Author Topic: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?  (Read 3220 times)

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Offline Simon

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Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« on: April 26, 2019, 09:53:10 am »
I've been a suffering user of CS for a couple of years and I'm starting to think sod it! I'm looking at Kicad again. It seems to have come on some and there is documentation abounding which is good. So I am thinking instead of giving my money to a company that does not give a shit and lies to me I may as well donate it to people that are serious about making progress.

From the small amount of digging I have done I can setup schematic symbols to call a footprint, this is good as I don't want to do the whole manual assign footprints inbetween schematic and pcb import again and I make my foot print choices in design so part numbers for chips are always complete specifying the footprint.

I do make extensive use of 3D models, I see that they have switch from wings 3D to the ever buggy 3D CAD (tried to draw a sketch and it just crashed). Ideally I need to have an accurate model of my designs particularly when it comes to things like connectors and I can do some 3D modelling etc but is the importing and exporting of models a reasonable process now. When I used it some years ago there was a !3D view" but no export.
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Offline mkschreder

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2019, 10:11:50 am »
Absolutely. Provided that you ditch kicads way of managing components and use distinct parts in your library for every part that differs by value. Then you can make arbitrarely complex boards without messing it all up.

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Offline martin1454

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2019, 10:14:26 am »
I have been working with a customer proffessionally with Kicad for sometime.

The change from WRL to STEP files for 3D is a big improvement -

You need to learn the library system, and how to set it up for the company, but other than that, it is really good!

If you are designing large projects with many doing layout the same time, then Orcad is the only real option, otherwise kicad can do what I need and have 90-95% of the most important features.

Sure Altium's features is nice (and buggy) - But I really don't need them for 95% of my projects, and can work around for the last 5%.
 

Offline mkschreder

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2019, 10:17:31 am »
I have the same opinion about altium - in 95% of cases I do not miss it at all.

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Offline Simon

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2019, 10:18:29 am »
Absolutely. Provided that you ditch kicads way of managing components and use distinct parts in your library for every part that differs by value. Then you can make arbitrarely complex boards without messing it all up.

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Well if it now allows for that yes. i have a seperate symbol for every value, tolerance and footprint of resistor and ceramic capacitor. I don't have a problem with having a few symbols only for footprints and tolerance and then put the value in myself, this makes life easier.
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Offline Simon

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2019, 10:20:21 am »
I have been working with a customer proffessionally with Kicad for sometime.

The change from WRL to STEP files for 3D is a big improvement -

You need to learn the library system, and how to set it up for the company, but other than that, it is really good!

If you are designing large projects with many doing layout the same time, then Orcad is the only real option, otherwise kicad can do what I need and have 90-95% of the most important features.

Sure Altium's features is nice (and buggy) - But I really don't need them for 95% of my projects, and can work around for the last 5%.

Ah, I can use step files? perfect. I have all of my own already.
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Offline martin1454

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2019, 10:43:47 am »


Ah, I can use step files? perfect. I have all of my own already.

Yup - Since Kicad 5, import of step models to footprints + export of PCB is possible :)
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2019, 12:06:11 pm »
Absolutely. Provided that you ditch kicads way of managing components and use distinct parts in your library for every part that differs by value. Then you can make arbitrarely complex boards without messing it all up.

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Never used kicad but wondering why the need for that rather than using a per-package library pattetn and a 'value' attribute?
Seems pretty broken if you need a library part for every resistor value
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Offline langwadt

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2019, 12:13:12 pm »
Absolutely. Provided that you ditch kicads way of managing components and use distinct parts in your library for every part that differs by value. Then you can make arbitrarely complex boards without messing it all up.

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Never used kicad but wondering why the need for that rather than using a per-package library pattetn and a 'value' attribute?
Seems pretty broken if you need a library part for every resistor value

you don't, some just prefer it that way so that when you place a part everything down to the manufacturer order number is populated

by default a resistor is just a resistor, and then you assign a footprint and a value later

 
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2019, 12:19:31 pm »
I've been following Kicad from a distance for a while. IMHO the developers of Kicad need to wrap their heads around implementing a database based library system (like Orcad and Altium have). Copying the same component (symbol +footprint) over and over is a crutch which falls apart at some point. Being able to create a correct BOM from a design automatically is essential nowadays in a professional environment. There are so many more component en footprint variants compared to the 'old days'. Editing (or even worse creating) a BOM manually afterwards is a recipe for dissaster. It is all about automating as much as possible and eliminating chance of errors.
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Offline mkschreder

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2019, 12:32:26 pm »
Absolutely. Provided that you ditch kicads way of managing components and use distinct parts in your library for every part that differs by value. Then you can make arbitrarely complex boards without messing it all up.

