Wednesday, January 22, 2020

KiCAD Beginners Tutorial - 2020

KiCAD Beginners Tutorial

KiCAD is a free open source Electronic design software or electronic CAD software. 
KiCAD can be used to create schematics, layout design with 3D viewer & it can
also generate Gerber file for fabrication. To download KiCad click here.


     You can also watch the video for the tutorial.


The installation of KiCAD is a direct process. Just follow the simple steps shown in
the software.

Starting your first project

To create your first project open KiCAD & click File > New > Project

Next, create a new folder & name it as per your project and then open the folder by
double-clicking it
Next, create a file by entering a name in the File Name section & then click save

Next on the left-hand side under the project folder, double click the file which has
the extension .sch to open your schematic editor

Shortcuts which are helpful in KiCAD

These shortcuts can be used in any of the editors like a schematic or layout design
editor. To use the shortcuts you will need to hover over a component or select a
  • W: Wire Selection
  • E: Edit Component
  • R: Rotate Component or Schematic
  • T: Text Box
  • Y: To Mirror the component in Y-Axis
  • U: Edit Reference Field
  • I: To place graphic lines
  • P: Place Power Ports
  • A: Place Symbol
  • S: Schematic & Sheet properties
  • F: Edit Footprint Field
  • G or M: Grab or Move
  • H: Hierarchical Label Properties
  • J: Place Junction
  • L: Labels
  • X: To Mirror the component in Y Axis<
  • C: To copy components
  • V: To Edit the value of the component
  • B: Bus Selection
  • Backspace: To delete the nodes & wires
  • Delete: To delete the nodes or wires
There are other shortcuts that you can use. To learn more shortcuts, on your KiCAD
click on Help > List Hotkeys.. or Ctrl + F1.

Starting your first schematic in KiCAD

To start creating the schematic first select all the components you require for your
circuit diagram. To select the components press the key A on your keyboard. After
you press A, a window should pop up where you can select your components

Once you have selected the components to arrange them in order so that it easy to
understand. To arrange your components you can use the Keys R(rotate), 
X & Y (Mirroring), G or M (Move) or C (duplicate) on your keyboard.


For annotating all the components click on the Annotate button which will open a
Annotate Schematic window. Now in the window click on the Annotate button
to automatically annotate your components.

Now if you see in the circuit diagram U? is replaced with U1

Component Values

1st Method
To assign a value to a component, select a component & press E &
then enter the value in the Field Value section & press OK.

2nd Method
Select the Edit Value Field (which will be something like this for example for
resistor it will be R) of a component & press E and then enter the value in the
Text section & press OK.

Generating Netlist

To generate the Netlist click on the Netlist button & click Generate Netlist
and then name your Netlist file (I personally name it with the project name) &
then click save to generate your Netlist.

Assigning Footprints

To assign footprints click on Assign PCB Footprints to Schematic Symbols
button. It may take a few seconds for the footprint window to load.
Next, select the component for which you want to assign the footprint

    Then select the component group which is to the left column

    Then carefully select the footprint for your components from the right side 

After the selection click Apply, Save Schematic & continue and then 
Click OK.

What does capital letters stand for in the footprints
  • L: Length
  • D: Diameter
  • P: Distance between two poles or pins
  • W: Width

Regenerating Netlist

Again generate the Netlist by clicking on Netlist button & click Generate 
Netlist then click save to regenerate your Netlist.

Generating Bill of Materials (BOM) in KiCAD

To generate the BOM first we need to install an external plug-in. To install the plug-in
download the files from any one of the Git hub links - Link 1 & Link 2. After
downloading extract the files & move it to any safe location. And then click on
BOM button on the KiCAD.

Now click on Add Plug-in & select the file with the extension .py (as shown in the 
below image) & click open.

Now select the plug-in & click on generate to generate your Bill of Materials (BOM)

Now if you go to your project manager window you will find a file with the
extension .CSV. Open that file to see your BOM.

PCB Layout Design in KiCAD

In this section, let's see how to design the layout
First, click on Run Pcnew to layer circuit board button

Designing the PCB Layout in KiCAD

To design the PCB layout first we need to import the footprints. To import the
footprints click on Netlist button which says Read Netlist

And then click on the button Read Current Netlist.

