PADS Desktop PCB Design

Discussions on the present, future capabilities and value of the PADS PCB flow.

19 August, 2014

PADS Users – Now Open for 2014! It’s time to show-off your stuff in the most prestigious contest in PCB, the Mentor Graphics Technology Leadership Awards!

TLA-1Submit your design today! Started in 1988, this program is the longest running competition of its kind in the EDA industry. It recognizes     YOU – the engineers and CAD designers who use Mentor’s innovative technology to address today’s complex PCB   systems design challenges and produce industry-leading products.

This year there are six categories representing a wide variety of industries.

- Consumer electronics and handheld
- Industrial control, instrumentation, security and medical
- Military and aerospace
- Computers, blade and servers, memory systems
- Telecom, network controllers, line cards
- Transportation and automotive

submit button

Winning Teams receive global recognition of the company and design team through a press release and presentations / webinars. You may also be featured in industry publications.

You will receive a TLA plaque featuring your design for the company office. As well, winning design teams will be awarded (3 maximum per team), or a donation of equal value to a charity of their choice




15 August, 2014

Printed circuit boards are the backbone of electronics products, providing the electrical system upon which the performance, life span, and reliability of the end product depend. When designed correctly, products with high-quality circuitry have lower field failure rates and fewer field returns. As a result, products can be produced at lower cost and higher profit.  DOWNLOAD White Paper NOW

How do you ensure design success?

What things should you look for to maximize design efficiency and product quality?

This free white paper discusses eight steps that you can take to ensure PCB design success.

Eight Steps for Ensuring PCB Design Success

Thanks for reading,


7 August, 2014

The days of manually backing-up PCB design data or running a script that bundles-up a targeted set of design files and generating a time-stamped zip file are long gone. Proper archives are essential to both back-up and manage all of your design data.

Today’s PCB teams require a powerful design-driven storage methodology that not only promotes effective data backups, but also increases productivity by efficiently creating, indexing, and restoring your design archives within a vault.  PADS Design Archive provides the all features you need and more!

Click on this short video to learn more !


Key benefits of using Design Archive within the PADS flow are:
• Quickly create, index, and store all of your designs data including libraries, reports, CAM data, or any files that you want within a secure vault.
• Enables you to create design branches for testing what-if design scenarios such as changing constraints, running simulation analyses, and analyzing different placement and routing strategies.
• Allows you to quickly search, compare and cross-probe between schematic and layout files
• Facilitates design reviews with mark-up tools for both red-lining and attaching sticky notes.
• Clone designs to create design templates for new PCBs.
• Generate Netlist, Line length, Placement and Design summary reports.

You can learn more about archive management with PADS Design Archive by attending our upcoming webinar entitled: Beyond the Vault: Introducing PADS Archive Management

Thanks for reading !    Johnlinkedintwitter

4 August, 2014

Since the release of PADS VX there have been some great questions regarding the integrated project use of xDX Designer and notably, no mention of PADS Logic. In this blog I’ll explore some of today’s typical use cases for each of these front-end tools.


PADS Logic is a well-established and reliable front-end tool of choice for many ECAD engineers and has been so for many years and for good reasons. Today’s typical PADS Logic user spans from the single user, to design bureaus, to small businesses and even some large companies. These PADS Logic users find that its functionality and features always have been and continue to be sufficient in getting their types of PCB design jobs done.

Nowadays PCB’s are everywhere; from the keyboard I’m using to type this blog, to the appliances in my kitchen, to the musical greeting card that I purchased for my father for father’s day. The reality is, not all PCB designs are cutting edge, high-speed, heavily constrained, high-tech nor compact.

In two recent conversations that I’ve had, one with a leading power supply manufacturer, and the other with an electronic water meter company, the need for, and cost of more powerful and integrated PCB design tools was not immediately necessary. Each of these companies made many different 2, 4 and occasional 6 layer PCB’s, their expertise, experience, existing design collateral and liberal form factors have continued to make their PCB designs achievable with their current tools. In many cases, design changes for their products occurred when the product requirements changed, when components became unobtainable or components were replaced with newer surface mount packages. There are hundreds of companies like these, which find PADS logic is still sufficient for their work. This scenario reminded me of a saying that goes something like “why use a sledgehammer when a hammer will do the job?”

Today, more and more PCB’s are requiring some degree of high-speed, constrained and compact circuitry. Many companies, even those that have stated that PADS Logic “gets the job done” have found that changes in technologies, components, capabilities and even pressure from competitors have required them to change the way they design their products and the tools that they design their products with.

Recently, the electronic water meter company that I mentioned earlier is in the process of designing a new line of meters that will include some updated technology that includes an RF transmitter, similar to what we see today in residential water meters. These types of changes are frequently the catalyst for ECAD teams to consider and employ an advanced front-end tool like xDX Designer that is fully integrated and provides access to signal integrity analysis features and centralized constraint management that is accessible throughout schematic capture, layout and routing.

