Our first two small KiCAD OSHW boards are ready!


I wrote some time ago about the importance to use Open Source CAD tools when you want to make OSHW designs.

FOSS CAD tools increase the base of your contributors, you can’t expect to have many people who to contribute back to your project if you make it with Altium or PADS which cost thousands of EURO/USD.
Even Eagle which have low cost entry version cost thousands if you want to use it for more complex designs.

So the decission was taken, but the resistance among our developers was not small 🙂 nobody wants to break his comfort when there are already lot of libraries made and had to be duplicated for the new platform.
It’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks 🙂

Situation changed a bit this month as we got two new guys who joined Olimex design team – Todor Bobotilov 25 years old “fresh out of school”, who recently graduated Technical University in Plovdiv with one of the best scores/results from the exams, and Christo Budakov who have 25 years of experience with electronics design and has worked for Bulgarian Academy of Science, and as free consultant last years. They both joined Olimex on March 4th.

So I decided that after the latest announcements for the new features in KiCAD we have no excuses anymore and have to kick Eagle by the end of this year with all our designs. And to start clean the new guys will be thrown in the deep waters from the beginning and they will start working with KiCAD from scratch.

First thing was to install newest and latest although unstabile version of KiCAD to may be up to date with latest developments.

This is easy to do in Ubuntu, you just have to add the nightly builds repo to your apt-get list:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:js-reynaud/ppa-kicad

Then every morning you will be asked if you want to install the newest build. This had some trade offs like latest KiCAD tends to crash every couple of hours for some reason, but this is OK, we know that we work with unstabile version and just have to save the projects more frequently :))))

Another issue – the libraries, we have our own technologycal setup in our production, based on our process we run for many years, this includes how the stencils are manufactures, how the NC files for the machines we have are generated, what component pads to be used, what drills, annular rings, etc we have to use to suit our PCB design and manufacturing process to achieve the best yield in production, in most of the cases this have nothing in common with the recommended by vendors PCB land pads and dimensions.

Christo started working on the libraries slowly while making new boards he converts from proven Eagle libraries just the components he uses in his current designs.

This week we got two new very simple boards designed with KiCAD:

MOD-MPU9150 3-axis gyro + 3-axis accelerometer + 3-axis magnetometer compass all in one here is the GitHub repo you can see it how it looks on the picture above.

and MOD-OLED-128×64 OLED 1″ display with UEXT and Breadboard 0.1″ headers, the GitHub repo is here.


you may bet many more and much complicated designs are to follow 🙂

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Olivier LEMAIRE
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:23:31

    \o/ congrats !!


  2. Martin Nisted
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:23:48



  3. Max
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:58:45

    Congrats on committing to the transition. I know it’s not easy, but it really is the right thing to do. 🙂


  4. Shervin Emami
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 13:33:22

    Nice to hear!


  5. Américo Dias
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 15:35:40

    Seems a good decision! 🙂 Good luck.


  6. karakaiandras
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 17:17:26

    Great decision!
    I switched from Protel (yes it was many years ago 🙂 ), and I have no regrets even in industrial, and “professional uses” …
    KiCAD has some flaws, but it is in heavy development, and already a good competitor for Eagle.
    But still, You will have a busy time, learning and converting everything!
    Good luck for that!


  7. Morgaine
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 17:21:22

    Excellent news, well done Olimex!

    This is one more reason to buy Olimex’s OSHW products, and it’s also a good reason to contribute any KiCAD fixes or enhancements we might make back to KiCAD. I look forward to OLinuXino and other OSHW products changing over during your year of transition.

    It might be useful to add “KiCAD” to your forums, perhaps under a Tools section. Currently there isn’t anywhere obvious to hold such discussions, nor about other relevant tools like JTAG. It could help people share tips about tooling.

    PS. Even old dogs can learn new tricks. Sometimes it just requires some extra incentive, like watching eager youngsters being successful. Free beer seems to work as well. 🙂



  8. anonima
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 19:05:56

    Do you know a great idea? educative platform about open source electronic hardware, from novice.


  9. SK
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 19:33:49

    I guess you will be producing MOD-OLED-128×64?


  10. Morgaine
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 20:35:39

    The 1-inch OLED display has stimulated a discussion in my circle of tech friends about how to make a very low-power wrist-mounted wireless display that lasts weeks between recharges. The general idea is to avoid power-hungry application processors and fast-acting displays, and to turn the microcontroller off entirely between uses. Being only a wireless display, smart applications would have to run elsewhere, perhaps on your smartphone, and update the display by RF.

    OLED may be too power-hungry for this compared to LCD, but best of all would be e-Ink since image retention then wouldn’t require any power at all.

    Be that as it may, a first step towards such a design might be to prototype the concept using a MOD-OLED-128×64 and a frugal microcontroller board with a UEXT connector, perhaps the Olimexino-5510 since MSP430 is purpose-designed for ultra-low power.

    It would be nice to support the KiCAD-designed OLED board, and I have an Olimexino-5510 already so perhaps the two will be getting together. 🙂



  11. Niko
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 23:25:57

    Good start!

    I’m also converting from Eagle 5 to KiCAD.
    I made my first board today from scratch and want to convert all my old pcbs + libraries as well.
    I first converted the Eagle 5 files to Eagle 7 (XML based format) which can then be opened in KiCAD but only the pcb layout can be imported. Schematics didn’t work…

    Is there a tool that does it all automatically so the link between the schematics and the pcb still exist? or a good tutorial?


    • Lachlan
      Apr 23, 2015 @ 22:22:21

      Hi, Niko
      I did some eagle scripts which convert from eagle to KiCad for version 6.xx
      it dose most of what you wont I think, it’s still in testing, give it a try,
      and give me some feed back on how well it works.

      The Programs will do

      Eagle multi sheet sch to KiCad multi sheets.
      Global and local net labels for multi sheets.
      Multi part gate’s.
      Build KiCad PCB modules and SCH libs from Eagle SCH.
      Make project director to store all the converted files.
      And basic error checking.
      Eagle 6.xx PCB files can be directly import to KiCad.
      By using the the following ulp’s a consistent link from the SCH to PCB is maintained So forward and backwoods net-list annotation work’s under KiCad!

      It hosted at github.com/lachlanA/eagle-to-kicad



  12. Peter Jenkins
    Mar 14, 2015 @ 21:18:05

    Fantastic! I’m thrilled to see tools like KiCAD getting good enough so people can switch from Eagle


  13. Trackback: Sortie de KiCad 4.0 | My Tiny Tools

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