Kitfox Aircraft Stick and Rudder Stein Air Grove Aircraft TCW Technologies Dynon Avionics AeroLED MGL Avionics Leading Edge Airfoils Desser CPS Parts EarthX Batteries Kitplane Parts
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Thread: Electrical schematic drawing software

  1. #1
    Birdseyeview's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Oregon, Ill
    Posts
    68

    Default Electrical schematic drawing software

    Does anyone know of a good free (or relatively cheap) software download that can be used on a MAC to draw electrical schematics. My Kitfox electrical schematic so far has been done by hand but it's messy and could use a cleanup. The standard schematic that came with my 2001 build manual was a good starting point but proved to be inadequate and incomplete so I had to redo it.
    Larry Olson
    Kitfox Series 6 - building
    Tri-gear, smooth cowl
    912 ULS

  2. #2
    Senior Member PapuaPilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Nampa, Idaho
    Posts
    848

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    I was wondering the same thing and am not aware of anything for Mac. I ended up using Paintbrush which is fairly easy to make blocks, lines, circles and text and this app comes with Mac and Windows.

    I just installed autopilot servos and made a schematic for that system. I copied a section of the closest schematic from the Garmin installation manual and edited it in Paintbrush. All I needed to do was to select sections & dragging them around, delete unneeded stuff, and adding a few additional lines, ground symbol and text. This took about 10 minutes in Paintbrush.


    Autopilot Servos.jpg
    Phil Nelson
    A&P-IA, Maintenance Instructor
    KF 5, Continental IO-240
    Flying

  3. #3
    Birdseyeview's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Oregon, Ill
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    Phil,
    Thanks for the input - I used to have Paintbrush on my Mac and somewhere along the way it disappeared. But it's back now and it looks like it will do what I need it to do. Thanks again.
    Larry Olson
    Kitfox Series 6 - building
    Tri-gear, smooth cowl
    912 ULS

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    KDKB (Dekalb, Illinois)
    Posts
    543

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    Not the answer you're after, but ...

    I used Graph paper with a pencil and paper, took less time than to install the software to use on the
    computer After I built the plane, I have never even need to look at the sketch, since everything
    I have ever needed to fix was pretty simple.

    Jeff

  5. #5
    Birdseyeview's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Oregon, Ill
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    Graph paper isn't a bad idea and I agree that once built and flying the schematics are only there for reference and hopefully won't get used that often. Like a lot of things on this project one has to weigh the time spent versus the possible payback. I like to review things multiple times and a redraw of some of my schematics should give me that opportunity. Thanks for the suggestion but in the end I like good looking documents and I have plenty of time lately. If the Paintbrush idea doesn't work out I'll try your graph paper idea.
    Larry Olson
    Kitfox Series 6 - building
    Tri-gear, smooth cowl
    912 ULS

  6. #6
    Senior Member Delta Whisky's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Amissville, VA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    Larry, et al, I don't know if my input will be worth anything but - just in case - here goes.

    I too thought that a schematic was the way to go so I tried to use my 2D software of choice to do so. That worked well until I ran into the problem of understanding all of the combinations and permutations of integrating the schematics that came with my equipment of choice and my hoped for system schematic. I thought that that approach would save time and be a historical archive of some need if not note.

    As it turned out (for me) the most important decision I made was to label each end of each wire that I connected by just taking one wire at a time. So, one wire at a time, I made notes on the schematics that came with the equipment to keep track of where the serial outs went to the serial ins. Not as easy as one might expect due to constraints you might find in the text that came with your equipment - for just one example, some ports might want to work best at different speeds. Also, not every serial out or in needs a sister in or out. Of course this process will work if done on paper (CAD?) prior to wiring but then you have inserted a step that need not have necessarily been done. So what am I left with? A partially completed paper schematic that I didn't use and, in its stead, a well annotated stack of installation instructions representing each piece of installed equipment. And - wires with labels on each end. (Except for some of the ones done late at night in which I forgot that critical step in the process AND have regretted it a couple of times).

    Bottom line for me: All of the thinking that one will need to do won't supplant the need to carefully execute: pin 8 on the A connector of component 1 still needs to go to pin 11 on the B connector of component 3.

    HTH and good luck in whatever you do.

  7. #7
    Birdseyeview's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Oregon, Ill
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    Delta Whiskey
    Good points all - Like you I would echo the importance of labeling both ends of each wire. I suspect this is actually a critical step and a drawing schematic alone won't necessarily replace this step.

    I still like good schematics because in my case there are multiple ones and they have all been helpful in developing my understanding of how everything works together. I'm going old school with steam gauges in the cockpit so my wiring is simple by comparison to some. I had an advantage of working around aircraft systems wiring schematics for some of my career so I can state from experience that understanding how it all goes together is key and the schematics and wire labeling greatly support that understanding. I took my time and also thought about how the wiring harnesses should be bundled, routed and secured along their runs. I've tested most of the wiring so far and it checks out. Time spent on details up front pays off in the end although I still have my fingers crossed that some little error didn't sneak in somewhere. Looking back I recall many phone calls to various gauge and sensor suppliers to get clarification on their wiring and interface details. I was originally apprehensive about the whole wiring job because my 2001 build manual schematic had so many items left out or changed over time but it turned out to be a fun and satisfying task in the end. I did have to create some new schematics up front (by hand on paper) to accurately reflect my specific configuration. Another thing that helped was to have my schematic laid out roughly in the same physical orientation as the actual hardware (as much as possible that is). So the engine sensors and wiring was at the top of the schematic with items located accordingly on the left and right sides. The fuse box and ground terminals were in the middle, along with the various gauges and the panel switches are all at the bottom, all as if I was looking down on the plane from above. The gauges and switches were in left to right order as in the panel. This also helped me keep things straight, both in my head and on the plane. At each step along the way I got valuable inputs from many on this forum.

