KiCad is an open source software suite for Electronic Design Automation (EDA) that facilitates the creation of professional schematics and Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) of up to 32 copper layers. It runs on Windows, Linux and Apple's OS X. One of the things we like about KiCad, apart from it being endorsed by CERN, is this multi-platform support. We also like the fact that it is released under the open-source GNU GPL v2 free of charge.
However, free does not mean free of functionality, on the contrary. This is a fully-fledged, feature rich EDA tool, that we will be using from now on to design our PCBs. Also, because the software is available to our readers too, our design files should be freely available once we switch over to Git Hub. Installing KiCad on a Macbook Air with Mavericks 10.9.5 is the topic of this blog post.
The KiCad EDA Software Suite is available from (http://www.kicad-pcb.org/display). Its primary components are (1) Eeschema, a schematic editor, (2) Pcbnew, printed circuit board editor (3) Gerbview, a GERBER file viewer and finally (4) Cvpcb a footprint selector for components association.
As mentioned previously it is available across multi-platforms including Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, which is the target of this post. I clicked on the link 1 option under the Apple logo to begin the download and installation process.
Clicking on the link landed me on the Mac for OS X download page where I downloaded the binaries Kicad-product-2014-02-28.zip and the libraries Library-20-03-20.zip to my download area. I am not sure whether these two zipped files contain the documentation, as I have read on other sites that the documentation needs to be downloaded separately.
The downloaded zipped files were automatically unzipped by OS X into two folders kicad and kicad-2. I copied the contents of kicad-2 into kicad and ended up with the files shown in the image above. The kicad application is like the overall framework from which the other four major components of the suite, mentioned previously, can be launched. The individual applications can also be started without starting kicad first.
I then tried launching kicad and cvpcb by double clicking on them, which resulted in the message that " .. is an application downloaded from the Internet. Are you sure you want to open it". Since I was sure I wanted to open the application I clicked on yes. Clicking on yes led to another dialog box appearing informing me that " ... can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer." This occurs because of Mavericks 10.9.5 default security settings, which I quite liked and didn't really want to change. The forums suggested unblocking just the application from the system preferences, so I did just that.
Navigate to the System Preferences from the Launchpad
From there click on the Security and Privacy icon.
In the dialog that pops-up the following sentence is seen. "kicad was blocked from opening because it is not from an identified developer" click on Open Anyway and you are done. The good thing about this security setting is that you do not compromise the whole system by granting this one application access to your system. You have to go through the same process for each of the kicad components.
That's all it takes. Our first project using KiCad will be in the design of a Servo Control Printed Circuit Board that can be driven either from the DE0-Nano or the BeMicro CV. Stay tuned to find out how we got to grips with KiCad to design this PCB.