Creating and importing footprints


#1

Is there an EASY way to import a footprint created in an external 3D modeling program?
Just a thought.
I’m new to KiCAD and learning a new UI is always a bit of a stumble.
I am all to familiar and quick with Inventor and could easily create a thin flat solid the size of the component outline and extrude pads and drill holes a lot quicker than fumbling to create the footprint in KiCAD. The lack of an easy to use mathematical coordinate system and the inverted Y axis make is clunky for someone who uses a 3D CAD package frequently.
If there isn’t, then I’ll quit whining and continue on, I was just curious if something already existed.


Creating a pad from a DXF import gives error
#2

On second thought maybe I need to either:
A - quit thinking about all of this while I’m sitting at work and can’t access my laptop with KiCAD, or
B - read through the manual that I downloaded…


#3

Short answer is no. For outlines, you can import a DXF, but to define all the pad, drill properties etc you need to do that in KiCad.

I know it seems weird and upside down at first, but after a while it will still seem weird and upside down, but you will be used to it!


#4

I use Inventor frequently (very heavy modelling in 3DStudio/3DMax 10 years ago, with a short stint in Solid Works) and KiCAD is pretty good compared to other stuff for ECAD that’s available for free.
Sure it’s missing a lot of luxury but has a lot of useful stuff under the hood (*) you wont notice at first and if you’re determined enough you can definitely design more exact than the fab can ever hope of achieving.

Get used to the relative coordinate readout right next to the absolute one. Can be reset at current mouse pointer with [Space].
Unfortunately the relative coords are not being used in any masks/GUIs, but you can use ‘exact input’ for some movements/modificators.
The grid is good to work with and PCBnew with its OpenGL canvas (EESchema is ‘older’ by that standard and waiting for it’s refurbishment) is coming along nicely in the nightly test builds some of use use for production.

PS: file format is human readable and a lot of 3rd party tools/scripts are around that help with this or that.
If you search for @Shack you’ll find he’s creating scripted 3D models inclusive footprints… then there are symbol scripts aso.

PPS: The worst actually is getting used to the zoom of the mousewheel. I have Inventor the other way around… upper wheel forward KiCAD = zooms in, Inventor = zooms out :nerd:

*) check out the array function for patterns for footprints.


#5

Another useful tool is the user grid and the possibility to set your origin.
If i place pads i place the origin at the position of the first pad and set the x grid size to the distance to the next pad in x direction and y size to the distance to the next pad in that direction.

Then place the first pad, edit its properties to mach what you want it to look like and place all other pads in order. (pads are numbered automatically on placement.)

If you want more mathematical support or want to create multiple similar footprints there is the python footprint generator by @pointhi

There is also the build in footprint wizard for creating parameterized footprints.


#6

Wow, thanks, that’s some helpful stuff guys!
I’m sure I’ll get used to the UI, it’ll just take some time.
Before creating my first footprint I took a quick look at the part data sheet and made a chart of the coordinates and sizes of all of the through hole pads and it took me a minute to figure out why they were all showing mirrored in respect to the X axis. Google provided me the information about the inverted Y coordinates and I corrected my chart and all was good from there.
It’s a learning curve, but I’ll get there. I just wish I could get more time to get on there and play with it, I never got a chance to get back to it last night.