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 🙂