PCB design from DXF


I have a DXF file (it is a sketch from Fusion 360) and I want to use it as a template for a PCB. By template I mean being able to create hole/vias on the vertexes of my DXF and trace tracks on the edges.

Could anyone help me to do that ?


In Pcbnew

File | Import | Import Graphics …

Import as dxf should help.

It doesn’t. Or I didn’t understand in which graphic layer. Because when I imported it, I couldn’t place vias on the vertexes of my design or place tracks on the edges

Why don’t you tell then to which layer you imported and what actually happens when you try to place items?

EDIT: quite often a screenshot or even a screencast helps.

I first imported a DXF file as Edge.Cuts and was able to put all the vias (setting the user origin to the center of each circle on my skecth and then moving the vias to the user origin). Then I imported another DXF file as F.Paste (red lines) but I can’t join them to my vias with tracks

Unable to join would be because they don’t belong to the same net. In fact if you started out without a schematic there would not be a netlist at all unless you write one by hand and load into the PCB.

I didn’t do any schematic in KiCad. I did it on another software but my circuit is just connection between vias

As long as all elements, tracks, vias, pads are on then they should be connectible.

An E command on any element brings up its properties.

If the nets are different then Pcbnew, based on avtice DRC rules won’t allow connections between different nets.

Some of the layers in KiCad are for general use, while other layers have very specific meanings.

The “F”, and “B” prefixes are for Front and Back of the PCB. while “Paste” is a solder paste layer, which is used for creating solder paste stencils. Tracks can only be drawn on copper layers, for a 2 layer board these are F.Cu and B.Cu.

Did you also do the layout in that other program, or did you draw those spirals in a CAD program? “Gerbview” is a gerber viewer in KiCad, and it can recover parts of PCB layouts from gerber files and export them to a KiCad PCB file.

But I can’t import DXF on F.Cu or B.Cu, can I ?

I drew my PCB in Fusion 360 and then exported the sketches as DXF

Graphics import seems to be disabled for copper layers, which I find quite annoying. At the moment copying of blocks of data between Copper and non-copper layers is alsodifficult or impossible. Things like these are also a moving target and have changed between KiCad V5.0.2 and V5.1.

I’m almost certain this will work:
1). Generate gerber files from your current BCB in Pcbnew.
2). Open the Gerbers in Gerbview, and export them to Pcbnew again.
3). Continue in Pcbnew with the newly created PCB.

Gerbview is a pretty dumb program, and it does not know which layer is which. It does not make any distinction between a Silksceen or a Copper layer.
When you back-export from Gerbview, you have an option for each gerber file to which KiCad layer you want to export.

Working with graphics is … a bit limited in KiCad, and clearly not polished.
For example, with .svg graphics you have other options than with .dxf graphics.

Another option is to edit a KiCad PCB in a text editor. It’s all readable text and the format is not so difficult and the file formats are also documented on the KiCad site (One of the many advantages of Open Source programs).

Yet another option may be to use FreeCAD in combination with StepUP, but I would not recommend this for beginners, because of the learning curve.

Edit: Addition.
When you are drawing tracks in KiCad, the “Interactive Router” is quite agressive in pushing tracks aside to make room for a new track. In your case I assume you want to preserve the spirals. To prevent the “Interactive Router” from changing existing tracks you can change it’s settings from “Shove” to “Walkaround”.
You can find this setting in:

Pcbnew / Route / Interactive Router Settings …


I did as you said… and it seems to have worked ! Here is a screenshot :

Is that a good looking PCB ? (That’s my first PCB design so I don’t really know)

1 Like

Congratulations with your first PCB in KiCad.

It looks very weird to me though.
There are no components on the board (resistors, capacitors, IC’s, transistors, etc) and therefore it seems to do “nothing”. I can only guess what the intention of this pcb is. Is it decorative, or does it have some purpose?

With the 3D viewer you can get a better Idea how the board would look like if it is being manufactured. Press [Alt + 3] to in Pcbnew to see it in the 3D viewer.

Your first PCB in KiCad looks nice, keep up)

Thank you !

It is not totally finished. I will had vias in certain places to connect certain top tracks with certain bottom tracks. This is just a passive PCB to do specific connections (for the rotors of an Enigma machine)

Is there any way to check connection between two points ?

In Pcbnew you can use shortcut keys “u” or “i” to highlight tracks.
There is also a “highlight net” on the right of the screen.

Maybe it’s time to spend some reading on the Pcbnew manual, (Press F1 in Pcbnew), or “Help” from the menu. :slight_smile:

Not what i guessed at first but damn it makes sense now.

(With the first pictures i suspected some strange antenna design or something like that.)

Like most kicad tools the highlight net tool relies on an existing schematic. (or more precisely a netlist. Can also be generated by hand or with tools like wirelt) So you might be a bit out of luck here. (Assuming i understood this thread correctly and you do not have a schematic.)

Good thing I checked my connections ! One of my tracks weren’t connected to the vias properly

Last question, how can I connect the tracks on the bottom layer with the ones on the top layer at an intersection ?

Micro vias might do, though that depends on a manufacturers capabilities.