Another Cry for Help With Empty Footprint Libraries

I am quite an advanced ORCAD user but in attempt to save money on Autorouting I decided to try KiCAD and design a small PCB for test purpose. The schematic editor is almost as good as Orcad, even sometimes better, but I got completely stuck trying to export netlists to the layout editor. While editing schematic I imported several models from SNAPEDA and expected to assign 0603 to R and C. However the footprint library is a total fiasco. First, if I press “Assign PCB Footprints…” it shows a dialog that “Some footprints are legacy…”, then I see this message: "The following errors occurred attempting to convert the footprint assignments:

Component “IC1” footprint “TSR-0.5-2433” was not found in any library.

Component “J1” footprint “TBL008100002BE” was not found in any library.

Component “J3” footprint “TBL008100002BE” was not found in any library.
You will need to reassign them manually if you want them to be updated correctly the next time you import the netlist in Pcbnew."

If I open the dialog “Footprint Libraries” both “Global…” and “Project…” folders are empty. The file search for “*.pretty” returns no files. My OS is Windows 10, Kicad 5.1.9. I never installed any other versions of Kicad before.

I’ve seen that many people asked similar questions and all of them are sent to Library management in KiCad version 5 . I opened this page and did not find anything useful. The most important questions are:

  • Are the footprint libraries installed on Windows by default?
  • If the libraries disappeared/not installed how to restore them?
    -Where the discrete components footprints are supposed to be located?
  • Could be great to find a decent tutorial with these things described.

So far I followed a popular video on Youtube from 2015, but at this point my progress has stopped.

If you are talking about 5.1.9 or similar, libraries are installed by default on Windows

In “Configure Paths” KISYSMOD should be C:\Program Files\KiCad\share\kicad\modules

Discrete component symbols are in “Device”
Their footprints are spread across many family libraries

You dont use netlists to move from Schematic to Layout these days, 2015 videos are hopelessly stale

Wow! Thanks a lot, they are really there.
If you know any good tutorial or book please share.

It is well known that importing assets from services like snapeda can result in weird behaviour of basically any software they claim to be compatible with. This is because they need to make compromises to be able to support multiple EDA suits with each of them having different feature sets.

So while it sounds like the easy way to get to a library i would consider these services to be better suited to experienced users.

Case in point your error messages. Take the message Component “J1” footprint “TBL008100002BE” was not found in any library. It shows that the symbol does not correctly assign the footprint. In kicad the syntax for footprint assignment is <library alias>:<footprint name>. The message shows that the library alias is missing from the assignment. Meaning what you download from snapeda is not just good to go out of the box (some assembly required).


Now to answer your questions:

In the past it was the default. I have not installed on windows for quite some time so it might have changed. There might also now be a lightweight installer available that is meant for use when updating which might not even include libraries (i seem to remember such an installer exists for the nightly builds but am not sure if it also exists for the stable version).

But anyway one could always select not to install libraries which was done with just one tickmark in the installer.

The libraries should be placed somewhere into the same directory that has the kicad programm files in it (so somewhere in c:\programms\kicad or similar, i do not have windows so i can not check it). You might therefore want to double-check if they really are not there. If they are already on your file system then follow the “reset to default” section of the tutorial you linked above to activate them.

Just run the full installer and make sure you enable the libraries to be installed. If your installer does not offer a way to install them then you clearly have some sort of lightweight installer so download the full one from https://www.kicad.org/download/windows/

After that follow the “reset to default section” of the library management tutorial that you already posted above.

And of course you could clone the github repos (or download the zip files from github) and install it manually as described in the “advanced setup” section of the same tutorial.

If it is from 2015 then it is of no use to you. KiCad develops reasonably fast so a 6 year old video is hopelessly outdated (anything older than from early 2019 can by definition not be helpful as this was when 5.1.0 was first released).

In general i highly suggest to always check what version a tutorial (be it in video form or text form) is. If it is not stated then ignore the tutorial and look for something else as following a tutorial of a version not matching your installed version will only confuse you instead of being helpful.

Seems some answers appeared while i wrote mine (should not have taken the phone call just before pressing “reply”) or at least should have checked the site again before sending my answer.

Well there is the getting started tutorial i wrote a while back that would have described how to add a simple resistor (and other components) Tutorial: Introduction to PCB design with KiCad version 5.1 (Getting Started)

This is impressive, thank you all for great answers. While I appreciate your advices, I disagree with the statement that SnapEDA is just for advanced users. After a year with Orcad the simplicity of importing third party models makes KiCad my favorite. And I have not tried Autorouting yet :slight_smile:

The reason i call it advanced is because the assets that you get from their service are not setup to work out of the box. So you need to have at least some basic understanding of how kicads library system works (see the problem with your schematic and the missing library designator as indicated by the error message you got). If you have a better word than “advanced” to describe this then i am all ears (english is not my native language so maybe i simply miss an obvious word here).