Author Topic: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions  (Read 18289 times)

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Offline McMonster

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#253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« on: March 05, 2012, 06:44:49 pm »
Great video, it's nice to know I'm not using some completely obscure and ugly CAD software and open source can produce a decent tool. :)

What's really worth mentioning is that Dave didn't found yet the biggest and ugliest pain in the ass of KiCAD. There are no strong ties between schematic symbols and footprints. You have two separate sets of libraries for symbols and footprints and one of the tools, CvPcb exists solely for the purpose of matching a symbol to a proper footprint. So you generate a netlist, load it in CvPcb and you have list of your parts and a list of ALL footprints. There is some filtering there, but only for a few parts and you can manually enter a footprint name in Eeschema if you remember its name. Then you select footprints for each and every part. Good thing there's at least a footprint preview available. I hope this will change one day, it can really kill most of the enthusiasm for a new project.

As for parts repository, there's http://www.kicadlib.org/ (doesn't carry much libs and probably wasn't updated for a long time), you can also find a buggy converter from Eagle (you have to know how to edit converted part file to make it work, but I haven't used this much), but most of the time you just draw your symbols and footprints, there are also some online tools for doing this semi-automatically.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2012, 06:49:12 pm by McMonster »
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2012, 11:43:10 pm »
I knew what was coming when Dave opened the parts browser :) How to apply the selected part to the schematic. It think everyone first using it had to search for that icon. Totally non-intuitive. There are a couple of these kinks in KiCad. Starting the deign rule check was another Dave hit. On the positive side, it was much worse in earlier versions, and they made some nice progress getting their GUI issues sorted out.

I know, tutorials are for wimps, but there is a step-by-step tutorial out there, maybe even included in the installation, that guides one through the whole process for a very simple PCB. It includes the mentioned, dreaded CvPcb usage http://kicadlib.org/Fichiers/KiCad_Tutorial.pdf

Regarding the slow parts placement. Could that have been some interference of the screen recorder with the way KiCad draws?
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2012, 11:48:11 pm »
Regarding the slow parts placement. Could that have been some interference of the screen recorder with the way KiCad draws?

According to someone on Twitter, nope, it's the same even on very high end machines.

Dave.
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2012, 12:17:03 am »
Hmm, I just tried it on a five or six year old, low-spec laptop with a slow ATI Radeon Xpress 200M series graphics chip and Windows XP. Movement flickers, but is not lagging behind the cursor and doesn't slow down cursor and part movement.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 12:24:47 am by BoredAtWork »
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Offline amspire

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2012, 12:54:20 am »
Regarding the slow parts placement. Could that have been some interference of the screen recorder with the way KiCad draws?

According to someone on Twitter, nope, it's the same even on very high end machines.

Dave.
It is not slow to place parts as if you move the cursor straight to where you want the part and click, the part is pasted immediately where you clicked. If you want to wait for the image of a complex part to catch up with the cursor, then that is sluggish. It is one of those things that someone could spend a month speeding it up, but I imagine it is well down the list of priorities right now. Once you are used to the way it works, it does not slow you down much.

As far as panning, that is just one of those things where the Kicad programmers know better then the rest of us.

You can zoom out with the mouse wheel, move the cursor to the new location you want and zoom in. They did a good job making the zoom fast.
Alternatively Ctl + mouse wheel pans horizontally. Shift + mouse wheel pans vertically.

I suppose they didn't want to use any method for panning that involves a mouse click. That way, moving around the screen never interferes with any current task.

« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 01:15:18 am by amspire »
 

Offline MarkS

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2012, 05:42:10 am »
See my rant here: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/open-source-kicad-geda/seriously-irritated-with-the-library-editor!/

I use it because I have no choice. As soon as I can afford a proper application, I will not look back. I hope they can get the bugs, issues and interface glitches worked out, but I'm not going to hang around and wait.

I suppose they didn't want to use any method for panning that involves a mouse click. That way, moving around the screen never interferes with any current task.

This is an issue with a great many graphics applications these days. Prior to OS X, all graphics applications on the Mac had a grabber hand tool for panning. It was incredibly useful. Most programs had a way to invoke it while using another tool, typically holding down space. Sadly, this feature really never made its way over to Windows. I've seen it on rare occasions, but it seems most developers think scroll bars are all you need.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2012, 05:55:29 am by MarkS »
 

Online IanJ

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2012, 05:53:55 am »
I use it because I have no choice. As soon as I can afford a proper application, I will not look back. I hope they can get the bugs, issues and interface glitches worked out, but I'm not going to hang around and wait.

Reminds me sooooo much about other integrated open source (free) apps I've used (i.e. MediaPortal)......could be really, really good but fact is it isn't and probably not ever. Too many developers pulling in different directions adding stuff that isn't important, and missing oportunities for fixing basic stuff.

However, I'm sure it'll continue to have it's place as a basic entry level FREE app.

Ian.
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Offline MarkS

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2012, 06:01:45 am »
However, I'm sure it'll continue to have it's place as a basic entry level FREE app.

