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A screenshot from 123D Circuits

Autodesk today expanded its suite of free 3D tools by partnering with Circuits.io to launch an electronics design tool: 123D Circuits.

The program allows users to create virtual breadboard-based designs to build and experiment with circuits. A virtual Arduino board can be added to the design, and the code can be edited in a browser window and simulated. The code can also be edited collaboratively (“a Google Doc for electronics” Autodesk claims).

The program also provides hooks that allow users to have the virtual boards professionally manufactured.

123D Circuits was created in collaboration with Circuits.io, a free Web-based circuit editor that was created by two developers based in Ghent, Belgium.

123D Circuits is free for open designs. For those interested in creating private circuits, the cost ranges from $12 to $25 a month.

The new program joins a growing collection of free Autodesk “123D” 3d tools that provide relatively simple, lightweight on ramps to 3D scanning, designing, and modeling.

The new program will be hosted on the Circuits.io site. For those interested in experimenting, the development team has created a number of Instructables and a collection of help pages.

So what do you think: does this fill a gap in the 3D creation world? Will it find a significant niche among people who are trying to learn circuit design? Will its virtual testing capabilities mean that fewer Arduino boards will meet untimely ends?

DC Denison

DC Denison

DC Denison is the editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

The former technology editor of The Boston Globe, DC is also interested in ebook experimentation and content management systems.

One of the places where DC can be found online is Google+ (which I’m adding here only because I want to see if by adding “rel=author” and “rel=me” to those two links I can get Google to display my picture in its search results.)

Hey, it works!


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Comments

  1. It would be important to say “free” as in gratis (which is also an English word), so it is not confused with “free” as in freedom.

    1. Nowai says:

      You’ve got to be kidding. Ever heard of “context”?

      1. mshyyc says:

        Nowai, I’m sure he has heard of context. That said, the context isn’t immediately clear, and it is an important distinction to point out that 123D Circuits is not Free software. It is “no-cost” software, and even then you can only use it for no cost for “open designs”.

        It would’ve been helpful if Denison had elabourated a bit more on the licensing terms, or at least linked to them. What does “open design” entail–there are many kinds of open licenses. Also, does the creator retain ownership of their open designs or are they granting Autodesk ownership rights by using 123D software, potentially letting them appropriate those designs into their own closed products without the approval of the creator?

        Autodesk is “free” to conduct business as they wish, but I am also free to decide whether there are consequences to using their “no-cost” product.

  2. Sam Freeman says:

    I’m definitely interested in trying this. Circuits.io was good, but I can see how it’d benefit from a little refinement.

  3. Franck says:

    I beg to differ: 150 to 300$ a year is quite far from gratis. In fact, it’s a lot more than established competitors!

  4. Anybody see anything regarding the fabrication costs and time? I checked the FAQ but didn’t see anything. Looks like I’d have to create an account and design/use an existing PCB to see what the price/delivery is. It’d be nice to know how it compares to something like OSH Park or other fab services.

  5. carlynorama says:

    I think people should consider using http://fritzing.org instead. Free, open source, lives on your computer so you can use it on an airplane.

  6. jlroettger says:

    This is free gratis, it’s like GitHub where you can pay to make your work private.

  7. dface603 says:

    This looks excellent, is very easy to use, and I love that it has the built in IDE to let you test everything out, but it doesn’t have enough components. Some basics are missing here like the DS18B20 Temperature sensor, there are no mosfets, humidity sensors, etc. Some of the core components that make the Arduino so great for interacting with the environment are simply not there. However, it is new and I am sure these components will be added with time. Really great start.

  8. Merlin Tail says:

    Autodesk are trying to create a software as a service world with extortionate pricing. This is another step too far. I won’t use this on the basis that 123d catch (another similar offering) is so flakey and poorly executed that I won’t part with hard-earned cash to fill their bank account for second rate software. I’ll be supporting http://fritzing.org

  9. ale says:

    I think that the Arduino Code Editor is what makes it special!
    I’ve tried it yesterday to make a micro guide and it worked flawlessly https://www.how.do/guide/123d-circuits-simulator