Just Kudos to KiCad!

Coming from Eagle, I just wanted to say how much I like being able to move a symbol and have its pin connections break apart.

That makes it super simple to do things like changing your mind on the connector orientation, but keeping the relative positions of the signals on the connector the same. Several times I’ve just moved the connector to break its connections to net labels, mirrored around the Y axis (sometimes I rotated it), then move it back so it picks up the connections again. Nice!

Sure you run a risk of disconnecting nets you didn’t intend,but that’s what ERC is for.

Similarly, I really like that the footprint editor doesn’t prevent you from having two pads with the same number. It’s really frustrating in Eagle when you have to change pin/pad numbers. Eagle won’t let you change a pin number to one that already exists, So, I end up either having to delete them all and start over, or rename them all to some bogus name that won’t conflict with the names I’ll assign. It’s much nicer to allow the conflicts to occur–by the time all are renamed, there is no longer a conflict.

I don’t have much time on KiCad yet, and many years experience on Eagle. But, so far, I have to say I like KiCad’s implementations better in most all cases.
I do miss not being able to rotate symbols and footprings while moving with a single right right mouse button click. It has become “muscle memory”. I know I can get the menu with the right mouse click, but it really slows down placement when you are “in the groove”.

I also get a bit frustrated by Kicad’s method of dis-disambiguate on symbol or footprint selection. Maybe I just haven’t figured out where I should click on the symbol and the menu that asks which I want doesn’t always pop-up. More of an issue in pcbNew–it keeps thinking I selected a pad instead of the footprint (which I never do–it should always be the footprint, IMHO).

On Eagle, you just keep clicking until the selection you want highlights. You don’t move the mouse, just keep clicking.

Both minor things, and annoy me, mostly because it’s become so automatic in Eagle.



If you use KiCad more, you will start working more and more with the hotkeys / shortcuts.

Just try:

  1. Hover over a symbol (Eeschema) or footprint (Pcbnew).
  2. Press “m” for Move. This attaches your object to the cursor.
  3. Press “r” for Rotate, or X, or Y to mirror in those axes.
  4. In Pcbnew “f” for Flip to the other side of the PCB.
  5. Move Mouse, and when happy, press [LMB].

A list of these shortcut keys is in: “KiCad / Preferences / Preferences / Hotkeys”. and there is also a cheatsheet in SVG format that can be printed as a reference until you remember them. KiCad gives your other hand something useful to do :slight_smile:


Yes, for me the shortcuts are must. I’m pretty much used them by now. Not a big deal, it was really the only thing that slowed me down initially.

Any tip where I should click on a footprint to increase the probability of not getting a “clarify selection” popup? Or why sometimes, I can’t get the “clarify selection” popup?

In Eagle, where you click on an object defines a reference point for a move by coordinates. Also, the cursor doesn’t move when you start dragging–if you click on a pad, the cursor stays on the pad.

So, that’s why I’m in the habit of not clicking near the center of a component. I click where I want the origin reference point for the move to be.

I’ve been concentrating on clicking in the center of objects and that’s helping a lot. But, I still don’t think selecting a pad instead of the footprint should be a secondary choice. You ALWAYS want the footprint, not the pad when placing them. Yeah, sometimes you might want to click on the pad.

Clicking directly on a feature of the footprint is what you want to do. I personally click either onto the outline on the fab or courtyard layer. Also i set silk to invisible while working on the layout as it is only distracting. Additionally, i disable the visibility of the value field via the items tab.

The high contrast mode (shortcut h or left toolbar) is also quite helpful as well as the outline modes for traces, zones and pads (left toolbar)

Oh and the KiCad default colour scheme is shitty. You might want to take a look at https://github.com/pointhi/kicad-color-schemes (i planned to add a duplication of the eagle default scheme but did not yet find the time to do it.)

Yep, every program (above certain complexity) has it’s peculiaritys and weird behavior. Some of it starts annoying you, and others you get used to, and don’t even notice anymore after some time.

Some time ago, on an empty afternoon I decided to an experiment in KiCad. The goal was to approach KiCad as a “drawing program” instead of a PCB design program, and make as much as possible use of copy and paste to multiply features.

