Author Topic: I did it - switched to KiCad  (Read 10217 times)

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Offline boffin

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I did it - switched to KiCad
« on: March 19, 2017, 01:21:51 PM »
I decided with the recent Autodesking of Eagle, I'd switch to KiCad (plus I needed to do something a tiny bit bigger).

Overall I quite like it, once you get your mind wrapped around the Netlist to push from one to the other.

Two things I haven't got around to finding the solution are an easy way of jumping from layer to layer (eagle had a toggle segment to other layer which added vias), plus I came across a couple of components that weren't pinned properly (78L05 was one of them)

Overall, I'll be staying here, because I like open source...  It's a great package
 

Offline awallin

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 07:47:21 PM »
Two things I haven't got around to finding the solution are an easy way of jumping from layer to layer (eagle had a toggle segment to other layer which added vias), plus I came across a couple of components that weren't pinned properly (78L05 was one of them)

V - adds a via and jumps from top to bottom layer (I've only done 2-layer so far). IIRC it works slightly different on default and OpenGL canvas.
pgUp - pgDown switches layers (see layers far right).
this may help: https://silica.io/static/downloads/kicad-cheatsheet-landscape.pdf
 

Offline Deridex

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2017, 10:06:32 PM »
It's nice to see someone else trying KiCad  :-+

For via its just the shortcut "V". Also you can switch easily between the layers with shortcuts (as example: Inner layer 1 with "F5"). You can find a nice list of the shortcuts in "Preferences -> Hotkeys".

About the libraries:
The best libraries-package i found so far can be downloaded here:
http://smisioto.no-ip.org/elettronica/kicad/kicad-en.htm
It also contains some very nice 3D-Models
 

Online ludzinc

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 11:20:11 PM »
IIRC it works slightly different on default and OpenGL canvas.

Really? That's just shocking. The KiCad developers have produced two routing modes / tools with different workflows, but still can't do a decent copy / paste?

I'll keep waiting. 
 

Offline artag

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 01:08:24 AM »
Or you could help, if your priorities are different from theirs.
 

Offline Thor-Arne

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 03:17:36 AM »
The default (obsolete) canvas and OpenGL have a few different tools, but the main functionality is the same.
 

Offline kripton2035

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 05:02:21 AM »
IIRC it works slightly different on default and OpenGL canvas.

Really? That's just shocking. The KiCad developers have produced two routing modes / tools with different workflows, but still can't do a decent copy / paste?

I'll keep waiting. 
just select your component and hit "C" it will copy it.
yes it's not Edit-Copy but it works.
and Kicad is open source, so if you want you can implement a nice copy-paste ?

Offline ohdsp

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2017, 08:42:41 AM »
Nice one boffin. Personally I enjoy doing schematic and circuit design using KiCad. And just think that all the files you produce are in a nice plain text file rather than locked into some proprierty format you might not be able to access in 5 years time....

Really wish more people would switch to KiCad and support it rather than picking on pointless little issues; especially give the dumb issues a lot of high cost commerical software suffer with.
Check out the Open Hardware DSP Platform:
http://www.ohdsp.org
http://github.com/ohdsp
 

Offline james_s

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2017, 08:52:48 AM »
I've been using KiCad for years, it has its quirks but overall I like it a lot and it does the job. It's always good to hear when people switch over, the more people using it, the better it will become.
 

Offline b_force

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2017, 09:08:05 AM »
I have been trying to switch for years.
Unfortunately, KiCad was always way to cumbersome.
Okish for smaller projects, but with bigger complicated, multi-layer projects it was like using a toy.
In the end that simply lack of confidence in difficult projects, especially with some major bugs and crashes.

Last few months they finally have been improving major things and I have been using KiCad for smaller professional projects!!
I personally only really don't like the keyboard oriented interface. Also don't understand why that can't be changed in the settings.
Also finding parts takes to much time. (and is extremely slow/not working at all in the last few betas/nightlies).
My hope is that they move their focus fully on the interface and leave all fancy gimmicks (3D stuff and auto routing etc).
The last videos updates and presentations looked promising.

"If you can't explain it simply (or at all), you don't understand it well enough." A. Einstein

http://www.oneworldconcepts.com/
 

Offline ohdsp

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2017, 09:58:19 AM »
The issue I personally have is I have wasted days worth of time on packages like Altium Designer chasing issues with the rule settings, or many many other things like the shape of a PCB outline, that have stopped me routing a PCB design, or stopped me generating essential 3D data for a mechanical design team, only to find there is "nothing wrong" and my issue is a know "feature" or the software is just point blank ignoring what I have told it to do. When you consider that the "clumsy" issues with KiCad take up less of my time than trying to get Altium or any other commercial package (Diptrace, Mentor EE and so on) to follow my rules it really makes you wonder how these £££££ packages make their money.

