Printing large boards to scale on multiple pages


#1

Is it possible to print out my entire board to scale over multiple pages? My board layout is 500mm long and I need to print it out on standard A4 printer paper. Obviously this won’t fit but I can’t seem to make KiCad split it into 2 pages that I can stitch together. It seems to be unable to print more than one page at all, as far as I can tell.


#2

I believe you are correct - KiCAD’s “Print” feature can not extend an output across multiple pages.

I would try using the “Plot” feature to convert the board image to a *.PDF file. Then I could use the “Poster” and/or “Scale” features in Adobe Reader’s “Print” dialog to split the image across multiple pages.

Dale


#3

As Dale noted, plot to PDF, then use Matthias Wandel’s great software, Bigprint to print it out big and scaled.

// Per.


#4

Came across this thread when trying to do the same as OP. Since then I have discovered a couple of helpful tips. These apply on Windows, but mostly apply also on other platforms I suspect.

First, I don’t favor using Bigprint for this, since it starts from a screencap. So that’s rather low quality, assuming you have less than a 4K monitor.

And dchisholm’s suggestion to output to PDF is a fine start, but using the Plot function results in one PDF per layer, which likely is not what you want. Furthermore, though Adobe Reader/Acrobat’s print function’s Poster function does indeed split the large page across multiple small pages, it tends to do so in a way the wastes a lot of paper and manual page-gluing – PCBs that could fit on two 8.5x11 pages, Adobe wants to print on 4.

So some tips:

If you want the 1:1 printout to verify size and component location against other physical artifacts like actual components, or a case etc, then you’ll want Kicad to print multiple layers on a single printout. Use the Print function, not the Plot function, for that. (With option “Single Page”)

Still within Kicad’s Print dialog you’ll need to choose a paper size large enough to encompass the actual drawing. Hopefully you previously chose a drawing page size appropriately.

Note that the Print dialog > Page Options dialog offers page sizes based on the last printer that printed, and there’s no way to chose a new printer without actually printing, it seems. But you can go to the Print > Print dialog, select a printer (in this case Adobe PDF, assuming you have that driver installed), and then use the Preferences button to select paper size. You just can’t preview it the first time around, but that’s not a big loss if you’re printing to PDF.

Anyhow, now using the Print button should get you a PDF of a single large page snugly containing the PCB drawing. You can load this into Acrobat or Reader. In Adobe’s Print function there’s a Poster function that will print this one large page on several smaller printer pages. That’s good, but… usually Reader/Acrobat maps the drawing to an excessive-seeming number of printer pages.

The problem is that Reader/Acrobat maps the entire area of the source page, including border whitespace, onto the printer pages (which can’t print to the edges) – and also prints a little overlap. So if Kicad outputs an 11x17 PDF page, Reader/Acrobat will not fit that onto two 11 x 8.5 pages, and instead uses 4.

Superficially, the trick here is to provide Reader/Acrobat with a large page that is somewhat smaller than a nice number of printer pages, so that it will fit. But that is not easy, because the page sizes offered in Kicad’s print function (ultimately by Adobe PDF driver) are all standard paper sizes, which tend to be exact multiples of each other.

To get around THAT problem, the quickest solution I’ve found is to take the one-large-page PDF output from Kicad, and crop it so it’s moderately smaller. THEN Reader/Acrobat can fit it onto a sensible number of printer pages.

Acrobat has a built-in crop function (in the Tools)… so that’s a convenient step just before printing. Reader does not have that tool (at least not my old version), so that’s not an option. I don’t know if there are other free PDF tools that can crop.

And obviously, if this crop strategy appeals, you need to anticipate that earlier in PCBNew, when selecting the drawing size.

Armed with those tips, printing a large PCB at 1:1 scale to an office printer is pretty tractable.