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KiCAD or Fritzing ... or?

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  • KiCAD or Fritzing ... or?

    I've recently developed the electronics for a new design for the Ghostbusters "Proton Pack" using more modern designs than some that have been kicking around for some years now. The more complete ones use Arduinos (technically the ATMega 328p or similar) and mine is no different. What I've done is taken away most of the superfluous Arduino electronics - primarily the infernal CH340 found on most clones, and the source of any number of problems for users - and based everything on a single ATMega running at 16MHz. Our cloned Nanos have been so bad in this regard that I've resorted to building an ICSP and flashing it via that.

    Since I'm about 50 years behind the times, SMT is still a bit of black box for me but a necessity to keep costs low (we're releasing everything Open Source) I would prefer to use SMT and have them pre-fabbed in China.

    I tried EasyEDA (by JLPCB) and got lost in their extensive parts library... and as a retiree with an 18 year old (keen as mustard) kid coming over to play, I'm not exactly in a position to by Proteus or similar!

    And herein comes the problem: I can't find an FOSS software that has even the common parts that we're using, even the jellybean BJT (2N2222A) isn't available in one of them (but that's a simple case of substituting a TO92 on the same footprint. LEDs an some other components are proving rather more of a problem.

    Fritzing is the most "friendly" of the free ones but has some features that make me uneasy - specifically removing connections to ground on the schematic when they are added to the ground plane - although it's still incomplete beta software for now. It's first rate for laying out breadboards however!

    KiCAD is far more mature but rather more (cough) challenging (cough) to use. It would be my preferred option but things like the ATMega's outline is shown as Port B, C, D etc. rather than the less-error-prone functional assignments (D0-13, A0-7) etc. I'd prefer to use the QFN package (much lower cost to end users) but ... the only through hole stuff is the MP3 player and the LED array.

    If anyone here has more experience in this area, I'd really appreciate the input. I feel like I'm flying without a parachute since none of these have effective SPICE simulations that work with my drawings (probably my fault) and even then SPICE comes with risks. Ultimately though, I worry about smegging up and finding myself with a bunch of prototype boards that won't work because I forgot a via (etc.) somewhere.