Creating Pads directly in PCB Layout

Is there a direct way to add freestanding Pads in the PCB Editor? I can add Vias, but not Pads. The only way I have ever added a pad is to create them with the footprint editor and save them in a folder of pads to pick from. I wish I could just create the pad directly in the editor for the board I am working on.

This might not be a common problem, but when importing old PCB artwork from Eagle I have had it bring in mounting pads as vias instead and in doing that, KiCad does not expose the pad (doesn’t create the solder mask). I use pads sometimes when there is a screw going through the board and the pad is connected on top and/or bottom to a ground plane and I want the screw to connect with the pad.

For me it would be helpful to be able to switch between making a free-standing via or pad (or be able to convert a via to a pad)

I see that on pads I can override some settings and expand some things like the thermal relief line width and soldermask. I don’t see a way to expand the solder mask to the vias on an individual basis. That might help. In most of these cases I don’t care if the via is connected solidly to the ground plane or by the smaller thermal relief lines. I still think it would be nice to have a choice to add a pad in the PCB Editor though!

Sorry for all the editing. I keep finding out things as I go!


The issue you will have, I think, is adding the pad to a net, there was a plugin that let you do this . . . but, what about just adding a pad in the schematic ?

Is there a direct way to add freestanding Pads in the PCB Editor?

No. You have to develop a different approach/workflow.

you could try one of the footprints from library “MountingHole”. If you don’t want a symbol set the footprint-property checkbox “not in schematic”.
If you want additionally a symbol in the schematic: see @RaptorUK :

  • symbol-library mechanical:mountingHole unconnected pad
  • symbol-library mechanical:mountingHole_Pad: connected pad
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Thanks for the suggestions… I had not considered putting mounting pads in the schematics. However, I ‘cheated’ in my old program and didn’t use the schematic feature. I had been drawing them in AutoCad for years. Directly made the PCBs without them. So I now have to go back and enter the schematics in KiCad and get everything in the PCB linked back to it correctly. I have done this for some boards but not the one I was working on this time. In the meantime, I had to do a few quick updates in the PCB editor and get new boards made before I have had a chance to go back and enter the schematics. The PCB board manufacturer caught the error with the vias in the Gerber files. I have changed them to pads on the PCB now, but will try and finish the schematics soon to complete the project. LIve and Learn!

I think it is possible to work in KiCad without schematic, but I have never tried it.
To add pad at PCB you can add one of hole footprints from library.
Then routing mode “Highlight collisions” should allow you to route track whenever you like, I think.

You do Not need a Schematic if you don’t want/need one.

You can make a simple Footprint of a PAD (THT, SMD… etc). The Footprint tool has Option for placing PADs, where you set various parameters…

Examples of some of mine on PCB with Symbol of one having a Footprint assigned to it…

Plenty of Post’s and documentation to review…

Yes, I realize that I can now work with the PCB without a schematic. Since I have started using KiCad, however, I made myself learn to use the Schematic editor and it makes life So much easier! I now like working that way and only have the need to work without a schematic on my old imported PCB’s, at least until I have the time to go back and create schematics for them. The way my old Eagle was set up it created a solder mask that included both the vias and pads so on the PCB’s none of them were ever covered by the green soldermask. KiCad, by default, seems to treat the vias differently and doesn’t include them in the soldermask gerber. That has tripped me up a couple of times when importing the old board layouts. I might need to see if I can adjust the defaults for the vias, if I want to. Sometimes it make it easier to troubleshoot a board when I can touch the vias with a voltmeter instead of trying to get on a small surface mount pin of a chip, for example. I guess I still have somewhat of an an old-school mentality. I designed many complicated circuit boards using the old mylar film and tape with stick-on labels for the IC’s and pads at 4 times the size of the actual board and having to have them photographically reduced to the right sized negatives.

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From time to time we have here visitors who insist on designing PCB without schematic. I know it is possible so I just informed you.
Long time ago when Orcad was only schematic editor and Racal Redac had poor schematic editor I have written a program to convert Orcad netlist to Racal netlist and I got few new friends at once :slight_smile: . Those time (around 1990) I did to run Racal at IBM XT without HDD (HDD was too expensive for me). It was possible to work having only two 360k floppies and 640k RAM and Racal had autorouter.
Since then I have never even considered to design PCB without schematic.You loose 90% of PCB design program functionality.

File - Fabrication Outputs - Gerbers and you have a flag: ‘Do not tent vias’.

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