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Kicad is an open source (GPL) software for the creation of electronic schematic diagrams

Kicad is an open source (GPL) software for the creation of electronic schematic diagrams and printed circuit board artwork.

Designed and written by Jean-Pierre Charras, a researcher at LIS (Laboratoire des Images et des Signaux) and a teacher in IUT de Saint Martin d'Hères.(France), in the field of electrical engineering and image processing.
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.

With the project manager, Kicad, you can choose or create a project and launch Eeschema, Pcbnew, ....
This electronic workbench is free of charges and is open source (GPL). It is useful for everybody working in electronic design (schematic diagrams and Printed Board up to 16 layers).
This software (using WXWIDGETS) is MULTI-PLATFORM. It is running under LINUX and Windows (XP or 2000), for which updates are regularly provided.
Currently, the precompiled version of Linux has been tested using Mandrake 9.2 or 10.0 (works with 10.1).
Sometime the softwares are also been tested under other O.S., especially FreeBSD and Solaris.

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kicad (project manager)

With the schematic entry, you can:
  • Create simple or hierarchical sheets.
  • Test it with the Electrical Rules Check tool (ERC),
  • Create netlists for Pcbnew, or for Spice.

Eeschema manages a fast and direct access to component documentation.

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Eeschema: schematic editor

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Schematic component editor

The board editor Pcbnew works with 1 to 16 copper layers plus 12 technical layers (silk screen, solder mask ...) and creates all the necessary files for building printed boards ( GERBER files for photoplotters, drilling files and component location files).
You can plot board layers on PostScript laser printers (for prototypes).
Pcbnew can show a 3-D view of the printed board with its components (it uses OpenGL for this).

screenshot for pcbnew
Pcbnew: board editor

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Module (footprint) editor

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Pcbnew: 3D viewer

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Gerbview: GERBER viewer

Both Eeschema and Pcbnew have a library manager and editor for components and footprints.
You can create, edit, delete or exchange easily library items.
Documentation files can be associated to components and footprints, and key words, allowing a fast search by function.
Very large Libraries (created over many years) are available, for schematic components and footprints (usual and smd).
Most of printed board modules (footprint) are created with their 3D shapes.

Other softwares used with kicad:
There are free and open source softwares under GNU license:

You do must have libc.so.6 (does not work with libc.so.5)
You must be "root".
goto /usr/local
Untar kicad.tgz : tar zxvf kicad.tgz (ou unzip kicad.zip)
(It is possible to unzip kicad.zip: unzip kicad.zip,
and goto /usr/local/kicad/bin and run chmod 755 *)
The main program is /usr/local/kicad/bin/kicad
If you use KDE, users can copy the shortcut /usr/local/kicad/bin/kicad.desktop



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About Hugo Repetto

Ubuntu is a Linux distribution that offers an operating system predominantly focused on desktop computers but also provides support for servers. Based on Debian GNU / Linux, Ubuntu focuses on ease of use, freedom in usage restriction, regular releases (every 6 months) and ease of installation.
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