Suggested FreeCAD environment for StepUP


#1

This question is mainly targetted towards @maui, but I’m sure others have their own take so please also answer.

Setting up FreeCAD for the novice is quite daunting. There are so many workbenches and macros (hereafter collectively referred to as plugins) available it is difficult to know which ones fit the task of using StepUP best (and also which ones are legacy that have been replaced with more modern plugins). So, if you would, please let us all know which plugins do you use in your typical workflow with StepUP, and what you use those plugins for in your workflow.

Thanx. Also, please mention which version of FreeCAD you currently use; stable 0.17 or development 0.18.


#2

Depends on what you want do to.

If you want to align step models you get from some external provider to a footprint then you only need stepup.

If you want to design your own 3d models then i would guess you will need the part design and part workbench. (maybe also the drafting workbench as it comes with an array feature)

For checking footprints against the datasheet i use the drawing dimensions workbench but you could also use the techdraw or manipulation workbench for the same task.

For creating footprints using stepup you will need the part design workbench (or more precisely you need the sketcher workbench which is kind of part of the part design workbench.)

If you want to use our scripts you also need the cadquery workbench.

Most of these are already part of a standard installation.


#3

I’ll take a crack at this. I’m going to assume two things:

  1. You are creating the Footprints in Kicad
  2. You are not creating part CAD models from scratch, but rather finding them online somewhere

99% of the parts I make using StepUP are covered by this. In fact, it has been a long time since I have had to create a 3D part model for a footprint. Generally, there is a model out there for the part.

With this in mind, here are my steps:

  1. Open Kicad and create (or copy and tweak from another Lib) the footprint for the new part. You should now have a .kicad_mod file somewhere
  2. Open Freecad (0.17 or 0.18)

EDIT:-----------------
3) In Freecad, File->Open and select kicad-StepUp-tools.FCMacro in @maui’s StepUP package
4) Hit the green ‘Play’ Button in the Menu Bar to execute the Macro. The StepUP tool panel should open
EDIT:------------------> Install the workbench as @Rene_Poschl suggests!

  1. Hit the white IC button labeled “import kicad footprint”
  2. Hit the Yellow Cylinder “import Step Model” button and select your 3D CAD model
  3. Use the StepUP Tool Bar to move, rotate and align the model to the footprint (make sure you have the model highlighted in green in the Freecad Combo View under Models)
  4. Hit the gray IC button “export to Kicad” to export the aligned STEP and WRL to the model directory

That sounds like a lot of steps to be verbose, it’s not really that bad. Condensed flow looks like:

  1. Create a Footprint in Kicad
  2. Open the StepUP Workbench in FreeCAD
  3. Import the Footprint & Model
  4. Align Model to Footprint
  5. Export Models… Done

#4

This is the old way of doing things. If you install the kicad stepup workbench (using the addon manager found under tools) you should see stepup in the drop down menu in the middle (and under view->workbench)
As long as you are in the workbench you will have a toolbar with all the tools. (After starting one of the tools you will get your familiar sidebar again.)


#5

Thanks all for this topic!
I’m on little web access ATM, I will write some tips later.
:slight_smile:
Maurice


#6

Apparently, I have been too busy with other things to keep up with @maui’s great work. Here you go in Freecad 0.18:

Under Tools:
58%20PM

Select kicadStepUpMod, Then Install:
20%20PM

StepUP is now in the Workbench list:

Import, Align and Export;


#7

Hi @SembazuruCDE
here some tips I collected during my FreeCAD approach:

  1. stay on FreeCAD stable release (FC-0.17-13528 as now)
  2. install StepUp through the Menu-Tools-Addons option (‘kicadStepUpMod’ in the list); spend some time reading the kicadStepUp-cheat-sheet and some doc
  3. configure the ‘ksu-config.ini’ file to point to your 3D models folder (I would suggest to configure 3D folder in a different folder from the kicad default)
  4. install Manipulator workbench through FC Addons (‘Manipulator’ in the list); this is useful to align and move assemblies and STEP models; some tips here
  5. install Defeaturing workbench (‘Defeaturing’ in the list); this is useful to repair or simplify some vendor STEP models; some tips here
  6. all the other useful workbenches are already deployed with FC (mainly I use Part WB, Part Design WB, the Sketcher WB and Image WB for Image Scaling)

That should be enough for a full FreeCAD and KiCAD full collaboration :slight_smile:
Including features:

  • load kicad board and parts in FreeCAD and export it to STEP (or IGES) for a full ECAD MCAD collaboration
  • load kicad_mod footprint in FreeCAD to easy and precisely align the mechanical model to kicad footprint
  • convert the STEP 3D model of parts, board, enclosure to VRML with Materials properties for the best use in kicad
  • check interference and collisions for enclosure and footprint design
  • design a new pcb Edge with FreeCAD Sketcher and PUSH it to an existing kicad_pcb Board
  • PULL a pcb Edge from a kicad_pcb Board, edit it in FC Sketcher and PUSH it back to kicad
  • design a new footprint in FreeCAD to get the power of Sketch in footprints
  • generate Blender compatible VRML files

#8

Ok, now we get to the crux of why I started this thread… (Evil chuckle) :wink:

Do you think you could include something like the numbered list between 4 and 5 of the kicadStepUp-cheat-sheet near the instructions for installing FreeCAD? Or, maybe just incorporated into the Tips (#5) section. I know the first page is really crowded, but maybe the first page should be extended to two pages. As it is, the typography on the first page is very crowded making it easier to skim over it rather than actually reading it.


#9

for the Braves here is a preview of the next StepUp WB cheat-sheet
kicadStepUp-cheat-sheet.pdf


#10

I see using 0.18 mentioned above. This is a rolling nightly and sometimes breaks badly. For casual users the most recent 0.17 is safer