Adventures with KiCAD

I have been threatening to learn KiCAD over the past months. I finally sat down for a week and went through the Contextual Concepts tutorials. They are very well done. I also referenced these other web sites. 

Getting to Blinky 4 from Contextual Electronics. This one really goes through all of the KiCAD processes. They also have a newer, down and dirty, how to create a PCB with KiCAD. This one is called Shine On You Crazy KiCAD

KiCAD Like A Pro from Tech Explorations was also a great reference when I needed to find a quick command or how to do something. 

Wayne and Layne – It is for older versions, but the basics for PCB building are there. 

 

I have a couple of projects coming up using the ATTiny series of micro controllers. Having tired of fussing with wires and a breadboard, I decided to dedicate an UNO for programming. And at the same time design and have fabricated a programming shield. 

Atty shield 3d

The schematic is simple for the first version. I have all of the programming pins in place, an LED for testing, and all of the pins broken out so something more complex than a LED can be tested, such as a sensor. 

Att sheild schematic

During the process of running the traces on in PCB I ran into an issue with the Mac trackpad where the cursor would go off with a mind of its own. I tried with just a mouse and had the same issue. I read up on the issue and saw where others have had the same thing. Having worked in tech for 30 years now, I know when to find an easier path to my problem. I already Debian Linux from having Raspberry Pi’s around the house, so I just downloaded version 9.x, and created a VM in Parallels, and loaded up KiCAD 4.x. To date it has been running fine and was able to finish up the project using my KiCAD VM. 

Att shield pcb

 

I completed my first PCB of my own design and effort. I generated the gerber files for production. In my research I also found a good site to use, https://gerblook.com. You can upload your gerber files and they will generate an image of what it will look like. And as in my case, find out if there are any error before you send them off. I forgot to turn on a layer when I generated them, and it barked about it. I went back and fixed the error and tried again with success. Then I sent them off to OSHpark.com already. I received an email that they are off to manufacturing and they should arrive in about a week and a half. I will be sure and update on how they turn out. 

This is just version one of this project. I am already working on some improvements and modifications for it coming up here in the near future. And since practice makes prefect I also have two more Christmas projects. I figure if I start now I should be able to finish them up just about the Christmas season is upon me. LOL.