Free Schematic Diagram Drawing
electronic hobbyists, and probably all professionals, like to use a
computer to draw their schematic diagrams. Consequently a fair number
of programs exist that allow doing this, with widely varying levels of
complexity, capability, user frindliness, and quality of results. Many
of these programs are commercial, and often quite expensive, while
others are free.
I had been using a very old DOS-based program for many years. That
software was good and powerful, at the same time easy and fast to use,
once its operation had been learned.
But in more recent times it became ever harder to keep it running on
current Windows-based PCs. So I finally needed something newer, and
so I started a long search.
Unfortunately I didn't find any software that filled all of my
requirements: Being free, allowing fast work, and producing good
quality drawings. So I had to write my own! I spent about six weeks
devoting my free time to this project, and here it is: KISSCAD.
First some highlights:
- KISSCAD is 100% free.
- KISSCAD is portable software. No installation is needed.
- KISSCAD produces quite good quality output, as you can see in this
image. This sample is downsized. Click on it to get a complete, full
resolution demo drawing. Try printing it, and see if you like it.
- KISSCAD is fast to use, because all commands are entered from the
keyboard, as single letters. No pull-down menues are needed.
- KISSCAD offers an uncluttered workspace.
- KISSCAD offers instant switching between editing the schematic, and
editing the component library.
- KISSCAD uses simple text-based formats for the library and schematic
- KISSCAD produces high resolution PNG output images, which can be
printed, converted, or further processed in external software .
Now the downsides:
- KISSCAD will ONLY produce schematic diagrams. It does not generate
netlists, parts lists, PCB layouts, etc.
- KISSCAD is just a specialized drawing program. It will not check
design rules, nor will it design a circuit for you.
- KISSCAD doesn't have a point-and-click interface. The mouse is only
used to grab and position things. Even the window resize and close
functions don't work with the mouse. The program requires the use of
the keyboard for all commands. This takes longer to learn, but then is
much faster to use.
- KISSCAD requires reading its user manual, to make the most of it.
- KISSCAD comes with just a basic library of parts. You will
certainly have to add parts to it. But that's easy to do.
KISS stands for "Keep It Simple and Stupid" , and that's the
fundamental design philosophy of this software. It's the opposite pole
to all those hugely complicated software packages that will do
everything imaginable and with five thousand options, but take a
year to learn, and daily practice to not forget! KISSCAD instead does
only one thing, tries to do it well, and instead of letting each user
configure every detail of its operation, it works in a fixed
configuration: The one that I find most practical, based on 35 years
working in electronics.
The first release of KISSCAD is from
March 2016. Since then I have fixed a few minor bugs and added one
feature: You can now enter texts with commas, for example, and you can
click on a schematic file to call up KISSCAD and edit the schematic.
This second release was published in December 2017.
I intend to continue developing KISSCAD, in the sense of fixing bugs
and probably also adding a few really useful and simple features. But I
promise that KISSCAD will never turn its back to the KISS
principle, and that it will remain freeware.
Please note that some malware scanners (8 out of 60, when I tried) give
a false positive on KISSCAD. I'm pretty sure that I did NOT put any malicious code in my program,
and that the detection is really a false positive. I can't do anything about
this incorrect detection by those malware scanners.
Please do submit the program yourself to different virus
scanners, and decide for yourself what to do. If you run an
overzealous full-time malware protection program on your computer, you
might need to set an exception, or even disable that program, to
be able to run KISSCAD.
If you know what I can change in my program to prevent the false
positive by those antimalware programs, please let me know.
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