Frequently Asked Questions

Please check the official documentation too.

CERN's contribution to KiCad project

Are you aware that KiCad's code base is not of the highest quality?

Yes, before embarking on this project we conducted an in-depth study of the code base of KiCad and other open source EDA packages. We are very much aware of the places in the KiCad code base where a serious clean-up would be useful. Fortunately, thanks to the work of many competent programmers, these areas are becoming less and less numerous. We also plan to help in that domain. The main KiCad developers are also conscious of this problem and are working hard to improve things. Having said this, if you can criticize KiCad code it's because it is open source. Nobody knows if the code for proprietary EDA packages is better or worse.

How is this activity staffed at CERN?

There are two main contributors at CERN: Maciej Sumiński (Orson) and Tomasz Włostowski. Orson works on KiCad officially, along with some other projects. Tom works on KiCad in his spare time. Of course, it would be better to do more, but this is what we can afford now. We sometimes can have external contractors work on KiCad thanks to the generous donations of KiCad supporters. We hope that our example will be followed by other organizations, so that manpower is not an issue for KiCad anymore. Then the issue will be to properly organize this manpower and to ensure only high-quality code makes it to the main tree.

You seem to be a hardware-oriented section. Are you competent for this kind of work?

We are lucky to have several very competent C++ developers in our section. Our team is mostly made of electronics engineers and computer scientists, with lots of experience in complex projects, both hardware and software. But ultimately, the best way to evaluate the quality of our work is to look at the code we contribute to KiCad.

How aligned are you with the main KiCad developers?

Both Orson and Tom have commit access to the main repo, which means they are actually part of the main development team. We have a great relatioship with the rest of the team, and with the project leader (Wayne) in particular.

I am a student, how can I support KiCad?

There is a list of packages prepared for students looking for a challenge. Have a look here and contact us once you decided to undertake a project.

KiCad at CERN

How is KiCad supported at CERN?

There is no specific support at CERN for KiCad, yet. The program is just not yet in a good enough state for our large and professional designs. That is why we are contributing to the development, but currently there are no specific libraries or other support.

How should I install KiCad when at CERN?

Please have a look at the official KiCad website about download instructions and so. That should be self-instructing.

Which CAE programs are officially supported at CERN?

The officially supported CAE programs are Altium and Cadence SPB. Here the CERN electronics design office can also help you for making the PCB layout and building your prototypes. Please contact B.Magnin in TE-MPE about this, or you can have a look at the somewhat outdated DEM pages that still describe all the services you can get when using Altium or Cadence. With KiCad you need to do everything on your own (order PCB, assembly files etc.).

KiCad on

Which designs on the Open Hardware Repository are made in KiCad?

See the list at KiCad designs on

24 March 2017