Utility for converting Kicad Modules to gEDA PCB footprints
Latest commit e6ae5cc Dec 14, 2016 @erichVK5 added SymbolLine export capability for font glyph generation from foo…
…tprint silkscreen elements



KicadModuleToGEDA - a utility for turning kicad modules into gEDA PCB footprints

README.md v1.0 Copyright (C) 2015 Erich S. Heinzle, a1039181@gmail.com

see LICENSE-gpl-v2.txt for software license

This utility has been written to enable gEDA PCB users to convert Kicad footprints, known as modules, to gEDA PCB compatible foootprint files.

The term Kicad "module" and the PCB term "footprint" can be used fairly interchangeably, although a Kicad module "foo.mod" may contain one or multiple distinct device footprint definitions, unlike a gEDA PCB footprint file which describes only one device.

This utility can process Kicad module files containing one or many footprint definitions using command line options or via stdin.

When passed modules via stdin, the utility expects there to be a ./Conversion directory for the saved files, and will default to quiet mode and use default settings for HTML summary filenames, and assume that pin and pad minimum sizes are zero nanometres.

The utility parses Kicad modules and converts decimils and mm to nanometres for further manipulation prior to exporting the PCB footprint definition. Those seeking to implement conversion of Kicad modules to GEDA PCB footprints in their own code can look at/use the conversion logic in the Pad, DrawnElement, Arc, Circle and FootprintText classes, as well as the FootprintHeader, all of which extend the FootprintElementArchetype class, as well as the Footprint class. Use is made of the HersheySansFontClass to generate text at arbitrary rotations for drawing as line elements on the silkscreen layer.

Why java? Write once, run anywhere, plus I needed a practical task to become more familiar with java. Furthermore, I did not envisage the need for C code which could be integrated into PCB for on the fly conversion, since the module, once converted, can join existing libraries of PCB footprints in perpetuity, and converted footprints warrant some vetting before use anyway.


  • install a java compiler and java virtual machine (JVM) using your preferred package management system/source, if it isn't already installed.

  • clone the KicadModuleToGEDA git repository (this should be simple, after all, you already build the most current stable gEDA PCB release from the git repository.... don't you?). Failing that, download the java source code and put them in a suitable directory with the same subdirectories and contents.

  • in the KicadModuleToGEDA directory, type:

user@box:~$ javac *.java

and that should be it, you are now ready to use the KicadModuleToGEDA utility.


  • kicad mm and decimil dimensioned module formats are supported
  • the utility reproduces kicad's drawn segments on the copper layers as pads with no soldermask clearance.
  • the utility will identify and convert all modules described in a module file into distinct PCB foootprints
  • the utility will convert "obround" pads which have a pin in addition to a rectangular or ovoid pad that surrounds the pin on the top and bottom copper layer
  • the recommended 0.01mil square bracket format is used for generated gEDA PCB footprints
  • an HTML summary file is automatically generated that is compatible with the formatting used within the user indices on http://www.gedasymbols.org
  • support has been implemented for a "magnification" or scaling feature that enables families of silkscreen layouts to be generated at different sizes. This has been found to be useful for generating families of seven, sixteen or fourteen segment LED displays, for example.
  • magnification and translation applies to silk screen arcs, circles, lines, text and also pads drawn on the copper as drawn line elements
  • pins and pads can be translated but magnification does not affect them
  • users can specify a minimum via/pin drill size during conversion
  • Text on the silk layer has now been implemented, using the free Hershey stroked font, rendered as line segments on the silkscreen layer, based on the text field descriptors in the Kicad module.
  • Rotated text with rotation in decidegrees as specified by the kicad module is now supported.
  • Text should scale satisfactorily with footprint magnification as well.
  • The utility has been tested and found to work on kicad modues exported from the "madparts" GUI based footprint creation utility
  • The utility can export footprints as glyphs, if the -g flag is used, to enable the silkscreen elements of footprints to be turned into font SymbolLine definitions. Some subsequent assembly will be required to create a parseable font file. A source of a kicad library for conversion into glyphs could be a kicad library of footprints exported from pcb-rnd. A magnification ratio can also be specified in the module header.

Deliberate omissions due to a lack of PCB equivalents:

  • 3D rendering information is ignored - aka "3D Wings" files.
  • Very rudimentary support has been implemented for rotated pads/pins, i.e. rotation is made modulo 90 degrees, however, rendering of decidegree specified rotation for drawn text elements has been implemented (Kicad supports arbitrary element rotation in the module definition, but PCB does not).
  • bezier curves can be defined in an s-file module definition, but any such definitions will be ignored by the KicadModuleToGEDA utility.

Known issues:

  • some kicad modules converted from Eagle to Kicad with the Eagle2Kicad.ulp utility have faulty arc definitions which manifest as properly centred arcs that have incorrect start and finish positions. Some hand tweaking is needed either in the errant module or the final PCB footprint, depending on which format you are more comfortable with in the text editor.
  • some kicad modules converted from eagle have had octagonal pads converted to kicad obround pads with a length twice that of the width. If these are then converted to PCB footprints, closely spaced pads/pins may overlap, but the offending pad definitions causing overlaps can easily be removed from the footprint definition with a text editor


So called "legacy" modules are the soon to be deprecated format for kicad footprints. Kicad developers have been implementing changes in rendering and file formats, and the new file format supported by Kicad is the "s-file" format.