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Never used kicad but wondering why the need for that rather than using a per-package library pattetn and a 'value' attribute?
Seems pretty broken if you need a library part for every resistor value

you don't, some just prefer it that way so that when you place a part everything down to the manufacturer order number is populated

by default a resistor is just a resistor, and then you assign a footprint and a value later
That is just an artifact from the time when kicad could not do much. People just got used to it that's why it is the way most comonly used.

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Online madires

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2019, 01:31:23 pm »
I'd say KiCad still needs some time to mature. The naming of net signals/wires is quite limited and you'll spend some time on creating your own component libs and footprints.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2019, 01:43:22 pm »
I'd say KiCad still needs some time to mature. The naming of net signals/wires is quite limited and you'll spend some time on creating your own component libs and footprints.

i always end up creating my own libraries.
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2019, 01:48:33 pm »
I'd say KiCad still needs some time to mature. The naming of net signals/wires is quite limited and you'll spend some time on creating your own component libs and footprints.

i always end up creating my own libraries.
You will always have situations where you need to create parts that aren't in the library - the key thing here is how quick and easy it is to create parts
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Offline Simon

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2019, 01:50:33 pm »
Yes, I prefer my own as then I can automatically generate the BOM
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Offline apurvdate

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2019, 05:23:41 am »
The new "Symbol Field Editor" in V5 is best feature. You can put a generic symbol in schematic, later on you can assign value, associate footprint to a bunch of similar components via symbol field editor, assign inventory item codes & qty.

You can anyway use your own symbol library where you can pre-specifiy footprint while creating symbol, i.e creating your own atomic library.
 

Offline mkschreder

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2019, 10:38:03 am »
The new "Symbol Field Editor" in V5 is best feature. You can put a generic symbol in schematic, later on you can assign value, associate footprint to a bunch of similar components via symbol field editor, assign inventory item codes & qty.

You can anyway use your own symbol library where you can pre-specifiy footprint while creating symbol, i.e creating your own atomic library.
Only a great feature if you want to do the same work many times and have a zillion of bugs by the time you are done.

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Offline Simon

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2019, 06:15:42 pm »
So i see that KiCad does not like my step files for 3D models but the available libraries for footprints and models looks good so no need for my own. Perhaps I just need to make my own symbol libraries with associated footprints and full part manufacturer part numbers.
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Offline langwadt

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2019, 07:03:01 pm »
So i see that KiCad does not like my step files for 3D models but the available libraries for footprints and models looks good so no need for my own. Perhaps I just need to make my own symbol libraries with associated footprints and full part manufacturer part numbers.

how did you make the step files? I had no problems drawing a part in Fusion360 and using the step file from that
 

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2019, 07:04:54 pm »
I used Solid Edge, I don't know if my extruded text is the issue
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Offline b_force

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2019, 02:55:15 pm »
Absolutely..... not

Like some technical issues other people already mentioned, it's STILL the GUI that is as inconsistent, confusing and buggy as hell.
I have tried to implement KiCad in multiple different professional teams (from small groups, to serious businesses), and time over time again that's by far the main reason people don't like to use for professional usage.

For this reason I am really looking forward (and praying) this will be finally fixed in version 6
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Offline Doctorandus_P

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2019, 02:12:15 am »
KiCad is definately good enough to be used in a professional environment and for real-world applications.
Some are complaining that the maximum of 32 copper layers is not enough for their designs.

Have a look at the "made with KiCad" section on the KiCad website:
http://www.kicad-pcb.org/made-with-kicad/

Have a look at the recent KiCon held in Chicago a few monts ago.
KiCad has made tremendous progress in the last few years, and at KiCon Wayne Stambaugh announced that he's got hired to work full time on KiCad. I do not know how much actual programming he does, but he seems to be the largest driving force behind the direction KiCad has been following for a few years.

It's true though that KiCad still has some rough edges and there are many things that could still be improved, and they're getting improved in a pretty rapid pace for the size of KiCad's development team.

Some people deem an "all enveloping database system" integrated in KiCad an essential missing part, while others argue that all the differen parts in the world multiplied with all the places you can buy them is beyond the scope of a PCB program.
As an open source project with nicely documented API's Full source code available and Python scripts to read the file formats (Which are also documented) integrating it in some database program would be relatively easy.
That is the single discussion about KiCad that I'm trying to avoid.

