Eagle project import. Old pre eagle 6 binary file format. Is there a way to import this?

What eagle version was used to create this project?
Kicad can only read the text based file format not the binary format. (opening the fies with a text editor should tell you that.)

I just downloaded it. It is a binary file.

I don’t know which Eagle version. It is from 2011…

Yes it’s binary. Does this mean there’s no way - or do I need to carry out extra steps?

Cheers, Alex

Only the text base file format is supported by the kicad import.
If you have access to somebody with eagle 6 or newer then this person could convert the project for you.

Maybe somebody here knows of a script that could help. I will add this new found information to your topic title.

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good move. I have the free issue of Autodesk Eagle 8.3.2
Already started trying to see if I could open and export a text version…

I have it in my download directory. I just saved it off in E7 and it is a text file. Probably to big to send it to the OP over the forum. Send me a PM and we can work it out though.


Cool. wetransfer.com is great - will PM you my email!!

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Er - how to PM on this forum?? Or, I was tweeting about it here, if you do that! https://twitter.com/alexgibson3d/status/943260933106884610

No need thanks - it has worked! I saved out from Eagle 8.3.2, the output was not binary, and the import ‘just worked’. The board looks as it should - however there were a lot of errors!

Sorry - ‘Unsupported’ sounds bad but yes they are just advisories and it sounds like a sensible conversion…

I just went to close out Eagle after my run and thought it looked kinda ‘fuzzy’. I don’t know if it’s my settings but noticeable stair stepping in the text and symbols. I took a quick look at settings and didn’t see anything obvious. Maybe they don’t care that much about the Linux version? It would be annoying to use.

There is now support for loading Eagle binary layouts and libraries (versions 3,4 and 5) in the FOSS layout tool pcb-rnd, see:


after which a simple “save as” gets you to either Kicad legacy or Kicad s-expression format. The only major issue I envisage that could arise during conversion will be clearances for polygons around pins, pads and vias. The netlist information for components should make it over to Kicad format, but the netlist information for polygons will be lost.

Generally speaking, Eagle polygons are not zones in the way Kicad polygons are, so pullbacks/clearances around their perimeters in kicad may also differ to those in native Eagle representations, and via clearances may not convert simply.




I was wondering when the spam for pcb-rnd would arrive. Still desperate for new users?

We just went through this. Since you can still get free versions of Eagle it isn’t a big deal to use Eagle to convert to the new format and then import. At worst you then have Eagle to browse the boards with.

True, but I know more than a few FOSS enthusiasts who’d prefer not to install commercial software on their boxen, and it is hard to know how the licencing and availability of the free versions may change with time.

There’s no harm in having options!



I at least abbreviate that you sometimes point to it. At lest when it has a feature that is kind of missing in kicad. (It is open source which means anybody can take that part of the code and create an eagle importer with it for any other system. Assuming the licenses of both projects are compatible.)

By the way your comment above let out the schematic import. Is this missing or did i read your comment wrong?

There is no schematic import at this stage.

The Eagle binary tree -> XML tree conversion code is GPL v2.0, and there are only a few additional 24 byte binary block types used for the schematics over and above the binary block types used for layouts, since they share wire, arc, rectangle, circle, text and similar geometric block types and populate the same basic binary tree structure.

Most of the framework is there if someone wants to effect a stand alone conversion utility in C for layouts, libraries and/or with a bit of extra effort, schematics. I may have a go at adding the code for schematics in due course, but my primary focus was unlocking the many amateur radio open hardware PCB designs floating around in binary format.



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I understand to a point. Most people that use/used Eagle will already have the means to convert or have already converted to the newer file format. In this case someone found an old project online. I’m not a coder but my question would be is it worth the cycles? Do you really see it as something that will be used that much? I understand the desire to lure disillusioned Eagle users but they are going to have the Eagle software.

Your time. Your vision. I’m only asking because I only see this from a practical standpoint.

You ask a good question. It is fundamentally about the principal. People have contributed libraries and designs to the community in Eagle formats in good faith over the years which are now at imminent risk of being fenced off behind restrictive and user unfriendly licence changes.

Any given design or library only needs to be converted once into an open format and shared, after which everyone in the FOSS community wins; so, a bit of my time coding gets multiplied into many open designs that remain accessible by many, long term, well after Autodesk does whatever it wants to do. Sounds good to me.

It has, incidentally, been a fascinating puzzle akin to digital archaeology.



I am happy at leaving this as a workable solution for a few users. Piling extra code into KiCad for a rare use case is software bloat and and diverting attention from more important missing features