Trying to create a PCB with holes

Okay. I’m doing this for my boyfriend. I have no idea how any of this works. I’ve tried to watch youtube videos, look through forums, and I’m still like ???.

Basically what he needs is: IMG_1910

“A PCB with a bunch of holes in it and then some of the holes are connected together by darker lines. That’s what I need, with the holes and the lines in the right places to fit my other parts.”

He just wants to solder stuff. He wants the holes and the right spacing with traces drawn between specific ones.

I watch pro wrestling. My mind isn’t made for this.

Have mercy and please walk me through this. Thank you.

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If you are truly interested, inquisitive, patient, and teachable this might be fun.

First, please verify that you (or your friend) wants to obtain a physical circuit board - constructed from epoxy resin and fiberglass, with some copper strategically placed on its surface, to create the physical foundation where an electronic circuit will be constructed. (Your phrase, ". . . some of the holes are connected together by darker lines . . . " makes me wonder if you want a physical circuit board, or just a graphical picture of a circuit board.)

Second, please have your friend create a profile on this Forum, and tell us his profile name. He realy should be an active part of this conversation.

Third, both you and your friend should tell us about yourself and your experiences making things. (Making things in general, not just electronic things.) Do this by clicking on the icon next to your ID, then select “Preferences” from the menu line, then click on “Profile”. Compose a paragraph or two under “About Me”.


Oh I’m interested. I got suckered into this, and now I plan to see it out to the death.

He wants physical ones, yes. He needs them for jobs he is doing, to… test things? I’m going to go with test things. I know he wants to like order them, so I’m assuming it’s creating what he wants visually and then porting that over to some company that can make them and ship them to him, if that is a thing. I think that’s a thing.

Friend wants me to do this, he is really busy, so I am taking on the task.

He has lots of experience making things, I have none. The most extreme thing I have ever made is a cheesecake. Not my avenue. He wanted to learn the software but he was also like ??? and just doesn’t have the time, so here I am.

It sounds like he just wants an adaptor (just 2 connectors and some wiring)

If this is the case.
The first program you open from kicads launcher is the schematic editor.

Once in there on the right hand side. Third button from the top is “add component”, you will want to add 2 “pin headers” of how many pins each side should have. You can use the search bar in that dialog to make it easier. E.g. a connector with 13 pins in a row would appear if you type 1x13 into the search.

This should give you the connectors. Next is drawing the connections between them. Your boyfreind will likely have to find out what pin connects to what other pin for this part.

You can draw those connections by using the green line button on the right toolbar. The lines can cross in this schematic.

With that part done. Along the top toolbar you will find a button called “annotate” open him and run it. This will name those 2 connectors so kicad knows which is which later on.

Next up is the netlist. Again there is a button along the top called “generate netlist” run him and it saves a file with all those connections.

Next is a button up the top called “cvpcb” here is where you assign the actual footprint / type of connector you will use on the pcb. In your case its just a pin header of x many pins.

And finally we are on to the pcb. Up the top of the schematic editor is a button to open “pcbnew”

With this opener. Up the top is a “netlist” button. Running him should drag in the 2 pin headers you selected and draw white lines showing how you wanted them to connect.

Use the “m” key while hovering over one to move it. And “r” to rotate it. Find out how they need to be spaced and move them accordingly.

Now is joining it all up. On the right hand toolbar is a squiggly green line button he draws the dark lines on the pcb. Run the easy ones first. You also have the other side of the pcb you can route on if things get harder. That the the and layers on the right hand side.

And if things get harder still. While drawing a trace you can press “v” to hop to the other layer.

Once you get this far chime back in and I can help you getting the board ordered.

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Thank you for helping, seriously. I have more insight now but this is still super confusing. I get accessing the symbols and things, I was able to do the annotate and the cvpcb thing, but trying to open the netlist thing in pcbnew, it says it doesn’t exist. I feel like I’m doing the connectors wrong? Like right now I’m just trying to make one that works, so the pins can connect anywhere, but can they actually? Do they need to follow a pattern?

Seriously appreciate your help. This is more progress than I have ever made.

Okay. IMG_1917

This is what he wants.

He is saying something about dimensions too and millimeters, but I assume I can cross that bridge later.

You didn’t say what KiCad version you are using.

I’m using the 5.0 version.

Okay, so I think I roughly made some sort of draft of what he wanted, and that’s fine. Now I am trying to open it up in the PCB thing, by reading my netlist, and it has a lot of errors. Progress from the last time where it didn’t even exist. How do I fix the errors? I get that they’re footprints, but… what.

Every symbol must be assigned to a footprint such that kicad knows how the part looks in real live.

You might want to take a look at these 3 faq articles:


Thank you. I will go through those and try and figure them out.

That’s very good progress.
Place the mouse over any part and press F, that opens Edit Footprint field, and [select] in that, opens the Library Browser.

Here you need to know connectors are in the Pin_Headers library, and a likely candidate for your J7 is selected.
You need to confirm what pin-pitch is needed, most common here would be 2.54mm
Other connectors would be names like …1x04_Pitch2.54mm

The unusual 3 pin L shaped footprint on the top left, you need to check if something more practical can be used - or was that a place-keeper for a power connector ?
The largest part also looks special, but there may be a library already - you need a full part name.


This has helped me so much, thank you! I’m not sure if I did it correctly, but they’re at least opening in the editor.

For pre v5 you have these two steps backwards. You need to assign the footprints before generating the netlist. Otherwise the footprints won’t be in the netlist.

For v5 you can completely skip the netlist step. Just use the “Update PCB from Schematic…” item in the Tools menu. Using the netlist does still work, but updating directly from the schematic saves a step.

(I wonder if the netlist button in the tool bar should be swapped with update from schematic for future versions to reflect the new preferred workflow.)

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This will become very important once you have your footprints into PCBNew. Because these footprints must line up with other objects, you must place them in the correct place. The traces (copper connection lines) can usually go where they fit best. (There are times when it is very important to either run traces in a specific place and way, or to avoid putting traces certain places. But I doubt your design needs to take these special considerations.)

I know when I’m running traces, I often think of it as a complicated connect-the-dots puzzle with very strict rules. It can be quite fun.

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