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My first 24 hours with Kicad.

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by (*steve*), Mar 17, 2013.

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  1. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    I decided to seriously try to learn to use this tool.

    I entered a schematic (and I had to create a couple of libraries for components that it didn't have... A bit fiddly, but not too hard)

    Then I tried to create a board. The first time I just picked modules (pad layouts) that had the right number of pins and I managed to get it kind-of working.

    So I went in search of the real pads the second time.

    The real problem with KiCad seems to be the lack of pad layouts. I've spent almost the last half a day trying to find a SSOT-6 module. I tried (twice) to create my own, but the interface is baffling. The web sites that Google finds simply don't seem to exist any more.

    I'm almost at the point of giving up.

    I've used another tool which had a lack of pad layouts, but creating them was simple. KiCad isn't so forgiving.
     
  2. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Steve follow this tutorial...

    http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display/KICAD/Make+component+footprints

    Click on the Dimensions and pull down to User grid, set it like this...

    [​IMG]

    Once you set the grid, right click anywhere on the module editor screen and pull set the Grid Select to User Grid

    Now place a pad, and as the tutorial states right click on that pad and edit it to

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now simply drop your 6 pads, since the grid is set to the proper pad spacing it's dead simple...

    [​IMG]

    Now you have the pad layout, and you can do whatever you want with the silk and sorts... This took me about 5 minutes to get this far, honestly it's not that hard ;)
     

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  3. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    I'll give it a go.

    I've tried watching a few tutorials on youtube, but frequently they're for ancient versions of the software. The same goes for tutorials on the web.

    You point me at a site I've not come across before. Perhaps it will help me :)

    I'll probably try after dinner for 6 hours or so... (My wife came and dragged me to bed at 2am this morning as I was getting the hang of drawing schematics).

    I'm still a little unsure as to how to make nice (small, compact) new components. And getting things like diodes filled in is something that has also eluded me (but they're minor)
     
  4. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    Success!
     
  5. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    woooo hooooo

    Beer time :)

    [​IMG]


    well done :)

    Dave
     

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  6. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Good to hear, I have to say the program looks pretty good over and the price is right but the user interface leaves a little bit to be desired...
     
  7. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    Yeah, it seems to suffer from GIMP-itis.

    A very powerful program let down by the user interface.

    A shame really.

    Here's another gotcha. I am editing various modules to make them look the same and to have consistent naming. As I edit them I save them in another library. (Let's ignore that KiCad makes it hard to do this -- it should be as simple as "save in another library..."). When you use the modules selected from this library you frequently get either another module, or an old cached copy, or something. I've resorted to turning off all libraries except my own. Then it works.

    At least I figured it out :)

    Another trick is that the SOIC-14 and SOIC-16 modules have pads set slightly different distances apart. I'd prefer they all looked alike, and I'm a bit anal about it.

    Oh well, it gives me things to do.
     
  8. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    So true, I have tried time and time again to use GIMP and it never ceases to annoy me to no end even though it's an incredibly powerful software package... There was a hacked GUI for GIMP called GIMPshop several years ago that made it tolerable but from what I gather the developer faced a TON of backlash from the GIMP developers for doing this GUI hack, and it's likely what caused it's demise...

    I find it kinda odd that developer teams of programs like this that clearly require substantial programming skills can't develop a clean user interface, even if it means asking for help...
     
  9. BobK

    BobK

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    Jan 5, 2010
    Creating user interfaces is a different (my cynical side says mutually exclusive) skill from software development.

    Bob
     
  10. CocaCola

    CocaCola

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    Apr 7, 2012
    I agree, but just the same there are people out there that do it and do it well, and there are those that don't have a clue... As I said above the guy making the GIMPshop GUI overlay faced a ton of backlash because the GIMP team didn't like the way he did it....

    I suspect the above is a universal problem where a GUI developer might tell the core programmers to change this or that so the GUI works better causing an ego explosion...
     
  11. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    I thought I understood the modules. You ask for something and (even if you browse to it) it looks for them through the entire library for the first match.

    But then that came unstuck too.

    It seems that adding modules and libraries willy nilly could cause problems (as it has for me)

    Agree 100% with the discussion above about programming and user interfaces.
     
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