Best way to share a *complete* set of KiCAD design files?

  • Hero Member

    I'm hooked on KiCAD 6. Way better than previous versions. To me, the most powerful feature, if I can figure out how, is to share a complete project, including novel components not in the standard library, such that others can basically open up the project and tweak it however they want without having to start over from scratch. This is something that Diptrace could not do. This will be far more powerful than just posting gerber files.

    But what's the best way to do it? Is it KiCAD project archive? Will that produce the desired result? I've found hardly any discussion about how to do this, yet it seems to be one of KiCAD's most compelling features.

    After all, how many times have you looked at somebody's project and thought, "Yeah, that's almost what I want. If only I could change just a few little things it would be a a fit"? But if all you have is their gerber files, good luck with that. However, with KiCAD maybe it will finally be possible to better leverage each others work without having to startover from scratch.

    How best to do it?

  • I've only just started playing with KiCad 6.0 myself. I'm liking it too. I picked it up in order to have a closer look at @m26872 's contribution of KiCad design files from 2015 (using KiCad 4.0 RC2!) for their Slim 2xAA Battery Node.

    They seemingly created the zip file by simply creating a Zip file of the folders that contain the project. That may be the best approach.

    I've been able to open it and although had some challenges remapping the libraries, as they were changed significantly between 4.0 and 5.0, I've been able to have a good look and have plans to change the orientation of the ICSP header to the edge of the board, if I can learn enough to do that.

    As a test of that theory and as a contribution back to the community and @m26872 I tried to upload my copy of the design files in KiCad v 6.0 format but ZIP files are not allowed anymore.

  • Hero Member

    @alphaHotel I've seen some projects that posted .rar files on the site. However, I'm not sure what's in them, as I haven't opened them. My guess is just the usual gerber files.

  • I just saw on the site that you can import GitHub projects. That would be a great way to do it. Work locally, push changes to Github, and publish to when it's ready.

  • Hero Member

    Reporting back: I tried archiving a project and then importing that archive onto another KiCAD computer that doesn't share custom library models with the source computer. Bottom Line: As near as I can tell, it seems to work fine as a way to facilitate tweaking a KiCAD design. Maybe there are other, or perhaps better ways of doing it, but this way does, nonetheless, seem to work.

    If anyone has a better idea on how to do it, please post what it would be!

  • Hero Member

    @alphaHotel Excellent idea! I'll give that a try on my next project. Seems like you'd get the best of both worlds, all while helping out A nice win-win for all concerned.

  • Hero Member

    Reporting back: AFAIK, the most generous way to do it is to create a project specific library and include all the parts (and related footprints) in that project library. That way, if someone wants to, for example, use one of the parts from your project in their own different project without doing the work of recreating the part from scratch, then they will have easy access to to that part. Then, when you archive your project, the project specific library will be included in the archive zip file, and anyone who subsequently unpacks that archive (from within KiCAD) will have access to all the same parts used in your project.

    This also has the benefit of making your project fully self-contained, so that you can easily import it into a KiCAD that's running on a different computer and pick up immediately from where you left off. To my mind, this feature puts KiCAD 6 way ahead of DipTrace, which is the program I previously used.

  • @NeverDie I think that usually you can 'rescue' the symbols and part footprints from the files directly as well. I've had it successfully work usually, but a couple times when opening an old file from a previous KiCad version I've had some errors.

    Knock on wood, but so far nothing has been unrecoverable. Of course having a dedicated symbol and footprint library would make it even more foolproof, but it might not be necessary.

  • Hero Member

    I'm trying to post the KiCAD archives for a couple of "work in progress" projects that I posted just recently, but the present system extracts the .zip file and seems to throw out nearly all of the files therein. Even if it didn't lose nearly everything, unbundling it like that it would be a disaster of usability for trying to import an archive. I then tried uploading it as a .lz4 file of the .zip file to prevent that from happening, but it completely rejects that format or file extension. How to do it? How do I upload an intact version of the KiCAD project archive? Is there a compression format that the uploader will accept that it won't try to extract? The project zip file itself is only about 84K bytes, so it's not an issue of trying to post something that's too big.

    @mfalkvidd Any ideas?

  • @NeverDie You've already tried the tricks I usually resort to. Maybe try to get a hold of an administrator over there? It sure seems like that site should accept all KiCad files, since that's kind of the whole point.

  • Hero Member

    It turns out it will accept .rar files without attempting to extract their contents, so I used that method to post an in-tact archive. Somebody please post if there are any other ways.

  • @NeverDie DipTrace stores all components with the project file, so you can open it on any computer and extract components from Schematic or PCB as a library. Also it automatically saves all project components into design cache, which is immediately accessible as a library with all its functionality.

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