Open source PCB design tools get a major update

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KiCad 6.0 open source EDA software for schematic capture and PCB layout adds hundreds of new features, enhancements, and bug fixes. A refreshed user interface makes the visual design language, keyboard shortcuts, dialog layouts, and editing workflows consistent so you no longer feel like you’re using two different tools when switching between editors schematics and PCBs.

KiCad’s schematic editor now uses the same object selection and manipulation paradigm as the PCB editor. It also has a brand new schematic and symbol library file format, based on the format used for KiCad map and footprint files. Symbols can be embedded directly into a schematic file, eliminating the need for cache libraries.

KiCad’s PCB Editor offers new options to make navigating complex designs easier. Save and restore custom display presets. Hide some nets from the rat’s nest. Control the opacity of zones, pads, vias and tracks independently. Set colors for specific nets and net classes, and apply those colors to the Rats Nest or any copper attached to that net.

To enhance board visualization, the 3D Viewer offers ray-traced lighting controls, highlighting of selected objects in the PCB editor, and easier access to frequently used controls. Additionally, KiCad 6.0 offers a new custom design rules system that allows complex design rules to be defined, including area-specific rules, layer-specific rules, and other constraints required for advanced designs.

KiCad 6.0 runs on Windows, Linux and macOS and is licensed under the GNU GPL v3.

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