19/03/2020.

Working with KiCad Eeschema

Launching KiCad

I pass on the installation of this software, traditional and without surprise.

I double-click the desktop icon or in Start… The KiCad management screen appears, with different buttons, each corresponding to a work step or to a particular tool: diagram, circuit, various calculations, checks, etc.

Launching Eeschema

Of course I want to draw the diagram first, so I click the Eeschema icon. Here, the project has already been created, hence the presence of files or folders in the Explorer on the left.

Eeschema launch button

And then… absolutely nothing happens, the screen is frozen, I can't even move the mouse cursor. I wait… nothing. I guess the software has crashed, so I do a Control+Shift+Delete to kill the app, and I restart. Same thing, except that I’m more patient. And after a while, that’s it!

I will understand later that there is a bunch of libraries to load. But I think there should be a window that says to wait while loading. It would avoid worries, especially at the beginning.

These long loading times appear at several stages in the use of Kicad. They may be due to the fact that my computer only has 4 GB of RAM…

Placement of symbols

To begin working, click the button representing an op amp, on the right of the screen. All the placement commands: symbols, wires, buses and others are grouped together on this toolbar.

Place Symbol button

Then nothing happens again! But that’s because you have to click anywhere in the drawing area. Then a list of libraries will appear.

Library loading message

Appearance of Libraries

The names in the list are those of the libraries, not the devices. I’m looking for a stupid resistor… For that, I type “R” in the top line.

Selection in a library

O miracle, the first symbol that appears is resistor! Click OK and I can place it where I want.

Good to know right now. For certain operations, in edit mode (first button at the top right, with an arrow, or simply press the Esc key), simply place the cursor on a device, then type a letter: R to rotate, M to move, Delete for you guess what…

I pass on the details: certain symbols are not so easy to find. But we are getting there. Once the diagram is finished, before continuing, you must check that there are no errors.

DRC launch

Error display

Don’t forget to click Run! The blue link points to the error(s). A word of advice: you should enlarge the drawing enough to see the small green arrow indicating the error.

Here it’s easy: a wire is missing.

Error indication