Sierra Circuits has developed a KiCad PCB plugin that can be integrated into your EDA software. This plugin enables designers to get an instant PCB quote without exiting the KiCad user interface.
Instant PCB quote plugin features
This plugin has various user-friendly features. A few of them are listed below:
- Can be accessed within the KiCad design file
- Validates the design data and provides the cost estimate in real-time
- The price matrix for the quote is of two types: square inch pricing (up to 6 layers) and web PCB pricing (above 6 layers)
- Enables you to get your PCB quote quickly without exiting the KiCad UI
To know all the essential details required for a precise estimate, read top missing information when requesting a PCB quote.
How to install and configure Sierra Circuits online quote plugin
Follow the below steps to install our plugin:
- Log on to www.protoexpress.com and choose the option KiCad Quote Plugin under the PCB products section.
2. Download the Sierra.kicad.order zip file by clicking on Download KiCad Plugin.
3. After saving the zip file, open the KiCad software and select the option Plugin and Content Manager on the home page.
4. Next, click on Install from File and select the Sierra.kicad.order zip file downloaded from our website. This brings up a dialogue box stating “applying package changes.” Once the changes are applied, hit the close and apply changes buttons.
5. You can also install the plugin directly from the KiCad software. To do this, you need to access the Plugin and Content Manager and look for Sierra Quote Plugin under the repository section. After locating it, you just have to click on the install button to integrate it into your EDA software.
After installing the plugin, follow the below steps to configure it.
- Open the KiCad design file and click on “Preferences” under the “Preferences” tab.
- In the preferences window, select action plugins, check the show button and hit ok.
This brings up the Sierra Circuits Online Quote icon on the top of the toolbar as shown in the image below.
The online quote plugin can also be accessed by clicking on the External Plugins option under the Tools tab.
Steps to get an online quote using this KiCad PCB plugin
Once the design process is complete, click on the quote icon to launch the plugin. You’ll have to create an account if you’re using the plugin for the first time.
Fill in the user registration form and hit Register to complete the registration process.
A confirmation email will be sent to your registered mail ID as shown below.
Click on the hyperlink “click here” to verify your member ID. Once the member ID is verified you can access the plugin using the credentials that you have input during the registration process. Once you log in, the Sierra Circuits Online Quote home page will be displayed.
This page displays 5 tabs: board geometry, board clearances, holes, surface, and finalize. It also has a special key named order history. The significance of these tabs is explained below.
Board properties such as dimensions, quantities, number of layers in the PCB stack-up, and overall thickness can be defined here as shown in the above image.
This tab displays the trace properties such as minimum trace width and trace spacing for inner and outer layers. This data is captured from the PCB design file.
The holes tab has two sections:
- Drill holes
- Slots and cutouts
The drill hole section displays the drill characteristics such as count, density, minimum size, and minimum annular ring.
In the slots and cutouts section, count, and plating status can be viewed. You can also set the plating status using the dropdown.
The surface tab has 3 sections:
In the silkscreen section, the layer (top/bottom/both) on which the silkscreen should be present can be defined. The material and the color of the silkscreen can be set here.
Similarly, sides, color, finish, and the type of the solder mask can be chosen in the solder mask segment.
The type of surface finish and the thickness of the outer copper layer can be set here.
In the finalize tab, electrical netlist testing can be selected. This test is mandatory for boards with more than 6 layers.
Information related to previous orders can be viewed by clicking on Order History.
Once all the requirements are defined, click on Validate to authenticate the data provided. If the provided data has discrepancies, the plugin will display a warning message as shown below.
The errors are categorized into critical and non-critical. You will get the quote even if there are any non-critical errors. However, the critical errors should be fixed before quoting to avoid possible flaws that can occur during the circuit board manufacturing process. Please note that it is mandatory to validate the input data before proceeding further. Once the data is validated, click on Get Quote to get a cost estimate for your design file. The 0nline quote will now be displayed.
The total price depends on the quantity of the board and the turnaround time. Based on the turn time and quantity, select the desired quote and hit ok. This takes you to the Sierra order page.
Design for Manufacturing Handbook10 Chapters - 40 Pages - 45 Minute Read
- Annular rings: avoid drill breakouts
- Vias: optimize your design
- Trace width and space: follow the best practices
- Solder mask and silkscreen: get the must-knows
Generation of online PCB quote without assembly in real-time
On the Sierra order page of the KiCad PCB plugin, you can tweak the requirements with respect to board quantity, turnaround time, and electrical testing. Once the modifications are made, hit re-quote to reflect the changes in the final quote. If you do not wish to add PCB assembly to your quote, click on continue to proceed. The steps to be followed to generate a cost estimate for a circuit board along with assembly are illustrated in the next section.
Fill in the order details such as shipping, billing, designer address, and payment info. You can also choose your preferred shipping partner in this section. Any specific comments related to shipping and handling can be recorded here. After filling out all the required data, click on place my order. Once the order is placed, you can set the notification preferences as per your needs.
Instant PCB quote with assembly
On the Sierra order page, select yes for assembly and hit continue. A screen pops up with two options, Generate BOM and Continue to checkout.
Click on Generate BOM, to view the auto-generated component list. Here, you have an option to continue with the order without assembly by clicking on PCB Checkout.
Some of the components in the BOM may not be found in our database. This information can be viewed for each of the components under the Status column. If you would like to tag a component as “do not install”, select the component using the respective check box given in the left-most column and click on the Do Not Install button. Similarly, if you want to delete any of the components you can select that component and hit Delete. Click on New Item to add any new component to the BOM.
Each of the component line items can be fixed by clicking on fix.
The search assist window as shown above pops up if you click on fix. Here, the erroneous line items can be fixed by selecting the components based on value, MPN/VPN, and description. It is mandatory to resolve all the line items before placing an order. Choose do not install to exclude those particular components from the quote. If you change your mind about the assembly, you can choose “PCB checkout” to checkout without assembly.
After fixing all the errors, the BOM page will display “Your BOM is ready!” message. Click continue to proceed further.
A customized material list can be uploaded by clicking on Upload Custom BOM. Once the file is uploaded, the plugin automatically maps the line items.
If there are any discrepancies in mapping, you can rectify them manually using the respective drop-downs. Click on Proceed if the line items are mapped accurately.
A window pops up confirming the validation of your BOM file as shown below.
Click on generate quote to proceed with the order. Here, you will have an option to tweak your requirements as we saw earlier.
After validating the data, click on continue to proceed with the order. A page displaying the order details will appear.
After validating the data, click on place my order to confirm the order. As seen earlier, notification preferences can be set as per your requirement once the order is placed.
Our custom KiCad plugin enables you to instantly receive a quote without exiting the KiCad design environment. Let us know in the comments section if you require any assistance to implement our plugin. We would be happy to help you out.
Sierra Circuits continues to work rigorously to automate your PCB design process by developing numerous design tools. To know more about them check out our Designer’s tools section.
KiCad Design Guide8 Chapters - 98 Pages - 110 Minute Read
- Creating a component symbol library
- Setting up board parameters and rules
- How to route differential pairs
- How to place of components