Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

A event log for KiCad and FreeCAD Hack Chat

Anool Madharia

LutetiumLutetium 04/24/2019 at 20:110 Comments

Dan Maloney12:00 PM
Looks like we're ready to go. I want to thanks Anool Mahidaria for taking time out of his trip to be with us today to chat about KiCad and FreeCAD.

Anool, can you give us a little background on yourself and how you came to be presenting at the first ever KiCon this weekend?

Anool Mahidharia12:01 PM
I'm based in Mumbai India, and first used KiCad in 2010. Since then I've grown to love it , and have used it for all of our Open HW prrojects at Wyolum.

Anool Mahidharia12:01 PM
I can't remember the first time I used FreeCAD, but it was ver 0.12 (we're almost at ver 0.18 now). And find it pretty useful.

Verin joined  the room.12:02 PM

Anool Mahidharia12:02 PM
Both, KiCad and FreeCAd have steep learning curves and quirks

Anool Mahidharia12:03 PM
But that goes for almost all technical SW, no matter which.

wyojustin12:03 PM
@Anool Mahidharia is touring the US at the moment landed in NYC, and is currently in Pittsburg, headed here to DC next.

Anool Mahidharia12:03 PM
So, KiCon2019 is a great beginning for us to teach, and learn, from one another

wyojustin12:03 PM
Oh and I think he has some KiCon thing in there too

Greg Bushta joined  the room.12:04 PM

Anool Mahidharia12:04 PM
Yeah, Justin.

Anool Mahidharia12:04 PM
I did a KiCad bootcamp at NYCResistor earlier this month

wyojustin12:05 PM
So why FreeCAD? Why not Fusion360 OpenSCAD?

Anool Mahidharia12:05 PM
And doing KiCad and FreeCAD workshops at MakerFX makerspace in Orlando later in May

Anool Mahidharia12:06 PM
FreeCAD 'cause is it open source, is multi platform (fusion doesn' work on Linux) and non-binary (plain text) file formats

Anool Mahidharia12:06 PM
OpenSCAD is kinda difficult for me 'cause I don't come from a programming background and cannot generate CAD programatically

Arthur joined  the room.12:06 PM

Anool Mahidharia12:07 PM
freeCAD fits the bill perfectly.

wyojustin12:07 PM
I lot of people have trouble getting started. How did you get over the hump? #aksingforafriend

Anool Mahidharia12:07 PM
And, I've seen it has been in constant and intensive development, just like KiCad

wyojustin12:07 PM

rob_sturgill joined  the room.12:08 PM

Anool Mahidharia12:08 PM
I kinda learned the FreeCAD ropes on my own, stumbling along the way. But it helps to have some background in how drawings are made, and solids are sculpted to make things easy

Jan12:09 PM
I must admit, for me as a Inventor and SolidWorks user it was a nightmare to get going

morgan12:09 PM
hmm, FCStd is plaintext?!

deshipu12:09 PM
could have been worse, could be Blender

Anool Mahidharia12:09 PM
But now, there's a ton of tutorials out there so it isn't so intimidating getting your feet wet unlike earlier

Anool Mahidharia12:09 PM
Yes, Morgan, FCStd is plain text

morgan12:09 PM
oh, I somehow missed that

Tillo12:10 PM
So is the KiCAD libraries stuff when you use Altium at work @Jan ;)

deshipu12:10 PM
or anything else, really

wyojustin12:10 PM
Can you recomend a begining tut on FreeCAD?

morgan12:10 PM
also in regard to tutorials, there are several new youtubers putting out content for FreeCAD 0.17 & 0.18+, mathcodeprint is one I like

morgan12:11 PM
that was one problem I found trying to learn FreeCAD, the content was dated

Anool Mahidharia12:11 PM
Unlike KiCAD (which is a EDA designed to help you build PCBs), FreeCAD is a general CAD program, so there's mant different ways of starting off depending on what you want to do

wyojustin12:11 PM



Devoted to 3d Printing, Embedded Electronics, Education and Related. ( And anything else I love ).

