How to place pads in Pcbnew for offboard wiring?

I’m slowly getting my noobie head around Kicad, and I must say I am enjoying the experience, and starting to feel comfortable working around the libraries & things. Thanks to the developers! :slight_smile:

As I arrange my layout in Pcbnew, I have kind of hit an obstacle with managing pads for offboard wiring (to, for example, pots & switches & LED indicators etc). Also, pads for signal input & output. (I should mention I am doing guitar effect pedals).

On the schematic I use a simple input & output jack symbol - but what footprint do I associate with this? A simple pad? Same goes with the pad for 9V power input - on the schematic I just use a global label with “+9V”
written there - but you can’t assign footprints to labels…? Same goes for an LED, which I only want one leg to be soldered to the PCB (the other leg attaches to a switch) - how do I do this? Also with grounds - I can apply the ground label/symbol wherever I need it in Eeschema, but in Pcbnew how do I add ground pads?

Sorry for the beginners query here - but how do I resolve this? If I simply add an unassociated pad to the PCB layout, I find I cannot connect a trace to it because it clashes with design rules or something?

I hope I am making sense here?

I have to say though that apart from a few snags overall Kicad has really been a nice journey. I’ve only ever dabbled in Diptrace before, and I prefer Kicad, I actually find it more intuitive. I’m very glad I made the plunge.

If you have components that are all or partly off board, but still want them on the schematic, I would add connector symbols (CONN_01x…) in parallel. Then assign pin header footprint to the connector, but not the component e.g


This is what the Wire_Pads footprint library is for

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Even better!

This question was recently discussed in the thread “Adding wire-pad to existing layout in Pcbnew”.

(I’m not surprised you couldn’t find that thread with “Search”.)


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Thanks for replies. I think using a combo of wire pads & connectors may resolve this for me, I’ll play around & see.

I know in Diptrace you can just throw a pad anywhere you like & route from it? I was having problems doing this in Pcbnew because the design rules were forbidding it? Anyway I’ll have a closer look at it. Thanks again.

PCBnew does not talk back to EEschema and add pads/etc. to your schematic to make them automatically part of the netlist. And as the netlist is being used in PCBnew to check for layout errors (DRC) you need to start in EEschema with such additions.

In addition to what @Joan_Sparky already said you can add pads to the pcb directly. But you need to edit the pad properties and connect it to the correct net.
More info here:

In other words. It really depends on the usecase. If you wants his offboard wiriring stuff documented you need to add it in the schematic.
If you don’t care about the documentation and thinks it looks nicer if this connectors are not in the schematic you can add this connector pads in pcb_new.

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Thanks people, I appreciate the support for noobs here :slight_smile:

Back to the homework…