Hold on to your glasses (if you've got any!) - this is going to be a long one...
Purduecer wrote:Importing images for use as silkscreen comes to mind. Additionally, certain 3rd-party Eagle features such as Eagle3D and EagleUp come to mind.
You can in fact import images for use in KiCAD using the 'Bitmap2Component' tool. This will let you create all sorts of things, including logos in silkscreen. The tool is not limited to only .BMP files however, as the name suggests.Edit: Another similar tool: http://www.jave.de/docs/kicad/image2module.html
He's also got a panelization tool: http://www.jave.de/kicad/pcbmultiplyer_1.2.zip
KiCAD already has 3D-rendering built in, while not photo-realistic it is very useful. With accurate 3D models, it could also perform a similar function as EagleUp
Purduecer wrote:I can't speak a great deal for KiCAD, having never used it, but I am very happy with Eagle from personal experience. My understanding is KiCAD is really quite a far cry from what most people would consider "user friendly". Additionally, Eagle has what is seen by this commenter as considerably broader community support, in the form of available tutorials, active users, support forums and channels, and parts libraries.
This part is entirely up to opinion but I do not find KiCAD to be 'user unfriendly' - I think I would describe it more as basic but powerful. Not everything can be done automatically, but almost anything can
be done, in one way or another.
KiCAD does in fact come with a pretty good user manual in PDF. Video tutorials (in english) might be scarce but if you've taken the time to 'RTFM', you shouldn't actually need any. I certainly didn't.
jersagfast wrote:Just my 2 cents here, and I know I'm kind of going against the grain here, but it seems like a LOT of companies have Eagle libraries vs anything else. This is really useful if you are ordering parts to go on the boards you are designing. If you google it, there is a script out there somewhere (sorry, link was dead, and I didn't search much) to convert Eagle libraries to KiCAD, but like I mentioned, I can't find it. Just my 2 cents.. :)
I think KiCAD's libraries are a bit misunderstood. Anyone comparing them directly to Eagle's will laugh and how small they seem, but what must be understood first is that they work in a different way.EDIT: Want to quickly make an IC symbol? You can use this tool here: http://kicad.rohrbacher.net/quicklib.php
Converted Eagle libraries (if you want them) here: http://library.oshec.org/
More very nice KiCAD libraries: http://www.reniemarquet.cjb.net/bibliotecas_en.html
Instead of changing the entire component if you wish to change the footprint, KiCAD has a separation between schematic symbol and footprint.
For example, all resistor symbols in a schematic are in general, the same. This might seem counter-intuituve when you have an 0603 SMD resistor and a 5 watt wirewound resistor on the same board, but it works because after creating your netlist, you then choose which footprint you want for which resistor. If you want it to be 0603, you choose that. If you want something else, you choose it.
I believe this actually simplifies the component selection since the only part you need to worry about is the footprint. When designing your schematic, you don't need to trawl through excessively long libraries trying to find a specific resistor with a specific lead spacing and specific pad size.
(In fact, I recall watching a video once where someone used Eagle, and he basically said: "Don't waste your time trying to find the component you need, just make your own" :P)Edit: Speaking of such, someone else said it very well:
When you design PCB's YOU decide what to use. YOU have to ensure that the
footprint you use matches the physical switch.
This means that YOU have to get the spec of the device you intend to use,
and look at the physical layout and so on. If you can find a module that
matches, then feel smug :-) If not start drawing.
Seriously, as you design more and more boards, you will find that you
build up a personal library of parts and footprints that you know work
with a particular component type.
For things like switches it only takes a few mins to draw them up anyway
so you might as well do that.
The 3D files are another matter, personally I don't usually bother with
- 'Andy Eskelson' (http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.comp.cad.ki ... h=20110201)
Making\using new components is easy too. If a footprint already exists of the type you require, you use it for all your components using that package. Since all SOIC-16 footprints are the same, you need not recreate this every time you make a new component that uses this layout.
Another good feature I find is that you can edit pads etc 'on-the-fly'.
For example, you may have a design with all of your ceramic capacitors have 5mm lead spacing except for 3 that have 3mm spacing. What to do?
My approach in a case such as that would be to set all my ceramics to the standard 5mm capacitor footprint. Then, once I'm in the PCB editor, take the 3 footprints of the smaller capacitors and just move their pads so they are only 3mm apart. Of course, if you had 100 of each size this would be unviable, but then you can just create a new 3mm footprint first, and apply it to all 100 capacitors of that size. (assuming that such a 3mm footprint didn't already exist)
(Yes, that did sort of repeat what I said in my first post!)
Purduecer wrote:Regarding the board limit, Eagle (freeware) does certainly have this, but what will you be designing? If the answer is Arduino shields and what almost every other project in the "DIY hobbyist" electronic community creates, the board size limit on Eagle won't affect you. If you're doing incredibly advanced FPGA designs or laying out ATX motherboards, then yes, you will need larger board limits, but in the grand scheme of things, that's also probably one of the least of your problems ;-)
Cadsoft's Website states:
- The useable board area is limited to 100 x 80 mm (4 x 3.2 inches).
- Only two signal layers can be used (Top and Bottom).
- The schematic editor can only create one sheet.
- If you earn (or save) money by using the Freeware version of EAGLE Light, you have to register it.
- You can register your program copy for US$ 49
While a lot of people may have no problem with the size limit, I find only 100x80mm to be quite restrictive, considering I have made multiple boards in KiCAD that exceed that size and expect to create a good deal more!
Also in comparison:
KiCAD supports up to 16 Copper layers, which may be quite useful as most PCB services targed to hobbyists and home users manufacture 2 and 4 layer boards.
The schematic editor can create more than one sheet.
And finally, KiCAD does not charge you for anything, no matter what you design with it or what you do with the designs afterwards. :)