Read this on YouTube

Anool Mahidharia12:12 PM
Like, your learning path in FreeCAD will be different if you're an architect, compared to if you're building electronics enclosures. But thankfully, most of the basic's are similar.

Jan12:13 PM
speaking of enclosures... does it have a sheet metal tool?

morgan12:13 PM
Yes! Sheet Metal WB is great!

Jan12:13 PM
at least the very basic stuff?

Anool Mahidharia12:13 PM
Yes, indeed. There's a sheet metal workbench

morgan12:13 PM
Mid-may I'll be opening a cool project I'm designing with it

Jan12:14 PM
because that's a thing I miss when I have no access to the stupid expensive company CAD systems :)

Anool Mahidharia12:14 PM
FreeCAD's workbench approach is great. Helps the community to contribute by building features for specific tasks easily

morgan12:15 PM
Anool, do you not find it a double edge sword though? I've had two WBs 'competing' to accomplish their tasks, destroying my model in the process

Anool Mahidharia12:15 PM
For example, Maurice (easyw) has built a fantastic set of tools - the KiCad StepUp Tools workbench - that allows a seamelss integration between KiCad and FreeCAD

morgan12:16 PM
could very well be the fault of my process, but annoying none the less

Anool Mahidharia12:16 PM
Morgan, likely, I haven't come across such an issue.

Jan12:17 PM
the chats' scrolling is broken again for me, anyone else?

morgan12:17 PM
Jan, it's always broken

Anool Mahidharia12:17 PM
Also, remember, FreeCAD, just like KiCad, is open source and community driven. So, the nice thing to do is help with development instead of just complaining. Usually, the Dev's are eager to help and solve issues. Just providing feedback on bugs helps a lot with Dev.

wyojustin12:18 PM



FreeCAD Manipulator WorkBench. Contribute to easyw/Manipulator development by creating an account on GitHub.

Read this on GitHub

Dan Maloney12:19 PM
The scroll bar is there for me - very small, but there when you mouse over to the right edge of the chat window.

Anool Mahidharia12:19 PM
Thankfully, KiCad moved away from the terrible use of Wings3D for creating VRML models and moving to STEP models, as well as a better VRML support.

Arthur12:19 PM
with FreeCAD can you edit and save drawings in AutoCad dwg format?

Anool Mahidharia12:20 PM
You can export in DXF

Jan12:21 PM
yeah, the god awful DWG format is most annoying. no portability between CAD systems. even less so than DXF...

Anool Mahidharia12:21 PM
But FC can also export DWG (2D)

Arthur12:22 PM
they are make sure to make you life dificult and keep you hooked to their product. But I love free..

Jan12:22 PM
@Dan Maloney it's just that it always snaps back to the latest post even if you scrolled up to catch up with a earlier discussion...

Anool Mahidharia12:23 PM
The other neat thing is the support for parametric design

Kevin Kessler joined  the room.12:23 PM

wyojustin12:23 PM
Can you capture some screenshots of the FreeCAD work you do in KiCAD?

morgan12:23 PM
yay parametric design!

Anool Mahidharia12:23 PM

Jan12:24 PM
yeah, I'd be interested too. like a PCB in a sheet metal case with an USB cutout derived from the boards connector or something

morgan12:24 PM
@wyojustin I use the explored DXF for board outlines imported into KiCAD

Anool Mahidharia12:24 PM
Here's an enclosure I built this month for a Raspberry Pi based touch scree, Photo Booth

wyojustin12:24 PM

morgan12:24 PM
in fact, that's what my talk this weekend is about

Jan12:24 PM
looks good. what would the feature tree of such a part look like?

wyojustin12:25 PM
Any electonic components imported into KiCAD?

