Elektuur Style Symbol Library

Continuing the discussion from Idea: Eeschema Multiple Alternate Symbol Shapes because that thread has been closed.


:warning: Hover over the pencil 🖉 on the top right to see the date of the last update (click for history).


The symbols (only) can also be installed on KiCad 6 with Tools → Plugin and Content Manager (PCM). To add the library after installing, use Preferences → Manage Symbol Libraries… followed by Add empty row to table (the + icon) with the Library Path given in the content description.

The libraries and demos are as well in the repository for local installation using Tools → Plugin and Content Manager → Install from File…. The zip files with demo in their name are example projects (use File → Unarchive Project… instead of PCM). Version 0.5.2 are KiCad 5 libraries (that can also be used and migrated in KiCad 6), version 0.6.2 are KiCad 6 libraries. Currently, the symbols are identical except for some arc adjustments (and corresponding config files).


Elektuur (now Elektor) style symbols introduced in the later 1970s (until the early 1990s when they became more angular). The symbol size has been increased by 1.6% (2 mm grid to 80 mil grid) and the pins realigned to a 100 mil grid.

ElektuurKiCad5Example

Generic symbol library (UJT, BJT, JFET, MOSFET, C, D, LED, LDR, Schottky D, Zener D, varicap D, L, P, R, NTC/PTC R, VDR, Re, S, La, LS, Mic, GND, Xtal, F, battery, meter, terminal, jumper, heatsink, opamp, inverter, AND/NAND/OR/NOR/XOR/XNOR, NOT, SCR, triac, plug/socket, TP, arrow):
kicad-elektuur-symbols-demo.zip (15.7 KB)

Recommended settings for KiCad 5 (on Windows):

Preferences
    Modern Toolset (Fallback)    [✓ select this]
    Preferences...
        Common
            Graphics (Fallback): High Quality Antialiasing
        Eeschema
            ☐ Automatically place symbol fields
            Display Options
                Wire thickness:  10 mil
                Junction size:   40 mil
        Symbol Editor
            Default line width:  10 mil
View [or right mouse button]
    Grid Settings...
        Grid size:              100 mil [50 mil for diagonal alt. shape]
                                        [25 mil for text or wires of gate alt. shape]
                                        [10 mil for transformer]
Eeschema
    Tools
        Simulator
            Simulation
                Settings...
                    ☑ Adjust passive symbol values (e.g. M → Meg; 100 nF → 100n)

See also Elektuur Retro Lettering (oktuur.zip for Inkscape/SVG).
See also Getting Started with KiCad EDA - Eeschema Schematic Capture (Elektor TV video).

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I’ve been looking for years, for an 80’s style Elektor/Elektuur symbols set, for a contemporary ECAD.
From what I discovered, and given the times it all started, it’s always been a graphic designers work, more than an engineering/CAD one - until recent times, I think.
Also, I remember to have seen a schematic with the same symbols in a professional technical analysis document, but I’ve no idea on who did that and how.

Regarding the other software mentioned, I’ve already took a look at that in the past. I think that the similarities are just in the standardized IEC/European symbols (like resistors, capacitors, etc.) that were also employed as a basis in Elektor symbols. This can be the reason for which I liked the Elektor interpretation of that set.
Those were still the times when electronics was still full of discrete components, so a well drawn scheme could make the difference. In the latest twenty years or so, even Elektor has started employing mostly MCUs, or other highly integrated chips, so schematics is barely a few rectangles with pin numbers – and less smart analog and digital inventions, that are left to chip makers or software/firmware solutions (…)

Added Eeschema 5.1.12-9 executable for 64-bit Windows (a replacement of _eeschema.kiface on top of the official installation). See also the branch history.

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Some of above symbols (C, D, LED, LDR, L, R, T, Zener, opamp, battery, F, lamp, fake GND) for LTspice XVII (for KiCad + ngspice see top posting), with Elektor’s Getting Started with LTspice example schematic (developed by B. Kainka). Assuming font Arial 24 Bold and stroke width of ⅛ grid spacing (for example, pen thickness of 10 for max. zoom). Symbol size has been increased by 27% (2 mm grid to 0.1 inch grid) or by 25% (2 mm grid to 2.5 mm metric grid), depending on paper size.

ElektuurLTspice.zip (40.7 KB)

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It was locked because you kept reopening it. As already discussed, that implementation as is would not make it to KiCad.

I am happy to work on other solutions together but you refused to join the developers mailing list where this type of discussion would happen.

There is now a (symbol-only) repository with above libraries so that they can be installed with PCM locally (this is not related to the source code repository).

Elektor also has a video Getting Started with KiCad EDA - Eeschema Schematic Capture.

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Can you plz explain what’s wrong with the implementation that prevents it making it to KiCADI really like those symbols.

Attempting to add the repository to PCM gives me this message:
obraz

EDIT: Nevermind. Now see the “locally” displayed in next line.

I would start by being wanting to check copyright. This is an intentional copy of the symbols used by the magazine, so where did they come from?

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@davidsrsb, they look similar to their symbols drawn with pen and stencil, which to my knowledge hasn’t been done by the (several years ago renamed) magazine for at least 25 years. There is also commercial software that includes similar looking symbols.

ElektorLabs commented:

@davidsrsb and @jmk, I would appreciate it if you could expand on allegedpossible copyright infringement. If you would compare it with fonts, then it would be more akin to another digitized version (let’s say, like Arial uses similar glyphs like Helvetica), and not a “copy” of any data or text. Or do you mean trademark instead of copyright (which wouldn’t apply)?

