Altium Board importer for KiCad

Thomas Pointhuber got Twitter excited yesterday with this video of importing Altium design into KiCad: 

Thomas Pointhuber has been developing an Altium importer and it was finally merged into KiCad:

Altium Board importer

This is the foundation to add support for native Altium import. Contributions are very welcome, because this is a quite some amount of work.

The work is mainly based on https://github.com/thesourcerer8/altium2kicad, which is an existing Altium Designer -> KiCad converter written in Perl. Because Altium Circuit Studio and Altium Circuit Maker uses quite similar file formats, I try to support them as well in one go.

My current workflow is to try to understand the existing code, and build a binary documentation of the Altium format using Kaitai Struct. This allows fast iterations, and tells me if something is parsed incorrect.

CNX Software has a nice blog post on how to build the development version of KiCad:

Screenshot from 2020-04-05 18-03-15

How to Build KiCad on Ubuntu 18.04 and Import Altium PCB Files

KiCad open-source EDA (Electronics Design Automation) suite software is now very popular, and many new projects are designed with the utility. AFAIK, some companies like Olimex switched all their new designs to KiCAD. But since many schematics and PCB layouts have been designed with other tools like EAGLE, Orcad Allegro, or Altium PCB design tools, it would be nice to be able to import those designs into KiCad.

Screenshot from 2020-04-05 18-36-18Screenshot from 2020-04-05 18-36-27

Altium Board importer for KiCad

PCB Artwork with Inkscape and KiCad

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Anool is doing live streams every Saturday on KiCad and this week Bradan Lane joined to show how to use Inkscape to create PCB artwork:

PCB Artwork with Inkscape and KiCad

MappyDot Distance Measurement Badge

SensorDots created this standalone wearable badge that will show people how far away they are so they don’t accidentally run into you:
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MappyDot Distance Measurement Badge

This project will show you how to create a standalone application with the MappyDot Plus working as an I2C master with an I2C 7 segment display. This example can also be adapted for use with a wide range of different client I2C devices for standalone applications.

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Once you have assembled the 7 segment display, you can now hook everything up as per the schematics below. Provided your battery supply outputs a voltage between 2.8 and 5 volts, you don’t need to use a voltage regulator to supply this project. Using 4xAA 1.2v rechargable NiMH batteries is perfect for this setup. If using 1.5V alkaline batteries, you should consider using a voltage regulator (or a diode with a large voltage drop) or opt for only 3xAA alkaline batteries.

MappyDot Distance Measurement Badge

Adafruit submitting OSHW certifications for boards

adafruit-oshwa

Exciting news from the Adafruit team, they have started the Open Source Hardware certification process for a bunch of their boards:

Adafruit submitting OSHW certifications for boards

Adafruit is an Open Source Hardware and Software company. To that end, Adafruit has begun working to submit many of their boards for certification by the Open Source Hardware Association. According to OSHWA:

“The certification program exists to make it easy for creators and users to identify hardware that follows the community definition of open source hardware maintained by OSHWA. Hardware projects that display the certification logo are licensed and documented in a way that makes it easy for users to use and build upon them.”

By registering their boards with OSHWA, Adafruit aims to ensure users that the products they sell are open-source, and easy to learn about.

Here are the boards that have recently been submitted:

CircuitPython Boards

FeatherWings

Keep an eye out for more updates on this process.

Adafruit submitting OSHW certifications for boards

Join two KiCad livestreams TODAY

Screenshot from 2020-04-01 16-17-56

At 9:00 AM US PDT today, April 1st, KiCad leader developer Seth Hillbrand will be hosting a KiCad Community meetup video conference on Jisti Meet:

Last week’s meetup was nice to see and talk with other KiCad users. Let’s do it again this week.

This week, I’m happy to answer questions and I’ll be working through designing a KiCad version of the Medtronic OpenVentilator project (http://www.medtronic.com/openventilator 5). You may have heard that Medtronic (a multi-billion $ company) bought the company that cancelled the original gov’t contract 2 for low-cost ventilators in 2015 and then this week released a “kind of” open source version 3 of their current (not low-cost) ventilator.

In reality, they released scans of the schematics and some word documents for bring-up procedures. I’m going to see if we can turn the scans into a set of useful KiCad schematics + board files. This still doesn’t get to what’s needed to actually recreate more of these ventilators but it is a needed first step.

If you are curious about recreating designs from incomplete schematics, reverse engineering in KiCad or just want to hang out and chat, please stop by.

Then at 12:00 PM US PDT, Piotr Esden will livestream KiCad board layout:

Electronics Let’s Play – iCEBreaker-bitsy update/design work Ep. 3

Screenshot from 2020-04-01 16-15-10

Join two KiCad livestreams TODAY