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

Remoticon: KiCad to Blender for PCB renders

Learn how to go from KiCad 3D exports to photorealistic renders in Blender in the Hackaday Remoticon workshop by Anool:

Remoticon: KiCad to Blender > PCB renders

Those of us using KiCad for circuit board design know how useful the built-in 3D viewer and associated (rudimentary) renderer is. KiCad renderer is getting better, but if you want to get there fast, and want to create some amazing photorealistic renders of your PCB, then Blender’s the way to go. Blender can be intimidating to start with, so we’ll walk through a couple of simple steps to go from KiCad VRML export to photorealistic Blender renders.

Remoticon: KiCad to Blender for PCB renders

KiCad 3D Viewer can now render “After Dark”

Thanks to KiCad developer Mario Luzeiro for enabling our “After Dark” service to be rendered, which features clear solder mask on black fiberglass:

Development Highlight: 3D Viewer Improvements

The KiCad 3D Viewer has seen a few incremental improvements during the course of V6 development:

Plated and Non-Plated Copper

A subtle change has been made in MR#405 by Mario Luzeiro that affects how copper is rendered. The visual difference between plated copper pads and non-plated copper pads will now be visible as well as copper in general.

This image shows a ENIG plated copper hole compared to the surrounding copper traces when the soldermask was turned off.

KiCad 3D Viewer can now render “After Dark”

Ask KiCad developer about V6

Watch live right now on YouTube!

Find out more about the KiCon 2020 Developers Q&A:

For participating and streaming, see the event page for more info.

Ask KiCad developer about V6

“After Dark” now looks great in KiCad

“After Dark” 3D render now looks great in KiCad v5.99 (the nightly development build) thanks to Mario Luzeiro!

Here are the settings for the KiCad 3-D viewer:

  • To view the plated SMD pads and through hole vias, then uncheck the solder paste layers and uncheck the options to render 3D models:
  • Set solder mask color to 0% opacity:
  • Set “Copper/Surface Finish” color to Gold:
  • Set board body color to Black:

“After Dark” now looks great in KiCad