Introduction: KiCAD Basic Tools


KiCad is an open-source software tool for the creation of electronic schematic diagrams and PCB artwork.[1]

KiCad includes a set of main software tools [1]:

  • KiCad: The project manager
  • Eeschema: Schematic editor and component editor
  • Pcbnew : Circuit board layout editor and footprint editor (PCB layout program). It also has a 3D view.
  • Gerbview : the Gerber viewer
  • Bitmap2component : A tool to convert images to footprints for PCB artwork.

Step 1: Eeschema Basic Tools

Eeschema is a schematic capture software distributed as a part of KiCad.[2]

Eeschema is an integrated application where all functions of drawing, control, layout, library management and access to the PCB design software are carried out within Eeschema itself.[2]

Step 2: Upper Toolbar Tools

Some of Upper Toolbar Tools:[2]

Save Tool: Save complete schematic project.

print schematic Tool: Open print dialog.

Find symbols and text: Show the dialog to search symbols and texts in the schematic.

Find and replace text: Show the dialog to search and replace texts in the schematic.

Redraw schematic view: Refresh screen.

zoom to fit : zoom to fit schematic page.

Navigate schematic hierarchy: View and navigate the hierarchy tree.

Leave Sheet: Leave the current sheet and go up in the hierarchy.

Create, delete and edit symbols: Call the symbol library editor to view and modify libraries and symbols.

Perform electrical rules check: Electrical Rules Checker (ERC), automatically validate electrical connections.

Run Pcbnew to layout printed circuit board: Call Pcbnew to perform a PCB layout.

Generate bill of materials: Generate the Bill of Materials (BOM).

Generate netlist: Export a netlist (Pcbnew, SPICE and other formats).

Assign PCB footprints to schematic symbols: Call CvPcb to assign footprints to symbols.

Back-import: Back-import footprint assignment (selected using CvPcb or Pcbnew) into the "footprint" fields.

Step 3: Right Toolbar Tools

Some of Right Toolbar Tools:[2]

Highlight net: Highlight a net by marking its wires and net labels with a different color. If KiCad runs in project mode then copper corresponding to the selected net will be highlighted in Pcbnew as well.

place symbol: Display the symbol selector dialog to select a new symbol to be placed.

place power port: Display the power symbol selector dialog to select a power symbol to be placed.

place wire: Draw a wire.

place bus: Draw a bus.

place wire to bus: Draw wire-to-bus entry points. These elements are only graphical and do not create a connection, thus they should not be used to connect wires together.

place bus to bus: Draw bus-to-bus entry points.

place junction: Place a junction. This connects two crossing wires or a wire and a pin, when it can be ambiguous (i.e. if a wire end or a pin is not directly connected to another wire end).

Step 4: Left Toolbar Tools

Left Toolbar Tools:[2]

Hide grid: Toggle grid visibility.

set unit to inch: Switch units to inches.

set unit to mm: Switch units to millimeters.

change cursor shape: Choose the cursor shape (full screen/small).

show hidden pins: Toggle visibility of "invisible" pins.

Draw wires and buses in any direction: Toggle free angle/90 degrees wires and buses placement.

Thanks for reading.

Step 5: References