Library Basics: How to Install and Use Your Sparkfun and Adafruit Libraries in Autodesk EAGLE
Autodesk EAGLE ships with a ton of free libraries right out of the box, but for some, that might be a bit of a problem. Ever heard of the illusion of choice? When you are given too many options, you don’t end up choosing any! What if you have a particular project that you want to work on from Sparkfun or Adafruit and just need to use their specific parts?
Thankfully there’s a solution. This is where the Sparkfun and Adafruit parts libraries come in handy, providing you with all the parts you need for a project without any of the clutter. Let’s learn how to use these libraries in Autodesk EAGLE!
Step 1 – Download Your Libraries
To get started, you’ll need to download the Sparkfun and/or Adafruit libraries from their respective Github pages. Here’s how:
- Open the Sparkfun Library Github and Adafruit Library Github pages.
- Select the green Clone or download button and choose Download ZIP.
- Once your zip files are downloaded, go ahead and extract them to your selected folder.
Where you choose to store your Sparkfun and Adafruit library folders is entirely up to you. To keep everything in one place, we decided to make a new folder in our documents directory called eagle_external_lbrs and then we added two Sparkfun and Adafruit library folders.
Step 2 – Update Your EAGLE Library Directory
Now that your new Sparkfun and Adafruit libraries have a new home on your computer’s hard drive, it’s time to update your EAGLE directory so they can be found. Follow these steps to make it happen:
- Open Autodesk EAGLE, and you’ll be greeted with the Control Panel.
- Next, select Options » Directories to open the Directories dialog.
- You’ll now need to add the file path that your Sparkfun and Adafruit libraries are stored in the Libraries field. Check out the note below on how this works.
Before You Start Deleting Files, Read This!
Instead of removing the $EAGLEDIR/lbr: path, you’ll add your new file path after the default directory, using either a semicolon (;) on Windows or a colon (:) on Mac. Your new Libraries file path will look something like this:
/Users/<name>/Documents/eagle_external_lbrs is where we happened to store our new libraries, but your path name will likely be different.
Need an easy way to get your path name? Check out this guide for Mac and this guide for Windows.
- Select OK to finalize your directory changes.
- Close and reopen Autodesk EAGLE.
When you reopen Autodesk EAGLE, check out the Libraries folder in your Control Panel and you should see your newly added folder(s).
Step 3 – Activate Your New Libraries
Before you can start using your Sparkfun and Adafruit libraries, you’ll need to activate them in Autodesk EAGLE. Here’s how to do it:
- Select the Arrow icon to expand your Libraries folder in the Control Panel until you see your new Sparkfun and Adafruit folders.
- Next, right-click your Sparkfun and/or Adafruit libraries folder and select Use all.
You’ll know that you successfully activated one of your new libraries by looking inside each folder. If you see a green dot next to each part, then this means they’re ready for action!
One thing to keep in mind – If you only want to use your new Sparkfun or Adafruit libraries but not your default EAGLE libraries then you’ll need to deactivate these. To do this
- Select the Arrow icon to expand your Libraries folder in the Control Panel until you see your default lbr folder.
- Next, right-click your lbr folder and select Use None.
You’ll know this worked by looking inside the lbr folder. If you see a gray dot next to each part library, then you have successfully deactivated them!
Three Simple Steps
That’s all there is to it, three simple steps to get up and running with your new Sparkfun and Adafruit libraries! If you select the Add icon in an open Autodesk EAGLE project, then you should be greeted with all of your fancy new libraries, ready for use. Working with only the libraries that you need for a particular project will help you to be way more efficient in your design process. No more scouring through endless folders just to find the right electrolytic capacitor!
Ready to get started with using your very own Sparkfun and Adafruit libraries in your next PCB design software project? Try Autodesk EAGLE for free today!