I’ve been using KiCad for about 2 years. BUT… you could say more of a hack. My original purpose was to make schematics of the projects that I have made. This seemed to work fine. I would like to start over and learn how to more properly use KiCad. I’d like to be able to make custom libraries of parts that are obsolete. Seems that my old parts were not made properly and would not update with newer versions of KiCad. Most of my projects are of vintage computers and controllers. And then eventually work up to making a PCB. All of my past projects use wire wrap. So… I’m looking for some suggestions on how to proceed and relearn how, Thanks Mike
The forum FAQ might be a good start: FAQ Index Thread
Specifically this part of it: Tutorial: How to make a footprint (From scratch)?
Thanks. I still have version 4.xomething and probably should update to 5.xsomething. I downloaded the setting started manual and see that there are a few y-tube that I could watch. I really want to be able to make a schematic that will move forward with new updates and possibly have a chance of making a PCB. Thanks Again Mike
It is a good idea to upgrade from 4.x to 5.x. I’d like to give you a warning about upgrading that might save you some headaches. There were some upgrades to the formatting of the provided libraries. If you would read this FAQ, you should be able to navigate the upgrade process:
Thanks for the advice on updating. I think I will hold off for a while on that. I have 4.0.6 KiCad. I started to re read the getting started document and now I remember why I didn’t go with it. It doesn’t seem to match my version. There are icon mentioned that do not exist, some I have found in the menu’s. Then sfor some reason I am having trouble making and activating libraries. I seem to be struggling some, but will continue on. This program is very powerful. I have seen what some friends of mine have done and that alone should allow me to do the same. I’ll ask more pointed questions when I come across them. Thanks, Mike
Here is an example. I’m in Eeschema with a project open. Getting Started page 13 point #19 Says we are going to add a component from a library that isn’t configured. Choose Preferences then Manage Symbol Libraries. There is no menu item “Manage Symbol Libraries” under Preferences or any other menu. Mike
Have you simply followed the link from KiCad web page? If yes, you have been reading a document which is for later version. You can try this, it corresponds better with 4.0.6:
My document has a July 18, 2018 date on the second page. Thanks I’ll try your link. Mike
But there is in the latest version on the download page (v5.0.1). I’ve heard about some parts of the documentation that isn’t up to date, but I don’t think there are that many places anymore. I, personally, haven’t validated this.
It will be easier to get help here if you get stuck if you upgrade to 5.0.1, as many of the more active people here are on at least the latest version. (Some of us are playing with the nightlies, helping to find issues and highlight bugs to squash before the 5.1, release coming soon.)
I will update after I run through the present version. I have made many schematics of my vintage computer boards, or I should say hacked them. I want to try and learn the proper way. All my boards are wire wrapped so I never needed more than a schematic. As long as the schematic was wired correctly, it didn’t matter whether or not the rest was OK. Now I am considering making a PCB, so I want to go slow. Someone advised me that updating will effect my lib’s. Since I’m not that sure about them I want to experiment a little first. 5.0 can wait a few days first.
Having the correct Starting document made it a little easier. Still my old mind took a little time to get wrapped around some of the words. I’m up to the creating the NetLIst file. Maybe tomorrow I’ll continue Thanks Mike
I have read Eeschema and PcbNew current pdfs, but not siiting at computer to check everything. I think there are many places not up to date.
Four months ago, Mike, I was in the same boat. Luckily I found a youtube video by BuildElectronicCircuits that shows the step-by-step directions needed to create a schematic, assign footprints to packages, build the netlist for the circuit, and then lay out traces on copper clad board.
The URL for the video is listed at
The through-hole circuit is about as simple as you can get–an LED, a resistor, and a battery.
I first created this demo. in kicad 4.0.7.
Then later I upgraded to kicad 5.0.0 and then to 5.0.1. The thread I mentioned is my question about finding existing packages. Several package names changed from 4.0 to 5.0. They became longer and more descriptive of the actual geometry.
The main thing, however–the work flow between 4.0 and 5.0 changed only minimally.
Rene_Poschl and Sprig guided me out of the woods and onto the sunlit meadow of success.
So you might want to give it a whirl too. The circuit should turn out the same regardless of what OS you are using.
I later made a prototype of that PCB.
Thanks Russ, I’ll take a look. Right now I’m thinking how best to arrange my folders. Currently I have all my projects on NAS and the KiCaD program on my C:. I think this is OK, but what should I do with the libraries that I have made? Should they stay with each project or should they stay with the KiCad libraries. Seems to me that they should be in one place. Then is there any other organizational things that would make using this easier? Thanks Mike
Well… ran into some more problems. When making the NetList I could not find the Discret:R1 foot print, so I just picked one that looked OK. Saved that.Next was the BOM. I could not find the plug in bom2csv.xsl on my computer, so I copied the one from Github. After setting the plugin I press generate and this is the result
xsltproc -o “Z:/KiCAD/tutorial1/tutorial1” “F:/Program Files/KiCad/share/kicad/scripting/plugins/bom2csv.xsl” “Z:/KiCAD/tutorial1/tutorial1.xml”
Geeezzzz… this time when I run PCBnew I don’t get the same errors as the first time. Must have done something wrong, never mind. Mike
“Discret” library here is some historical baggage, it doesn’t exist anymore, not even in 4.0. It will be replaced with Resistor_THT:R_Axial_DIN0207_L6.3mm_D2.5mm_P2.54mm_Vertical in future version of the Getting Started Guide.
OK, thought maybe something like that. I got through the board design and saved it. No Errors. But, when looking at the board in 3D viewer, I do not see the traces. Did I do something wrong? Mike
Apparently I didn’t make a mistake. The traces are almost the same color as the top of the board, which makes it difficult to see them, but they are there. Mike
Well… I think I have the routine down. I’m sure that I do not remember all of it, but at least I’ve gone through it. Next I’m going to look at some ytubes. Then maybe tomorrow update to version 5.x and do the starting started again with that version. I do have one question. If I have a pre determined size of PCB that I will be using, can I start with that and then fill it. Or should I say how is that done? Thanks Mike