As a hobby user of KiCad the whole subject also simply is not applicable to me.
One of the biggest reasons for liking KiCad is that it has no big flaws.
In the past I've paid for licences for PCB programs that used their user base as beta testers and you became afraid of installing new versions because you had just learned to work around the existing serious bugs.
With another program I also paid for (EdWin) had a bug that the netlist was not always updated if you deledeted a wire in the schematic, which very easily leads to faulty PCB's.
The "push and shove" router in KiCad lets me squeeze in an extra track or a few via's with very little effort which I would not have dared to trie in previous PCB progams I've used.

I don't know why KiCad does not lik Simon's step files. KiCaD supports both Step and WRL for 3D models, and a lot of the 3D models seem to be made in, or converted with, the "stepup" plugin for FreeCAD. Questions about such things are best asked on the KiCad user forum:
https://forum.kicad.info/

Mike has a valid point when he writes that no PCB package is going to have every possible footprint, and therefore it is important to have an easy way to make footprints.
In KiCaD there are a bunch of Footprint Wizards, and if you footprint can be made with them, you can make a footprint in less than a minute (after a bit (but not too steep) of a learning curve).
Sort of the same with schematic symbols.
I've seen demo's on youtube of a side project around KiCad for making schematic symbols for high pincount parts by copying blocks of text from a PDF datasheet into a spreadsheet, adding some atributes (whether pins are inputs, outputs, tri-state, etc) and then running a script to generate a schematic symbol from the spreadsheet. Looked really impressive, but because I do not use such functionality very often and my parts rarely have very many pins I just design my schematic symbols from scratch in the schematic symbol editor, or copy an existing part and modify it.
The symbol editor does not have very much "advanced" funtions, but it's pretty solid and easy to learn and use.

KiCaD also has a lot of shortcut keys which significantly speed up the design process compared to just working with a mouse with 3 buttons and a scroll wheel.

From the many reviews and opinions I've read, the main reason why people do not like KiCaD seems to be that they are used to the idiosyncracies of the PCB program they're currently using, and at the same time compare KiCad function by function with the program they're used to and balk about every function they like in their current program that is not impemented in exactly the same way in KiCad.
PCB design programs are pretty complicated because there are lots of small bits and ends that have to fit together and there will always be some learning curve to get used to a new program.

 
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Offline Simon

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2019, 06:47:43 am »
My step file did not work because the file was corrupted. The fact that when I tried to open it with freecad caused freecad to crash did not help resolve the problem. I see that they have moved from wings 3D to freecad. While they will show you loads of stuff done in freecad I have in the past found that it crashese for no particular reason at all. As a go between for KiCad it seems to work fine.

I have been using KiCad for creating my own symbols so far and building up my first schematic with hierarchical sheets since i started using it again. I am happy so far. I don't expect a direct replacement for anything I have used before and found everything I have used to be pretty much the same anyway as the needs of circuit and PCB design remain the same no matter the package. I have used most of the major cheap tools out there and it was only Proteus that I found hard to get my head around as it was a rather different mindset but their support was excellent and unlike that peice of shit CS features were added and bugs fixed.

When it comes to component libraries no one will be completely happy with what comes with the program. I like to have fully linked up symbols and footprints with 3D models so that when i pick a part I have picked the part and don's need to keep thinking about it. Despite all the fuss about kicad not supporting linked up parts most of the parts do have footprints assigned. Given past experience and the need to add my own fields I have given the official libraries the boot but copy across what i need as is or as the basis for new parts adding MPN's as I go because yea, when I place a battery(holder) in my schematic I am not going to randomly pick one when I come to move to the PCB, I want to know what i can buy, decide on a part and not look at it again which KiCad does support so no problem there.

No one will be entirely happy with the libraries and again it's normal that you make your own.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 06:50:18 am by Simon »
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2019, 09:12:28 pm »
KiCad is definately good enough to be used in a professional environment and for real-world applications.
Again: without a database based component system it simply isn't. You can't make the logistics for producing a board work reliable without a good component database (especially if you are going to outsource board assembly). Mistakes are way too easy to make and overlook.

No one will be entirely happy with the libraries and again it's normal that you make your own.
Also true. I rarely use footprints or symbols from an existing library unless it is for simple components but even then I check them thouroughly and usually need to tweak them before they are useful.
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Online Bud

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Re: Is KiCad proffesional use ready?
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2019, 09:52:57 pm »
at KiCon Wayne Stambaugh announced that he's got hired to work full time on KiCad. I do not know how much actual programming he does, but he seems to be the largest driving force behind the direction KiCad

There is you answer.

Which company would  want to build their business relying on such tool?
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