Kicad is an open source (GPL) software for the creation of electronic schematic diagrams and printed circuit board artwork.
This project was started by Jean-Pierre Charras, a researcher at GIPSA-LAB and a teacher in IUT de Saint Martin d'Hères.(France), in the field of electrical engineering.
It is now mature and very actively supported by a team of developers and a user group.
Kicad is a software which includes a project manager and four tools :
Eeschema :Schematic entry.
Pcbnew :Board editor.
Gerbview :GERBER viewer (photo-plotter documents).
Cvpcb :footprint selector for components used in the circuit design.
Kicad: project manager.
With the project manager, Kicad, you can choose or create a project and launch Eeschema, Pcbnew, ....
This electronic workbench is free of charges and is open source (GPL). It is useful for everybody working in electronic design (schematic diagrams and Printed Board up to 16 layers).
This software (using WXWIDGETS) is MULTI-PLATFORM. It is running under LINUX , MACOSX, Windows.
kicad (project manager)
With the schematic entry, you can:
Create simple or hierarchical sheets.
Test it with the Electrical Rules Check tool (ERC).
Create netlists for Pcbnew, or for Spice.
Eeschema manages a fast and direct access to component documentation.
Eeschema: schematic editor
Schematic component editor
The board editor Pcbnew works with 1 to 16 copper layers plus 12 technical layers (silk screen, solder mask ...) and creates all the necessary files for building printed boards ( GERBER files for photo-plotters, drilling files and component location files).
You can plot board layers on Postscript laser printers (for prototypes).
Pcbnew can show a 3-D view of the printed board with its components (it uses OpenGL for this).
Pcbnew: board editor
Module (footprint) editor
Pcbnew: 3D viewer
Gerbview: GERBER viewer
Both Eeschema and Pcbnew have a library manager and editor for components and footprints.
You can create, edit, delete or exchange easily library items.
Documentation files can be associated to components and footprints, and key words, allowing a fast search by function.
Very large Libraries (created over many years) are available, for schematic components and footprints (usual and smd).
Most of printed board modules (footprint) are created with their 3D shapes.
Other software used with Kicad:
There are free and open source software under GNU GPL license:
Wings3D: 3D modeler for creating or editing 3D shapes of Pcbnew footprints (www.wings3d.com).
On line Help (PDF format), and documentation source (more than 200 pages written with OpenOffice.Org) are contained in the package.
Programming and compilation tools:
All are GPL'ed.
Documentation: OpenOffice (www.openoffice.org).