create counter

Making KiCad do what YOU want!

As you explore this site, remember that on many systems, clicking with your mouse's wheel will open a link in a new tab or page. And you may want to change a setting in your browser, to make it jump directly to any newly opened tab. (Both work in Firefox, on Windows, at least!)

Chapter One: A simple exercise to introduce working with KiCad:

LED, switch, battery. And "Naming of Parts"… Takes you from knowing nothing to having a basic foundation in the core skills, concepts, vocabulary. It really will repay you your time if you read this one first, so we share a common vocabulary for other parts of this "How To" site.

Chapter Two: Making your own. How to…

Make your own footprints or modules and your own components. Yes…. you really do need those skills. It isn't too hard… once you have things properly set up. And the tutorial tells you how to get there.

Draft version: Multi-gate devices/ power ports/ etc.

This tutorial, a: isn't finished, and b: addresses more advanced topics. Be sure you're happy with the "getting started" stuff. This tutorial takes a look at how a 7400 (quad NAND) gate would be incorporated into a KiCad project. It also talks about "invisible pins" (often used for power and ground connections) and "power ports" work. (You'll want them, if only for the "Ground" rail on your schematic.)

For the moment, that is much of what I have for you on this site at this time, apart from the "KiCad encyclopedia" (and "skills" pages, indexed separately, below.) It took about three days to write the first draft of the "simple exercise", a further two days to "polish" that, not counting the time spent gaining the KiCad skills in the first place… KiCad is an excellent CAD tool, but don't expect to be able to fly a jet fighter on the basis of a five minute briefing.

There's a less well organized body of knowledge at….

(There is some "setting up" information there, which isn't here.)

High on the "to do" list is to write a tutorial on the KiCad Project Design Cycle.

Why I like KiCad…

Free and multi-platform. Open source.

The KiCad tools give you lots of tools for rigorous testing that the PCB design and the schematic exactly correspond.

Good community support… and not new, not a passing fad.

An interesting comparative review for KiCad and Eagle is available at "BigMessOWires" (Great site name, don't you think?!)

My "Encycolpedia of Kicad"

In the course of doing these tutorials, I have become aware of certain terms which are key to your happy use of KiCad. In particular, watch out for the careful… and restricted… use of "component". I have created the following pages which are just quick definitions of things, clarifying… I hope… how the terms are used in KiCad. There is a comprehensive list of those "definition" pages, and here are links to some key terms…

*Component... How that term is used in KiCad
*Footprints (or "modules")
*Libraries (two sorts… .mod and .lib files)

KiCad's Buttons

(This section is a Work In Progress. I intend that the section will become mostly links to pages about buttons, rather than mostly just section headings!)

Brief notes on selected buttons…

Buttons present in both eeSchema and PCBnew

*Pointer Button

Notes on Skills

There is the "encyclopedia", above, for brief definitions of terms. The following are more extended pages, telling you things about basic skills KiCad designers develop.

*Block operations (Used in most modules)
*Dragging and moving devices (Used in most modules)
*File management (Where to put stuff. General issues)
*File management (Where to put stuff, .lib and .mod files)

What else is planned for

Further essays on the details of schematic and PCB creation.

What you won't find here, for a while… but KiCad can do…

  • Creating Gerber Files
  • Creating 3D visualizations of what the PCB, with components, will look like, for example, for which I thank GeekWhiteNorth

Other resources

KiCad will create a PCB design for you. You can print it out, as ink on paper. Here's a guide I did for hobbyists who want to turn that into copper on fiberglass, without the equipment and expense of doing it photographically. Works fine for small boards. There are also notes there on paying someone else to make your basic board for you from the Gerber files KiCad can create.

Notes on adding libraries, including links to free Arduino components and footprints.

There are many, many links to various KiCad related things at's page

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License