PADS Desktop PCB Design

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

19 May, 2015
This is the first post in a routing series. More to come.

I grew up about 60 miles, as the crow flies, from Stratford-upon-Avon so I hope no one takes slight with the fact that I’m making liberal use of one of Shakespeare’s most famous lines.

The question itself is valid and one that has been a dilemma for PCB designers ever since the first PCB CAD tools were available.

Designers pride themselves on creating artistic masterpieces from complex routing challenges and are often reluctant to trust an auto-router to generate aesthetically pleasing results.

So what’s stopping you from using an autorouter?

As design complexity increases, it becomes more of a challenge to maintain all of the different design rules and constraints while simultaneously making the trade-offs necessary to achieve the required system performance and meeting the manufacturability requirements. An autorouter can’t possibly manage this and also deliver a masterpiece right?

MonaLisa_JoaquinMartinez_Flickr

Artistic masterpiece

Here are a few examples of why you may not be using an auto-router today:

  • How on earth do you set up all those rules?
  • It’s just not as pretty as manual routing.
  • Too many vias!!
  • You spend too much time cleaning up afterwards.
  • You could have routed it yourself quicker.
blue computer circuit board image - iStock

A routing masterpiece

So what’s the alternative?

A powerful new automated routing technology called sketch routing delivers extraordinary efficiency during PCB layout that accelerates interactive routing, and maintains focus on quality with high completion rates.

User-defined sketch paths give control to the designer’s routing intent. Select the netlines and simply draw a route path:

select netlines and draw route path

Then watch as the traces are routed in real time while adhering to design rules and producing manually routed quality results:

traces routed in real-time

In my recent article, “The Changing Face of the Hardware Design Engineer,”  I discussed ease of use and reduced learning curve as key requirements for the independent hardware engineer. Sketch routing addresses both of these head on.

Now that I have introduced sketch routing, I’ll take a more in-depth look at how it works in my next post in this series.

Here’s something to think about in the meantime – do you use auto-routers or do you route your designs manually? What do you believe are the pros and cons of autorouting? Let me know, I’d like to hear from you.

In the meantime, why not take a look at sketch router in action on PADS.com?

13 May, 2015

Attention Electrical Engineers, PCB Designers and Managers.

EVENT: 2015 PADS® World Tour  – “Built for the Challenge” – will explore the all new PADS solutions recently released by Mentor Graphics and the game changing technology to help with the everyday challenges engineers face.

Find_Location

The PADS World Tour a half day seminar brought to you by Mentor Graphics, covering the new solutions, new technology in the PADS flow, addressing design challenges to increase efficiency, enabling virtual prototyping, scalability of your designs and cleaner output to manufacturing in an easy to use environment.

More than 33 locations World Wide

PADS_roadshow_2015

The tour kicks off on May 14, 2015 Marlborough, MA 

What you will learn:

  • During the day, demonstrations and discussion will explain how new PADS solutions and capabilities can be applied to your designs.
  • Introduction to the three PADS product offerings
  • Demonstrations of correct-by-construction design including libraries, constraint management
  • Archive management to reduce the overhead of manual backup creation, providing a simple vault-based storage mechanism
  • Simultaneous 2D & 3D design environment with the world’s only hierarchical group planning and placement technology along with 3D DRC
  • How to take full advantage of the 10x faster layout with the world‘s fastest and most advanced interactive routing technology
  • Multi-domain simulation and analysis environment powered by HyperLynx®
  • Scale your design solution based on your needs

RegisterYou don’t want to miss this event!

John

27 April, 2015

Hardware engineers are taking on new roles in which they are required to wear many different hats.As the workforce evolves and design complexity requirements increase, we are seeing roles expand. Engineers who were once regarded as specialists will now be required to understand a variety of tasks. Yesterday’s specialists in individual point tools will become tomorrow’s design specialists, capable of problem-solving across the systems development spectrum.

Challenges facing engineers

In my recent article, “The Changing Face of the Hardware Design Engineer,”  I discussed some of the challenges facing the independent hardware engineer.

There are also an increasing number of trade-offs to consider:

  • Complexity is being driven in a number of ways: smaller device footprints with increased functionality, higher electronics content in vehicles, higher speeds, advances in packaging, and so-forth.
  • Looking at customer designs, over the last five years, layer counts have dropped 12 percent, board area has dropped 35 percent, and densities have gone up by 15 percent.
  • Competitive business environments increase the need for better time-to-market, lower cost, and higher quality; the pressure is on.

Managing the trade-offs between all of these variables can be near-impossible and the tools at the engineers disposal must evolve to simplify design complexity, increase individual productivity, and enable engineering organizations to do more – all  the while remaining affordable.

Engineers may operate independently, or within smaller project teams. Either way, the need for readily available, ease-to-use, and affordable design tools that address design creation, analysis and verification, FPGA integration and PCB layout, and more is very much a reality.Engineer Tool Kit

A gap in tool offerings

Traditionally, enterprise-level tools may be inaccessible due to cost, or because the engineer was working outside of the enterprise “grid.” Furthermore, lower-cost desktop tools often simply do not have the horsepower or functionality required to get the job done.