Ian.
[not really an open source fan]


I am an Open Source fan. I refuse to accept the thought that since it is free, I shouldn't have any expectations. I expect an application to do what it is designed to do and in a manor that mirrors the expected standards of similar applications. If the application is going to deviate from a standard practice, it should be well implemented, have a good explanation as to why it isn't conforming to the expected standard and be properly documented.

Inkscape and OpenOffice are two examples of well done Open Source applications. They work as expected. They have active development communities with agreed upon goals. Issues are quickly fixed.
 

Offline McMonster

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2012, 06:18:56 am »
Not having an idea about general direction is the problem of many free software projects, unfortunately KiCAD is one of those. What makes a difference between those and commercial apps is that often there are so many tiny problems, inconsistencies and stupidities that add up it annoys people. But this particular isn't the worst, I belive KiCAD can get better in really short time, so I'm going to look into the source code and start tweaking as soon as I find some free time.

There are two main stupidities I'd really want to change, symbol to footprint matching and no real ability to do a single project consisting of multiple PCBs, but this isn't going to be an easy fix. I also belive drawing can be speeded up unless there's a really ugly code hidden there since a long time and that's why noone touched it before.
 

Offline Rufus

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2012, 07:35:44 am »
As far as panning, that is just one of those things where the Kicad programmers know better then the rest of us.

You can zoom out with the mouse wheel, move the cursor to the new location you want and zoom in.

The VBlog prompted me to download and look at KiCAD for the first time. The 'panning' sucks so bad I can't help thinking it is some platform dependant issue.

The mouse wheel zoom in moving the current cursor location to the window center would be fine except (for me on Win XP in a virtual machine) it doesn't reposition the windows cursor to the center of the window so a second increment of the mouse wheel zooms a different location to the center and half a turn of the mouse wheel usually zooms the PCB completely off the screen (depending how close to the center of the window the location you were trying to zoom in on was in the first place).
 

Offline djsb

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2012, 09:34:01 am »
For anyone who wants to get involved with making improvements here is the developers website

https://launchpad.net/kicad

Join the mailing list to find out what the developers are doing.

There is a user group here

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/kicad-users/

I hope Dave has a go at doing a full project from start to finished PCB.

David.
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 University Electronics Technician, London PIC,CCS C,Arduino,Kicad, Altium Designer,LPKF S103,S62 Operator, Electronics instructor.  http://debuggingrules.com/ Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
 

Offline amspire

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2012, 09:38:32 am »
The mouse wheel zoom in moving the current cursor location to the window center would be fine except (for me on Win XP in a virtual machine) it doesn't reposition the windows cursor to the center of the window so a second increment of the mouse wheel zooms a different location to the center and half a turn of the mouse wheel usually zooms the PCB completely off the screen (depending how close to the center of the window the location you were trying to zoom in on was in the first place).

That is odd. It does reposition the cursor in the center of the screen on normal Windows or Linux PC's, so I have no idea why the mouse does not recenter in a Virtual PC. Sounds like a bug in the virtual PC emulation.

Richard.
 

Offline lameiro

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2012, 12:22:16 pm »
Hi there.
I am just happy that Dave made a video on KiCAD.
I am seeing a lot of fuss about differences between professional and KiCAD software. Well for one, When people says I will wait until the bugs are fixed, then I will use it. Fair enough, now I ask you, did you even tried to report the bugs? or did you even try to go to mailing list. Remeber, that programmers aren't making it for work, They take they time from families, friends and do that  because they like it and share it with other. So please stop being a snob and being so F.... shity about a Free in all senses software. I wonder if you would have an answer from an altimu programmer on a mailing list....
Now About KiCAD...
The drawing issue doesnt appear to much on my linux box, maybe is windows related don't know.
On this forum, there is a thread I started to add resources for Kicad, like modules, libraries, and 3d modules.

@Dave et all panning can be made by pressing shift+scroll whell (up and down) and ctrl+scroll whell (left to right).

And yes I do like to have separated applications. It is more easy to maintain and you can easily make 3 or 4 different boards from the same schematic.
Also you can plot everything to postscript files, that is the core of a PDF file without the mess you don't need on the format. Any pdf reader should read a .ps file, if not just rename the extension.

For the price, you don't get better.

@MarkS , why you dont save the money you will spend on a "semi-professional" tool and instead pay someone to fix the bugs and then share them back??? That would be better than only pointing defects and not try to help at all....
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2012, 12:52:54 pm »
I've mentioned it before, but I'm seriously looking for a replacement PCB CAD tool for Altium for future use on the blog, my own projects, and PCB tutorials etc.
I know KiCAD is absolutely no match for the likes of Altium, but it's open source, it's free, it's multi-platform, and it will grow if people get involved and support it.
I feel sorry that Eagle became the defacto OSHW tool just because a few early OSHW advocates happened to use the free version, that could have just as easily been KiCAD.
And I'm not that keen to advocate yet another commercial package, even it does have a free version available, like Eagle and DIPtrace et.al because, well, they are commercial packages just like Altium.
There is something compelling about supporting an open source tool, and I know it's going to have issues, but unless it's got some absolute show-stoppers, then I think I'll pursue KiCAD and support it because it just makes sense to.

