Altium to KiCad converter

BeagleBone-Black-Altium-KiCad-e1586729430477

Around these parts we tend to be exponents of the KiCad lifestyle; what better way to design a PCBA than with free and open source tools that run anywhere? But there are still capabilities in commercial EDA packages that haven’t found their way into KiCad yet, so it may not always be the best tool for the job. Altium Designer is a popular non-libre option, but at up to tens of thousands of USD per seat it’s not always a good fit for users and businesses without a serious need.

It’s hard to find an exciting photo of a dialog box

What do you do as a KiCad user who encounters a design in Altium you’d like to work with? Well as of April 3rd 2020, [Thomas Pointhuber] has merged the beginnings of a native Altium importer into KiCad which looks to be slated for the 6.0 release. As [Thomas] himself points out in the patch submission, this is hardly the first time a 3rd party Altium importer has been published. His new work is a translation of the Perl plugin altium2kicad by [thesourcerer8]. And back in January another user left a comment with links to four other (non-KiCad) tools to handle Altium files.

If you’d like to try out this nifty new feature for yourself, CNX has a great walkthrough starting at building KiCad from source. As for documents to test against the classic BeagleBone Black sources seen above can be found at on GitHub. Head past the break to check out the very boring, but very exciting video of the importer at work, courtesy of [Thomas] himself. We can’t wait to give this a shot!

via Altium has its 2kicad Moment — Hackaday

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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

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

KiCad and FreeCAD virtual meetup tomorrow (March 28th)

From Anool:

KiCad and FreeCAD virtual meetup tomorrow, Saturday, March 28th

  • 5:00am US Pacific
  • 8:00am US Eastern
  • 5:30pm India
  • 1:00pm CET
  • 8:00pm China
  • 11:00pm Australia

  • This week, I’ll talk about Schematic Library management and @hemalchevli
    will show how to convert STEP model to PCB footprint
  • We’re trying out Jitsi . It works in a Browser without any extensions. On Android Phones (and maybe iPhones), they’ve got an App.
  • VIDEO LINK
    https://meet.jit.si/InfuriatedRhinosEatObnoxiously 1
  • If you’d wish to just watch the livestream, here’s the URL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=migkWNRE384

  • Want to dial in on phone?
    • Australia: +61.8.7150.1136
      Brazil: +55.21.3500.0112
      France: +33.1.84.88.6478
      Germany: +49.89.380.38719
      Japan: +81.3.4510.2372
      Spain: +34.932.205.409
      UK: +44.121.468.3154
      US: +1.512.402.2718
    • Dial meeting ID: ‘3947374070’ to connect!
KiCad and FreeCAD virtual meetup tomorrow (March 28th)

Goodies for the Open Hardware Summit

The Open Hardware Summit is next week, March 13th!

Here’s a sneak peak at one of the items that everyone will receive in their conference goodie bags:

Getting to Blinky

Thanks so much to Kevin Walseth at Digi-Key for making it happen! ⚡️

And thanks to our Dan (@tekdemo) for the beautiful “After Dark” PCB art  🦋

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Thanks to Chris Gammellfor the “Getting to Blinky” videos! 🎥  It is a great way to learn KiCad:
Screenshot from 2020-03-06 11-38-24
Thanks to Kyle at Digi-Key for showing what that board looks like in action!
Screenshot from 2020-03-06 12-33-11
I made the curved traces with the “Rounder for Tracks” KiCad plugin from the RF-tools repo:
Here is the GitHub repo with the KiCad design files: pdp7/gtb
If you can’t make it to the Open Hardware Summit, then the design is also available an OSH Park shared project:
Screenshot from 2020-03-06 12-06-23
Note: after adding the board to the cart, please click on the “After Dark (Black Substrate + Clear Mask)” option

 

Follow me on Twitter for updates on the Open Hardware Summit:

 

Goodies for the Open Hardware Summit

Screaming LM386: An Audio Amplifier with PCB Art

Beautiful project from Frank Milburn on element14:

Intro_Cartoon

Screaming LM386: An Audio Amplifier with PCB Art

I decided to give PCB art a try and will be basing my attempt on methods described by Andrew Sowa.  Andrew uses Adobe Illustrator for the art work and KiCad for the PCB design.  I will also use KiCad but will use my trusty pre-subscription version of Photoshop for the artwork.  Inkscape is another possibility.  Andrew’s process is described in this video from which my work is derived.  The detail behind many of the steps won’t be described in this post – watch the video for that.

The goal is to take a photograph, painting, etc. and place it on a PCB using the FR4, copper layer, solder mask, and silk screen to make the palette.  My PCB will feature the famous work by Edvard Munch, The Scream which has always fascinated me.  So, how to turn a masterpiece into a PCB facsimile?

Screenshot from 2020-02-20 12-40-07

Palette

The limited palette is a challenge.  For this exercise the focus will be on the central figure in order to reduce board size (and thus cost) of the experiment.  The OSHPark purple solder mask will hopefully give the dark colors desired.  Andrew also used OSHPark in his example, and helpfully provided a palette which has been modified here to help describe how the layers translate to color and are stacked for conversion in KiCad.

Palette

There is a shared project for the board:

 

Screenshot from 2020-02-20 12-35-07

And watch it on YouTube:

Screaming LM386: An Audio Amplifier with PCB Art