The structure of this course

This course is designed to teach you how to use KiCad assuming no prior knowledge in PCB design. My objective is to help you reach a high level of competency. Even though you will not be able to design 16-layer super-dense and sophisticated PCBs without several years of experience and study of advanced topics in electronics and physics in addition to this course, you will be able to create any PCB that an Arduino or general electronics enthusiast can dream of.

To achieve this, I have organized this course around three projects. With each project, I introduce several new KiCad features and extend your skill set.

Project one is the simplest one, from a circuit point of view. Assuming that you have no prior experience with PCB design, this is also the hardest project because I use it to demonstrate the bulk of Kicad’s features. The circuit it self is simple so that it does not get in your way of learning KiCad. It is a breakout for the nRF24 wireless module, familiar to many Arduino enthusiasts, but often painful to work with because it is available as a breadboard-unfriendly breakout. We will fix this problem by designing a breadboard-friendly single-layer board.

In the second project, we will look at a slightly more complicated circuit. The circuit is a seven-segment display driven by a shift register integrated circuit. This circuit will give us the opportunity to explore additional KiCad capabilities. We will create a two-layer PCB on which through-hole components will be mounted, and interconnect the layers with vias.

In the third project, we will reuse all of the skills and features from the first two project to create a more complicated PCB. The circuit you will build will contain 16 LEDs driven by two shift register ICs. All of the components on this PCB will be surface-mounted, something that gives designers an advantage that helps in reducing the total space required for the board, improving the layout of the component.

If you are thinking of launching a Kickstarter campaign, then surface mounted components will also reduce the mass-manufacturing costs of your amazing gadget!

Towards the end of the book of the course, I have added chapters to show you how to import third-party libraries to your Kicad installation, and how to use hierarchical sheets to deal with large and complicated schematics.

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