Kikad pcb layout to front panel

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yan6
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Kikad pcb layout to front panel

Post by yan6 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:34 pm

I'm completely new to kikad and freecad so go easy in case this is relatively common knowledge. Ive gone ahead and layed out a pcb and populated all the footprints and cad models for each part.

When I render it, it looks so good 👍 and I'm really excited for it. I have a big gap in my knowledge and haven't really found any good info regarding moving forward to panel design.

Can anyone point me in the right direction of learning how I transfer all my through panel dependencies to some kind of cad program, like freecad. Basically I'd like kikad to output things like pot locations, panel screw locations, etc

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Flounderguts
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Re: Kikad pcb layout to front panel

Post by Flounderguts » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:41 pm

You can "plot" a layer to dxf. Results vary.

If you have a way of converting a gerber to dxf, KiCad saves the drill locations in the .drl file, gerber format. I have had some luck using fusion to import the drl and export to any one of a number of other formats, but again, results vary.

KiCad is pretty good at using STP or STEP files. I don't use freecad, so I don't know how well it deals with STP, but that is another avenue.

Honestly, I usually go the other way...I design the panel cutout in AutoCAD (native for dxf) and import it into the EDA program. I don't love KiCad for front panels, as the support for graphics and fonts is a bit wonky.
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yan6
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Re: Kikad pcb layout to front panel

Post by yan6 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:52 pm

Just to clarify I dont want to use kikad to design the panel, ill do that with some graphics programs. As an example, one part from the file is a slide pot. I'd like kikad to tell me where the panel mount screw holes are on the face on the slide pot. This would be projected from the cad model based on where on the pcb its been placed

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Bartimaeus
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Re: Kikad pcb layout to front panel

Post by Bartimaeus » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:56 pm

to be honest, you'd be better off picking a point (such as the upper right corner), measuring the distance from that point to each component in kicad, and then replicating it in your cad software. bit of a pain, but it will guarantee that there aren't any scaling errors from export/import.

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Re: Kikad pcb layout to front panel

Post by SlightlyNasty » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:16 pm

I do what Bartimaeus says for my panels - in KiCAD at the bottom of the screen you have both global coordinates and a second set that you can zero by putting the cursor where you want the new origin to be and then hitting space bar. Usually I'll have an outline of the physical control panel in the "user drawings" layer, then I'll zero the coordinate system to the top left corner of that and measure the centre points of all the various front panel components. I design my panels beforehand, so usually I'll move them in KiCAD to match their positions in the Illustrator file, but obviously you can do it the other way around as well.
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Re: Kikad pcb layout to front panel

Post by geecen » Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:19 pm

I was researching this recently too. Check out https://github.com/badgeek/svg2shenzhen

You can do designs in inkscape and import them to kicad

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yan6
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Re: Kikad pcb layout to front panel

Post by yan6 » Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:27 pm

I'll take a look into that inkscape extention, Ive never used inkscape so there will a bit of an uplift there. I have been using freecad and have been able to import the kikad 3d model and render into freecad. I hadnt been able to draw ontop of the model and derive constraints from the model. I was just pointed in the direction of a shape binder tool that I will need to try out.

Its good to have options. Inkscape may be a better tool in the end since it can further handle the graphics portion too. Can inkscape hold both graphics and cutlines

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joem
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Re: Kikad pcb layout to front panel

Post by joem » Fri Jan 15, 2021 5:12 pm

yan6 wrote:
Thu Jan 14, 2021 1:27 pm
Can inkscape hold both graphics and cutlines
Yup. With that extension, each layer in Inkscape represents a PCB layer, including an edge cut layer, if that's what you mean.

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