Basic design question

Being a total newbie at this but done some reading and watching, I have what must be a very basic query regarding how you design for components that you wish to appear in a schematic but are not part of a pcb footprint.

As an example, I have designed a simple solar charge schematic, inclusive of solar panel. But obviously the resulting pcb will not include a solar panel, but rather a connector for it.

What is standard practice to handle this type of situation?


I would have a connector at schematic and text (or simple graphic) info what is connected here.
Don’t know if it is a standard.

I remember someone here saying that if you use special reference (I think) for element than it will not be in netlist. But I don’t remember exactly - probably the special first sign.

Ok, that makes perfect sense. Guess I was reading too much into it.


In this case I would also symply use a connector.

There is however also a very usable “symbol editor” in KiCad for designing new schematic symbols from scratch, or for modifying existing schematic symbols.

Most KiCad progams have their own user manual, but strangely the manual for the schematic symbol editor seems to be missing from:
Bit weird, but does not matter much because working with it is almost the same as working with schematic symbols themself.

There are also other ways to design schematic symbols.
I once wrote a page of Python to generate custom symbols for a whole library of connectors, and there are also scripts to generate schematic symbolf from spreadsheet data.

Here’s an example of this approach:

The components “BT1” and “SW1” are NOT located on the board. The symbols for these components link to footprints for 2-pin header connectors (specifically, AMP 64057-2 image ) which do not look at all like a switch or battery! Similarly, the P/L for the PCB Assy lists the AMP 64057-2 connectors. (The switch, batteries, battery holders, connecting wires, and mating connectors appear on the P/L for the next higher assembly, which is the fully assembled product, in an enclosure, sporting the company’s logo sticker, instruction sheet, etc.)

These are both custom symbols that I created for this project. This screen capture makes it a little more obvious what the symbol for SW1/J3 actually looks like:

If you are going to do more than half a dozen boards (more, or less) in the next year or two, you REALLY SHOULD learn to make your own symbols (and footprints). It may take half a day or so to produce your first examples, most of which can be charged to learning KiCAD’s drafting tools. Before long you will be able to create a symbol or footprint in 10 - 20 minutes, on average. (Yeah, I know, then there are BGA’s and microcontrollers with half a zillion pins . . . . )

Standards? We don’t need no stinkin’ standards! In fact, I’m rather certain that this approach violates MANY standards! But in my current situation, I believe it effectively communicates my design intent. To appease the demigods in Configuration Control you may need to move the text comments beside BT1 and SW1 into the table of Drawing Notes. In the worst case (assuming they will let you take this approach at all) the demigods may force you to show some dashed lines between BT1/SW1 and their respective connectors, and enclose BT1 and SW1 with dotted lines annotated with a note such as “Off-board component. Not part of this assy. Shown for information only.”.

If you wish to include the solar cell on the schematic (for ease of understanding) you can precede the Ref Designator of the solar cell (and its connector) with a # sign. These parts will not be transferred to the PCB.

I actually meant was there a standard way of doing it, rather than an ISO :wink:

Thanks to all for your responses. Appreciate it.


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