I know every package has it issues, I also accept that something like Altium integrates full FPGA design into it's core and can have one of the best interactive DRC/router systems I have used. Personally I have never worked for a company that uses 1 tool to do everything (just too much risk?). I also have not worked in a situation where I could not have solved my issues by using KiCad with all DRC switched off and just using my mental ability/triple checking what I have done to complete a task in a fraction of the time. It's almost like professional engineers (or any professional) should not be trusted to do everything right without the aid of some stupidly expensive tool.

The fact that KiCads libraries from schematics to PCB are different, or that I have to export/import netlists between PCBs actually makes my life easier in some situations. When it comes to something like multichannel design I find I can layout the first block in KiCad and then manually copy the other channels in less time than it takes to get Altium to co-operate with me. Given a PCB layout normally limits you in the way you can layout multi-channels (i.e. they end up all different) this is another advantage in my book.

I will happily admit I have never routed a 6+ layer PCB with endless differential pairs on board such as a computer motherboard or the latest 1000 pin FPGA chip. I am positive Altiums interactive router would probably save my life in the situation; but I would guess there are many many design engineers/general engineers/hobbyists/contractors/magicians/marathon runners/cleaners who never been in this situation either.

Most companies/people that use these more complex tools just don't seem to understand what they are trying to do (or that is my opinion); they just seem to want to spend the money to "look" professional.
Check out the Open Hardware DSP Platform:
http://www.ohdsp.org
http://github.com/ohdsp
 
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Offline bson

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2017, 05:22:57 AM »
Nice one boffin. Personally I enjoy doing schematic and circuit design using KiCad. And just think that all the files you produce are in a nice plain text file rather than locked into some proprierty format you might not be able to access in 5 years time....
Not to mention even if you switch to a different tool in the future you will have to continue subscribing to something you don't use anymore just to be able to read your files.  This is why I'm extremely loathe to subscribe to software.  If it's truly a dead end with no export functionality or free reader that can export, then as far as I'm concerned it's a trap and the right question is not only how much it costs but do I want to pay this in perpetuity.
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Offline bson

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2017, 05:28:21 AM »
I've been using KiCad for years, it has its quirks but overall I like it a lot and it does the job. It's always good to hear when people switch over, the more people using it, the better it will become.
It has also improved immensely and rapidly.  For example I just noticed that hitting 'v' to change the value of a component now pops up the dialog with the cursor in the text box ready to type a new value, and the enter key dismisses the dialog.  Neither of these used to happen, but with this small change it's much quicker to go over a bunch of passives and change their values - without having to mouse and clickety click for each one.  (Which was extremely tedious and slow.)

I also noticed on their english forum that the latest pcbnew/footprint editor (not sure which) in the nightlies have a new caliper tool for measurements that looks extremely handy for verifying footprint spacing...
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Offline LukeW

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2017, 05:49:49 AM »
and Kicad is open source, so if you want you can implement a nice copy-paste ?

This sounds like the classic open-source software development problem where of course it is assumed that all the software users will exclusively be open-source software developers, and no other people exist out there in user space.
 
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Offline jancumps

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2017, 07:21:34 AM »
Copy/paste exists and you don't have to be a developer to use kicad, eagle or altium designer.
 

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2017, 07:32:02 AM »
The best libraries-package i found so far can be downloaded here:
http://smisioto.no-ip.org/elettronica/kicad/kicad-en.htm
It also contains some very nice 3D-Models

Looks nice. Is there a cloud based parts system, like you have in CircuitMaker (everyone can design parts and upload it to the cloud, and everyone else can use it)?

Offline Monkeh

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2017, 08:17:57 AM »
The best libraries-package i found so far can be downloaded here:
http://smisioto.no-ip.org/elettronica/kicad/kicad-en.htm
It also contains some very nice 3D-Models

Looks nice. Is there a cloud based parts system, like you have in CircuitMaker (everyone can design parts and upload it to the cloud, and everyone else can use it)?

*shudder*

Hopefully not.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2017, 09:01:57 AM »
This sounds like the classic open-source software development problem where of course it is assumed that all the software users will exclusively be open-source software developers, and no other people exist out there in user space.

I'm not a software developer, and I've been using KiCad for years. EDAs in general are not known for being intuitive and user friendly, KiCad is no different there.
 

