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Why (and how) to switch to KiCad

  1. Why (and how) to switch to
  2. 2 Pronunciation • Official: Kee-Cad, Most people: Kye-Cad • Tribute to Chris Gammell Why I choose KiCad • I don’t want to be limited • I can’t afford any paid software • I want to share my design
  3. 3 KiCad Myth Burst KiCad is amateur software that is not meant for professional design Check Michael Ossmann’s Daisho project KiCad is into endless development The recent “stable” version 4.0.2 is release on Feb. 2016 for Win/Mac/Linux. KiCad is not stable KiCad crashes much less than Altium (for me, but still annoyances here and there) You get what you paid for You get more than what you paid for because it is free!
  4. 4 Compare with Eagle (Free edition) Advantages: Hierarchical schematics No limitation on size/layers 3D view Freedom of editing PCB footprints Disadvantages: Some UI annoyances Not as huge library collections
  5. 5
  6. 6 Basic workflow of KiCad Eeschema Schematic Design Schematic library editor Pcbnew PCB Design PCB footprint editor cvpcb .sch .net .kicad_pcb gerbers GerbView
  7. 7 Demo
  8. 8 Some UI tips KiCad UI is a bit anti-human especially for those familiar with Eagle/Altium. It is very normal to get frustrated at the beginning. De-frustrating tips: In Eeschema: Preferences->Hotkeys->List Current Keys In Pcbnew: Preference->Hotkeys->List Current Keys Remember Edit, Drag, Move, Delete hotkeys Mouse context menu is very context sensitive: Context menu is always depended on where the mouse pointer (not cross) is pointing to
  9. 9 Some important concepts • Schematic library and PCB footprints are separate • Components symbol does not contain footprint information, e.g., • This is very convenient for quickly drawing out the schematic. Also good for reusing schematic symbols. • A cache library is generated so the schematic can be opened by a machine that does not have the same library installed. This is a generic resistor. The schematic library does not mandate its packaging being 0603, 0805 or axial
  10. 10 • Schematic symbols are associated with PCB footprint using Eeschema or cvpcb • Symbol may contain “footprint filter” to ease association
  11. 11 • Pick correct symbol according to footprint is sometimes necessary E B C
  12. 12 • PCB layers F/B.Cu – Front copper (Top/Bottom) F/B.Adhes – Front /Back adhensive (tGlue/bGlue) F/B.Paste – Front/Back solderpaste (tCream/bCream) F/B.SilkS – Front/Back silkscreen (tNames/bNames) F/B.Mask – Front/Back solder mask (tStop/bStop) *.User – misc user defined information Edge.Cuts – Board outline (Milling) Margin - ? F/B.CrtYd – Front/Back CourtYard for components F/B.Fab – Fabrication comments (tDocu/bDocu)
  13. 13 Useful Resources • Contextual Electronics • KiCad Forum • Lots of libraries • More 3D modules • Tutorials • CircuitHub