Posted on January 2, 2019
ZXW Tool Free Alternative – Free Board View Software Review
Today we came across this 100% free alternative to Zillion X Works ZXWTool.
This tool has been created by Guido Pola and we think the guys over at UnionRepair have some help in this, we have had a play around with it and it will be a strong contender to ZXWTool. This is likely due in part to this tool using board files that look as if they have been ripped directly from the latest ZXWTool ..
You can load your own .brd files or use the ones provided free with the software.
Here we have a side by side shot of both ZXW Tool and PhoneBoard software.
We’ve loaded up the iPad Mini 4 board view file that is provided by each respective program. As you can see both board files have the same, I guess you could say errors? Both are missing Net Names (so no search functions) and the only other major difference is the ZXW version has the ground tabs for the main RF shielding, whilst the PhoneBoard software has the correct shape ground tabs for the flex covers around the Power switch FPC.
We doubt they are a direct rip, alternatively they are most likely from the same source.. The magic Apple schematic shop in
As far as supported models go ZXW is the winner… HOWEVER, seeing as PhoneBoard is backed by UnionRepair and is free (so higher adoption rate), we feel that PhoneBoard will overtake ZXW in a matter of months!
Readers may be un-surprised to know that PhoneBoard, unlike ZXW, does not come with schematics. We think this has to do with Apple and their lawyers.
PhoneBoard has a much more intuitive user interface compared to ZXW, it feels more modern. However, again there are some shortcomings, namely we only have a small handful of options, no rightclick menu and no hot keys!
BOTH software packages lose a few brownie points for the complete inability to breakout windows. Most people only use one monitor but on a setup like ours (we use three), being able to arrange windows and save the workspace would be an awesome feature! You could have a schematic on one screen, the board view on another and other shop stuff open on the third.
One (or really two) other great feature(s) of ZXW that would be super awesome to have in PhoneBoard, is the “Solutions” table and the “remarks” function.
We feel if PhoneBoard had a community like solutions sharing option it would make it the best board view program available.
PhoneBoard has the potential to be industry changing but needs improvement, here are our suggestions.
- Add user solutions and comment section, this could even be boosted by offering a ‘gold’ style system, where users can tip solutions creators via the program ($1 or $2 donations, PhoneBoard could maybe take a tiny cut?) This isn’t just for solutions but also for say Diode measurements
- HOT KEYS, Please add hot key support
- ADS, yes ads. one small ad square or even a startup safe for work ad as part of the splash screen.
- Add more options for advanced users, a right click menu, allow a custom save-able workspace (windows stay in arranged position, like Adobe Premier Pro)
- Add part numbers, photos and shop links as a right click option. Say Right click on J2401 on an iPhone 6 PCB, it could show a photo and a purchase link sending you to Union Repairs site. (some popular PCB design software does this!)
PhoneBoard is a free software, however, if you are a repair business and you use the software to make money, please support their work (more info below).
You can download PhoneBoard for free here: