Free Schematic Diagram Drawing Software    


Most 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 files.
- 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.
- KISSCAD is a new program, released in March 2016, and this first release is guaranteed to contain bugs. There still is very little error handling, so the program may crash in some unexpected situations. Be careful, and backup your work.
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.

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.

Download KISSCAD   

Please note that some malware scanners (8 out of 55, when I tried) give a false positive on KISSCAD. They report a heuristic detection of a generic trojan downloader, which roughly means that they think that my program does something strange, but they don't really kow what it is... I'm pretty sure that I did NOT put any malicious code in my program, and that the detection is 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.

Back to homo ludens electronicus.