First released in 1992, KiCad is considered mature and is used for the successful development and maintenance of complex electronic boards. It doesn't impose limitations such as board size or number of pins, etc. and can handle multiple layers. Being open source it's an ideal tool for Open-source hardware projects. KiCad is available for Linux, Windows and Apple OS X (experimental, but working).
Quick start hints
- To help get quickly familiar with KiCad's user interface (UI). Enter ? for a pop up a list of hot keys. Using these is more efficient than mousing.
- Open-source software might not be as polished as proprietary. If the program behaves strangely, check for known bugs.
- Save components to a library specific to your project. Otherwise when KiCad's libraries change your project's components will be affected.
- Read Getting Started in KiCad
KiCad project manager
KiCad is the project manager window. This gives access to eight stand-alone software tools: Eeschema, Schematic Library Editor, Pcbnew, PCB Footprint Editor, GerbView, Bitmap2Component, PCB Calculator and Pl Editor.
Eeschema is the schematic editor and component editor window.
Pcbnew is the circuit board layout editor and footprint editor.
Other tools in KiCad include GerbView a Gerber and drill viewer, Bitmap2Component, PCB Calculator and Pl Editor.
When you draw a schematic save a copy of your library or copy the file whatever-cache.lib to whatever.lib in the project folder. Then add this folder in preferences, component libraries, (click the add button at the top of the pop up window not the one below). Select the library and move it to the top of the list. KiCad searches these in sequence and will use whichever component it finds first. From now on ensure that every symbol you use gets added to and used only from this library. Any changes to the default libraries won't affect your project and it can be shared without library conflicts.
The basic workflow in KiCad is:
- Create a project in the project manager window.
- Create a schematic with eeschema.
- Assign footprints to symbols with cvpcb, generate the netlist.
- Create a board with pcbnew, importing the netlist.
- Test the board using the Design Rule Check.
- Generate production files.
- ^ a b About KiCad
- ^ Made With KiCad
- ^ a b c d e f Getting started, KiCad documentation]
- ^ Re: [kicad-users Kicad symbol "Pin Number" "Pin Name"], kicad-users mailing list, Jun 2011
- ^ KiCad best practices: library management by Anool Mahidharia, Hackaday, 18 May 2017
- ^ Version control systems for hardware projects?
- ^ Getting Started, KiCad EDA
- KiCad documentation
- Official schematic and 3D library repository, also here is the KiCad Library Convention (i.e. the standards for schematic-symbols and footprints).
- KiCad forum, the premier source of information about KiCad and RSS feed
- kicad-users mailing list, Yahoo
- Kicad useful links
- List of desirable features for a FOSS PCB design tool, CERN Open Hardware
- Version 6 Road Map
- KiCad, Wikipedia
- Special techniques for Kicad by Robin Whittle, Apr. 2016
- sethhillbrand/kicad_templates, GitHub. Custom Templates for OshPark, PCBWay, JLCPCB; preferred track widths, DRC settings, etc.
- Intro to KiCad, Digi-Key
- Getting to Blinky 4.0, video tutorial by Chris Gammell
- KiCAD Quick-Start Tutorial by Windsor Schmidt
- my first pcb kicad 6 Eric Perronin in French
Check component pin-outs, silk screens, etc. are correct before sending for manufacture.
- Collection of everyone's KiCAD footprints available online and some scripts to manage them.
- SnapEDA, symbol and footprint library
- KiCad component libraries with footprints and 3D modules, CC-BY-SA or GPL licenced
- Kicad libraries converted from Eagle
- libraries by Renie S. Marquet
- CUI’s library of ready-made 3D models and PCB footprints
- KiCad libraries, archived
- Interactive HTML BOM plugin for KiCad, also indicates component placement
- Boms-Away!, BOM/component manager for KiCad
- KiCad Librarian, utility to manage and maintain schematic symbol and footprint libraries
- KiCad Third-Party Tools
- KiCost, script for generating part-cost spreadsheets
- KiField, module and utilities for manipulating part fields in KiCad files.
- KiPart, tool to generate electronic component libraries from CSV files. Looks very useful but the documentation is dificult to follow.
- Kitnic 1-click BOM browser extension
- PcbDraw, converts Pcbnew board into a clear 2D drawing
- QEDA, tool to simplify creating electronic component libraries. Easy to install and use but the documentation is incomplete.
- Quick KiCad library component builder
- svg2mod, to convert SVG (Inkscape) drawing to KiCad footprint
- Trace Width Calculator, Advanced Circuits
- uConfig, datasheet pinout extractor from PDF and library Stylizer for Kicad.
- ULP scripts to convert schematics, symbols and footprints from Eagle to KiCad
- Robotips/uConfig, datasheet pinout extractor and library Stylizer
- BezierTrack KiCad plugin
- mitxela/kicad-round-tracks, track rounding plugin for KiCad
- ian-ross/kicad-plugins, reproduce schematic layout in PCB layout
KiCad format SDIY files
Some useful examples, not a comprehensive list.
- smrl/vactrol_sequencer, vactrol-based video sequencer schematics/gerbers
- nebs/eurocad, A set of KiCad components and footprints used in Eurorack modules.
- AudioMorphology/Europi, Opensource sequencer software for Raspberry Pi equipped with Eurorack-compatible hardware