When it comes to PCB design, many people are not familiar with free and open source software. Especially, here in Lebanon where the laws prohibiting pirated software are still outdated and not very well enforced. We are not going to make a list of free EDA software, we are just going to point out the one we are currently using for our upcoming projects, and it is “KiCad“.
KiCad is an EDA software suite for the creation of professional schematics and printed circuit boards up to 16 layers. KiCad runs on Windows, Linux and Apple OS X and is released under the open-source GNU GPL v2 free of charge.
The software is divided into 5 main parts :
- Kicad: This is the project manager which contains all the underlying development.
- Eeschema : The schematic editing tool
- Pcbnew : This is where the pcb layout and editing is done
- Gerbview: As the name indicates, this is the gerber viewer tool
- Cvpcb: In this tool the user allocates footprints for the schematic symbols.
The image gallery below shows screenshots from different parts of KiCad. Pictures are taken from KiCad’s official webpage.
The major advantage of KiCad Vs Eagle (One of the most famous EDA among makers) is that KiCad can be used for any type of application without any license restrictions. Eagle has many restrictions, from board size to number of layers, and of course you will need a special license for commercial use.
The other exciting news about KiCad is the involvement of CERN itself in the development. CERN for those who do not know are the ones behind the the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.
This first video demonstrated KiCad’s Module Editor, this feature was developed by CERN.
Also developed by CERN is KiCad’s Interactive Router:
If CERN is giving it a try, I am sure many of the people here will find it more than enough for their projects. It is great to be part of an open source project, and maybe in the future contribute with a feature or two.