From Eagle 4.15 to KiCad 6.0.8 - newbie questions

Hi out there,

working since many years with EAGLE 4.15 now it gets time to change things over to a new PCB CAD. From several posts in several forums I got some rather distinct picture and the impression that the recent KiCAD 6.0.8 might be an option to try.

It seems that schematic entry, PCB layouting and the back-annotation between both seem to work quite fine - this is a rather important point since I need to ensure consistency of schematic and board. But in some forums dating back to 2018 or so I find some threads that claim on issues with this. I am not sure if this is all gone or if there are some remnants still occuring with recent versions. Here come my first questions to the users here:

  • Backannotation between schematic and layout is 100 % reliable?
  • Is it somewhat similar to EAGLE where I used to have both files open when working on the stuff?

One more point is the transfer of EAGLE files to KiCAD. I noticed several sources of information that tell that it is possible and how it is done … BUT:

  • My EAGLE files still are 4.15! Is there someone who can tell me how I can prepare them for a transfer from old binary format into the later .xml?
  • Are there any pitfalls or other needs that may cause some rework on the files converted to KiCAD?

Since some devices I am using are rather special I sometimes build a library for such goodies. It would be way more worse than just a pity to loose all this work.

  • Is there also a way to import an EAGLE library to KiCAD?
  • What are the pitfalls or shortcomes?
  • And, of course, is library definition with KiCAD intuitive? (This approach of having a centralized footprint definition to refer from device definitions I really like)

Please forgive me if I might ask this the 1000th time again but I really did not find more than just one thread even mentioning Eagle 4.15.

And: I understand that EAGLE and KiCAD are quite different tools for the same purpose. It is clear to me that EAGLE workflows might not work as I am used to. So if there are recent tutorials dedicated to KiCAD 6.0.x to aid my KiCAD start experience, I would be very glad to get some links to those.

Regards
H.A.R.R.Y.

In KiCad the schematic and the PCB are separated and the PCB must be updated explicitly from the schematic. In Eagle those two are inherently combined so that changing something in one changes the corresponding thing in the other immediately – or at least that’s how I have understood how Eagle works.

For KiCad “backannotation” means that net names and text fields of footprints, including the reference designators (i.e.annotation), can be changed in the PCB and then propagated back to the schematic.( For this to work the connection between the schematic and the PCB must already have been established by the normal shematic → PCB workflow.) This also must be done explicitly. Other things can’t be propagated from PCB to schematic.

This is a big difference between Eagle and KiCad, and I suggest you just try it yourself. Likewise, why don’t you just try importing an Eagle design to KiCad?

The official Getting Started tutorial found in the official kicad.org web site is up to date for v6.

You have to be aware that KiCad is “different” from Eagle. If you expect KiCad to work in the same way as Eagle, you set yourself up for some disappointment. Eagle automatically synchronizes between the Schematic and the PCB, while this is manual in KiCad. That is a change you have to get used to. Neither is better nor worse, it’s just “different”. I can’t compare them much because I never used eagle.

In KiCad, the schematic is the reference, but some changes made on the PCB can also be pushed back to the schematic.

For your old files, I think the usual recommendation is get some newer version of Eagle, to convert your files to a newer eagle version before you import into KiCad.

Eagle has used several file formats over the years. Per Wikipedia, Eagle 5.91.0 switched from a proprietary binary format to XML.

I don’t believe KiCad understands the pre-XML format Eagle files. To convert your Eagle 4.15 files to XML you’ll need to open them with a newer version of Eagle and re-save them. KiCad should be able to convert the resulting XML-format Eagle files to KiCad format.

Before starting such conversions, always remember: backups are your friend!

Hi H.A.R.R.Y,

In the past I used to work with Eagle 3.55, upgraded to version 4.01 and ended up to version 5.11
(bought them myself because I was using it professionally). I switched to kicad-4.0.7 afterwards and
upgraded gradually upto using kicad-5.99. I am very content using kicad especially the 3D presentation
which was not available in Eagle 5 in that time. I am very impressed what Kicad has to offer. There are
some small nagging things in version 5.99 though but which CAD package is / has / does not ?

BTW I am using Kicad both professionally and hobby wise as well : I had no complaint so far when it
comes to the generated gerbers and assembly. The assembly facility could assemble the boards and
electronic parts without any problems with the information generated by Kicad taking into account all
the rules that every board house has.
So all-in-one I can certainly recommend using Kicad. In my opinion using Eagle before and switching to
Kicad is not that steep as one would think.
And for the record : I am using Kicad (and Eagle as well natively although very occasionally) under GNU/Linux …

Back to your question of switching from Eagle to Kicad :
Unfortunately I was not able to convert my eagle files (both schematic and board files) into their Kicad
counter part files upto the latest git version so I had to leave that experiment and started from fresh.
Most of the symbols and footprints is something I am doing them myself anyways but I guess that you
should become familiar very quickly with that in Kicad.

BR,

Armand

P.s.
I am trying to figure out what merits kicad-6.99 has (yes the latest one but that will be in another topic).

@amtd

Hello and welcome.

Just to bring you up to date:
5.99 was an unstable development program which became 6.0.0 some 9 months ago.
Since then, minor changes and bug fixes have resulted in 6.0.8 being the current stable version of Kicad and 6.0.9 is due shortly, with yet more bug fixes.

6.99 is an unstable development program which will become 7.0.0 early in 2023.
Many new features that will be released in 7.0.0 can be found in this forum thread.

The X.99 series of programs are published so adventurous users who wish to donate time and effort to the development of Kicad can find and report bugs created by new features. Great care should be exercised if these programs are used for serious work as many major problems may occur if used.

Serious work should be limited to the stable versions (X.x.x) for satisfactory results.

Cheers,

2 Likes

Hi @jmk,

It seems that I am one of the “adventurous” … Is there a place / thread where I can vent my
findings of this 6.99 version in order not to pollute this thread (I already have some results
but would like to check and test them more thoroughly) ?

Thx in advance !

BR,

Armand

1 Like

Just open a new thread for that.

Hi All,

thanks for your answers and opinions.

Yes, I am aware that KiCD and EAGLE are quite different tools and I do not expect them working both the same. It is clear to me, that I have to learn using the new tool.

Thank you also for the hint that tutorials are up-to-date with 6.0.x revisions. I found some valuable information there. Especially the guides how to start are really giving me insight even without having the tool installed yet.

From these guides I get the idea, that it might be possible to have different PCBs done from one common schematic?
I am thinking of a through-hole variant and a SMD variant. Or some experiments dedicated to EMC if the need arises.

I think I will wait a few weeks for 6.0.9 to get released and then give KiCAD a try. Is there some planned date announced already?
(I understand planned as estimated, not promised, of course)

Regards H.A.R.R.Y.

KiCad V6.0.9 is expected “quite soon”, probably meaning “a few days”. And a few days after the new version is available, a message is posted on https://www.kicad.org/blog/. There is a delay because else people will start complaining that a version pronounced available may not be available on their system due to some syncing delays or whatever.

Having more then one PCB in a KiCad project has never been officially supported. I did some experiments a few years ago, and back then it seemed to work quite well, but there are no guarantees. So the best way to to it “officially” is to make a copy of your project, and then modify that copy.

Quite soon seems to be very soon. There is already a fedora package in copr for 6.0.9.
Haven’t checked other OS:es.

The Arch Linux build of 6.0.9 was published 29/10