Tutorials/Design your own Printed Circuit Board using FOSS

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Ok, let's make sure we're all on the same page... After the tutorial, you will be ready to take a circuit and produce everything necessary to order a working Printed Circuit Board(PCB) from a fabrication service such as PCBCart.


Things you need to do BEFORE the tutorial

The EDA/CAD package we'll be using to design our PCB in the tutorial is called KiCad. The bare minimum you'll need to do before turning up is:

  • Install KiCad
  • Grab my tarfile of staged examples.

Installing KiCad

Instructions for most OS's can be found here.

Ideally, you would be running a fairly recent install of the tools. If your distro sports a more vintage version of KiCad, please try out one of the snapshots linked from the downloads page. Alternatively, build from a recent source snapshot.

Mac users: The current official KiCad builds are badly broken. Someone is doing OS/X builds of the latest code, and while they are not perfect, they work better than what's on the KiCad website.

Installing staged examples

Finally, ****PLEASE DOWNLOAD THIS TARBALL**** and unpack the contents somewhere convenient. It contains various files that will be explained and used during the tutorial.

Things to know

This is a short course about designing a PCB using FOSS tools. Sadly, we don't have the time required to cover topics such as introductory electronics or PCB construction. If you'd like to get up to speed or just brush up, I'd recommend the following:

Introductory Electronics

The amount of electrical knowledge you'll need for the tutorial is surprisingly small. We'll start off with a completed electrical design already tested on a breadboard.

If you are the studious type however, any of the following are a great primer:

This title from MakerShed covers the basics pretty well.

The popular site All About Circuits has a frighteningly large amount of detail with Volume 1 covering the basics.

For the serious enthusiast, The Art of Electronics by Horrowitz and Hill covers more than you'll ever need and does wonders for your upper body strength every time you reach for it.

And purely because more people must know about this book The Manga Guide to Electricity"

Printed Circuit Board Basics

The Wikipedia article on Printed Circuit Boards gives a good coverage of how a PCB is built and functions. The most relevant material is the coverage of the various layers and terminology.

Quick links: linux.conf.au | Blog | Wiki home | Sitemap | Login using your linux.conf.au credentials

Support for KiCad

Live and in person

At the conference, and until the tutorial strts, you can get help from Mitch Davis in the upstairs mezzanine area above the Caro foyer. Look near the water cooler.

IRC channel

Mitch Davis is CapnKernel on the #linux.conf.au channel.

You can get KiCad help in Freenode's #kicad channel (web version). (Ask away, although you may have to wait a long time for an answer)

Mailing list

There's a KiCad mailing list.

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