Open Source PCB Design Tools Receive A Major Update


Hundreds of new features, enhancements, and bug fixes have been added to KiCad 6.0, an open source EDA software for schematic capture and PCB layout. The visual design language, hotkeys, dialogue layouts, and editing workflows have all been updated, so moving between the schematic and PCB editors no longer seems like you’re using two distinct tools.

The schematic editor in KiCad now works in the same way as the PCB editor in terms of item selection and manipulation. It also comes with a fresh new schematic and symbol library file format that is based on the KiCad board and footprint file format. Cache libraries are no longer required because symbols can be integrated directly into a schematic file.

KiCad’s PCB editor now has new features to aid in the navigation of complex designs. Custom view presets can be saved and restored. Keep some nets hidden from the ratsnest. Zones, pads, vias, and tracks all have their own opacity controls. Colors should be assigned to specific nets and net types, and those colours should be applied to the ratsnest or all copper related to that net.

The 3D viewer includes raytracing lighting options, highlighting of elements chosen in the PCB editor, and easy access to frequently used controls to improve board viewing. KiCad 6.0 also includes a new custom design rule system that allows complicated design rules to be generated, such as area-specific rules, layer-specific rules, and other advanced design constraints.

KiCad 6.0 is GNU GPL v3 licenced and runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.


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