Testing out KiCad and my Issues with EasyEDA

A project log for ZTO-80 SBC + Bus

A Z80 single board computer designed to have many essential features built around a highly expandable central bus design

Jacob HahnJacob Hahn 01/22/2020 at 14:250 Comments

Up until this point in the ZTO-80's development, I have been using EasyEDA as my main EDA program for making schematics and laying out PCBs. It works well and has all of the features I need while still being very easy to use. It also has simple integration with JLCPCB, which is where I order my boards. It does, however, have its drawbacks. Being an online service, you can't use it without an internet connection. Furthermore, although it has an extensive library of user-created symbols and footprints available, the included symbols are unorganized, not always well made (unless they are linked to LCSC), and somewhat difficult to modify. This isn't helped by a poor interface to choose parts and lacking library management. While the integration with LCSC is helpful and provides good symbols, the service doesn't have most of the parts that I need and I prefer DigiKey. It also isn't widely compatible with other programs (such as KiCad).

Due to these reasons, and also because of the potential volatility of EasyEDA's free plan in the future, I have chosen to migrate to a new EDA software. I originally thought that I would move to Eagle, as it is well known in the industry and has much documentation. However, I didn't like the limitations of the free version, so I looked elsewhere, settling on KiCad. It's open-source, completely free, capable, and supported by organizations such as CERN.

I followed the very helpful Getting Started guide on KiCad's website, and quickly learned my way around the software and designed a test board. I'm still getting used to the new workflow, but I can already tell that it will be much easier to manage than EasyEDA.

One issue with migrating to KiCad is that EasyEDA doesn't have a feature to directly export to KiCad. After looking around, I discovered this script, which is supposed to allow export to Kicad from EasyEDA. Text doesn't come out very well, but the rest seems fine. Even with this script, though, I probably will just end up using the dimensions of my boards to port them by hand.

I still plan to use EasyEDA for smaller projects and all my current designs will still be hosted there, but expect me to upload KiCad files to this project in the near future!