Offline dimkasta

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2017, 11:24:49 AM »
I AM a developer and I still do not want to develop such stuff

The biggest issue for me, when I tried it again a few months back, was the upside down Y axis. I do a lot of custom mechanical layouts and I really do not need to fight with the software for something like that.
And the saddest thing is that the devs said that they do not intend to fix it. To not break backwards compatibility. Something that they could easily overcome by adding a version indicator on the files. But anyway...

James sorry but there is no excuse for quirky software. If you know something is not user-friendly, it needs to be fixed. Not ignored.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2017, 08:16:55 PM by dimkasta »
 

Offline kripton2035

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2017, 06:20:12 PM »
The best libraries-package i found so far can be downloaded here:
http://smisioto.no-ip.org/elettronica/kicad/kicad-en.htm
It also contains some very nice 3D-Models

Looks nice. Is there a cloud based parts system, like you have in CircuitMaker (everyone can design parts and upload it to the cloud, and everyone else can use it)?
there are lots of kicad footprints and libraries on github, but you have to search and subscribe to them one by one.
there is a main library for kicad on github also. in fact, google is your friend, when I search for a part, I google "partid kicad" and often found it
otherwise it's not hard to do it yourself.

Offline awallin

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2017, 10:20:42 PM »
Looks nice. Is there a cloud based parts system, like you have in CircuitMaker (everyone can design parts and upload it to the cloud, and everyone else can use it)?

There used to be a site called kicadcloud.com, it seems now only the source code for that site remains:
https://github.com/joeferner/kicadcloud.com

This approach will really work well when all parts (scheatic symbols, PCB footprints, 3D models) live in git. The cloud/search engine could then just be a front-end/UI for a bunch of git-repos (hosted on github or wherever you want).
 

Offline b_force

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2017, 12:42:53 AM »
James sorry but there is no excuse for quirky software. If you know something is not user-friendly, it needs to be fixed. Not ignored.
YES!!!!

This is even the problem with more expensive software programs (Altium), but in general it's the biggest issue with most open-source software (and hardware).
A lot of times the interface is buggy and sloppy as hell plus you need to be an expert in the field sometimes to even understand what's going on or code stuff even yourself. People simply don't have time (or skills) for that!!
In my opinion the main and biggest reason why open-source (unfortunately) is never going to mainstream if developers don't change that.
KiCad is also an example of this. I have tried KiCad a few times now over many years.
In the first few years it was just absolutely horrible. Just a toy for amateurs (no offence), but absolutely unusable for any type of real professional work.
It is finally starting to change, but I would like to see a very different road map, because actually most of the things are working pretty fine.
It's just the interface that is still killing.

You can complain a lot about Apple, but they nailed this concept pretty good.
Why? Well even my mum understand how an iPhone works.

A technical solution that people don't wanna use is still useless.
Get a decent and sturdy/stable concept working and than make the interface as easy as possible.
Than work out things that are necessary (DRC on the fly for example).
Any other improvements (total size, speed, fancy gimmicks, auto routers, fancy 3D graphics, schematic simulation) fix them later.
If this project was under my management, I already would have kicked some butts.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2017, 12:47:41 AM by b_force »
"If you can't explain it simply (or at all), you don't understand it well enough." A. Einstein

http://www.oneworldconcepts.com/
 

Offline nfmax

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2017, 01:31:52 AM »
But it's not just FOSS - just about all electronics CAD software has its own wierd user interface. Schematic/PCB packages in particular seem to take immense pride in paying absolutely no attention whatsoever to the UI standards of the platforms they run on.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2017, 02:47:44 AM »
That was my point. Find me *one* EDA that has a high quality user interface without various quirks and bugs, if it exists I've never found it. I tried every one I could get my hands on, came to the conclusion that they all suck, and stuck with KiCad because it's free and does everything I need it to do. The bugs and quirks in KiCad are no worse than the bugs and quirks in any other EDA package. You learn to work around them like you do with any other.
 

Offline bson

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Re: I did it - switched to KiCad
« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2017, 04:25:49 AM »
Copy/paste exists and you don't have to be a developer to use kicad, eagle or altium designer.
I tried it yesterday and it didn't seem to work.  I opened a second schematic, selected a portion of it, copied, and tried to paste it into the one I was working one.  No go.  I don't think it can copy and paste, other than simple text.  It's also on the list of things to be included in the upcoming release 5, but it's not yet in the v4 nightlies yet as far as I can tell, and it's plausible v4 will never implement it.
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