Is KiCAD the right tool for laying out OTS components?

So I’d like to create schematics for electrical equipment we have, but with poor documentation. So in a cabinet I’d have a mains power line, a couple power supplies to provide DC voltages, some National Instruments DAQs and cable connectors going to sensors and I want to create a schematic so we can figure out what’s connected to what without tracing wires for half an hour. I’m not sure KiCAD is the right tool, most of the tutorials are about PCB design and that’s not really what I need, but I’d like something more detailed than an office suite schematic used for a flow chart. I’d like to be able to label wire leads and cable pin outs.

What would be the right tool for this job, and if KiCAD is a good choice are there some tutorials that would point me in the right direction to create what I need? Some of our test equipment can be quite complicated with motors, sensors, safety checks and actuators etc.

Thanks for your help.


No, KiCAD is NOT a good tool for what you describe. I know there are tools specifically for that purpose, but I have never used any of them and I can’t even name one at the moment. Be patient, and I’ll bet somebody comes along to point you in a better direction within an hour or two.


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You can try Qelectrotech.


+1, I had forgotten that one and the project is still alive

Thank you, I’ll check this project out.


Nice recommendation, I was looking for some free software to do exactly the same as @kirby.wan (cabine, button, light tower, generic blocks to NI DAQs…).

I do not see much difference between a schematic for making a PCB and a schematic of such electrical diagrams.

Custom schematic symbols are also easily drawn in KiCad and I would probably prefer to design the schematic symbols and draw the thing in KiCad, as that would probably be simpler for me compared to learning some new program.

Well the OP didn’t specified free or open source, so here a couple of links for completeness: the electrical schematics software $$$

as @paulvdh said, you could achieve the same effect with KiCAD but you’ll need a library of ISO (IEC) symbols for electrical components.

There is some nuances, e.g. power relays/contactors may have “infinity” auxiliary NC/NO switches added and those are numbered in sequence.
Numbering this manually is just a cumbersome.

After watching a few videos I am thinking it might be a good tool As Paulvdh and der.ule said, if there were a library of the standard symbols I could just use the schematics part and I think that would get me where I’m going.

So…Is there a library of standard symbols? I’m also struggling with the fact that I ‘kind of’ know what I think it should look like, but I don’t know any of the standards, so I’ll probably use the close but wrong symbol. I’m okay with that, this is mostly for internal use so only a few people will look at it and I’m okay with good enough.

Thanks for everyone’s input.


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