Is your next design start a perfect candidate for xDX Designer? To learn more about how database synchronization between the schematic and layout works with the PADS VX release, click here. To see how easy creating a new schematic in xDX Designer is, click here. If you’re ready to jump right in and test-drive PADS VX in one of our FREE virtual labs, click here.

Thanks for reading !    Johnlinkedintwitter

16 July, 2014

As a follow-up to my recent article in Printed Circuit Design & Fab;, entitled; Effectively Managing PCB Design Constraints, we have published a new whitepaper entitled Why PCB Design Constraints Should Drive Your Design Flow.


In this whitepaper we describe how a constraint-based design not only optimizes the PCB design process but also improves design time-to-market. PADS Constraint Manager is intuitive, and both time effective and easy to use. It speeds up the initial constraint-entry process with a spreadsheet-based interface and convenient tools for reviewing constraints and performing constraint violation analysis.

All PCB design constraints are equally accessible from the schematic, layout, and routing environments. Constraint definitions are kept and automatically synchronized so that constraints entered or edited on the front end are available at the back end and vice versa.

The PADS constraint management environment was designed to support a correct-by-design methodology by putting constraints at the center of the design flow in order to ensure that costly design rework, re-spins, and production delays can be avoided.

You can learn more about constraint management in the PADS VX release – now shipping! – in this on-demand webinar entitled How to handle PCB design constraints without losing your mind.This brief video shows you how to quickly and easily capture design constraints once – at any point in the design cycle – and be confident that they will be adhered to throughout the design of your product.

Thanks for reading !


1 July, 2014

Back in the mid-80’s when I first started hand-taping PCB designs 2:1 on mylar, it was pretty clear that printed circuit design wasn’t a simple start-here-and-proceed-to-the-finish-line type of design flow. Design changes happen. Getting a new netlist with a re-pinned out FPGA just after you’ve finished routing a design is not a new anomaly. Just try to imagine how big of a pain it was and how time-consuming it used to be to rip-up and re-tape every layer for design changes.

Fast forward to 2014, PCB designs are still not immune to design changes. Depending on your PCB design flow, hand-offs from one phase of the design to another are not always predictable or necessarily smooth. The reality is there are a lot more steps involved in the PCB design flow today. Sure, some changes are smaller and less impactful, but others require lots of rework and can be very time consuming, especially with the compact, high-speed, highly constrained, mixed-technology designs we take on today. Areas of the design that the ECAD engineer interacts with today span several, if not most, of the phases illustrated in Figure 1.design_flow_web

Figure 1

Perhaps this flow looks familiar. The question is, how do we make it better? Can/should the order be less linear so that different phases can be worked-on simultaneously? The answer is yes.

Trends in modern PCB design make it possible to access and accomplish different tasks throughout the design flow. For Example, Figure 2 depicts many of the ways that PADS has evolved into a modern, integrated design system that provides integrated functionality throughout the design process.design_flow_future

Figure 2

The new PADS integrated PCB design flow depicted in Figure 2 focuses on removing disconnects and error-prone file and data transfers that occur with disjointed or traditional linear PCB design flows. This database-aware flow ensures that coherency of the design’s logical, physical and constraint data is synchronized.

Key features and advantages that the new PADS integrated project provides are:

  • Direct access to component databases with parametric search engine capabilities enabling users to locate parts and manage both logic and physical symbols.
  • Direct link from your project to one central library that ensures library data consistency is maintained.
  • Integrated analysis and verification tools for circuit design, simulation and signal integrity planning.
  • Direct, synchronized connection between Schematic and Layout, including automated back-annotation of connectivity changes made in Layout.
  • Integrated constraint management and verification throughout Schematic Capture, Layout and Routing.
  • Real-time bi-directional ECAD/MCAD collaboration through the industry standard ProSTEP iVIP IDX file exchange.
  • Integrated DFM fabrication and assembly analyses identify production issues prior to fabrication.
  • Archive management system that enables users to store and restore the complete design project.

Even with all these advantages of a modern integrated PCB design flow, as I stated earlier design changes happen. However, by utilizing an integrated and synchronized design flow you can shorten the design cycle and reduce the impact on both time and cost of design changes.

You can learn more about the PADS integrated flow by watching this on-demand Webinar: Shorten PCB design time with PADS real-time data synchronization and integration

Thanks for reading !


19 June, 2014

As stated in my LPC Part 4 vBlog, Part 5 is dedicated to answering your LP Creator questions. Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this LP Creator blog can be found here: Let’s get right to the questions!

Question #1: Dick S. asks: “The predecessor to the LP Creator would allow a printout with the component dimensions and the footprint pattern. This works great. I could generate the footprint for a new component and hand the printout to the project engineer. He could then quickly verify it is correct and file it in his design notebook. Can the current LP Creator provide a printed copy?

