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In this video, I walk you through the transition from EasyEDA to KiCad for your PCB designs. While we lose the tight integration with LCSC parts, we gain the ability to export 3D models in KiCad. I discuss the challenges of finding certain components and how a handy script can help pull LCSC components into KiCad. We also explore how to position and adjust components correctly. Needing enclosures for your design? We discuss how to export these 3D models for review and even import them into Fusion360. To top it off, I mention the value in using PCBWay for your PCB needs, including 3D printing and CNC work. It's a whirlwind of information, aimed to help you navigate and enhance your PCB design workflow.

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[0:00] If you’ve watched some of my earlier videos you’ll know that I used to use EasyEDA for my PCB designs.
[0:06] Now one of the things I liked about EasyEDA is it has a very tight integration with LCSC
[0:11] parts and that gives you symbols, footprints and 3D models. So I’ve got this very simple
[0:16] schematic here. I’ve not wired up any of the pins it’s just for a demo but we have our symbols here
[0:22] and if we switch over to the PCB you can see we’ve got the footprints all set up
[0:26] and we can go to the 3D view and we have a really nice 3D view of what our PCB is going to look like.
[0:32] Now one of the downsides of EasyEDA is there’s no way to export this so you can’t load it into
[0:38] your CAD program to build an enclosure for your PCB. So I switched over to KiCad because KiCad
[0:45] lets you export 3D models it’s really nice. Now the only thing is KiCad does have a very rich
[0:50] library of components but it doesn’t have everything so you’re often left searching the
[0:56] internet trying to find components and trying to find footprints and 3D models to match.
[1:01] I found a really handy tool. What we can do is we can take the ids of our LCSC components
[1:09] so we just go here grab the supplier part or you can go to the LCSC website
[1:14] and search for your component.
[1:20] So let’s find an ESP32. We can just grab this component part and you’ll see it’s got an EasyEDA
[1:28] model. So what we can do is we can copy this and then we can paste it into this nice little script.
[1:34] So I pulled out some LCSC components here so let’s just run this
[1:37] and this goes off to LCSC. It downloads the symbols, it downloads the footprint and if
[1:46] there’s a 3D model available it downloads that as well and then it adds it into KiCad.
[1:50] So now if we go into KiCad we can add some components. So you can see here I’ve got an EasyEDA
[1:56] to KiCad library and it’s pulled in various components. So here’s the FPC connector,
[2:02] let’s add that to our design. Here’s a ESP32 room module so we’ll add that as well
[2:13] and here’s our nice little USB connector so let’s add that so I think it was this one.
[2:19] So there’s our footprint and there’s our symbol so we’ll add that as well.
[2:24] So all three of these symbols were pulled down from the LCSC parts catalog.
[2:30] Now if we go to our PCB we can update our PCB.
[2:42] So there’s our components with their footprints.
[2:45] So now we’ll just do an edge cut and we’ll just put a box around this
[2:49] and now we can go to the 3D viewer and there’s our components. Now of course there is a slight thing
[2:58] where some of the 3D components don’t quite match up to the footprints
[3:02] but that’s easy enough to fix so let me just quickly show you how to do that.
[3:06] So we open up the footprint editor go to the 3D model just need to position this so we can see it
[3:14] and now we can adjust this model so that it’s correct. So I think it needs to be rotated
[3:21] by 180 degrees and it needs to move up so there’s our component so actually it was rotated correctly
[3:29] it was just offset slightly incorrectly so let’s move it into the right place.
[3:35] So there we go that’s our component nicely positioned and we can do the same for the USB
[3:41] connector so that was slightly going through the PCB. So you can see if we look here it’s pushed
[3:49] far too far down so we can just push that up so we need to adjust the Y so let’s adjust the Z
[3:59] the wrong way push that up so that looks about right to me.
[4:08] Hit OK and now we go to our 3D viewer and you can see it’s all perfectly set up now.
[4:17] Now there is one thing to be aware of when you export your 3D model
[4:25] you need to export as VRML otherwise you won’t get most of your components.
[4:30] The best tool for reviewing this I found is FreeCAD so this is a nice piece of FreeCAD software
[4:36] and here’s our PCB in all its glory with the components and all the lovely colors
[4:41] so that’s pretty neat. Now on the subject of PCBs you really should take a look at PCBWay
[4:47] I’ve been using them for all my PCBs but they also do 3D printing and CNC work so it’s pretty
[4:53] interesting I’ve got a whole bunch of orders with them right now and I’m waiting for some delivery
[4:57] so we can see all of my orders here I’ve got some that are waiting for delivery some that are in
[5:02] production and quite a few completed ones so have a look at PCBWay for your PCB needs.
[5:08] So what about importing into Fusion 360 we can’t import the world file directly but what we can do
[5:17] is load it into Blender so if you’ve not used Blender before it can be slightly confusing
[5:22] it starts off with a cube in your display now we can just select everything and then push x and
[5:28] delete so you select everything by pushing a and then you push x and that deletes everything and
[5:34] now we can import our world file so we go here and we import a x3d extensible 3d so if I go to my
[5:45] folder I have my little demo so I can import that it comes in quite big so we can zoom out and here’s
[5:54] our here’s our PCB so it comes in and Blender displays it now what we can do is we can export
[6:02] this as a wavefront opt file so we go to export and we choose wavefront and we choose obj now
[6:10] there’s a couple of options here that can be quite useful so we want to include colors and it’s quite
[6:15] useful to group by object groups so let’s put that into our same folder and now if we go over to
[6:25] Fusion 360 we can do insert insert mesh and now if we select from our computer you can see that
[6:34] I have a untitled.obj and an untitled.mtl so if we open this file you can see that our PCB has been
[6:46] imported so there you go now the only downside with this is it does import it as a mesh so you
[6:52] can see all these lines here that’s all the mesh lines but it’s good enough and it does match the
[6:58] sizes of our PCB so if we inspect we can measure from that corner to that corner and we can see
[7:06] that that is 36.4 millimeters now if we look at our PCB in KiCad and we measure it here
[7:15] you can see that that is 36.4 millimeters now the only thing to make sure of is when you do your
[7:26] file export you need to make sure you choose millimeters as your units for the output files
[7:34] but it works pretty well so that’s quite good so the tool is pretty easy to use there’s a really
[7:41] nice github readme file with all the instructions it gets you set up and you get a nice KiCad library
[7:47] and this imports the symbols footprints and 3d models straight into it now of course there is
[7:52] a warning you can’t really trust all the footprints you download off the internet so make sure you
[7:56] double check them against the datasheet you don’t want to mess your PCB up so it’s a pretty good
[8:02] tool give it a go and let me know what you think i’ll see you in the next video

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Chris Greening

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A collection of slightly mad projects, instructive/educational videos, and generally interesting stuff. Building projects around the Arduino and ESP32 platforms - we'll be exploring AI, Computer Vision, Audio, 3D Printing - it may get a bit eclectic...

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