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KiCad


#1

I have looked at KiCad long time ago, but decide to stay with Eagle. May be it is time to give it another try.

I like its push and shove router modes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCG4daPvuVI


#2

I’m kinda confused now… unless I’m missing something, why would anyone want to use EAGLE when this program is an Altium level routing program without limitations?

PS, this is the first time I have seen or heard about KiCad. :slight_smile:

(modified 10:51 am)

I just thought that perhaps there are more boards and examples and/or libraries available for EAGLE?


#3

I love it


#4

Yeah, that is what I have seen. Most of the open source projects I’ve run into had eagle files. KiCad looks pretty awesome, so I bet we will see more projects done using KiCad.


#5

HackRF Was designed on KiCAD so it’s pretty capable.


#6

I do like that in KiCad the package and schematic for a device are separate, so if you are doing a DIP part, you don’t need to redo it over again. Also, I really like the keyboard shortcuts.

But I just couldn’t get comfortable in it as compared to Eagle. Plus (this is personal) the schematics just didn’t look “professional” as Eagle. Overall product seems a lot more open source - not that it’s a bad thing, but it just doesn’t have the polish and integration that Eagle has.

For the level of my work, the only issue with Eagle is the pricing. I’ve not begun to approach anything as complicated as in that video.


#7

@ mhectorgato - Just curious, how long ago did you try KiCad?


#8

3 or 4 months ago.

I’m hardly a good person to use as a reference for KiCad - I’m very much self-taught and a novice. Certainly a person with more experience would be a better source.

Just for me, I couldn’t get fully comfortable in KiCad vs Eagle. Can’t speak for Altium.


#9

Is the push and shove routing availiable in the standard release now? Back when this video was made you had to do something special to enable it.


#10

@ hagster - I don’t know. I haven’t tried it yet.

@ mhectorgato - Yes, that was my first impression about KiCad and I felt much more comfortable with Eagle. I am going to give KiCad a try thought with my next project whatever that might be. :smiley:

I wonder if OSH Park supports it.


#11

@ Architect - OSHpark support gerber so it’s not a problem


#12

@ Architect - Not directly (as with Eagle). You need to export the Gerbers, drills, etc. That’s why I first tried KiCad - Laen (sp?) was being interviewed by Adafruit and he mentioned that they were seeing a greater percentage of KiCad submissions.


#13

Yes, but just uploading an eagle .brd file is so much convenient. Would be nice to have something similar for KiCad.


#14

I don’t like Eagle, so KiCAD would be better than anything that company can offer.


#15

Pretty impressive for free software and very similar to the features I have in my expensive Altium Designer :frowning:


#16

No. The Contextual Electronics videos were all done a while ago now, and the current “release” build is still pretty much on par with this. This push-shove routing addition is in th e"product" (what I would call development or experimental) stream . http://www.ohwr.org/projects/cern-kicad/wiki/WorkPackages has the CERN work item list (for anyone who hasn’t seen that they are contributing to this)

Here in lies the “problem” with this type of project. Nobody is building releases (perhaps not even coordinating milestone progress) that a punter who wants to try these new features out and who can handle a little challenge in the tool itself - but can’t handle building the build chain. (I would say that’s a similar parallel to building your own firmware in netmf - with some effort you can do it, but probably more than 90% of us don’t). To really start moving the features into “release” mode needs some effort and testing, but you can’t get testing without a reliable build process.


#17

This looks really nice. It is a while since I played with KiCad and I hadn’t seen the Push-and-Shove router before.
Building the latest version on Win7 was no problem. Download KiCad-WinBuilder from https://launchpad.net/kicad-winbuilder (as mentioned in the video), and unpack onto a drive root (I used D:).
Then just:

make.bat

which will download and install the latest code, build tools, etc, and then build Kicad (this does take a LONG time).
Then:

RunKiCad.bat

and you are running on the latest version. Worked for me first time with no problems at all, which is unusual!

I’ve used Eagle for my last few boards, but for routing rather than their inbuilt auto-router I use FreeRouting.net, which has a great interactive push-and-shove as well as an autorouter that can reach 100% when the Eagle native one can’t get close.

I just went to the FreeRouting.net web site and found Alfons has had to take it down, but he has released his code as Open Source on GitHub (https://github.com/nikropht/FreeRouting)
I cloned the repository and installed NetBeans (from here http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/articles/javase/jdk-netbeans-jsp-142931.html) as per his instructions, and was able to build and run the FreeRouting application locally.
(More instruction here http://www.freerouting.net/fen/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=255, including the extra zipped jh.jar required to resolve some undefined symbols)

Again, this all worked first time without a hitch, and it is good not to have to rely on net connectivity while routing.

I currently have to support PCBs designed with Protel/Altium, Eagle, DesignSpark PCB, and “PCB Design&Make”, with the features and interfaces of each to try and remember, but I think for my next I’ll see how I go with KiCad.

[Edited:typo]


#18

I tried KiCAD and several others early on. I created my first real board on DesignSpark PCB and used that for a bit. I didn’t like the activation model, but found the software to be good.

Then, looking to go more mainstream, I used the free EAGLE. God I hated that program. I still contend that the people who designed that have never actually used any other real program on Windows or any other operating system. I designed a few boards in it, but I fought that program every single time I used it.

Finally, I found what I consider to be the best software for anyone who wants the damn thing to run like a normal PC program: DipTrace. Price is right. Software is well supported and pretty bug-free, and I’ve actually enjoyed working in it. It includes 3d rendering and will export all the usual files you need to get a board made. I’ve ordered boards from DFRobot using output from this, and have had zero problems.

http://diptrace.com

The ONLY thing, and I mean ONLY thing EAGLE has over this is the extensive parts library. The one in DipTrace is good, but like KiCad, DesignSpark and others, you end up having to make a couple parts in most non-trivial projects. Luckily, the footprint designer is easy to use.

Oh, and it’ll let you put graphics on your PCBs without jumping through all sorts of crazy hoops :slight_smile:

Pete


#19

I found this thread very interesting to hear everyones opinions. However, I guess I’ll just stick with Eagle. The PCB’s I design is usually small and by now I know Eagle reasonably well and I already have libraries for almost everything I need. Or I can easily import parts from existing designs that are plentifull on the web. It is simply not worthwhile for me to go through a whole new learning curve to learn Kicad only to find in years time there is something else again that is the flavour of the month. But I must admit… diptrace does look like a nicer more logical program to use.


#20

@ Pete Brown - can you share your parts library for diptrace? I guess you have already spent time on Gadgeteer sockets etc…