KiCad EDA Newb Needs Help Getting Started


#1

First off, thanks for the ad and please don’t beat me up for stupid questions. Creating schematics and PCBs using software is all new to this old guy. I have downloaded KiCAD 5.02 and have a couple of questions before I get started.

  1. There is a library included in this software and I have created my first “Project”. Do I have to do anything special to use this library or can I just go?
  2. Should I download other libraries and if so, where do I get them from?
  3. Can I download a library from Digikey and if so, do the components come with their numbering system?
  4. I want to create a very simple Power Distribution system that works on 12V. How would you bring 12V, 20A onto the board? I would like to keep this low profile.

I thank anyone in advance who takes the time to answer the newb questions. I know I will pay it back somewhere down the road.

Cheers!


#2

KiCad currently uses three (3) types of libraries. One for Symbols, one for Footprints, and one for 3D Shapes. At the moment, these are not consistent across the board.

If a Symbol can not be found to add to your project, that does not mean that there is not a library with that Symbol already downloaded. To add already downloaded Symbol libraries to your Project, open the “Preferences/Manage Symbol Libraries…” menu item.

Navigate to the path presented and add the new library to the existing Symbol library list.


#3

Thank you Sprig for your reply. Right now I am just dealing with the schematic so I guess Symbols is the only one I require at this point.
I have a library I downloaded in a .zip file from Digikey (where I will buy my parts from) and have it sitting in a file. When I try to download it into KiCAD, I click on the Symbol Library Editor, wait for it to populate and then go to Create a Library. I find digikey-kicad-library-master and then I am faced with three more files. Digikey-footprints-pretty, digikey-symbols and src. I assume that I want symbols so I open that and get individual component files which won’t load as a complete file or individual. What’s the trick?


#4

You don’t need to create a library (you do that when you want a brand new library which you will populate yourself) you need to import that library. To do that go to Preferences->Manage Symbol Libraries and append libraries to global table if you want that library to be accessible to all projects or projects specific table otherwise.


#5

@bwilliams60 That sorta looks like it might work…; but it wont.

You want to get to the menu that looks like this:

Add the path to your Digikey Libraries.


#6

Okay I went into this table and see where I was able to add two devices from the digikey library. Is there a way to add all of them at once or do I need to do them one at a time. I will be old and grey if the latter of the two is the answer. I would think there is a way to bring in the whole Digikey library and make it global???


#7

In that case you should stop what you’re doing and wait for 5.1 unless the normal Ctrl+click or Shift+click work in file browser dialogs of 5.0. At least in pre-5.1 I can select several files or folders just like in any other application.


#8

They even worked in version 4. So yes they work in version 5.0.


#9

If you look at my post above, I get to the New Library screen and you can see all the files. Ctrl-Click and Shift-Click have no effect unless I am doing something wrong.
EDIT: Never mind. I just got it. I went into BROWSE LIBRARIES and it pulled up the file automatically. Highlighted all the files and hit OPEN. There they are :slight_smile:

Next question: Now when I am in schematics, can I pull up a Digikey part number and if so, how do you do that?


#10

The “new library” tool is the wrong tool for adding existing libs.
@Spring already explained it above how this is done.

The browse button on the bottom of that dialog is what you need to press to add libraries. That will open a tool similar to a file browser where you then can use shift and crtl plus click to select multiple libs to add.


Remember that you will also need to add the footprint library to the footprint library table. This is done with the footprint library manager found in the preference menu of the footprint editor.

First make sure you extract the zip file to your disc!
Also these are directories not files. Got into the digikey-symbols directory and you will find the symbol library files (one .lib and .dcm file per library)
These are the files you need to add using the workflow explained above.

The footprint library is a bit different. In kicad footprint libs are directories (.pretty) with footprint files in them (.kicad_mod)
So you will only need to add one library to the footprint lib table.


#11

depends on how the symbols are created. The add symbol dialog has a search field. If the symbols are made correctly then the symbol should come up when you enter the order number. (Assuming it even exists)


#12

Okay I found it. So if I get this right, when I create a schematic, I am not necessarily creating a schematic tied to a vendor, I am just making a generic schematic, is that correct? If that is the case, when do you tie it to the vendor in terms of pitch, layout etc?


#13

You might really need to take a look at the FAQ Index Thread

particularly:

Maybe also


The symbols in the digikey lib are already connected to a footprint within their library. (so called fully specified symbols or sometimes also called atomic parts)
The same is true for many symbols in the kicad library.

You can of course still overwrite this connection later on. (useful as you for example might want to use the handsolder version of a part.)


#14

Thank you Rene. You have been very helpful. I am sure once I get going I will get the hang of it. I have always just made up a schematic, laid it on a board and etched it. I am not used to software and having someone else produce a board for me but excited to use the technology if everyone can stay patient with me :slight_smile:


#15

Okay I am started on schematic now. My problem was watching older KiCAD tutorial and trying to relate to 5.0. Still unsure about creating a symbol but cross that bridge when I come to it.
So I am basically building just a pass-thru power distribution board. It will just be a board with traces and male connectors around the perimeter to connect it to different devices such as power supply/fuse block/relay/module etc.
Can I draw my peripherals inside the brown borders of the schematic for now or do I need to draw them outside of the borders?


#16

Well you have a tutorial a few posts up :wink:


#17

I will have to go back and read it again. I got lost somewhere, not your fault. I am sure the article you wrote covers everything.
On the other note, what about the peripherals? Inside or out?


#18

What do you mean by “peripherals”?

The Eeschema border and Title Block is by default a very dark red.

Anything on the page, inside or outside of the border, will be considered part of the circuit. The border is just for visual reference when printing the schematic.

When laying out the PCB in PcbNew, everything on the schematic page, even if outside the border, will be seen as a part of the PCB design.


#19

Thank you. I will draw it and include the external components (peripherals) until I am done and then I will remove them for the final diagram. I refer to a relay as a peripheral device in this case as it is not included in the board I want to build, but rather will connect to it by means of a male/female connector.


#20

Can I send someone my beginner diagram just for a critique?