KiCAD version to start with: 5.1.5 or 5.99 or?

I do a PCBs in small bursts and am about to start a batch now. These PCBs are usually two layers, sometimes four layers. They are smaller than 100mm x 100mm. I tend to use 0402 components and keep component pitch >= 0.5mm. I think I’ll have a few 0.5mm QFNs, a 0.8mm BGA, too. The board will have slots so that I can glue/solder perpendicular boards.

The past boards have been done with Protel 99 SE. I could continue to use it because I have a library and know how to use it but I think it is worth moving to something else because I want to open source the designs.

I intend to start the design today / tomorrow. Should I start with version 5.1.5 or 5.99?

I did evaluate KiCAD 5.1.5 and went through a few of Rene’s tutorials and a Sparkfun tutorial. I think it works quite well. I did find the PCB routing a little awkward compared to Protel 99 SE, though.


I’d say go for the “Pre-5.1.6” (i.e. 5.1 - testing available here if you’re on Win:

KiCad is a great base for Open source projects, but it’s mature enough for serious stuff, too. I’d say Protel99SE is not suitable for today development - many issues like OS compatibility etc.
It’s been over 20 years, the world keep advancing :wink:
Every sophisticated tool like CAD system will feel awkward initially - it’s the matter of getting used to new workflow. But there are many great features available in KiCad like interactive router - check them out, and you will not want get back to 1999 anymore :slight_smile:

I haven’t seen a good tutorial for interactive routing, with all modifier key combinations etc. Maybe you just don’t yet know how to use it effectively - although I admit if often find it frustrating. It’s getting better and under development, though.

5.1.5 (very soon 5.1.6) is the way to go, 5.99 is the unstable development version which has new (great and immature) features and may cause big problems for beginners.

I was using Protel 3 (program from 1997 year) and 2 years ago I decided to slowly move to KiCad.
The only reason - in Protel 3 I had no routing which automatically push other tracks.
What is lacking for me in KiCad:

  • the rounded tracks - rather not important,
  • the lack of clearance specifying from-to - you can’t define the isolated part of schematic to have small clearance between its tracks and big to rest of circuit.

You certainly should start from pre 5.1.6 version. I was using 5.1.5, but because of some bugs I recently moved to pre 5.1.6 where this bugs are fixed.

it looks that 5.1.6 is expected to be released in about one month. So if you can wait - wait, if not get the pre 5.1.6.

The more users we get on pre-5.1.6 the better the real 5.1.6 will be! :slight_smile:

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There is a plugin for 5.1.x that does track rounding

I decided (at least now) to not learn how to use plugins.
Looking (only) at the pictures at link you provided I suppose it is different round then I need :slight_smile:
I used round tracks to make antenna laying on round ferrite plate - to have as big antenna area as possible on this ferrite.
In KiCad it probably can be done as footprint with custom pads - I also not learn how to do it now.
Recently I have used round tracks making the winding for E core (at separate small PCB). All this is so simple that I prefer to went back to Protel for a while then searching the solution in KiCad. Specially that KiCad Push & Shove routing (the main reason for me to use KiCad) is not used in such cases - the track of the same net won’t be pushed :slight_smile:

Inductors should be done as footprints. For inspiration look at

It looks also as being not useful for me:

  1. RFID antenna in theory should be as symmetrical as possible to limit common mode currents emited.
    I made it at one layer with E field shield at second layer. To have it as symmetrical as possible from connector I draw symmetry to both sides and at the opposite point to connector I cross wires (small track at second layer and then went next half turn inside those first and so on. Even I use circular tracks it looks this tool is not for it.
  2. My winding for E core has strait tracks between core legs and round out of them - it also looks this tool is not for it.

I have not a lot PCBs with round tracks - it is why I have mentioned round tracks but with comment - rather not important.

I think the problem with defining isolation is much more important. Galvanic isolation is I think used in many products.

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