Classroom installation of KiCad stable (4.0.4)

I just finished the installation of KiCad stable (4.0.4) to two 25 seat classrooms and a 12 seat classroom :grin:

KiCad is offered as an alternative to the education edition of NI Multisim/Ultiboard that is currenty in use. We’ll see how the students pick it up.

All machines are running Windows 7 64 Bit, here’s what I did:

The cumbersome library management of KiCad does not yet allow the use of our git server for schematic and pcb libraries so I chose a path-to-files-only solution.

One machine got a full install of KiCad and the libraries then were moved to a ‘read only’ network share. Using the registry editor, the environment variables were modified to point to the folders on the network share. The registry keys were also put into a .reg file for import on the other machines:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Session Manager\Environment]
"KICAD_PTEMPLATES"="P:\\CAE\\KiCad\\share\\templates"
"KISYS3DMOD"="P:\\CAE\\KiCad\\share\\packages3d"
"KISYSMOD"="P:\\CAE\\KiCad\\share\\modules"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Environment]
"KICAD_PTEMPLATES"="P:\\CAE\\KiCad\\share\\templates"
"KISYS3DMOD"="P:\\CAE\\KiCad\\share\\packages3d"
"KISYSMOD"="P:\\CAE\\KiCad\\share\\modules"

Note: For purely personal preferences, I pulled the 3D models folder out from the modules folder when I moved the libraries to the network share. I’ll see how that plays out (fingers crossed).

Next, the two files ‘fp-lib-table’ and ‘kicad.pro’ from the folder ‘C:\Program Files\KiCad\share\kicad\template’ need to be modified, as these are pulled in when a user starts KiCad for the first time or when a new project is created.

In the file ‘fp-lib-table’ all entries

(type Github)

need to be replaced with

(type KiCad)

and the variable

${KIGITHUB}

needs to be replaced with

${KISYSMOD}

In the file ‘kicad.pro’ the following additions were made:

In sections [eeschema] and [eeschema/libraries]

LibDir=P:/CAE/KiCad/share/library

was added. I don’t know why this double definition is necessary, but without it, the library paths are not correct.

In sections [pcbnew] and [pcbnew/libraries]

LibDir=P:/CAE/KiCad/share/modules

was added. This was done ‘just to be sure’ although pcbnew uses the ‘new’ library management and reads the environment variables.

To automate the install process, the necessary files (installer, file with registry keys, fp-lib-table and kicad.pro) were put into a folder on a network share and a batch file was created that was run with administrator rights:

P:\CAE\KiCad\kicad-product-4.0.4-x86_64.exe copy /y P:\CAE\KiCad\kicad.pro "C:\Program Files\KiCad\share\kicad\template" copy /y P:\CAE\KiCad\fp-lib-table "C:\Program Files\KiCad\share\kicad\template" regedit /S P:\CAE\KiCad\KICAD_env_vars.reg

In the installation dialog of KiCad, the installation of schematic and pcb libraries was then deselected.

Fingers are crossed. As far as I’m concerned, it is duck-and-cover for now :innocent:

8 Likes

Good luck - let us know how it goes. :slight_smile:

I’m hoping we do a 5.x release even if some items scheduled for 5.x (like eeschema rework) isn’t done. There are quite a few new features in pcbnew like STEP export, differential signal traces, etc. Eeschema can even use ngspice now - perfect for teaching those Analog 101 classes.

That’s exactly the one feature that is currently missing in the stable release that will enable us to abandon the Multisim/Ultiboard package currently in use. There are higher ranks that will call this shot, though, and a few older but still active student projects will need to be ported (not looking forward to that :unamused:)

Oh, and if it hasn’t been mentioned before: Decent schematic library management via git would be nice :wink:

What a colleague will be working on next is a way to distribute KiCad via OPSI (http://opsi.org), I’ll keep you posted how this works out.

@ikletti
On a side note - what sort of classroom is this? What level? What kind of school?
Thanks in advance.

This is probably due to eeschema not taking the variables and needing a path still (as you already know and state a little further down).

Overall impressive, wish you the best and keep us posted how you go down the road. :+1:

It’s the Electrical Engineering and Information Technology department at a University of Applied Sciene.

[quote=“4b11b4, post:4, topic:4126”]
What sort of classroom is this?[/quote]
The two bigger classrooms are general PC pool installation for all lectures requiring a computer. These are also available to the students as workspace outside the lecture hours.

The smaller classroom actually is an actual electronics lab, besides the computer each workbench is equipped with oscilloscope, function generator, solder iron, etc.

However, there will be no special “PCB design with KiCad” lecture at the moment. Instead the students are directed to the variuos tutorials available on the web.

3 Likes

As a follow-up: The installation has worked well in all classrooms :grin:

Issues due to missing libraries arose when the students worked on their projects using the pool computers and their own Laptops/PCs, but this was to be expected.

Looking forward to the overhauled schematic libraries, we will then try and use git repositories to provide the default/public schematic and footprint libraries to all pool installations. When the students point their private installations to the same repositories the issues with missing libraries should be resolved.

2 Likes

Re you updating to 4.0.5 to fix a few bugs? No new features, so it should be transparent to the class

I will update to 4.0.5 if the release of version 5 will be later than the first week of march (still holding my breath for that). Else I’ll be brave and roll out Version 5 and cross fingers :wink:

I don’t think a stable release of version 5 will come so soon. I think there will be at least one pre release for version 5. (this will have a lot of bugs i fear. Maybe even worse than nightly.)

HURRAH! I wish more schools/ colleges/ etc would install things that students can then ALSO put on their personal machines, use at home. What is the point of inspiring them, getting them excited, if they then can’t USE what they’ve found interesting??

(See also Libre/ Open Office. Arduino. Pi!)

You can safely bet V5 will come after the first week of March - in fact you can bet it will be some time (long) after March. We’re all hoping there won’t be so many bugs to fix, but since there are such large changes waiting we will need a lot of time to test and we expect bugs.

2 Likes

Since I am also loosely following the dev mailing list I expected that delay but still hoped for an early easter present :wink:

So 4.0.5 it will be with hopes to roll out 5.x during the summer break. Thank you!