Draw Rectangle, not square in Footprint Editor

Been away from Kicad for a few years. I not only want to get a couple of pcbs done, but I also want to get skilled again in using Kicad.

So, a couple of questions that might seem trivial and with alternative ways to do them. That’s fine–I just want to make sure I’m doing it the easiest/best way rather than just getting it done and not better at Kicad.

  1. Drawing rectangles

I want to draw rectangles in footprint editor. There’s an icon whose hover help says “Draw a Rectangle”. But it seems to only allow me to draw a square.

Sure, I can draw using lines or polygon, put I’m thinking I’m missing something easy that allows me to define a rectangle?

  1. Constrain new corner of polygon to 0,45, 90 from previous corner

I need to draw “many cornered” polygons. Can I constrain the placement of the next corner to be 0, 90, or 45?

  1. Exact placement of polygon corners.

Polygon properties doesn’t seem to include definition of corner x,y locations. To get the corners placed exactly, I have to zoom way in and watch x,y or dx dy at the bottom of the screen. It gets pretty tedious when you are drawing antenna polygons that have 20 to 30 corners. Is there a way to provide x,y coordinates for corners of a polygon?

  1. Duplicate

Is there a way to step and repeat? I know about a replicate plugin, but I thought I’d ask if there was a way to create multiple copies using the duplicate function. I figure I must be missing it, else why have duplicate versus just copy/paste?

For 2) (constrain to 0, 45, 90) I found Shift + Space. And the ability to define whatever hot key I want for it. Nice!

Shift + Space is also the answer for question 1) - most probably the 90°-mode is enabled - this allows only squares instead of rectangles.

  1. Exact placement of polygon corners
    The best chance is to use the grid (and there the two fast-grid-options). For exactly drawing a complicated polygon you could also use an external CAD-programm and than import the drawing as dxf.
    A table to directly edit the x/y coordinates is currently not available.
    For python experts: this could be a useful task for a python-addon: present the coordinates of polygon/zone/keepout-area as editable table.
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Found this under hot keys:

Sounds like just what I need! But when I tried Ctrl+M, nothing happened. Not implemented yet? All those microway options sound very interesting!

I tried using the grid, but it was acting strange for me.

For example, I had a 1 mil grid. But, the grid wasn’t exactly 1 mil. There was a tiny difference, but it accumulated as I got farther from the origin. I couldn’t place vertices on a 1 mil resolution (as reported by x,y and dx, dy) because the grid wasn’t actually on the exact intervals (except near origin).

I have to turn of grid completely to get it done. Hence the maximum zoom and tiny movements of the mouse to try to get it on an even, 1 mil boundary.

Orthogonal constraint will be a big help though.

Yup, shift + space does the trick.

Glad I asked!

I can confirm that [Shift + Space] toggles between drawing rectangles and squares.

For polygons, you can first draw lines, then modify their end points (first draw the odd segments, then snap the even segments in between?) and then right click and use: Create from Selection / create Polygon from Selection.

But these (and others) are quite cumbersome workarounds. The simple fact is that KiCad is quite bad at mechanical CAD functionality.

The Microwave things are part of the PCB Editor, not from the Footprint editor. These are also in the menu, with: PCB Editor / Place / Add Microwave Shape >

Mechanical CAD stuff does not have a high priority in KiCad. The usual method is to draw your graphics in some other program, and then import it in KiCad, either as SVG or DXF. There is also the KiCad Stepup workbench in FreeCAD. With this you have a lot of options of exchanging KiCad data with FreeCAD. It’s quite powerful, but FreeCAD has it’s own learning curve.

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Thanks!

I use CorelDraw a lot, so creating there and importing DXF is easy.

But, once I became “not brain dead” about drawing rectangles in the footprint editor, it’s not so bad.

I don’t think there’s any reason to use a polygon instead of many overlapping rectangles, is there? I figure the Gerber will be identical.

Thanks!

Not indentical, KiCad doesn’t combine pads. They will be separate items in gerbers, too. However, it’s usual that there are overlapping shapes in gerber files, and the manufacturers interpret them in some meaningful way, and for making the board they overlapping (copper) items are of of course combined.

I think using the word ‘interpret’ may be a bit misleading here.
When photoplotters were used if single place was exposed once or many times it had the same effect.
Now with raster plotters it is not important how many times the single bit in raster is set. It simply can’t be more one than it is.