I've been a KiCad user for several months now on a couple of home projects. What impresses me most about the whole KiCad tool flow is its ease of use and the short learning curve. The GUIs are simple, unbloated and quite intuitive. After two weeks of evenings, I had taken a four layer PCB design from a pub napkin to Gerber files. The package installed easily on a windows PC and has been totally stable. As a hardware designer since the middle 80's, I have used many CAD packages along the way and I would not hesitate to place KiCAD on the same shelf as any of the best packages that I have used. Obviously, KiCAD is a much more simplistic tool. It does not have the multiple layers of various functionalities or the suite of post processing tools - all costing thousands of dollars each year to maintain in service contracts. The bottom line is that I was able to produce a very good quality, 10 square inch, 4 layer, 200 component design in a very short time. KiCAD speaks volumes to the open source movement that such a high quality product can be written, maintained and evolve under a community effort and freely distributed. Well done!
I have experienced footprint problems before and they are a royal pain to clean up. Especially after we shipped several hundred units (military market where a hundred units is a lot). Getting management to approve a clean layout took a long time and at least one wrong turn.
I am not to the point where I completely trust any of KiCad footprint modules, so I check each one that I plan on using. I usually compare them to manufacturer recommended footprints, but not all of those agree on the same pad dimensions for the same land pattern.
@MKolb: Thank you very much for this resource!! I've given a quick look to some of the libraries in Kicadlib and these seem quite complete.
Now, I just wonder if there is some way of applying Quality Assurance techniques to free/open component libraries -- a little error on schematic/footprint could potentially lead to PCB respin and a lot of money losses.
Javier Serrano from CERN has just told me that Dick Hollenbeck --KiCad main developer-- is giving the final touches to a Github plug-in for KiCad.
This will allow a KiCad user to enter a line in his component library table with a github URL, and automatically all KiCad symbols and footprints in any directory of that Github repository will be available for use.
By this way, the existence of personal online component libraries is going to be enabled in the coming KiCad versions.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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