KiCad Schematic Tutorial

Learn to draw a circuit diagram in this KiCad schematic tutorial for beginners. Draw a 555 timer LED flasher circuit using free open source KiCad EDA software.

KiCad is an Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software package that can run on Windows, Linux and MAC OSX. Beginners in electronics may be interested in learning how to draw a circuit using this software package. The circuit diagram or schematic can then be exported for publishing on the web or in documents.

The image below shows KiCad running on a Windows computer with the circuit drawn in the tutorial.

KiCad Schematic Tutorial

KiCad Schematic Tutorial

Beginners in electronics may also like the blog post on how to read schematic or circuit diagrams for beginners.

Installing KiCad

KiCad can be installed on Windows, Linux and MAC OSX:

How to install KiCad in Windows is a short article on installing the newest version of KiCad on a Windows computer.

How to install KiCad in Linux is an article that shows how to install the latest version of KiCad on a Linux computer.

The KiCad download page has links for installing KiCad on OS X and Windows and various Linux distributions.

KiCad Schematic Tutorial for Beginners

The full KiCad schematic tutorial can be found on the Starting Electronics website.

The tutorial shows how to create a new project in KiCad, including how to create and name a project directory. A 555 timer flashing LED circuit is then drawn using the KiCad schematic editor called Eeschema.

You will learn how to zoom in and out of the circuit, scroll the schematic, place electronic part symbols, wire the circuit and annotate the circuit. These and more basic actions needed to draw and edit a schematic are included in the tutorial.

Finally the tutorial explains how to export a circuit diagram or schematic for publishing on the web or in a document.

Go to the KiCad Schematic Tutorial now →


How to Read Schematics for Beginners

How to read schematics for beginners – when starting to learn electronics, beginners need to learn how to read schematic diagrams. Schematic diagrams show the components and electrical connections of a circuit in schematic or diagram format. A schematic diagram is also known as a circuit diagram, or just schematic.

How to Read Schematics for Beginners

How to Read Schematics for Beginners

Schematic Symbols

Before being able to read a schematic, it is necessary to learn and recognize the symbol for each component in a circuit. Each symbol in a schematic represents a physical electrical or electronic component.

In the circuit above, the schematic is shown on the left and has two symbols representing two components. The symbol on the very left represents a battery. On the right of the schematic is the symbol that represents a light bulb.

On the right of the above image is the physical implementation of the schematic on the left. Here the actual light bulb and battery can be seen.

Electrical Connections

Electrical connections between the bulb and battery are represented by lines in the schematic. These lines are wires in the actual circuit.

How to Read Schematics

The article on how to read circuit diagrams for beginners on the Starting Electronics website shows the very basics of how to read schematics. This article uses the same light bulb and battery circuit to explain the basics of circuit diagrams. It shows how to recognize when two wires are connected, or whether they are just crossing each other.

After reading this article, a series of tutorials follows to get the reader to recognize electronic components and their schematic symbols. Each electronic circuit can be built on breadboard. A good way to learn how to read electronics schematics is to follow the tutorials, look at the schematic diagrams and build the circuits.

Go to the article now →


LM3909 IC 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit

LM3909 IC 1.5V LED flasher circuit. A circuit that uses the now obsolete LM3909 IC to flash an LED from a single 1.5V cell. This IC and circuit is now a piece of history. I had one of these circuits running on a PCB for years, the circuit finally failed. My attempts to repair the circuit were unsuccessful. It appears that the IC finally failed. Read on for a look at some electronics history.

LM3909 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit Diagram

Below is the circuit diagram of an LM3909 LED flasher taken from an out of print electronics magazine. I built this circuit on a tiny PCB many years ago. The circuit operated from a single 1.5V cell, but could also operate from a single 1.2V rechargeable cell.

LM3909 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit Diagram

LM3909 1.5V LED Flasher Circuit Diagram

Flashing an LED from a Single Cell

I remember the LM3909 being expensive, costing many more times than a 555 IC. The problem with using a 555 is that it could not be used to flash an LED from a single 1.5V cell, but had to operate from a higher voltage. A 555 also drains a lot of current from a battery because of its internal voltage divider resistors.

When the LM3909 became available it was popular with hobbyists because an LED can not be lit up from a single 1.5V cell. Here was an IC that would flash an LED from a 1.5 or 1.2 volt cell, pretty impressive. The cell would last for a long time too.

LM3909 now Obsolete

Unfortunately the LM3909 is not available anymore. It was made obsolete several years ago and has no equivalent or replacement part. There are some transistor circuits available that will flash an LED from a single cell.

Attempting to Revive my LM3909 Circuit

The only LM3909 IC that I have was used in a LED flasher circuit built on a PCB. Fortunately I had used an 8-pin IC socket on the board, so could remove the IC to test it on breadboard. The PCB and breadboard test circuit are shown below. Notice that only two additional components are needed in the circuit – a capacitor and LED.

LM3909 PCB Circuit and Breadboard Circuit

LM3909 PCB Circuit and Breadboard Circuit

After many years of service, the LM3909 finally failed. After testing the PCB circuit with a new battery and then building the circuit on breadboard and testing it, the LM3909 was finally declared dead.


Choosing an Arduino for Beginners

In this blog post we look at how beginners wanting to start with Arduino can choose an Arduino board. Help is provided for beginners choosing an Arduino. The difference between an Arduino and AVR ATmega microcontroller is also covered.

Choosing an Arduino for Beginners

The recommended Arduino for beginners is usually the Arduino Uno. On the Starting Electronics website, the article on choosing an Arduino for beginners provides more information on which Arduino to choose when starting to learn about Arduino and writing sketches.

Difference Between Arduino and AVR

Many Arduino beginners are confused about the difference between Arduino and AVR, or Arduino and ATmega. Difference between Arduino and ATmega328 explains what the ATmega328 microcontroller is and how it relates to the Arduino Uno. The article also explains more about the AVR microcontroller found on most Arduino boards.

Update to Arduino Programming Course

The Arduino programming course originally started in 2014 is being updated and extended. Updates include using the newest version of the Arduino IDE and updating the videos in the course to HD video.

Currently parts 1 to 5 of the course have been updated which cover Arduino sketch structure and flow, Arduino main loop, calling functions, variables, arithmetic operators and relational operators.

Once updates have been completed the course will be extended to include new material and topics. Take a look at the Arduino programming course contents page to see the currently available tutorial parts of the course.