Well… copyright law is a muddy area. Also, the law is not harmonized between countries.
In most cases, if someone designed graphics symbols that have traits of author’s individual approach then it’s considered Works and is automatically protected by the copyright law.

Now to the symbols. Generic symbols themselves are not protected by copyright because wel… they’re generic and fit for purpose. But if particular implemenetation of the common symbol is unique in some way for it’s viewer; then this uniqueness may be in the copyright area.
And even if the original shape is not “photocopied”, but the derivative carries these unique touches then it may violate copyright of the original author.
And the last thing any open source community wants, is to be engaged in lawsuits which are very resource consuming. So: if in doubt, avoid - is the most efficient strategy.
Kicad went through this with the old iconset which is being replaced with icons with traceable licensing scheme.
In case of Elektuur symbols: if they’re carrying individual touches, and their licensing is unknown, best to avoid them in KiCad official release.
And YES, I agree they make the schematic look much nicer than with plain generic boring symbols.

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@fred4u, thanks for your comments.

I guess a schematic or a substantial part of it is copyright protected but I don’t think a redrawn collection of symbols would be (I’m referring to the many Helvetica or Times look-alike fonts that exist).

If you look at European tube and early transistor schematics from the 1960s then you might find that style not that uncommon (thicker envelopes and metric sizes), and it actually looks more like Elektuur started using similar symbols like some manufacturers’ application notes, repair schematics or handbooks did (except maybe for the Zener diode but there is also an alternative symbol).

I’m clear that they cannot be part of KiCad’s official release because of the KiCad-specific library rules (KLC) but I would guess it should be possible as 3rd party library?

That all depends on the level of author’s individuality involved, and this can lead to long and exhausing legal battle shall anyone want to hurt the project (think malicious scenario: an evil PCB software company buying copyright rights to original work and then suing the a$$ off KiCad just to shut the project down).

If you own copyright to your works depends on many aspects, most prominent the way it was created. If you redrawn existing designs (like overlay drawing), then it’s questinable.

Oh, how we love copyright and licensing problems.

I would believe that the symbols were made to be used and if there were no specific restrictions mentioned, it was self-evident that anyone could use them. Especially because back then they usually weren’t in computer files. Nobody would have thought they would need to be specifically licensed to be used in schematics. But it’s true this is only one interpretation and not 100.00% safe to assume. Still, I would say that the chance of running into problems for redistributing these as KiCad library files is near 0.0%. Probably including these in the official libraries will not happen but a 3rd party library is great. I don’t see any reason why this couldn’t be included in the official 3rd party PCM list. The list (which is the official PCM “repository”) itself can’t violate copyrights in any meaningful way, the worst which could theoretically happen is that the library should be taken off from the list.

In my opinion this is a good comparison, probably even legally. You haven’t copied the symbols exactly, only followed their outlines. It’s legally OK to do that for fonts.

On the other hand, because the magazine still exists, have you thought about asking them directly? One short “nice job” comment in a discussion doesn’t yet tell if anyone has actually thought about it deeply, especially someone who has something to do with the original designs or copyrights. But there might be someone who knows something.

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Fonts are a good example as even though the alphabet has limited options on style, the dimensions of a symbol cannot be just copied and just given a new name to dodge copyright. There have been a few legal cases.

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Hi @franzee, neither @davidsrsb nor I alleged anything. I approved of his comment to “check copyright”, assuming he meant “check for copyright”, after all, as others have commented: who wants to get caught up with that can of worms?

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Technically, the symbols (definitions, meta data) are derived (and adapted to look like old Elektuur symbols) from my Generic symbols that are converted from my SPICE symbols, which in turn are derived from the IECsymbols for LTspice, which were generated from SVG symbols (also in the public domain), mostly following international standards.

The symbols are designed using 0.18mm (7mil), 0.25mm (10mil), 0.35mm (14mil) and 0.5mm (20mil) strokes, which were the standard pen (diameter) sizes at the time. Since stencils were used, the bounding boxes of shapes were the defining factor (e.g. a circle would have an outside diameter of 2mm, and with a 0.25mm pen the inside diameter would be 1.50mm). This is different from international standards; they define the stroke center line, independent of any stroke width.

Most is geometrically constructed from the diode symbol, which is 4mm×4mm square (the original is slightly rectangular, I think) with a 4mm×1mm semiconductor region (and therefore the triangle is not equilateral with 60°), drawn with the 0.25mm pen, like the wires. The capacitor uses the same 4mm×1mm rectangle; the unfilled positive pole drawn with a 0.35mm pen and overdrawn with a 0.25mm pen to get sharper outside corners (again assuming using a standard stencil). Envelopes are 0.5mm, in the case of BJTs with 7mm outside diameter. Non-flow arrows are done with the 0.18mm pen to get a pointier tip.

Ideally, these geometrical constructions would be optically corrected (e.g. a filled triangle would be made slight smaller than an unfilled to appear the same size, or a circle would be made slightly larger like the overshoot of O in a font). The original symbols possibly were, to some extent.

These symbols were not scanned or copied but actually independently coded (for example, the rectangles used cannot be drawn with the KiCad 5 GUI) and are defined by strokes and not outlines (which is common now).

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The symbols can now be installed on KiCad 6 with Tools → Plugin and Content Manager
thanks to the PCM developers and maintainers.

To add the library after installing, use Preferences → Manage Symbol Libraries…
followed by Add empty row to table (the + icon) with the following Library Path:

${KICAD6_3RD_PARTY}/symbols/com_gitlab_franzee_kicad-addons_elektuur/Elektuur.kicad_sym

The libraries and demos are as well in the repository for local installation.

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