Design your PCBs in Inkscape: PCBᴍᴏᴅE

Just stumbled upon this, for the adventurous:

PCBmodE is a circuit board design software written in Python. Its main advantage is allowing the design to create and use arbitrary shapes for any element of the board. Using stock Inkscape as the GUI provides all the features of a drawing tool. This, in contrast to traditional PCB design tools that restrict visual freedom and don’t have the full feature set of a vector editing software.


Some of the PCBs made with it look amazing:

Some of them have quite a paper circuits vibe to them.
It doesn’t look easy to use though, with no schematic capture/DRC. Some Googling turned out this:

whixh seems to be a cross between svg2shenzen and pcbmode - could be interesting. I might give this a go tonight, my PCBs could do with a bit of artistic flair!

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Man, I spend enough time just trying to make my PCBs functional.

Though I can see Stretch as an easier way to do front panels, and associated board-mounted panel controls. But on my first try using it to export an existing KiCad design it shifted several text objects several inches, completely off the board.

I also tried svg2shenzen and it threw an error on export.

Haha I can relate… But for simple PCBs(SMD breakouts, tiny circuits) or boards that will be seen (front panels, PCB-as-panel modules), it should be a great way of making them slightly more interesting.

So yeah, I tried Stretch export on a sandbox example and boy howdy did it mess up the text. Font sizes are wrong, at least one text object is moved, and a bunch are gone entirely. And several %R references are unresolved.

KiCad original:

Stretch export:


Im going to stick with what works for now lol.

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Ok, this seems to be working great bar the footprints themselves which can be rejigged within Kicad.
I’ve not run DRC yet, wish me luck!

Aaaand it works!(stretch)

Added to this month’s JLC order.

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Turns out if you import this back into KiCad it’s fine. So as long as you’re not trying to manipulate text objects it’s not so bad.

However, if you want things like rectangles or circles or arcs you need to add them in KiCad and then modify them in Inkscape, you can’t just add them in Inkscape.

And I found that worked with arcs and rectangles, but circles disappeared when exporting to Inkscape — and reappeared when importing back to KiCad.

I found that the circles/arcs on the LED footprint silkscreen disappeared completely when exporting and we’re still gone when imported back to Kicad. It also messed up the oval pads on a DIP socket - both issues can be fixed by reloading the footprints in Kicad. I didn’t try adding text or shapes, just curving traces.