Answer: Great question! – The answer is Yes! The LPC “Print” button circled in red below launches the Print screen that enables you to select the desired format for printing the LP Creator datasheet for the component and land pattern.print_1

For example, selecting the MS XPS printer for example creates the datasheet you see below.print_2

The datasheets are comprehensive, and include all of the component dimensions, all of the solder joint goals and land pattern dimensions, the IPC compliant land pattern and padstack names and all of the silkscreen, assembly and courtyard dimensions. The LPC datasheets provide you with all the dimensions from the component manufacturer and those calculated by the LPC and are a perfect for inclusion in your design archives.

Question #2 : Robert W. asks;First being able to globally change settings and have that change actual patterns is outstanding. But does that work for all or any type of setting? Could I make a MMC library then change to LMC condition settings would it create a whole new lib with those pad geometries changed? Or is it just drafting items it can globally change & create a new library from?

Answer: Another great question! – The answer is Yes! Global library updates are not limited to just drafting items. Since you enter the exact component datasheet data into the LP Creator, that data is retained as the basis to generate land patterns for any SMT Environment; Most, Nominal, Least or User Defined. Likewise, for PTH Fabrication levels; Most, Nominal, Least, Proportional, or User Defined can all be created.

The same LPC Wizard technique I used in Part 4 vblog can be use to update an entire library to a different environment from the pulldown seen in the lower right of the image below.wiz_env_1

Also, within each land pattern calculator you can switch between ENV (and FAB) levels on-the-fly as well by switching the (local) setting in the Calculator Settings tab to the desired environment (or fabrication level) and running the Wizard to create the land pattern. See Below


Question #3 : David B. asks; This may be a silly question but how do you “launch” LP Creator in the new PADS VX ?” Again, great question! The LP Creator has been added to the latest version of xDX Designer, so if you RMB on one of the libraries or a new partition, “LP Creator” is now an option along with “New Decal..” For a non integrated flow LP Creator is currently launched outside the main window. So during the PADS install the xDM LPC icon is placed on the desktop as seen below.LPC_icon

Looking ahead, LPC will be available in the PADS Tool menu in a future release, much like the “PCB Decal Editor” is today.

Thanks to everyone that followed this LP Creator blog series, and keep the questions coming! As always, you can learn more about the PADS Land Pattern Creator and land pattern creation by visiting the Land Pattern Creation page on

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JohnMc_Mentor to be the first to know when my next blog is posted.

Thanks !

6 June, 2014

Mike Griesbach, the PADS Product Line Director, and I had the pleasure of traveling the globe conducting a worldwide seminar series on the PADS VX release. From Shenzhen to Boston, Los Angeles to Munich, the feedback has been terrific!


PADS VX Seminar – Shenzhen


PADS VX Seminar – Taipei

What I found the most interesting were the different things that attendees were interested in. In conversations I had with customers and prospects during breaks, or after the seminar, the discussions hit every new feature.   Many customers wanted to discuss the advancements made in xDxDesigner. One longtime customer made the comment “this in no way resembles Viewdraw anymore”! Others wanted to know more about the library work done in PADS VX, from the new Starter Library to the Central Library for storing and managing there libraries. These features got the attention of the engineering and CAD managers, as well as librarians in attendance. I also had some interesting conversation with attendees on the new spreadsheet based Constraint Manager. Those that had very highly constrained designs clearly saw the advantage of being able to create, modify, and view their constraints in a spreadsheet.

To learn more about the PADS VX release, check out


2 June, 2014

This is the 4th of my 5-part blog series focusing on cool features, tips and tricks that will enable you to get the most out of the LP Creator included with every seat of PADS VX. Parts 1, 2 and 3 can be found here:

This week I’ll show you my Fun Fact #4 and Tip/Trick #4 in the video blog linked below that also includes an invitation for you to submit your questions for me to address in the 5th and final episode of this blog series. If we use your submitted question in Part 5, I’ll send you a koozie along with some other cool items of appreciation!


As always, you can learn more about the PADS Land Pattern Creator and land pattern creation by visiting the Land Pattern Creation page on

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JohnMc_Mentor to ensure that you’re the 1st to know when the next blog in this LP Creator series has been posted.


23 May, 2014

Are you tired of having to undo days of work and upload new ASCII files whenever the engineer “tweaks” the schematic?

Wouldn’t it be great if you were instantly notified whenever changes are made to your schematic or layout?

Well, With PADS, you can.


Learn more in this Free PADS Online Web Seminar   Jun 5, 2014

PADS brings you true database synchronization between the schematic and layout, with constraints flowing seamlessly forward and backwards, ensuring that you’re always working with the latest, most up-to-date design data.

Click here to register now !Lib. Mgmt. Webinar

What You Will Learn

  • How layout engineers are instantly notified whenever changes are made to the schematic (and vice versa)
  • How to ensure design data are up-to-date when changes are made
  • How to enter constraints in schematic (or layout) and have them propagated through the flow
  • How to avoid manipulating ASCII files for uploads and ECO changes
  • How to achieve better overall layouts through schematic-driven placement

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