Copy a old board layout into KiCAD

I’m confident that we will never see a schematic.
So, no worries! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I can’t understand why you bother to read it then. As long as others choose to participate that is their choice to make.

Because people keep bumping this trainwreck to the top of the page.

It will be my choice to continue pointing out what a stupid waste of time it is then I guess.

Curious, do you find it at all embarassing for kicad that this has reached about 10% the views of the FAQ sticky thread?

There’s no entertainment value in the FAQ. In these times people need entertainment. Surrender yourself.

I keep writing because every answer I write is a learning experience for me. I don’t think this thread is without value for others, either, but I understand some people don’t feel that way.

I mostly agree with halachal.

My proposal to make the PCB for “GoldenAge” is partially to finish this thread and let it sink to the bottom of the KiCad Forum.

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And that message of yours made it last 9 minutes longer.

Oh, cheer up Halachal, at least this thread shows the efforts regular contributors to this forum will make to assist others. :slightly_smiling_face:

If you don’t want to participate in a thread, DON’T. It isn’t your duty to tell others what to do. You don’t even have to see it.



This IMHO.

Good luck

bonus points if you record yourself doing it (desktop) and post it to youtube :wink:

And at all commenters/lurkers please keep it civil and friendly. Nature tries all sorts of things, this is what mutations and evolution is all about and looks like. You can’t and shouldn’t make everybody the same nor push them to their luck… show them the door for how you think its ideal and hope for the best.
In that sense - keep going and have a nice 2021 you all :wink:


Now I feel like it should be a (friendly) competition, once @GoldenAge posts the design requirements everyone can see who can create the board the fastest (and post it to youtube as @Joan_Sparky suggested)

Dagnabbit… after all of this I was hoping for:

So I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t blow my data cap in the next couple weeks, and downloaded the 3D portions. Still got an error when trying to use the 3D viewer. Turns out that the newer version of the 3D viewer demanded a video driver update. Updated video driver, and now it works in 5.99. Did some experimenting to reproduce your result, and here is what I found:

  1. Use of filled polygons rather than filled zones are necessary, to avoid an annular ring area around the vias that is not covered by copper
  2. The copper areas only show as yellow in the 3D viewer (as per your example) when they are covered by something in the mask layer. A rectangle in the mask layer larger than the board size allows all copper areas of the board to show in yellow, a small rectangle in the mask layer that only covers part of a copper area will only display as yellow for the area inside the mask layer rectangle. This holds true for both F.Mask and B.Mask layers (both sides of the board).
  3. Opening the F.Cu, B.Cu, and excellon drill files in both GerbView and Gerbv appeared to show both the copper areas and the via placements correctly.

So why do the copper areas show properly only if they are covered by something in the mask layer? This seems counterintuitive to me. I would tend to think that copper areas covered by something in the mask layer would not show, because they would be intended to be covered by a mask in production of the boards. Do I actually need to send mask layers with rectangles larger than the board to a board house as part of the gerber files? Or can I simply dispense with the mask layers entirely as intended, and include a specific note to the board house that there is no mask on either side of the board? I won’t have any problem soldering components without a mask layer, and since I’m the only person that will ever be inside what I’m building, I’m really not concerned that anything will get dropped on the board and short something out (are people actually scared of that? gee, they must never have worked on an old tube type piece of equipment with point to point wiring!).

Since all copper has proper clearance from the board edges, and all copper areas and vias appear to display properly in a set of gerber files and excellon file viewed in GerbView and Gerbv, does this mean that board 1 is now going to be ready for a board house? Aside from any additional requirements that a given board house may have, what else am I going to need to do? Other than what I have already done, what else can be checked to ensure that everything will be properly in spec for a board house?

You didn’t read the links I gave in Copy a old board layout into KiCAD, did you?

I added the mask layer zones to my version of the board file, and it should be enough. That way the mask graphics in the gerber files cover the board exactly (but please inspect the files yourself). Remember that board houses will interpret it and they are infamous for not understanding what you want. Always give a textual note, too, in their preferred format.

It sounds like I either missed something, or didn’t understand something. I’ll have to go back over it again.

So you are saying that the board houses are expecting to see rectangles slightly larger than the board, in both mask layers? Is this understanding correct?

No. Zones in non-copper layers work so that they are clipped by the board edge, so the mask graphics area is identical to the board area. The board outline is the center of the edge.cuts line.

It depends on the board manufacturer how they interpret this. Having the board area covered in the mask layer in the gerbers is logical and clean. It doesn’t mean they can’t interpret other conventions, like having larger mask than the board area, correctly. As I said, you should communicate your intent in a message, too.

EDIT: in case you missed the important link, here it is again: How does solder mask layer work?

In the very beginning it’s told that the layer is negative.

EDIT2: I may have forgotten to set the zone width to 0 in the file. I haven’t tested very well this with version 5.99.

And another EDIT: there seems to be a bug in v5.99 WRT edge clearance and non-copper zones.

I misintrepreted this statement, then. I didn’t realize that that negative quality would also be applied to not having a mask layer at all. For everything to be as clean as possible, should the mask layer be slightly larger than the board size, same as the board size, or equal to the clearance of the copper areas to the board edges?

I have already adjusted all the widths to zero and eliminated all outlines. Anything else that needs to be checked and possibly cleaned up, that I may have missed?

Assuming that it is correct to set the mask layers to be slightly larger than the board size, I have proofed and double checked everything, and would appear to be able to have the gerbers pass review (according to the requirements listed for two popular and well regarded board houses).

But there is one detail that is still bothering me. The third board has a rectangluar cutout in the middle. Placing a rectangle on the Edge.Cuts layer gives a proper display in 3D view. But how do I account for the proper setback of the copper groundplane area on B.Cu? It was easy enough to verify that any copper areas on the F.Cu front of the board had the proper setback clearance. Will the board houses simply make the board with the proper setback? Or is there something else that I need to do, which will provide the proper setback of copper away from the cutout?

I wasn’t able to find anything helpful in answering this, either in the documentation, or here in the forums. I did experiment a bit with attempting to add another rectangle on the B.Cu layer (in various forms, such as outline, zone, polygon, and rule area), but did not discover any combination of settings that would produce the desired result.

What I did to move a old PCB in .DXF to KiCAD:
I imported graphics (use the .dxf) into DWGS.USER or EC01.USER layer. That layer is used as a background and I placed the parts where they belong and the traces on top of the old traces. I still had to design the PCB but it looks just like the old board.

There are two ways to import the graphics file.
1–import into the PCB editor. But the .DFX can be edited and the lines and parts can be moved and edited and I just wanted to draw over the top. It is too easy to move part of the .DFX image when I wanted to move a trace.
2–use the foot print editor. Import the .DFX or another file. Save and give it a name. Now bring that into the PCB editor. Now the graphics image is all one thing that can not be edited by mistake. (lock down the foot print so it can not be moved)

In the picture the white lines are the old board to be copied. I placed the 14 pin connector on top. The The SMA connector is where it belongs. Then later (not shown) I put the resistors and capacitors in place. Connecting the traces is easy. Just flow the white lines. Click on each corner of the trace.

What I learned:
You can import many types of files into PCBs, foot prints and schematics. Then either leave the image, or use it to help the design then delete it at the end.


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