It was a fun experiment and also worked quite well. It’s on:

As you use KiCAD you will soon find another use of the multiple pads with the same number useful for connectors and similar components. Say you have a shielded connector that has 4 solder points for the connector shield. In KiCAD you can have all 4 shield pads sharing the same name so you only need one pin on the schematic. This makes it easy to make the same net connection to all 4 footprint pads (circuit ground, earth shield, HV anti-touch, etc…). Similar technique for shielding cans that go around sub circuits.

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I’m usually annoyed by accidentally hitting N (for decreasing grid-size) when I mean to press M.
Did anyone else find the same? - and is it easy to re-map the grid-shortcut (to e.g. G and shift-G or something, for Grid)

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Well… I feel your pain:

then another bug report:

it is supposed to be addressed by the devs somewhat, but working with KiCad for years now I still do not feel in full control when trying to select footprints in PCBNew.
When for example I want to exchange footprints positions (eg. place R1 where R2 was, and R2 where R1 was), if I stack these one above the other it’s very complicated to be able to select proper one. But normally in busy areas (footprints with tracks underneath them) it is cumbersome to select what I really need.
Fix is targeted for 5.1.6, but in my Pre-5.1.6 it still does not work properly.

There might be a better option than moving footprints to achieve this. I would change the refdes between the footprints and run update pcb from schematic with “by reference”.

A true exchange position tool might however make for a good feature request. If you are motivated then check if such a request already exists and if not make one. I think inkscape has something like that implemented so it could be used as a guide for GUI design.

Your refdef change might be an option if we have identical parts to exchange. However in case of different parts (like e.g. 0603R and 0603C) that use the same physical footprint but different 3d model, things get more complicated.

A dedicated tool IMO could be too complex solution for such a simple and rare operation.
What would be rather easy and helpful, would be an option to copy/paste full X/Y coordinates. Now I can copy either X or Y, but if module coordinates would be additinonally displayed and edited as a pair (X.xxxxx, Y.yyyyy) - should by easy to implement (just GUI thing) and might be useful on some occassions.

Provided that there are only two items to swap, I’m not sure if it requires a new feature per se. I would like to see the scripting possibilities enhanced so that a script could be triggered with a hotkey. There’s already a wish for that. Then writing a script would be very simple and using it would be very simple, too. It doesn’t need a GUI.

On the other hand, because it’s so simple, it wouldn’t hurt to make it built-in, even if with no hotkey assigned by default.

In the pre-5.1.6 this is still broken. You shouldn’t be requested to do tricks to select an object.
Clicking anywhere within footprint’s area should give you the chance to select the footprint.
In case there’s more than just a single object, say: track, other footprint on another layer - display the “disambugation” list.
It is rather annoying to have to “fight” with the tool. Sometimes I must try a dozen of times to select my footprint…

When you have a selection problem (I think such actions are not so often) try to switch for a moment to Legacy toolset. Not sure how now but in some previous version it helped me in selecting what I wonted and opened the right edit dialog box.

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Thanks for the hint. I will try it before biting the nails :wink:
However I would prefer to 1) verify if it is really an issue with current KiCad, and 2) make sure the Developers are aware of it and are able to reproduce the issue for fixing.

UPDATE To clarify: Latest Pre-5.1.6 fixes the issue.

Right now I’m stuck on getting the selection I need.

It’s a mounting hole with PTH on F.Cu and an overlaid SMD pad on the bottom layer.

I have three instances of the hole placed on the pcb. On 3 out of 4 holes, I can select the pad and assign it to the net of the gnd zone it’s on.

But, on one of the holes I can’t seem to select the pad. Just the footprint.

I’ve tried turning on/off various layers, but I’m never presented with an option to choose the pad–the footprint always gets selected.

I was able to select the pad using the Legacy toolset and assign it to the gnd net. Thanks for the tip!

I’m using 5.1.5-3 (release build). Sounds like I should move to Pre-5.1.6 for the next pcb I do.

I would modify the pad in the footprint with the footprint editor or create a new footprint.
Modifying the pad in the layout is fine but error prone, for example when the layout is updated from the schematic.

The only modification of the pad was defining a net for it. That only makes sense on a per instance basis (in the layout).

Is it even possible to assign a net to a pad in the footpring editor?

No. …