se1pcb3- Simple Exercise: Test, fix design (PCBnew)

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Yes, this page is "dated"… the illustrations were done with a version of KiCad that is no longer (12/19) current. But the essence now is as it was then. Yes, some of KiCad's rough edges have been smoothed. New tools are available. But in 12/19, I loaded KiCad 5-1-5 onto a previously KiCad-less Windows 10 machine, and went through the "Start Here"/ "Simple Introductory Exercise" tutorial, and it was still pretty much on target.

Now that you have put down all necessary tracks, click the "Perform Design Rules Check". The button is on the toolbar at the top of the screen. It used to look like…

By version 4-0-4, the button to start the design rules check looked like…

… which is the same icon as eeSchema used to launch a different tool: The electrical rules check. But the two tools have similar purposes.

When you've clicked the button, you should get…

Click "Start DRC", and give it a moment to do it's thing. The messages pane will keep you appraised of progress.

Pray for no messages in the "Error messages" pane at the bottom… but don't rejoice too soon if the process has finished, and no error messages are showing. Be sure that you check both the "Problems/markers" tab and the "Unconnected" tab.

You probably will have errors… the first time. Fine. Try to figure them out, fix the problems, and click "Start DRC" again. (You didn't need to close the DRC window while you worked on the problems, did you?)

So! Tracks Drawn! Under 4-0-4, with "fancy" terminal strip device for connecting the power…

A Frill….

You really should draw a line around what you've done, to show where the edge of the board will be. Click on the "Add graphic line or polygon" button on the toolbar on the right hand edge of the working area. (If, in a moment you get a "Not authorized… " message, just click OK.)

Right-click on an unused bit of the working area. In the pop-up menu, click on "Select Working Area", and from the (long) list, select "PCB_Edges".

You could do the following in a different order, but for the sake of argument….

(After you've done that, if you have reason to return to laying down tracks, click the correct toolbar button, and then use right-click, "Select Working Layer", and re-select "Back", which is what you were using before.)

Print it!

You can generate Gerber files with KiCad, which you upload to a PCB making service. And then they send you back, snailmail or courier, the finished PCB. I've explained how to get that done in a separate page.

Gerbers were the "old" standard form for files describing PCBs.

As KiCad becomes more widely used, more and more firms have done the work at their end which allows them to do your board for you simply from the .kicad_pcb file.

I used to make my boards "by hand".

These days I tend to let OSHPark do it for me. I just send them, over the web, the .kicad_pcb file, answer a few simple questions, like "how many copies do you want?" and not long after I have a beautifully made board.

To do them by hand, I needed to print the design we just created. Easy enough….

From the menu: "File | Print"

What the settings do…

The following was done while the program was set to work in inches. (You can flip back and forthe between the two whenever you like… but if you MOVE something when, say, in mm, it will snap to the mm grid. This can be a pain, if most of your moving and initial placement of things, is done with the program in inches mode.) If you are working in mm, the pen size will be shown in mm, but that's the only difference there would be to the following.)

Make the following settings, for your first experiment. You can "play with" the various settings from there. (I'd start with changing which layers are selected. (By the way… the program will do what you say. But if, during the design phase, you accidentally put, say, the version ID in the F.Cu layer instead of in the F.SilkS (which would be "normal"), you can't blame KiCad if the output isn't what you expected!)

Layers: Determines what appears in the hardcopy…
F.Cu/B.Cu: The COPPER layers, FRONT and BACK. (You want both)
Tech Layers: B.SilkS, F.SilkS, and PCB_Edges… only.
Scale: Accurate 1:1
Adjusts: 1.00
Options: Print frame ref, if you like,
Tick "mirror" if you want the hardcopy to be what the back looks like.
Pads Drill Opt: Small or real
Page Print.. don't miss this one!
Set to "Single page"

And don't miss the "Preview" button. Faster way to see how things will turn out, and saves ink and paper while you tweak the settings!

That should do it!

Don't be dismayed by the rather crude "pcb", with large pads, wide spacings, etc, which results. This was just an introductory exercise. Those things can certainly be tightened up… KiCad is, after all, a PCB design tool!

A word of warning: If you subsequently re-print something, many of your choices will have been remembered. However, the "Page Print" choice seems always to revert to "1 page per layer"… a pity, as I always want the alternative!

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