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Is KiCad production ready?

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  • Is KiCad production ready?


    I've been working with Altium for about 10 years now. I'm changing company and the new company (it's a small startup) is using Eagle but wants to switch, and I have some reasons for considering KiCad:

    - There's no super-complex hardware requirements (no DDR3/4, no really high speed interfaces other than QSPI for now).
    - Limited number of hardware designs
    - Their software/firmware team use mainly linux.

    Which makes me think that having to pay the upfront cost of Altium it's going to be hard. The last time I tested KiCad (years ago) it was too basic, almost paint-like (~Eagle). I'm wondering if anyone has used it recently and can vouch for it in production.

    I'm aware that there's some complex open source teams using it, but it might fit their needs way better even if it takes 4x the time of building a PCB (because open source tools means more people can participate). That's not the case by any means for me. If it takes me twice the time, they'll probably be best served by just using Altium.

  • #2
    - Have a look at OrCAD Standard. They sometimes have deals between $500-1000 USD. Be aware, it takes some time to get used to it (not very easy to use), however they have different kind of licensing in case you need to use more advanced features in future. It should also run on Linux.

    - I am also keeping eye on KiCAD, but I do not have much experience with it. I am just kind of waiting when someone will say, that "KiCAD is now really good". I know, that they use it in CERN, so it should be ok for some designs.

    PS: For example, the prices for OrCAD are hidden right now, but you can find them here: https://pages.ema-eda.com/Get-OrCAD-PCB-Design-Software
    Click image for larger version

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    • Alex Shuklin
      Alex Shuklin commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi! I'm using KiCad in my job. It's very nice tool for some simple boards for sure. But I don't have big experience in complex design. I've started advanced PCB Layout course and have Idea to repeat it in the KiCad. If you are interested, I will keep you informed with my progress.

  • #3
    I must say that Kicad nowadays is more advanced than P-CAD2006. It have no 3D solver, I do not remember there any built-in impedance calculators, I has no xSignals or something alike, but It is good now. I can say, that using it now is about as painful as altium designer 12. I would not do there fly-by DDRs or RAPID IO, but it will work good for PCI or LVDS boards.

    Also there are good prices for PADs standart (in Russia individual can buy it for $900to $1200) (and Yep I reeeeeealy do not get Candace Products)

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    • #4
      Some idea how to buy Orcad from ema-eda here in the Czech Republic? According to Flowcad website, they charge 2500Eur for the same software which costs 750USD in the US.

      Thank you.

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      • #5
        I would try to contact them and point out the EMA offer. Most of the CAD software companies will give discount.

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        • #6
          I've started advanced PCB Layout course and have Idea to repeat it in the KiCad. If you are interested, I will keep you informed with my progress.
          - Alex Shuklin yes please, let me know your feelings with following Advanced PCB Layout course in KiCad. Thank you.

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          • #7
            Originally posted by robertferanec View Post
            - Alex Shuklin yes please, let me know your feelings with following Advanced PCB Layout course in KiCad. Thank you.
            Anyway I will do courses with Altium, because that's good to know how to use it.
            And step by step I try to adapt the Course to the KiCad. It imports about 60% of each schematic sheet. So, I've already done with SOM CPU - Power. And I will have to proceed with all sheets before I could start routing in the KiCad.
            As soon as I will have any results, I'll make a post. (but probably it will not be very soon)

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            • #8
              Thank you Alex

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              • Alex Shuklin
                Alex Shuklin commented
                Editing a comment
                Hi Robert,
                First of all, thank you very much for your courses. I just finished them. Before I was involved mostly in the microcontroller PCBs and now I changed my point of view on the PCB design and layout. I've done so much things wrong, so I'm very happy that I've seen your courses and changed my mind.
                Unfortunately I had to use my friend's some weird version of Altium and sometimes it just doesn't work as you expect ><
                Now I'm looking forward to continue to adapt openRex to KiCad format. I didn't have time for that after I returned form vacation. But, hopefully, after courses finished I will go forward slowly.
                I think there will be an issue in KiCad when you will try to length match RAM address buses, but fortunately that's possible to solve in theKiCad somehow.
                1) It has python console and plugin support, maybe I will have to write some simple plugin for that.
                2) Actually I have couple of commits in the KiCad source code. If something vital is missing, I will try to speak developers and may be me, or somebody else will write new tool for some complicated length matching support. I will see it once I will reach this step.
                Anyway, many, many thanks for advanced PCB Layout course, and please be informed, that I still trying to adapt it for KiCad.

            • #9
              Good news. I managed to import Altium schematic. It was kinda painful and my eyes are bleeding, but it's finally done and drc run without any errors. I synchronized schematic with pcb layout and it's messy a bit now. But worst thing - converter interpret all vias as through-hole, So I will practice in fan-out a lot

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              • #10
                Alex Shuklin I am very happy you found the courses interesting.

                WOW! Please when you finish the import, could I also have the files or a link to the files? It could help many people. PS: I have seen someone importing iMX6 Rex PCB layout to KiCad, so, it should be possible.

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                • #11
                  Alex Shuklin Great !!! I like that so when u finished. Can u share it?

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                  • #12
                    robertferanec ,
                    I hope to finish it in week or two... I imported pcb as well and you can see how it looks like. There are some issues, such as wrong via types, sometimes wrong footprint orientation and some trash on the silkscreen layers. I started to clean it up (you can see in the screenshot, DDR3 area looks much better, than others)
                    Once I finish it, make it clean and tidy and add your information sheets with license, may I post it in my public gitlab and share with KiCad community?
                    Originally posted by Hung View Post
                    Alex Shuklin Great !!! I like that so when u finished. Can u share it?
                    I don't think it's right idea to share it just now, because I'm in the middle of something just now, and I now places where import is completed and where some work still should be done. So, please just wait for some time, and I will post it once it's done.

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                    • #13
                      may I post it in my public gitlab and share with KiCad community?
                      - Alex Shuklin yes you can share it. Just please keep the reference to the original imx6rex.com website and project. Thank you.

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                      • #14
                        Hi, I've just imported PCB Layout as well. If somebody want to look, it's there:
                        https://gitlab.com/jasuramme/imx6-openrex-kicad-port
                        But there still some stuff to do (probably add some rules, set up net classes and so on)
                        Unfortunately I missed that I ported to the KiCad nightly build, so you will be able to open project only with new KiCad version. (you can see version in gitlab readme)

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                        • #15
                          WOW, nice! Great job Alex Shuklin PS: Small correction. This is iMX6 Rex module, OpenRex is the bigger board: https://www.imx6rex.com/open-rex/

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