    I also have a Challenger 2 that I didn't build and the wiring schematic that came with it is barely adequate, not very accurate or up to date, and there is no wire labeling. Although its wiring is dead simple in comparison to the Kitfox it can be a nightmare to troubleshoot. Sorry if I'm boring you all with my rambling on but like many of you these days I'm at home and working on my plane all my waking hours (not all bad).

    By the way, I don't believe that a schematic has to be done on a computer as long as it's readable. On paper drawn by hand works just fine.
    Larry Olson
    Kitfox Series 6 - building
    Tri-gear, smooth cowl
    912 ULS

  8. #8
    hairy_kiwi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Ledbury, UK
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    Hi Larry,

    Speaking from experience - as an avionics tech 20 years ago - and having completely rewired a couple of homebuilts and provided both owners with reasonably thorough wiring diagram documentation:

    Least favoured option

    First project was a Long-EZ in the early 2000's for which I used Bob Nuckolls' AutoCAD component libraries. The diagrams looked good, but, there was a ton of midnight oil burnt to go from zero to tidy, respectable custom drawing package while still finding time to do the actual ever evolving job. I haven't checked recently but the components/example drawings still seem to be available here: http://www.aeroelectric.com/Downloads.html

    I notice Bob recommends TurboCAD, available from less than $100, here: https://www.turbocad.com/content/turbocad-mac - I have no experience with TurboCAD so can't comment on it. Otherwise, I'd probably suggest starting with this Mac CAD software roundup/review from September 2019: https://blog.capterra.com/8-of-the-b...tware-for-mac/


    Recommended option - not (yet) perfect but a free open source option, with highly capable community support for project assistance and development of the software itself
    After using KiCad https://kicad-pcb.org/download/ (free and available for PC, Mac, Linux) to design a small electronics PCB back in 2012, I'd always wondered if its schematic diagramming tool, Eeschema, was up to the task as an aircraft electrical wiring diagram tool. A couple of years ago, a friend's Jabiru SP470 needed a complete rewire, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put KiCad Eeschema to the test.

    A bit of effort was required to extend Eeshema's electrical component library with aircraft style bus bars, contactors, knife edge connectors, an automotive style voltage regulator, etc - but the biggest issue, keeping track of wire idents was, and is handled very capably, by adding a wire 'pseudo-component' between interconnected aircraft components in the diagram. Compare the native editing colour and mono versions output plots of the same diagram:
    Jabiru SP470 Wiring Diagram (colour)
    Jabiru SP470 Wiring Diagram (mono)

    These pseudo-components are not an ideal solution, but they're still quite manageable. They offer a few nice features (over an un-idented, normal KiCad schematic 'dumb' wire between two real-world components), For example: wire names can be prefixed with a wire group or function code, or wires can be manually (re)named - say where you want positive and instantly human readable identification of a wire - before or after letting Eeschema generate wire names, where any old sequential number will do as long as its not duplicated. Or all wire names could be manually named and the built-in netlist function could be used to check you hadn't duplicated any.

    Eeschema also allows quite a bit of intelligence to be imbedded in a wiring diagram too: Its very easy to include component names, part numbers, alternative part numbers, suppliers, etc, in the highly extensible data fields available within any component - including wire as a pseudo-component.

    Feel free to download my entire Jabiru project package and play with it in KiCad Eeschema:
    KiCad Aircraft Wiring Diagram package example - for a Jabiru SP470 rewired 2018.zip
    The primary file you're interested in is the one ending .sch - its not a complete aircraft wire diagramming ecosystem, but I feel its a good start.
    Just note the terms of the (very permissive) MIT License included in the zip file. It needs to accompany any work(s) derived from the content of this zip package, ideally with the license updated to display the latest author's name and copyright date before any further redistribution.

    There is a bit of a learning curve, so some of these tutorials might be helpful: https://www.kicad-pcb.org/help/tutorials/

    Hope it helps!

    Cheers,
    Jim
    Hamish 'Jim' Mead
    Kitfox Series 7 SS - kit ordered, looking forward to kit delivery early 2021!

  9. #9
    Senior Member jmodguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Carmel, IN
    Posts
    684

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    If you are an EAA member you can download a student edition for free and it includes electrical dog tools!
    Jeff
    KF 5
    340KF

  10. #10
    Birdseyeview's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Location
    Oregon, Ill
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Electrical schematic drawing software

    Jeff - The free software through EAA is SOLIDWORKS and it doesn't work well (and sometimes not at all) on a MAC, which is what I have.
    Larry Olson
    Kitfox Series 6 - building
    Tri-gear, smooth cowl
    912 ULS

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •