Bobz- To what extent did you try to study it beforehand versus just “diving in”???
Bob and jmk, thanks for your insightful reply.
I spent months reading about various EDA programs, their functions & costs, etc. Then I came upon KiCAD, downloaded and installed it, read through its Help for many hours while watching YouTube video tutorials and “diving in” doing a schematic. Unfortunately, at that time my expectations were skewed by my prior (mid-1980’s) way of deriving the necessary documentation and artwork for making 4 layer PCBs, and my more recent experience with working with a few CAD/CAM programs (SketchUp, AutoCAD 2011, CamBam) related to mechanical drawings for CNC work and the use of Gerber files used by the CNC controller software, exporting/importing DXF files.
All of the basic “drawing” functions in CAD/CAM programs were similar, not identical, but similar in functionality and purpose, but KiCAD was a different animal altogether but in ye ol’ DIY mindset. It did have had familiar concepts to me, like symbols, schematics and netlists that we had and used in the old days, albeit in a different context, in the process for deriving the PCB artwork cells.
The greatest hurdles for me with KiCAD, looking back, was understanding the importance and use of either pre-defined “library symbols” in schematics and their associated “library footprints” and/or one’s ability to create your own symbols and footprints . I had used CamBam for drawing complex schematics for years, but every drawing object was either a polyline, circle, oval or text, etc…
For me, a confirmed DIY’er in many ways, a blend of “study beforehand” together with “diving in” is a common method I use when approaching something new that I’m interested in and committed to learn.
jmk hit it smack-dab on point. “EDA is a brave new world” that is the result of some brilliant evolution of computer-based methods and processes for creating PCBs.
The YouTube KiCAD vids I initially watched (in my vague recollection from 4 years ago) didn’t answer important issues that newbies to EDA or ECAD needed to know and comprehend. They seemed to be for those already acquainted to some degree w/KiCAD. And, I must admit that after this initial “taste” for what tutorial vids were out there, I didn’t spend much more time seeking out other YouTube postings.
For the record, I’m only blaming myself for my misunderstandings and false expectations with how to use KiCAD. No doubt, it is probably already written in KiCAD Help files but were I to be an entry level KiCAD’er again, here is what would have helped the most in “getting started”.
ECAD (KiCAD that uses EDA standards and practices) is a process where Schematics are drawn by placing predefined electronic component symbols on a schematic drawing and connecting them with polylines to other component symbols such as power, ground, input and output sources. This includes the ability for one to create their own custom component symbols and footprints and place them in their own custom libraries for each.
A schematic component symbol is a predefined “shape” with numbered, lettered, or named contact leads and includes many defined properties, one of which is a link to the component symbol to it’s predefined footprint “mounting pads” on a PCB as is necessary for the actual placement and soldering of the component on a PCB.
Having well defined, updated and accurate component symbol and footprint libraries is like having a cold beer on a hot summer’s day.
For an old-timer, getting familiar with the horde of today’s surface mount versions of common components like resistors, capacitors, diodes, ICs is a dedicated task in and of itself.
P.S. There is much, much more to EDA/ECAD.