Dan Maloney12:25 PM
Looks like it's face down? Am I looking at it right?

morgan12:25 PM
easyw/kicadStepUp will import a board an components back into FreeCAD

morgan12:25 PM
...and components

Anool Mahidharia12:25 PM
A large number of models available for KiCad are now being generated in FreeCAD

Anool Mahidharia12:26 PM

Jan12:26 PM
did I read right that I can import STP files for kicad models now?

Kevin Kessler12:26 PM
I desperately wanted to like FreeCad, but when I start to iterate over a model and make changes, the whole thing falls apart unlike anything I've seen in OnShape or Fusion360. From what I see in the message boards, this it somewhat common, and there is talk about using Datum planes and a lot of other non-intutive stuff. Is there any chance that this situation will improve in the near future>

Anool Mahidharia12:26 PM
Jan, yes. KiCad now supports either STEP or WRL

Jan12:26 PM
wohoooo, didn't know. the conversion steps were awful work to do

Jan12:27 PM
trying right now

Anool Mahidharia12:27 PM
I've seen big improvements over each version of FreeCAD, so I assume things will keep getting better. With the right kind of user feedback, issues can be sorted out too

wyojustin12:28 PM

wyojustin12:28 PM
World debut here on HaD!

wyojustin12:28 PM
Looks even better in real life

Anool Mahidharia12:28 PM
That's @wyojustin using the 3D printed version of the design I posted above

morgan12:29 PM

Anool Mahidharia12:29 PM
It's the PhotoBooth, doing double duty as a PC for HackChat !


wyojustin12:29 PM

Anool Mahidharia12:30 PM
@Dan Maloney , indeed, the HackChat scrolls to the latest message even when trying to scroll up to view old messages.

morgan12:31 PM
(even is there are no new message)

Anool Mahidharia12:32 PM
In Maurice's latest version of the KiCad StepUp tools, you can import / export a .kicad_pcb both ways. So, you import a PCB in FC, move some parts around so they fit an enclosure, for example. And hen you can export and push changes back to the KiCad side.

Dan Maloney12:32 PM
Yeah, that's a problem. We're looking at fixing that scrollbar issue...

morgan12:33 PM
whoa, didn't know StepUp could export like that now

TkonekT joined  the room.12:33 PM

Anool Mahidharia12:34 PM
Helps with precise placement of mounting holes, switches etc. The only thing to take care of is the tracks get broken because the parts get moved. But that should not be a problem if you make the component placement phase before drawing tracks

Anool Mahidharia12:34 PM
Morgan, check this video

Tillo12:35 PM
thanks for that, gonna check it out soonish

Anool Mahidharia12:35 PM
It also supports importing Tracks and Silk Layer in FC from KiCad

morgan12:36 PM
huh, I thought that was the case but the other day I couldn't get it to work

Anool Mahidharia12:36 PM
So, there's a very tight integration between KiCad and FreeCAD

Jan12:36 PM
why can't I JUST add a damn 3D file to an footprint without soooo much hassle

Anool Mahidharia12:37 PM
Morgan, likely. I couldn't manage to import the Silk layer (DXF) from KiCad in to FC, but importing tracks worked.

morgan12:37 PM
cool, will probably pick your brain about that this weekend

Anool Mahidharia12:37 PM

Anool Mahidharia12:37 PM
Jan, it isn't really as much a hassle as it sounds.

morgan12:38 PM
wow! that syncronized export is super cool

Anool Mahidharia12:38 PM
Yeah. I love it.

Jan12:38 PM
I did it earlier, even created some myself

morgan12:38 PM
damn, knowing that would have change my talk a bit....

Jan12:38 PM
seems to have changed or something?

Anool Mahidharia12:39 PM
What do you mean, Jan ?

Tillo12:40 PM
It improved a lot from 4 to 5 as I heard.

Anool Mahidharia12:40 PM
Yeah, KiCad v5 has had a lot of improvements

Anool Mahidharia12:42 PM
The EEschema part stil