can quickly duplicate the netmark by selecting it by net name. The panel with label names is located on the left of the main window (under the selection mask). To activate this panel, right-click on any polyline with the network name attribute and select the “Add to favorites” menu
You can see the pin list of any part. For example, if in your project you drew a microcontroller that, say, has 20 pins, but the maximum number in the pin names, say 30, then the program will display a list of 30 pins of which some will have the status “not connected” or “missing” … (Right-click menu on any part, then “Get Pin List”)
It is possible to hide all images attached to polylines. The picture will remain attached to the polyline, but will not be displayed on the display
The dialog box for importing parts from other projects (F1 - Import Part) loads three attributes of the used parts - Value, Footprint and RefDes, so that you can find the part by prefix. For example, filter out in the list only capacitors (C) or resistors (R), etc. (before that there were only two attributes - Value and Footprint)
If you like, post this picture on your website. Have fun using FreePcb-2.
You can participate in the improvement of the application. Feel free to write a message regarding working with FREEPCB2 so that we can release the official version FreePcb2.3 & Schematic Constructor 1.3 as soon as possible. Working together is always more efficient.
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