Tool for Drawing Circuits: Circuit Canvas

Need to draw a circuit that looks good, quickly? Circuit Canvas is a free, web-based tool for drawing schematics and planning how to connect the circuit in real life. It was designed to make it fast and easy to draw good-looking schematics and connection diagrams for electronics.

It was made by Øyvind Nydal Dahl, the author of Electronics for Kids, to make it easier for him to draw good-looking schematics and breadboard/stripboard circuits.

Once you’ve designed your circuit, it’s super easy to export it in SVG or PNG format. Or you can even copy the image to your clipboard so that you only have to press Ctrl-V to paste it into for example a group forum, email, or Word document.

The Two Canvases: Schematic and Layout

Circuit Canvas has two canvases. One for drawing schematics and one for drawing the connections for the circuit in the real world, for example using a breadboard, a perfboard/stripboard, or just plain wires between the components.

You can switch between the two views with the two buttons at the bottom center of the canvas.

Switching between schematic and layout view in circuit canvas

The schematic view makes it super easy to draw up a quick circuit. The Layout view makes it easy to plan out how you want to connect your circuit. There’s no syncing between the two views as of today, but that’s something that will be enabled in the future.

Breadboard and stripboard layouts drawn with Circuit Canvas.

How To Draw Schematics with Circuit Canvas

To draw schematics, start by dragging the components you need from the library on the left, onto where you want them in the canvas.

Moving Components

To move a component, you can either drag it, or you can press the “m” key on your keyboard while holding your mouse over the component. You can also move the component reference or value texts by dragging.

If you have selected any components, pressing “m” will move those components.

Rotating Components

To rotate a component, place your mouse above the component and press “r” on your keyboard.

Drawing Wires

Click on a pin to start drawing wires. Click again on another pin or wire to finish the wire. If you want to finish the wire where there is no pin or wire, just double-click. If you want to start drawing wires from a place where it’s not automatic, press “w”.

Change Part Settings

To change the value or part reference of a component, just double-click it to open the part settings window. Some parts also have other settings such as “variant” that lets you choose a different variant of the symbol.

How To Draw Breadboard, Perfboard, or other Layouts with Circuit Canvas

If you want to draw the connections for your circuits, for example on a breadboard, a stripboard, or a perfboard. Go to the Layout canvas.

Once there, drawing a layout works the same way as drawing schematics:

  • Drag your components from the library onto the canvas.
  • Move (m) or rotate (r) your components.
  • Then draw wires where you need them.

Saving, Sharing, and Exporting Your Project

Projects are automatically saved in the background, similar to how Google Docs works. You’ll see a saving indicator in the toolbar that will tell you when the project is saved.

If you want to share the project, you have two options: Sharing the project itself or an image of the circuit.

To share the project itself you must first make it Public. Then you can copy the share link and share it with others online. Those who access it will have read-only access to the project, but the possibility to clone it to their own account to make changes.

Circuit Canvas Share menu

To share an image of the circuit, go to the Projects menu and choose either Export as SVG, Export as PNG, or Export to clipboard.

Circuit Canvas Export options

The Export to clipboard option is super useful when you need to quickly draw a circuit and paste it into a forum or an email. Here’s my Knight Rider schematics that I pasted into this article in 3 seconds using this method:

Knight Rider Schematics made with Circuit Canvas

Designing and Importing Custom Components

Designing and importing your own custom components is an important feature that is possible with Circuit Canvas. But for now, the developers haven’t had the time to sit down and document the process.

Therefore, we will have to wait a little bit longer for that to be enabled.

A simple drag-and-drop interface for designing custom components is also planned for the future so that you don’t need to be a graphical designer to make good-looking custom components.

Summary

Circuit Canvas makes it easy to draw beautiful schematics, breadboard drawings, stripboard/perfboard drawings, and connection diagrams. It is similar to Fritzing and Tinkercad Circuits, but with a focus on making beautiful drawings of the circuits fast.

It has a pretty large library of components so far, and it’s increasing every month. With the possibility to import custom components, it becomes a must-have tool, especially for those who draw a lot of circuits.

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