Anti-Tamper Mesh Plugin for KiCad

From the Hackaday blog:

An Anti-Tamper Mesh Plugin for KiCad

Physical access to electronics generally means all bets are off when it comes to information security. But in special cases this is just unacceptable and a better solution must be found. Consider the encryption keys used by point of sale machines. To protect them, the devices incorporate anti-tamper mechanisms that will wipe the keys from memory if the device is opened. One such technique is to use a mesh of traces on a circuit board that are monitored for any changes in resistance or capacitance. [Sebastian Götte] has been researching in this area and wrote a KiCad plugin to automatically generate tamper-detection mesh.

Anti-Tamper Mesh Plugin for KiCad

Importing Eagle files into KiCad 5.1

New KiCad video from Chris Gammell of Contextual Electronics:

Importing Eagle files into KiCad 5.1

In this video, Chris imports the adafruit Feather M4 Express board Eagle files (which is OSHW) into KiCad 5.1.

Here are some of the pitfalls of importing into KiCad.

  • Flags get converted into (tiny!) labels that might not be clear.
  • The frame in schematics is gone. Not a big deal, but will look different than other KiCad projects.
  • Some silkscreen layers will not map as expected.
  • All footprints are imported from Eagle, since KiCad doesn’t know how to map existing footprints. This means that none of the 3D models are included.
Importing Eagle files into KiCad 5.1

Feeling the KiCad 6 Electricity

Great post from Kerry Scharfglass on Hackaday on what’s coming up in KiCad V6:

Feeling the KiCad 6 Electricity

In 2018, when KiCad Version 5 modernized the venerable 4.X series, it helped push KiCad to become the stable and productive member of the open source EDA landscape that we know today. It has supported users through board designs both simple and complex, and like a tool whose handle is worn into a perfect grip, it has become familiar and comfortable. For those KiCad users that don’t live on the bleeding edge with nightly builds it may not be obvious that the time of version 6 is nearly upon us, but as we start 2021 it rapidly approaches. Earlier this month [Peter Dalmaris] published a preview of the changes coming version 6 and we have to admit, this is shaping up to be a very substantial release.

Don’t be mistaken, this blog post may be a preview of new KiCad features but the post itself is extensive in its coverage. We haven’t spent time playing with this release yet so we can’t vouch for completeness, but with a printed length of nearly 100 pages it’s hard to imagine [Peter] left anything out! We skimmed through the post to extract a few choice morsels for reproduction here, but obviously take a look at the source if you’re as excited as we are.

Read more…

Feeling the KiCad 6 Electricity

New features coming in KiCad V6

This epic thread on the KiCad forum tracks new features that are in the upcoming V6 release:

Post-v5 new features and development news

I thought many would be interested in the development status and new features of pre-v6/post-v5 now when 5.1.0 has been released and version 6 development has begun. Add your favorite here if someone else hasn’t done it already.

The most recent post describes curved tracks:

New features coming in KiCad V6

Easy silkscreen labels in EAGLE and KiCad

Nick Pool has created an easy way to create silkscreen labels in EAGLE:

SparkFun Buzzard Label Generator

Greg Davill is now working on a version for KiCad:

Buzzard plugin for KiCad

Easy silkscreen labels in EAGLE and KiCad

How to Route Differential Pairs in KiCad (for USB)

Great post by Shawn Hymel about routing differential pairs in KiCad:

How to Route Differential Pairs in KiCad (for USB)

Routing differential pair lines in PCB layout software can be a tricky process. Luckily, KiCad has a few tools to help us with the process. In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through the process of calculating the differential impedance and using that information to create a pair of USB data lines in a project.

How to Route Differential Pairs in KiCad (for USB)

Hackaday Remoticon: KiCad to Blender PCB Renders

In this workshop, Anool Mahidharia takes the output of KiCad’s VRML export, gets it rendering in Blender, and then starts tweaking the result until you’re almost not sure if it’s the real thing or a 3D model. He starts off with a board in KiCad, included in the project’s GitHub repo, and you can follow along through the basic import, or go all the way to copying the graphics off the top of an ATtiny85 and making sure that the insides of the through-plated holes match the tops.

If you don’t know Blender, maybe you don’t know how comprehensive a 3D modelling and animation tool it is. And with the incredible power comes a notoriously steep learning curve up a high mountain. Anool doesn’t even try to turn you into a Blender expert, but focuses on the tweaks and tricks that you’ll need to make good looking PCB renders. You’ll find general purpose Blender tutorials everywhere on the net, but if you want something PCB-specific, you’ve come to the right place.

Read more…

Hackaday Remoticon: KiCad to Blender PCB Renders

How to make a RPi CM carrier board in KiCad

The wonderful Shawn Hymel has a new video on designing a base board for the new Raspberry Pi compute module:

How to Make a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 Carrier Board in KiCad – Part 2 | Digi-Key Electronics

Raspberry Pi released the Compute Module 4 (CM4) in October, which is a single board computer with all of the processing power of the Raspberry Pi 4, but in a tiny form factor! It removes many of the connectors (USB, HDMI, etc.), as the intention is for you to add your own with a custom board and enclosure.

In this series, we’ll show you how to create your own, custom Raspberry Pi CM4 carrier board with KiCad!

How to make a RPi CM carrier board in KiCad

Fairy Dust mini PCB pin for RC3

We are excited to see the wonderful Thomas Flummer in Copenhagen has designed a neat PCB pin for the virtual Chaos Communication Congress next month:

Fairy Dust mini PCB pin for RC3

This is a small PCB pin badge, heavily inspired by the RC3 styleguide. It’s designed to be small, easy to assemble and hopefully many will manage to get some before the event, and be able to share a little bit of physical #badgelife, in this time of virtual events.

Making your own

If you want to make your own, I have included the gerbers, in case you don’t want to install the nightly version of KiCad.

There is also a shared projects at OSHPark, and this is designed for the standard purple PCBs. It’s designed to be exactly 2 square inches, so for USD 10 you get 3 pcs. shipped anywhere, though the standard shipping might take a bit to arrive.

The parts needed for this pin is simply 4 white 0603 LEDs, a series resistor, also 0603, to limit the current a bit (I’ll try with a 1K to begin with), a CR1220 coin cell holder (I’m planning on using a Q&J CR1220-2 from LCSC) and then a little round brooch clasp/tie tack pin (I got some on ebay, but a DIY/craft supply store might also have them).

Please share

If you decide to make this badge or a variant of it, please share images so we can all see it and get inspired. If sharing on social media, please use the #badgelife tag and please let me know, I would love to see what you have made!

Here is the shared project:

Fairy Dust mini PCB pin for RC3