Over the years, I’ve come to love Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). I’ve been bitten so many times when a company loses interest in a product. If it’s closed source, I might as well throw it away.1
During my years at Intel, I appreciated the openness of the codebase. I took it for granted that if I couldn’t get a program to work, I had the option of looking at the source code. I once considered trying to put some of my perl language utilities on CPAN. Talking to the guy who could help me was really depressing. The short summary: don’t bother trying. 2 It was weird given how incredibly open things are inside the company.
When I first headed to MIT, it was my intention to do electrical engineering. Once I starting taking classes, I found I had much more aptitude for programming. My programs, even the complex ones, just worked. My electrical circuits… constant stuggle. Still, it’s something I’ve always been drawn to.
Recently, I’ve wanted to goof around with LED grid arrays. Something like this:
The thing is that there’s a lot of tedious circuit wiring involved (beyond wiring the LEDs themselves). Why not design a circuit board? Getting boards made is cheap and I’ve wanted to try surface mount soldering.
I’d used CadSoft’s Eagle editor 3 before but wanted to use FOSS. Kicad is becoming a leading PCB suite among hobbyists. CERN uses it
But, in spite of its popularity, it’s missing a lot of features.
Since I like programming, I have experience in EDA, and there are some features I want, I dove right in. The scripting interface was the first thing I looked for and it’s not at all documented, even by internal Intel standards.
So my blog is a set of tutorials on how to use the scripting language in Kicad’s layout editor.
If you have no interest in PCB, the blog won’t be interesting, except, perhaps this post on why scripting language support is important.
An example is the wireless music bridge once sold by Linksys. I had two of them to stream music from my computer to my stereo. This was before streaming was something anyone did. The drivers always sucked but I tolerated it since it was the only option available. Somewhere along the line I needed to reinstall my computer. When I went to the Linksys website… no driver. Even when using the web chat. no driver. I wasn’t asking for an updated driver. I wanted the original. Sorry, we don’t have the driver.↩
the main issue is that Intel is worried about releasing someone else’s code. Intel is very sensitive to the perception that they’re taking advantage of the little guy. Intel insists on paying someone for free, open source, GPL stuff like emacs, gcc, csh, grep…↩
bought by Autodesk↩