I'm not sure how much time the programmers spend on KiCAD, it's most likely just an after hours thing for them, but it would be great to see some more community involvement and perhaps even some sort of community funding to help the tool grow.

Dave.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2012, 02:29:38 pm »
Well, if Dave is going to adopt KiCAD I think I will use that as a good enough reason to jump on too.

Haven't decided finally yet, but it seems like the most viable option. KiCAD could have a show-stopper I don't like, I've only used it for 2 hours so far!

Quote
From what I have read here and elsewhere the major deficiencies of KiCAD are a lack of development direction and library support. As well as the need to connect footprints to devices.

The lack of library components is a non-issue IMO. EVen the pro packages don't satisfy all needs, it's just not possible. Not worth worrying about.
Lack of direction could be a problem, like if a key developer wants to spend all their time on a silly autorouter or something instead of the "boring" core functionality and bugs  ;D

Quote
If you're reading Dave. I will be interested in PCB design videos if you want to do more of them. Although platform shouldn't matter, I have recently dived into the Linux pond (OpenSUSE 11.4/Gnome). So far the water is fine. I did install Virtualbox and put Windows XP  in it. Just to see if I could.
 

Offline McMonster

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2012, 03:07:30 pm »
Whatever is mentioned in an EEVBlog episode is guaranteed to get attention from hobbyists. Even if you don't choose it as Altium replacement those videos will make it more popular and get more developer attention. And programmers like to work closely with experts in the topic even if they know something about the topic themselves, so Dave can become an unofficial expert.

I think the future of KiCAD looks more interesting than it ever looked before now.
 

Offline amspire

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2012, 03:19:40 pm »
The KiCad team is pretty small, but they are quite active. There are commits just about every day.

There has been a lot happening recently, but it may not be that obvious.

They did have some real communication and policy issues between team members, and it seems they have resolved that.

They are doing some really major work under the hood. KiCad has had a maximum resolution of 0.1 mil. They have been increasing that to 1nM. It has been implemented, but I think at the moment it is still a switch to go into nanometer mode. This is a really fundamental change, and I think it will take a lot of testing and bug fixing to get the new resolution up to the reliability of the old resolution. Arcs have gone from 0.1 deg resolution to using Double floating point numbers.

There have been file format changes as the old format just wasn't powerful enough.

I think it is fair to say that things are still looking good for KiCad.

Also the latest stable build is from over 3 months ago, and there have been hundreds of changes and bug fixes since. If anyone want to run the latest daily build, take a look in the Kicad/gEDA forum here. Getting the latest daily build is not too hard. I am current running build 3447 from the 1st March 2012. Keep in mind that 3447 is a testing build and not a stable build.
 

Offline harnon

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2012, 06:16:57 pm »
I tried KiCad a couple of weeks ago and found the eeschema to be ok.  It lost me when I got to the PCB - very non-intuitive to link schematic and PCB, finding the right footprint is VERY painful even compared to Eagle, and the PCB UI had me screaming in frustration after about 15 seconds (i.e. trying to move or select a component was a nightmare). I'm all for supporting FOSS software, but not at the expense of usability. 

Its kind of a strange catch-22 I suppose as many OS projects die out because of lack of interest, and the stronger projects are good because they probably had a lot of users and contributors when the software was not so good.
 

Offline AntiProtonBoy

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2012, 06:28:55 pm »
KiCad is not bad. Created a few project with it. It certainly has enough features to design a serious board, but yeah, it has some fundamental UI issues.
 

Online IanJ

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2012, 06:57:41 pm »
Haven't decided finally yet, but it seems like the most viable option. KiCAD could have a show-stopper I don't like, I've only used it for 2 hours so far!

Dave, How about a user vote on what package you should adopt.

Ian.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2012, 07:07:17 pm »
Dave, How about a user vote on what package you should adopt.

My tool choice isn't a democracy, it's dictatorship at the whim of a madman  :P

Dave.
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2012, 08:24:00 pm »
Dave, How about a user vote on what package you should adopt.

Only if we can vote on your new wife.
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Online IanJ

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2012, 09:26:13 pm »
Dave, How about a user vote on what package you should adopt.

My tool choice isn't a democracy, it's dictatorship at the whim of a madman  :P

Dave.

Dang!.......I was hoping to hack the vote so that Wintek's SmARTWORK for DOS would win........ :o



Ian.
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Online Rerouter

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2012, 09:30:05 pm »
havent had a chance to see part 2 yet, but right clicking instead of double clicking is the trick to kicad when you have multiple items around,
 

Offline TheWelly888

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Re: #253 - KiCAD Install & Schematic - First Impressions
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2012, 12:11:25 am »
I did download and install KiCad several months ago but the stopper for me was the "File not found" error box when first starting! :o

Thanks Dave for showing me how to get past that!  8)

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