Can I Create component placement without netlist or schematic?

Using 5.99 on Linux -

I would like to do some documentation of a component layout. Can I place components without a netlist or a schematic ? This is just graphic documentation, I’m not routing a circuit. I’ve used a 2-D cad system to create a graphic like this, and thinking about using pcbnew. I would just use the silkscreen component outline, designators, etc and possibly pads for this.



If my memory serves me (questionable :slight_smile: ) I think you can add footprints to a PCB. I tested with a PCB that already existed. Use: place / new part.
However in you want the 3D view I’m not sure how you would relate a footprint with a 3D part without going through the schematic editor.

Further thinking, if you want the 3D view, you can add the parts to the schematic and don’t bother to wire them. Then go through the part to footprint assignment. You should get the 3D part if it’s in the library.

I am making a board right now. I went to the PCB and added a footprint/component with out a netlist and it is not on the schematic. The 3D viewer did see the part. I did not start out with a blank PCB but I am certain it will work.

I pretty routinely add a footprint to an existing board when checking a response to a question here. I just don’t ‘save’.

It does work, I got confused. I had created a partial schematic and was getting error from that. Thanks.

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You can add footprints but I don’t think you can route any traces.

Workarounds will just keep getting more difficult. You’re better off making a schematic.

Placing footprints on the PCB has been possible since a long time.

In KiCad-nightly V5.99 tools have been added to manipulate the netlist directly in the PCB editor.

But if it’s just for some demo or making some screenshots, then it’s probably easiest to just disable the shove and walk around behavior of PCB Editor / Route / Interactive Router Settings, and just set it to “highlight collisions” and “Allow DRC violations”. With these settings you can create as many DRC violations as you like and KiCad won’t complain.

But it’s even simpler then that. Even in KiCad V5.1.x just placing a footprint on the PCB (Pcbnew / Place / Footprint) puts all the pins of the footprint in the “no net” netlist, and copper tracks can be drawn between these pins without fiddling with settings.

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3D is linked in footprint. Schematic has nothing to it, I think.

The reason I got thinking about this was that I’ve had to document PCB fixups, like trace cuts, jumpers, and even adding or changing some component. Sometimes it is our own prototype, but if it is from another manufacturer, you may not have a schematic or want to enter the whole thing.

I didn’t get back to exploring this yet, but a trace cut could be depicted by a graphic footprint for example. I didn’t try 3D yet, but that could improve documentation. I’ve normally done that documentation with paper and pencil. Maybe next time I’ll try to use pcbnew.

Its nice to have the flexibility to work without a net.

If you have gerber files:

You can use KiCad’s gerbview to back-import those into a KiCad project.
A lot of info is missing from gerber files, but you get PCB outline and all tracks and pads and footprint locations implicitly imported from the pads, so it’s easy to put new footprints in the exact same place.

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