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How to make a modular workflow?

Question asked by adam77 on Apr 6, 2019

Hello everyone,


I use a lot of hierarchical sheets in my PCB designs, and I'd like to associate a default PCB layout with those sheets. pcbnew already groups components together that belong to the same hierarchical sheet, but I'd like a way to have intra-sheet traces, etc. already laid out as well, effectively making multiple "modules" that are easier/better/proven to layout on the board. Is there a good way to do this?

I know, when opened independently (i.e. not as part of a KiCad project), pcbnew can "Append [a] Board" to a layout. But pcbnew doesn't associate the appended layout with a schematic, so that seems like an error-prone solution. Perhaps the "Append Board" option is geared towards panelizing independent PCB designs. I could see it being useful there, but not when you'd want the appended designs to have some relationship with each other.

I could create a footprint that effectively does what I want (i.e. it actually represents multiple components), but it would bypass DRC/ERC, throw off the BoM, and not allow me to easily tweak things. Pretty kludgy.

Does anyone know if it's possible to write a plugin that does work both in eeschema and pcbnew? I think all the plugins I've seen only work with one or the other. If so, I'd be grateful for any resources to help me understand how to do it.

Thank you for your time! And please let me know if you think my ideas here are off-base, like if there's an obviously better way to accomplish what I'm trying to do.

Thank you!