SamacSys - the way Kicad library management is supposed to be

I ran across this tool a couple of days ago looking for some footprint information for an obscure RF component. They claimed that they had a symbol, footprint and a 3D model for it, the downside was, that I had to register and install a KiCad plugin. In and of itself that is not such a big deal but I’m somewhat weary running *.exe files on my machine from not trusted sources. In the end the need overweighted the caution and I gave it a try. I wasn’t sorry I did. I was surprised at how many components were in the database and how easy the install process became. I know there were several threads already about this tool, but they seemed to address an earlier version that was still going through a growing pains. I just wanted to share my impressions from the several days experience of using it. I will try to summarize it in a PRO/CON format:

CON: Places all symbols/footprints/3D in a single library/footprint/3d model folder. This was messing with my uptight, feng shui engineering mind, where everything has to have its own label and sitting in its designated spot.
PRO: Places all symbols/footprints/3D in a single library/footprint/3d model folder. If you really think about the price you pay for your feng shui uptight engineering mind you might start to wonder is you are willing to keep paying the price for this handicap of yours (like I did). The time it takes to maintain separate folders (times 3 for footprints and models) is just daunting and the only reason for it is to satisfy your own OCD. On the flip side though, the benefits of using a tool like that are pretty obvious: you install all three instances (symbol, footprint and 3d model) with a single click. I’m a big fan of Digikey but their system for library management doesn’t hold a candle to this approach (that’s not to mention that footprint generation for KiCad is deeply flawed - placing graphic lines on copper layers is just one instance). KiCad native library is pretty much useless to me. To search through all the libraries you have to first enable them and if you enable all of them, that really slows down the process. To add insult to injury, you have to manually copy all associated files to your own libraries because libraries keep changing from one install to another wreaking havoc in your older designs.

CON: Most of the entries for the part numbers, pricing etc. comes from Mouser, which I’m not a big fan of. You can always add your own fields with info for other distributors, but having those extra fields hang there can make more work for you during BOM generation. The best solution here would be selecting in setting which distributors your prefer and only that information would be generated.

PRO: big library and ability to request or “build” your own part. Like I mentioned before I was surprised to see the most obscure parts present in their library for which neither Digikey nor other engines had any models. Worth mentioning here that I was not able to use the “build” functionality for the parts I couldn’t find already present in the library. Every time it would direct me to the request a free part build service which might take up to 48 hours. If you have a big design and you know ahead of time what parts you are going to be using you can place all the symbols on the schematic first and then “order” the ones you are missing meanwhile working on the rest of the schematics. I would guess those parts are going to be far and few between if this tool gains wider acceptance. It hasn’t been around for that long (at least I don’t think it has) and its library is already really impressive.

CON: not all pins are properly defined in symbols. Some of them come up as passive by default. And all the pins are arranged sequentially. Not a show stopper for me personally, but still. There needs to be an option for functional pin placement.

CON: have to start manually KiCad plugin manually. I mean, if you don’t mind keeping it open, it stays there available at moments notice. But still, it is another separate app running. Comes down again to that feng shui thing. It would be nice if it was an actual plugin that would start without any user inputs.

It seems like more CONs than PROs, but for me personally one big PRO that outweighs all other issues is saving time on library management. I’m sure people here can add to the list in both categories.

Hmm I love samacsys but I never knew the plugin existed as it seems to be Windows only… I just copy the files to my library directories.

Right now I use


But as you say it’s a pain dealing with 3 directories, especially when I want to reuse parts in a new design. Been thinking about rolling my own scripts/database to make that easier.

Really looking forward to schlib getting ditched for 1 files per symbol, but I think my ideal organization would be 1 directory per part with symbol, footprint and step files.

That’s the nice part about the plugin. All you do is click download zip file and the plugin does all the work for you. You immediately have access to the new symbol, which is linked to the correct footprint, which is linked to the correct 3d model.

You don’t need the plugin. If you go to the parent site and have an account you can download parts for kicad (if they exist)

Technically you don’t need the site either. You can just make your own parts. :slight_smile: You are missing the point

I’m not missing the point as I use their service alot and considering mouser have teamed up with them it is really handy.

However, as a Linux user their application does not run. Also their schematic symbols are rubbish (like connectors with ports set as input ). Every single one of their symbols have had problems and are a million miles away from the KLC.

Their footprints however, very handy, shame they fill in tonnes of pointless data cluttering up the assy layer

The thing about symbols is that it is impossible to please everybody. One person wants pins ordered sequentially, the other - functionally, somebody likes additional information displayed, somebody doesn’t. I would agree that having all pins come up by default as passive is not that great, but it is easy to change, besides, it never hurts to verify pin designation and numbering for a new symbol regardless of where you got it from. If I compare it with KLC though, In the time it takes to find required library in Kicad, enable it, import a symbol from it, disable it again, then still make sure that the symbol is exactly the way I want it - I can rename pins for 10 symbols.

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