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GlowWorm  -  Editor for Breadboard / Stripboard Electronic Circuits


Description

GlowWorm is a project to develop an application to facilitate the layout, construction and management of electronic circuits on prototype boards. It can be used with solderless breadboards and also with a range of single-sided copper-tracked boards: stripboard / tripad / perfboard / groundboard.

You will be able to use GlowWorm to
  • Netlist Import.  Import a netlist and build a virtual circuit, and use that as the reference for building the circuit.
  • Validation.  Avoid errors in your circuits by having the program validate your layout and calculate for you the optimum way to connect track sections.
  • Simplification.  Manage complex circuits which would otherwise be difficult due to the large amount of wiring required.
  • Reference Notes.  Add reference notes and explanatory comments to your circuits, at both the global and component levels.
  • Storage / Review.  Store your layouts as a document on your PC for future reference.
  • Identification.  Easily identify components and node connections in your circuits. Resistors are automatically banded.
  • Printing / Construction.  Print diagrams of the layout to facilitate construction of your circuits.

Note that GlowWorm will not be a general purpose PCB editor, nor a schematic editor.

The purpose of this web page is to inform you of the current state of development, to give some screenshots and explain the capabilities that I am planning for the program. Also to invite comments, suggestions, and opinions.

My objective is to create a compact, non-commercial product that can stand alongside existing electronics programs and can offer some original functionality. GlowWorm will be a freeware application for Windows.

Development is well advanced and progressing, but not yet finalised.

There is no download yet.




Screenshots

Physical Connections
( Application screenshot )
Track Block LIbrary
( The board track library )
Composing a Track Block
( Composing track sections )
The Components Library
( The components library )
Component Composition
( Composing a component footprint )
Component View
( Stripboard, component level )
Component View ( 2 )
( Stripboard, logical connections )
Physical Connections
( Stripboard, copper track level )
Logical Connections
( Bread board, component level )
Logical Connections
( Bread board, logical connections )


GlowWorm Features

Breadboard / Copper-Track Boards.  GlowWorm can be used on all designs of solderless breadboard and single-sided copper-tracked boards. It can handle any arbitrary track configuration. Track configurations need to be cellular. GlowWorm has special functionality for stripboard, tripad, perfboard and groundboard.

Tracks Library and Editor.  The program will maintain a library of track configurations. An editor will allow you to create the designs. You will be able to build a breadboard by attaching several track blocks together.

Components Library and Editor.  The program will maintain a library of component packages ( footprints ). An editor will allow you to create component packages of an arbitrary and composite design of many shapes ( rectangle, octagonal, rounded ), including text. To accommodate the use of different names, a database of alias names for component packages can be maintained.

Netlist Import.  Component and logical connection data can be imported from a netlist ( usual mode of operation ), or else added manually.

Component Placement.  Components can be dragged / rotated to their final placement positions.

Fixed Track Links.  Track sections can be connected with fixed links to force them to occupy the same network node. Useful if you wish to designate certain tracks as 'ground' or other fixed voltage power nodes.

Stripboard.  'Cuts' can be placed along stripboard tracks to create isolated track sections.

Groundboard.  'Islands' can be created to represent individual nodes of your network.

Validation / Errors.  The program will check your layout for errors. You will be able to make a logical comparison of your circuit against an external netlist data file. An option will be available to protect the logical netlist configuration of your circuit against accidental change.

Physical Connections.  The program will compute the optimum way to connect your track sections. Single-node option will allow you to view the connections for an individual netlist node.

Tripad / Perfboard.  Simply position your components and have the program work out the point-to-point connections.

Views.  Your board layout can be viewed at several different levels: component, logical connections and physical connections. Also reverse side for copper-track boards.

Comments, Reference Notes.  Comments, notes can be stored at the project level, or for individual components.

Printing.  Board layouts can be printed.

GIF, BMP Image Generation.  Board layouts can be exported as GIF images or copied to the Windows clipboard as BMP images.

Colours and Preferences.  Users will be able to set their preferences for colours and fonts. Physical connections belonging to individual logical nodes can have different colours, chosen by the user.

Backup. Backups are taken automatically by the program as a protection against accidental data loss.


Why GlowWorm?

Why have I been developing GlowWorm?

I was in need of a simple virtual breadboard application for my own projects. My problem with using breadboards is this. I build a circuit, it works. I leave it for a few days. Then when I come back to it I have forgotten which component is which and which connection, within the forest of jump wires, goes where. I needed software that would allow me to facilitate my task and to document my circuits. There didn't seem to be much available online. So, in the absence of suitable software I decided to develop my own. Gradually, I decided I would have to add additional features: to import netlists ( components, logical connections + package types ); to have a program that could be used with copper-track stripboards; to print in true scale.

Hopefully this product will be of benefit to other people also.


Links

[ All About Circuits ] An online electronics / electrical engineering forum.

[ http://www.electro-tech-online.com/ ] Electro Tech is an online community for people who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets.

[ http://www.vintage-radio.com/ ] UK vintage radio community site and forum.

[ LTspice IV ] LTspice IV is a freeware computer application for the SPICE simulation of electronic circuits.  I highly recommend this product.

[ TinyCAD ] TinyCAD is a freeware program for drawing circuit diagrams. It supports the Protel netlist format that can be used as import to the GlowWorm program.



Contact and Support

You may contact me, Dariusz Stachowski at [ glowworm@dashstofsk.net ].

Because the program is still in its first version development stage I would be grateful for any suggestions, advice and comments you may have. Am I wasting my time? Is there software already available? Would you use such software? What features would you like the software to have?

Please put forward any comments and suggestions you may have. All opinions will be welcomed.

If you find the idea for this product to be of interest then please consider making a donation. My products are the sole effort of one single programmer and I receive no income from the distribution of them. Any donations will help keep my interest alive in these projects and will help fund further development.