Now all of your components should be imported to the Layout Editor. Once the
the component is imported arrange them in a such a way that tracks (white lines)
do not cross each other too many times(one or two crossings is fine)

Re-assigning the Footprints

For some, if you have assigned a footprint wrongly now is the time to change it.
If you see in the previous image the J1 & J2 has the horizontal footprint so I
wanted to change it to vertical. To change it to vertical select the component
& amp; press the key E.

Now select the option Change Footprint which will open a change footprint

Next, click the search button under the option New Footprint Identifier which is
besides the input option which will take you to the Library Browser window from
where you can select the component you want by double-clicking it.

After selecting the new footprint click on Apply to change your footprints

As you can see the changes has been made

Adding Mounting Holes in KICAD

To add the mounting holes to your PCB layout click on the button Add Footprints
Next, select the option list all

Now search for mounting holes and select appropriate Mounting hole & add
them to your PCB layout by clicking OK

Adding Edge Cuts or Border

To add Edge cuts or borders first select the layer Edge Cuts

Next click on the option Add Graphic lines & draw the edge cut line without any gap.

Adding Tracks or Routing

Before we start routing first we need to define the track size. To define the track
size go to Setup > Design Rule

     Then in the Design Rule Editor window go to Global Design Rules & enter the track width you want to use under Custom Track Width: & click         OK.

After defining the track width, Select the upper or bottom layer & start routing

Adding Vias

In the below image if you see, the connection between Pin 2 of U1 & Pin 1 of
R1 is not easily possible. In order to make a connection between the pins we need
to use the Vias

Before adding vias we need to enable few options. To enable the option go to
Setup > Design Rules

Then in the Design Rule Editor window go to Global Design Rules &
select the options Allow blind/buried vias & Allow micro vias

Now to create the vias, select a layer & then draw the wire till where you want
the vias to appear. While dragging Right Click on the mouse & select Place 
Through Vias or press the key V to place the vias & change the layer
selection and continue dragging until you reach your desired pin. This process can 
use be used to place multiple vias for a single track

Tiding the board

For tiding your board first deselect the layer B.Fab & U.Fab layer in the layer
manager section.
Next start renaming all the footprints which do not have a proper label. To edit your
the label first select the label you want to edit & press E & enter your
new label.

After editing the labels, arrange the labels in such a way that there is no
components overlapping it.

Adding Filled Zones

To add filled zone first select the option Add Filled Zones & click on the
corner of the Edge Cut & select your layer and net and then click OK.

         Now a line should be activated, Now with the line selected select all the corners 
     of the edge cut & press B.

Now similarly do for the other layer.

Adding custom Names or Website Name to your board

To add names or website or any other details first deselect the upper & bottom
copper layer from the layer manager section and then select the button Add Text 
on copper layer or graphic lines & click on the board where you want to place 
the text. Now a window should pop up, in the window select the layer has

  After adding the details reselect the upper & bottom copper layer from the layer 
  manager section.

Viewing the PCB board in 3D

To see your PCB board in 3D & get a preview on how your board looks, click on 
View > 3D Viewer to open the 3D viewer window

     To see the 3D models of your components select the button Set display options       & layer visibility & select all the options which are under 3D model Visibility &       click OK

Exporting Gerber or other types of output files

To export, the Gerber files click on the option plot.

         In the plot window select the Plot Format, Layer you want & select the path               where you want to export your files. In my case, I will be choosing Gerber for 
     Plot Format & F.CU, B.Cu, F.Silks, B.Silks, F.Mask, B.Mask & Edge. Cuts for
     layers and the other setting will be the default.

    Once all the settings are selected click on Plot to plot or export your Gerber files

After plotting click on Generate Drill files.

Now in the Generate Drill file window select the directory which you have exported 
your Gerber files to with the rest being the default setting click on Generate Drill 
File to plot or export your Gerber files.

       In the below image you can see all the Gerber & the drill files which are
       exported & which necessary for the fabrication. If you want to fabricate your             board, create a Zip folder containing all the Gerber files & upload it on any                 Fabricator website.

Thank you for reading !!!



  1. Thanks a lot bro, hope your channel and website will be help full for lots of people suffering with lack of skill...

  2. Thank you for the useful tutorial. Please note that the official KiCad website is now

    The older domain name listed here and in the video has been taken over by squatters and is serving malicious software. Can you please update your links? Please see for more information.


Hi, Thanks for Commenting !!!