I’ve always mucked around using Eagle for my personal stuff (and even for the stepper board I have on Tindie – bad me), but recently Eagle was bought by AutoDesk, and that doesn’t bode well for its future for being free for a hobbyist. Time for a new CAD package, so what to use? Well, that decision is pretty easy, KiCad, an open-source Electronics Schematic/Layout package which does everything I’m going to need (and likely a lot I’m not going to need).
It’s a big download, there’s a lot to it, a big program, extensive libraries on GitHub, all in it takes over a GB on disk, but it appears to be worth it. Now where to get started; and as with so many things these days, that’s YouTube. Contextual Electronics have a set of videos, including a KiCad beginners walk through, so after a few of those I decided it was time to take my old serial stepper gauge, and completely re-do it in KiCad. Not sure why I make these decisions at midnight, but I did, and although it took a few hours, I have this all figured out. I managed to fix a bunch of things like the hole layouts on the old one, and made sure it’s hooked up/pinned out the same way as the old board so no changes required in software.
The next day, when I was completely satisfied with the layout, I added flood fills (which I didn’t have before), some supporting text, checked the holes again for alignment and patted myself on the back.
Now on to order some purple boards. Most people know what that means, for those that don’t let me introduce you to OSHPARK. 3 boards @ $5/sq in, shipped, including free shipping to Canada. Just over fifteen dollars, an almost impossible to beat service for this kind of prototyping. OSHPark is such a great service, and with KiCad (and other software packages which shall remain nameless from now on), you don’t even have to produce gerbers, you just upload the .kicad_pcb file. Well, they’re ordered, and hopefully in about 10 days I’ll have ready to test boards; and I’ll post another update then.