Published: 30.05.2021 | Edited: 30.05.2021 | Tags: 100daystooffload

First impressions: QElectroTech wiring diagrams

Facing against the task to document the wiring of the control cabinet I had to choose which software I would do it with. Naturally I have started to look for open source options first.

Even though I have already achieved some level of proficiency in KiCAD, it is not very well suited for the cabinet wiring. Most recommendations in this space went to QElectroTech. So I have tried. Here are my first impressions.

The advantage is that there are many relevant schematic elements available in so called "collections" (think libraries). They can be searched and the search is fast. But you have to know what you are looking for and some elements are there in different languages, Czech included.

Another big plus for me was that the resulting file is a single human-readable file, actually an XML. Being just a single file and what is more important, not being in the binary form is the ideal format for the version control systems like git. I love that.

The element editor works reasonably well but I find myself struggle with it quite a lot. I cannot shake off the feeling that I could make custom elements much faster in DipTrace or in KiCAD, but it might be due to fact that I have just started with QElectroTech, time could tell better.

Another problem I have found is the bug in the version v0.80, which makes updating the components quite a pain. To re-render them, one has to save the document, close it and open it again. What is wore, if the component was previously wired, it will simply disappear. Very frustrating. Maybe there is some kind of workaround but even searching could not provide very good guidelines for this problem, so I am not sure.

Another big problem for me are keyboard shortcuts. I feel like they are almost non-existent and everything has to be clicked on. The experience feels very sluggish, but this may also be due to my lack of experience. I could however not find any window describing the shortcuts and hovering over the icons to show the tooltip displays the shortcut on very few occasions.

Verdict

QElectroTech is relatively capable tool for making wiring diagram documentation a reality and it is open source, which can be seen by some as a plus, but either it has a steeper learning curve or it's overall proficiency as a tool is not very high. After around 12 hours of usage I felt like my progress drawing wiring diagrams is too slow. I am however sticking with it for now, because it appears to do the job, which is the most important aspect for any tool.

This is a 81th post of #100daystooffload.