Kicad "Libraries" can contain modules, symbols and schematics for a particular project. Modules can be extracted from zipped Libraries.

The utility supports both legacy and s-file format modules, and determines what format the module is during conversion.

Useful links:


  • get yourself a CVS account - you'll then be able to share your footprints with other PCB users


  • lots to choose from, many are GPL


  • extensive collection, but some automatically converted arc definitions are in error and need tweaking due, it seems, to a glitch in the Eagle2Kicad.ulp utility


  • a large selection of OHW module definitions. Scroll past the symbol libraries...


  • a python based utility that can import and create kicad and Eagle footprints


user@box:~$ java KicadModuleToGEDA -v verboseOutputToStdOut -q quietMode -k foo.mod -c PrependedAuthorCreditsCommentsLicenceEtc.txt -h HTMLsummaryOfFootprintsOutputFileName.html -d destinationDirectoryPathForConvertedModuleDirectory -s summaryDescriptionOfmoduleOrModules


user@box:~$ java KicadModuleToGEDA < kicadModule.mod

Options are:

 -q QuietMode
     Default is not quiet mode, with a simple summary of progress provided
     -v VerboseMode
             Default is not verbose
 -k kicadmodule.mod
     parses legacy format modules in default decimil or mm units
 -h HTMLsummaryOutputFile.html
     Default is: "HTMLsummary.html"
 -c PrependedElementComments.txt
     Default is:   AuthorCredits/DefaultPrependedCommentsFile.txt
 -d DestinationdirForConvertedModules
     Default is:   Converted/
 -g Glyph export, in which case only silk lines are exported, as SymbolLine definitions
 -s SummaryOfModuleOrModulesForHTML
     Default is: "converted Kicad module"
 -e enforceMinimumDrillAndViaSize
     Specified in nanometres, default is: 0 nanometres

Example of use:

user@box~$ java KicadModuleToGEDA -q -k kicad_modules/vacuum_tubes.mod -h vacuum_tubes.html -c AuthorCredits/FootprintPreliminaryTextOSHEC.txt -s "Vacuum Tube" -d "Converted/"


user@box~$ java KicadModuleToGEDA < kicad_modules/vacuum_tubes.mod

For the adventurous....

How to create multiple +/- magnified/shrunken silkscreen layers:

to create a magnified silkscreen layer, add a "Magnification X.XXX" command to the $INDEX section of a legacy kicad module, i.e.

Magnification 1.2

This will be recognised during parsing by the module conversion utility and all silk screen elements including arcs, circles and drawn lines will be enlarged by a factor of X.XXX, and in the example above, by a factor of 1.2

Kicad allows copper lines to be defined in DS drawn segment descriptors and these are also magnified along with silk screen elements

To create offset silkscreen elements, perhaps to combine with another set of silkscreen elements, i.e. for a pair of seven segment displays, duplicate the contents of the $MODULE, modify its name, and append it to the existing module file

$MODULE led-MSA5XXX-seconddigit
Po 4630 0 0 15 00200000 00000000 ~~
Li led-MSA5XXX
//identical bits not shown here for brevity

In addition, an X and Y offset can be specified, in this case, it is specified in the standard kicad module instruction

"Po 4630 0 0 15 00200000 00000000 ~~"

which in this case describes an X offset of "4630", and Y offset of zero, which for a decimil module is an X displacement of 463 mil., and after magnification of 1.2 times, will equal an X displacement of 555.6 mil.

Importantly, any X or Y offset must be divided by the magnification ratio in use before insertion into the modified .mod file, as magnification applied to the final coordinates will also affect the X and Y offsets. i.e., in the previous example, if an X offset of 463 mil is the actual offset required, and magnification is specified as 1.2 times, the offset inserted into the module will be 4630/1.2 = 3858

The pair of module definitions with distinct names and distinct X,Y offsets residing in the same module file can now be converted by the utility.

The utility will generate two footprint files, the elements of which can be combined with a text editor to result, in this case, in a pair of 7 segment display silkscreen layers, the centres of which are separated horizontally by 463mil.

The pads or pins can then be fairly easily placed with hand modification of the definition file, now that the hard work of the silkscreen has been done.

This technique of placing multiple module definitions in the same file for processing with user specified X,Y offsets and/or magnification is essentially a scriptable process for generating more complex footprints, and there is nothing to stop 3, 4 or 8 segment displays, for example, from being generated.

Two example files are in the Transmogrify directory


the second file simply contains four copies of the first file, with a single $INDEX ... $EndINDEX section at the beginning into which a Magnification directive has been placed, and the second, third, and fourth copies have had varying amounts of X and Y translation effected in their respective "Po ....." position definitions, and distinct names provided for each of the four copies of the module undergoing conversion, to demonstrate how the magnification and translation option can be used

You can see the difference between the output for the original .mod file by comparing the results of:

user@box~$ java KicadModuleToGEDA -k Transmogrify/LED-DISPLAY-ORIGINAL.mod

which produces a single footprint file led-MSA5XXX.fp in the ./Converted directory


user@box~$ java KicadModuleToGEDA -k Transmogrify/LED-DISPLAY-MAGNIFY-TRANSLATE-EXAMPLE.mod

which produces four files


in the ./Converted directory. The four modified files can be combined in a text editor to produce a final merged footprint.

As previously discussed, the device outlines need to be altered, and the pins altered, but the main goal of being able to translate and magnify complex silkscreen artwork quite simply and quickly has been demonstrated.