KiCad StepUp WB: few enhancements

Hi,
I’ve added some new features:

  1. support for compressed ‘.stpZ’ & ‘.wrz’ file formats (FC >= 0.18);
    the ‘.stpz’ compressed file format can be now used as library format (alongside to ‘.stp’,’.step’ file format) to convert a kicad_pcb board to a mechanical model; this is allowing a much lower disk space usage because all your 3D mechanical models can be stored in compressed format;
  2. Push & Pull of drawings layers, along side to the Edge.Cut layer, allowing a better ECAD/MCAD collaboration through FC Sketcher;
  3. Push & Pull of 3D model placements, without reloading all the STEP models data, allowing a faster sync between the pcb and the mechanical model;
  4. Hiding the main StepUp dialog unless recalled by importing a footprint or manually activated.

Just update the StepUp WB through the FC Addons manager to achieve these latest features.

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Amazing!
Could it be possible to let “import file” import the board directly in the project? Currently it does the same as “open file”.

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This is by design… when you import the drawings to a sketch, you will get a bare sketch, without any constrains… so if you want to merge or exchange the new sketch with the old, you can decide in which way to act. If you just want to substitute the old with the new loaded, it is just a copy & paste from the new doc to the previous one… In case of the Edge.Cuts, the placement will just be aligned to the old, simply substituting the old Sketch with the new one, inside the right ‘Part’ container.

  1. Push&Pull Edge.Cuts & Drawings layers dialogs:

push%26pull-drawing-layers

  1. Push&Pull 3d model placement commands:

Push%26Pull-3d-model-placements

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A post was merged into an existing topic: KiCad will support compressed step and vrml models in the future

7 posts were split to a new topic: KiCad will support compressed step and vrml models in the future

Both ‘.stpz’ (step compressed) and ‘.wrz’ (vrml compressed) formats can now be exported & imported using FreeCAD >=0.18 and StepUp.
Vrml compressed would be useful only when wrz support will be implemented in kicad (v6 cycle);
STEP compressed instead can be already used because StepUp will build the board assembling using the stpz counterpart of the wrl model, allowing a smaller library set.

Here the StepUp preferences dialog:

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I’ve added a checkbox to ‘replace PCB in the current FC document’
replace-pcb

Still the suggested procedure is to design the pcb edge inside FC and just push any modification from FreeCAD to KiCAD.

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Wow! Outstanding work, it is exactly what I needed. Thank you very much!!!

Yes, indeed the procedure you suggest is absolutely the only sane way to make any but the simplest pcb edges for KiCAD (I mostly use KiCad StepUp WB for this exact purpose). The only reasons I need this enhancement are:

  • To see the newly generated PCB inside of FreeCAD, while keeping all my constraints in the actual project file in which I’m drawing the PCB edge (the .FCStd file). Otherwise, any time I have to change something in the edge, I have to redefine all or some of the constraints and dimensions before making any changes.

  • When adding or changing a footprint for mechanical purposes (usually a M3 or M2 screw hole), this option also allows me to see the actual hole in FreeCAD to make necessary alignments and re-adjust the PCB edge if needed.

This all because usually my workflow is:

  1. Rough alignment of electronic components to minimize vias and improve electrical performance (KiCAD)
  2. Placeholder PCB edge; out of pure ritual, as I believe it is needed in some version of the stepUp WB (KiCAD)
  3. First proper edge draw (FreeCAD)
  4. Case sourcing (AFK)
  5. Mounting holes/elements placement (KiCAD)
  6. Final PCB edge draw, alignment and fit test (FreeCAD)

So, if I could define and/or draw the mounting “components” or footprints in FreeCAD, and be able to update the 3d model, all without loosing the geometrical and dimensional constraints of the PCB sketch, I’d heavily reduce the need for KiCAD after already doing what is good for (the electronic components and tracks).

Again, thank you very much for all your work!

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@the-mush
I’m using a similar way to build complex PCBs with heavy mechanical constrains.
Nice to see you are using StepUp with its features at top :smiley:

Hi @the-mush
please note that the ‘replace PCB in the current FC document’ option is replacing both PCB and Sketch, using the ones loaded from kicad_pcb new file.
If you want to update only the PCB but keeping the Sketch with all the constrains, ATM you need to load the Edge.Cuts sketch in a new FC document and manually delete PCB in your designing doc and replace it with the new loaded PCB.
I’m working on adding an option to replace PCB but keep Sketch…
this will take some time because it needs some tweaks on the functions used to create the pcb from kicad file.
Keep in touch!
Maurice

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Oh, ok! Now that you mention it, I’ve noticed that I was loosing the dimensional constraints :sweat_smile:

I have mail notifications enabled on this thread, so in theory it should notify me on any messages! Please let me know if I can help with testing or anything else! In any case, the last improvement already shaves a lot of time from the workflow :+1::+1:

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@maui: Since StepUp is undergoing very rapid development, has anything from past procedures changed? For example, I remember taking the 3D model of, say, a connector in FreeCAD, projecting it, and using that projection to come up with a footprint, which I then exported to KiCAD. Has that changed?

Thank you for your great work!

@cflin I have just added/improved few features following FreeCAD improvements and users suggestions.
Old procedure for footprints and 3D models are still available and unchanged.

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@the-mush The improvement was just easier than I thought using a small tweak…
Now the Sketch/PCB import dialog has 3 options to tailor the behavior choice.
Please update the StepUp WB and test it :smiley:

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Oh snap! I’m AFK AF… will report on you as soon as I get home tomorrow! Seems promising :crossed_fingers:

So sorry for the delay. This third option seems to work fantastically! Really nice to be able to see the updated PCB without hassle. Thanks yet again!

There is only one small detail I’ve noticed. I accidentally dragged the PCB 3D shape from “Board_Geoms” into “Step_Models” and pulled the 3D shape from kicad. It imported without problems or warnings, but the 3D shape didn’t get the [0,0] coordinate offset. Simply deleting it and putting the old shape in its place fixes the problem, but wanted to let you know.

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6 posts were split to a new topic: Creating nice renders with kicad-stepup as the go between

a small update… it is now possible, among the previous options, to push FillZones and KeepoutZones from an arbitrary FC sketch to a KiCAD pcbnew board.

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