KiCAD: The OpenSource EDA tool for designing PCBs

Posted on Thu 20 May 2010 in Hardware by xcarcelle

This post aims at presenting KiCAD ^[1]^, THE OpenSource EDA tool for CAD file used to design PCB (Printed Circuit Boards) originally designed and written by Jean-Pierre Charras, a researcher at LIS (Laboratoire des Images et des Signaux) and a teacher at IUT de Saint Martin d'Hères (France), in the field of electrical engineering and image processing.KiCAD aims at being a tool equivalent to the "closed-non-free" CAD software like Atium Protel, Eagle, Cadence with the benefit of a free and open-source with a community of developer and early-user implementing KiCAD for industrial hardware design of PCB up to 10layers and a growing collection of component footprints and reference in the library (the standard footprints like SOTs, QFPs, BGAs are crucial to have the maximum support of the ICs, chips of the silicon manufacturers)

Kicad is a set of four softwares and a project manager:

  • Eeschema: Schematic entry.
  • Pcbnew:Board editor.
  • Gerbview: GERBER viewer (photoplotter documents).
  • Cvpcb: footprint selector for components used in the circuit design.
  • Kicad: project manager.

KiCAD early-users and developers can participate to the project on the subversion ^[2]^

A bug tracker ^[3]^ is up and running for feedbacks from the users (GUI optimization for GNU users and Windows users mainly).

From our XiVO IPBX OpenHardware project point of view, we are also using KiCAD mainly for small PCB and Schematics of your interfaces between each functionnal block. The screen-shot below presents the KiCAD Eeschema to implement the TDM connexion between the CPU and the ISDN chip:

XiVO ISDN TDM Connexions
Prototyping

The right-side toolbar is for selecting the object to include in the schematic (component, power, ground, wires ...), the top part toolbar is there for the sheet preferences and settings and for the interaction with the PCB editor and gerber exporter and viewer.

#### Notes \[[1](#rev-pnote-21-1)\] http://www.lis.inpg.fr/realise\_au\_lis/kicad/ \[[2](#rev-pnote-21-2)\] http://kicad.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/kicad/ \[[3](#rev-pnote-21-3)\] https://bugs.launchpad.net/kicad