3D PCB Design (in VR)

Hi everyone!

I am a college student working with a small team. We want to create a 3D trace viewer that can be incorporated into KiCad itself.

I had a few question for the delevopers of KiCad/anyone else:

  1. What is the best way to jump into the source code? Is there a Software Architecture Diagram anywhere?

  2. Has 3D tracing been done before (we couldn’t find anything online)?

Any other suggestions would also be really appreciated, we are super new to this!

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Summoning @craftyjon :speaking_head:
This is a users forum but there are several developers that frequent. Launchpad has the official mail list they use and that might be a better option.

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KiCad stepup can import traces into freecad and then export to any of its suported formats (including step and even vrml). See Kicad StepUp: a Seamless ECAD/MCAD PCB Data Integration

Do you mean “real” 3D (stereo view) with VR glasses?

Here’s KiCad’s internal 3D viewer with certain settings:

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If you’ve got time for a 20 minute video, here’s one answer:

TL;DW: check out the developers page on the main website, and join the mailing list on Launchpad if you are interested in getting involved: https://kicad.org/contribute/developers/
There is not really an architecture diagram, but if you have something specific in mind, the dev team can probably point you at the right parts of the code to take a look at.

Can you describe more what you mean by “3D Tracing”? Do you mean viewing the traces of the board in 3D, or something else? Are there existing tools that already support this feature that you can point out?


Thanks for sharing this! This is super helpful.

This is exactly what we want to do but in VR. We are also exploring adding a control scheme suited for VR controllers so that this could be used during the design process.

My team and I watched the video and found it helpful! Thanks for the share. We will definitely look at the mailing list.

We are looking to do something very similar to what eelik posted but in VR. There are tools that attempt to enable VR CAD development but none of those are for PCB design/layout.

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If I were you I would start by coming up with very solid control scheme that is not just usable but comfortable and intuitive. Otherwise doing the same thing we already can do in 2d but instead in VR with clumsy controls will be just a gimmick and likely will not be integrated in upstream.

Study all the tools in pcbnew, route some boards to get experience and get a feel of existing design flow. Propose good mapping of that flow (maybe with some tweaks to adapt to VR controllers) and you may be onto something here.

We appreciate your comment, it is super insightful and motivating.

This is super helpful! I found this set of tutorials and this documentation as well. Thanks for pointing us in the right direction.

I will keep this thread updated with our design process and proposals.

This is definitely one of our main objectives.

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