Adding external Part Libraries, DRCs, and CAM files to KiCad

This article will discuss the process of adding part libraries and DRC rule files to KiCad.  The repository for all of the MacroFab specific KiCad files can be found on our Github here. Instructions covering how to clone the repository onto your computer can be found here.

Importing MacroFab Part Libraries into KiCad

Once you have the MacroFab EDALibraries github repository cloned to your computer, open the PCB footprint editor:


Figure 1: Locating the Footprint Editor in KiCad


In the footprint editor, click on Preferences and then click on Footprint Libraries Wizard:


Figure 2: Running the Footprint Libraries Wizard


In the Footprint Libraries Wizard, select “Files on my computer” and click Next:


Figure 3: First page inside the Footprint Libraries Wizard


On the next page, locate the KiCad footprints cloned from the MacroFab/EDALibraries repository:


Figure 4: Selecting MacroFab footprint libraries


Click Next again, and finally on the last page, select if you want to add the libraries globally (for all projects) or only for the current project.  Click Finish, and the MacroFab footprint library is now added to KiCad.  Next, to add the schematic symbols libraries open the Schematic Library Editor:



Figure 5: Locating the Schematic Library Editor


Click Preferences, and then click on Component Libraries:


Figure 6: Editing Component Libraries


In this window, click on Add:


Figure 7: Adding Schematic Symbol Libraries


Select all of the schematic symbol libraries cloned from the MacroFab/EDALibraries repository:


Figure 8: Browsing to the schematic symbol libraries

Click Open and then OK, and the schematic symbol libraries are now added to KiCad.

Using MacroFab design rules in KiCad

Unfortunately, KiCad does not support the importing of Design Rule Files, so these values will have to be typed in manually.  Within the layout editor pcbnew (these design rules are unique to each .kicad_pcb file), click on Design Rules and then click on Design Rules again:


Figure 9: Finding the Design Rules settings


In the design rules settings, there are two tabs.  The first tab is your Net Classes Editor.  These classes can be assigned to the nets on your board to assign different sets of traces different sets of design rules to use while routing.  The next figure shows all four possible Net Classes for PCBs assembled at MacroFab.

Figure 10: Adding new Net Classes


The Default Net Class can be left at its default vaules and the values for uVias can be ignored.  The four new Net Classes correspond to the four sets of design rules at MacroFab.  You most likely only need to add one of these Net Classes according to the specs of your design.  These Net Classes can be assigned to any of the nets on your PCB in the Membership pane.

In the next tab are Global Design Rules.  These should be manually set to which ever MacroFab manufacturing specifications your design uses (or more generally, to the minimum values of all your Net Classes).  Values in your Net Classes, or anything on the board cannot violate these global design rules.  For an example, I edited these values to correspond to our standard manufacturing specifications:


Figure 11: Editing Global Design Rules


Once you are done, click OK and your KiCad project is ready to use MacroFab’s design rules!