KiCad – PCB Design Software

Eagle Cad is my preferred PCB design software thus far.  Though its expense has encourage me to try out KiCad.  Back in Jun 2015 I started to use KiCad.  Below are a few notes that I have taken.   Let me know if you are interested in some videos on this software.  These notes are current as of 16 Jun 2015.

Here are some links that helped me out…. and then some.


Create the schematic using Eeschema
  • Place Components – Click on icon 3rd down from top on the right. Looks like a 6 pin IC.  Or you can use the shortcut A key.
    • Then select where you want to place the component on the screen by just left click on the screen.
    • Use Select by Browser
    • Device and Conn are some good places to start, look for the schematic symbol that you want to use, then double click on it.
    • To add more than one of the same component such as a switch, you can click on the screen if you have Place a Component selected, then use the history list!! Or the shortcut is to hover over the component that you want to copy, press the C, then you will see another component appear, place it as you see fit!
  • To rotate a component hover over it and press R on your keyboard
  • To move a component hover over it and press M and the move it as needed.
  • Connect everything using Place a Wire. You can label the trace/net and this should change the net name.
  • If there are any pins you are not using then place an X on them using Place a no connection Flag
  • Label all the components select the Mouse Pointer in top left of screen. Then hover over a component and press the V key on your keyboard. In the text field label what that component will be.  For example Audio_In.
  • Now select Annotate the component in the Schematic. When the window pops up use default settings, and click Annotation.  A warning will pop up, click Ok. Now close, and all the question marks will be gone, you will see that all your resistors are labeled R1~
  • Select the red lady bug at the top of the screen, Perform Electric Rules Check. Select Test ERC.  The program will pop up any errors if it has any, if you have some then look at them and make corrections as needed.  If there are no errors then select Close.
  • Generate a Net List, using .net icon at the top of the screen. Press the Netlist button, then a window will pop up asking to save it, use the default, this will be the project name. File, then Save Whole Schematic Project
  • Save your progress
Add a New Library
  • Click on Preferences
  • Then click on Library, and a window will pop open
  • Click on Add, a browser window will open up, this will allow you to find a new library and add it
Create a New Library

Creating your own component – Schematic Symbol

  • As you have Eeschema opened click on Library Editor – Create and Edit Components it looks like a book with a pencil in the top menu
  • A new window will open up
  • Click on Create a new Component, left of the top menu bar
  • A window will pop open, you will need to give the component a name, for an I/C you can leave it as U, resistor would be R…and so forth
  • Zoom in and move the name that you gave the component
  • Next you can make the pins for the device, use the Add pins to the component on the right had side menu
  • Then click on the screen and a window will pop open for Pin Properties
  • Look at the datasheet, start with the first Pin, and give it the proper name, if on the datasheet it says GND, then name the pin ground. With the proper Pin number, Orientation, will be the side that the connection is on.  For example you will start with the pins on the left had side, because you are starting with pin 1, so select Right.  You can also change the Electrical type as you see fit, Input…
  • If you have a reset line or something else on the datasheet that has a line above it, you will need to press one of these ~ in front of the name
  • Now you can create a box or circle as needed for the component using the Add graphic rectangles to the component body or Add circles to the component body
  • Move around the pins and names as you see fit, to make it look nice and similar to the datasheet. I like to make it look like the component as looks on the board.
  • Now save to the library, if you have not selected a working library you will need to do that with Select Working Library, now you can save using Save Current Library to Disk
  • A confirmation window will appear, click yes
Modifying a component’s Schematic Symbol and place in your library
  • You will use many of the steps above
  • Click Load Component to edit from the current Library
  • Click on Create a new component from the current one, a window will pop up, change the name to the new component
  • Start editing the component as you would from above, then save using the steps from above!
Creating you own component’s Board Layout
  • From main window click on PCBnew
  • Click on New Module left on top menu bar, if you do it again, you will see popup window asking for a name for the new module.
After making the schematic – Run CvPcb to associate Components and Footprint
  • You will get and error message the first time, just click on OK to get rid of it.
  • Click on one of your Resistors, if you have Display the filtered footprint list for the current component selected, then your listing on the right will be limited to common resistor footprints, if you don’t see your resistor you can deselect the filter and maybe find something that would work for you. If not you might have to make up your footprint.
  • As you select a component you can click on View selected footprint to see the size and spacing of the foot print, to see if that is the footprint you want to use. Close the pop up window when done.
  • If you like the foot print then double click on it.
  • Once done assigning footprints to all the components then save and close.


Create the Board Layout – Run PCBnew
  • An Message will pop up click Ok, and this will create a new file for the PCB board layout.
  • Your components will not be on the screen. To get them on the screen click on .net on the top menu bar.   A window will apear click on Read Current Netlist button, and then Close.  You will now see all of your components stacked on each other in the top left corner of your sheet.
  • Click on Mode Footprint: Automatic and manual move and place modules
    • Right click where you want to place the components
    • Select Glob Move and Place
    • Select Move All Modules – window will ask you if you are sure, select ok.
  • Now reposition components, the same way you position schematic symbols earlier. Using the M and R key.
  • Create traces/tracks between components you can ether do it manually or auto route them.
    • Manual – select the layer you want to work on first, the select the layer and then select the Green line on the right of the screen called Add Tracks and Vias. Select a pin of a component and draw a line from it to the componet it connects too, fallowing the white line.  The white lines should disapear.
    • Auto Route – Click the Mode track: Autorouting Then right click on the screen and select Autorout and then Autoroute all Modules.  You should now see all the traces.  If you need to, you can move vias and traces ass needed.
  • mRun DRC Control the red lady bug at the top of the screen. Press Start DRC button.  You will see some Messages, but if you see and Error Messages, you will have to correct them.  Once done click on Ok to close the window.
  • Create a box around the components this will determine the size of the board.
    • Select Edge.Cuts under Layer, then select Add Graphic Line or Polygon (blue dash line on right).
    • Make a box around your components, leave enough room for any mounting holes.
  • Create a Coper Layer – ground plane –
    • Select Add Fill Zone on the right hand side.
    • Select the layer you want to do this on
    • Left Click on the screen you can select the Layer here if you didn’t already. The select the net that the copper field will be part of, usually GND, though if you have not labeled your nets, you will have to select the one that is the GND net.  You want the thermal relief for the Pad Connections.  Once done click OK.
    • Now you need to draw a box around your board. Once done you will see the box will little lines going at an angle inward.
    • The run DRC and that will fill the copper zone. Or you can right click on the screen and select the option that for filling in the copper zone.
    • On the left hand side there are some buttons for showing the filled in area or not to show it.


  • Create mounting holes in the corners –
    • Click on Add Module
    • Select by Browser and find Pin-array on the left then PIN_ARRAY_1, double click to place it where the mouce curser was
    • Right Click on the pin array to edit it
    • Change Size X: to 0.16 on the left, and Drill Size X to 0.125. You can alter these sizes to fit your needs.



  • Export to send to board house-
    • File then Plot
    • Select Layers F.Cu, B.Cu, F.SilkS, B.SilkS, F.Mask, B.Mask, and Edge.Cuts
    • You can select an Output Directory to keep it all organized, name it something like the name of the project fallowed by board house. Example 5ButtonSwithchesBoardHouse.  Then when you go to that folder to upload to the board house all you will need to do is zip it beforehand.
    • Select Plot
    • Now select Generate Drill File a window will pop up Click on Drill Fille, then Close.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.