Auto routing, FreeRouting for Newbies


#1

Hello, I am new to both KiCAD and the forum. I am posting this because the most-recent Postings regarding FreeRouting seem to be at least a year old.
I’m running KiCAD 4.0.7 on a Win7 64-bit platform (No “nightly builds” and so forth…just the stable version)

  1. As I understand it, KiCAD has no stand-alone autorouter. If you want AutoRouting, you have to employ FreeRouting or another package
  2. PCBNEW toolbar exhibits a two-way-traffic sign icon that is “fast access to the FreeROUTE external advanced router”
  3. The FreeROUTE advanced router doesn’t seem to be installed automatically.
  4. I’ve gone to the web (broadly) and to GitHub, and there’s FreeROUTE software out there to download.
  5. There is also a website (freerouting.org) where it is claimed “The easiest way to install the FreeRouting executable is to install the LayoutEditor package,”; you can download a ‘free’ version of LayoutEditor and various forms of the software for a price.
  6. Apparently, the {freerouting.jar} and {freerouting.exe} files are the minimum requirements to run FreeRouting.
  7. Should I install Freerouting and if so, into what directories should the *.jar and the *.exe files be saved?

#2

If you would like to have autorouting, you can install FreeRouting. The safest way to use it is to Export Specctra files, open these in FreeRouting and then import the resulting session file.

You can install it anywhere you like if are running independently. Otherwise, it will need to be on your path.


#3

If it is on a Path (and where should I be looking within KiCad to set that Path?), will the “two way traffic” symbol for Autorouting and the Import / Export dialog box work seamlessly?


#4

By “your path” I meant the environmental variable %PATH that gets searched for executables.

Have a look through https://freerouting.org/freerouting/using-with-kicad for some good tips on using with KiCad v4.


#9

I am deleting it here. I’ve already fixed the formatting in the correct thread; apparently the cut-and-paste operation corrupted the numbered list.


#10

Hello, Seth:
Apologies, I am not an OS expert; I am using Win7 Pro 64-bit and there are multiple “environmental variables”, of these “environmental variables” there are multiple “System Variables” and three of those [KISYS3DMOD, KISYSMOD, KICAD_PTEMPLATES] are obviously connected to KiCad. Do I have to create a New Path, or edit one of these existing ones to point to FreeRouting’s executables?


#11

Unfortunately, I do not have enough experience with Windows to guide you here. The “Launch Freerouting” step is inherently problematic for a cross-platform application like KiCad.

I would recommend utilizing the export/import function and running Freerouting on its own.


#12

See for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environment_variable. There’s an explanation (and examples) for the Windows %PATH% variable.


#13

On the other hand, the direct launching of FreeRouter will be removed in the upcoming version 5 and you must get used to the File->Export/Import way of doing things.

  1. File->Export->Specctra
  2. Open FreeRouting, open .dsn file
  3. Route
  4. Export Specctra session from FreeRouting
  5. File->Import->Specctra

EDIT: you don’t have to care about environment variables or paths, you just open FreeRouting manually.


#14

Thanks for clarifying.

As it now seems that V5 will soon be released, there isn’t a lot of sense in wasting time nailing down the PATH settings, as it’ll be moot by then.

I should note that I’ve installed FreeRouting, and have successfully used it (via the Export / Import dialogue).


#15

@von_Whimhurst If you are on 4.0.7, KiCad still has native autorouting built in. This is accessible from the Legacy PcbNew canvas (press F9).

This autorouter is better than Freerouting in some instances, worse in others.

This autorouter will be removed in 5.0 due to a newer connectivity algorithm being implemented in PcbNew.