Filling the gap

The new PADS portfolio, introduces innovative technology at unbeatable prices to fill the need of today’s engineers who wear many hats. With scalable functionality, PADS products grow with you as your technology demands increase.

Are you one of the independent engineers who find themselves doing it all? Are you becoming less of a tool specialist and more of a design specialist? Let me know, I’d like to hear from you.

Also, why not take a look at the new PADS product portfolio? Compare pricing, check out some of the product videos, test drive the software or download an evaluation, and see for yourself how PADS can address your complex technological challenges.

22 April, 2015

PADS_blog1If you are looking for an affordable full-flow PCB design environment – look no further than PADS Standard.

Priced at just $5K(USD) PADS Standard brings the engineer high value, production proven tools  for schematic capture and PCB design.

Fact is, there are a lot of sophisticated designs across numerous technologies that have a small number of components and nets. Perhaps manual and itry it nownteractive routing is enough to get the job done or maybe you’re current design tools’ unexpected price increases are now eating away at you’re profits.

Check out PADS Standard; its easy to deploy, learn and use and comes feature packed with proven technology that can handle tough design problems and reduce you’re design time.

PADS Standard is ideal for the casual user, occasional user, and the power user.  Easy-to-use schematic and layout translators help import libraries and designs from your current toolset, whether it’s Allegro®, Altium® Designer, CADSTAR®, OrCAD®, P-CAD®, or Protel®.

PADS Standard features include:  Click here to read the datasheet!

  • Schematic design – Complete hierarchical support, and advanced design attribute and design rules management and more.
  • PartQuest™ PADS connects to partquest.com, a website tightly integrated with the component supplier Digi-Key provides access to more than 448,000 parts and growing, each with complete library data.
  • Land Pattern Wizard – Create custom, IPC-compliant land patterns in a fraction of the time.
  • Component Management –  Includes part selection and instantiation.
  • Layout -Including real-time design rule checking and bi-directional cross-probing and much, much more.
  • Routing – Easily and interactively route all your design elements, including analog, digital, and mixed-mode.
  • Archive Management – Secure vaulting with graphical preview, design comparison, intelligent redlining,  report generation, and more.

PADS Standard delivers a basic best-in-class PCB design flow that is easy to deploy, learn, and use at an unbeatable price!

bulbtestNeed MORE POWER ? Try PADS Standard Plus featuring all the great capabilities of PADS Standard, plus Integrated constraint management and routing, signal integrity with crosstalk using HyperLynx®, thermal and analog simulation and more! Download the free evaluation and try it for yourself today.  Click here for the FREE Eval. 

Thanks for reading!  John

8 April, 2015

This FREE BeagleBone Black data provides the hobbyist/maker community and beyond with PADS reference design data to work with, take from and build up to make your own designs!

DOWNLOAD NOW!

PADS0025_ALLPADS0025_SCH2

The reference design includes 19 files including:

  • Schematic design in xDX Designer format (.prj)
  • Layout design in PADS 9.5 format (.pcb)
  • Bill of Materials for the design ( Bill of Materials.html)
  • PDF of the schematic design ( (Schematic).pdf)
  • PDF of the layout design ( (Layout).pdf)
  • Property definitions file (netlist.prp)
  • PCB Configuration file (pads95.cfg)
  • Schematic symbols,  land patterns, and more!

DK_BLOG

Explore  all 24 Reference Designs HERE:  Designs can be used with our new inexpensive (PADS based) Designer Schematic and Designer Layout tools now available for the hobbyist/maker community HERE from Digikey as well as our desktop PADS products.

Thanks for reading,

John

19 March, 2015

In the 4th of this 4 part whitepaper series dedicated to CAD library quality, we’ll describe each aspect to consider when creating QFN (Quad Flat No-Lead) component library parts. It also describes the impact each feature has in the PCB process.blog image 1

The QFN component family includes the QFN and PQFNs with pullback leads. This paper discusses everything from the land sizes for both lead types to the placement courtyard and routing schemes to consider for different technology and density levels.

blog image 2Click here to access this QFN Whitepaper now.

Download Part 1 of this white paper series dedicated to the creation of Molded Body components by Clicking here

Click here to download Part 2 that covers the  Small Outline Transistor (SOT)  components.

Click here to download Part 3 covering BGAs.

To learn more about the xDM Land Pattern Creator Click here. And to learn more about Library Management, Click here!

Thanks for reading!

John

11 March, 2015

In part 3 of this a 4 part whitepaper series dedicated to CAD library quality, we’ll describe each aspect to consider when creating BGA (Ball Grid Array) component library parts. It also describes the impact each feature has in the PCB process.

BGA

The BGA component family includes both collapsing and non-collapsing balls. This paper discusses everything from the land sizes for both ball types to the placement courtyard to consider for different technology and density levels.

WP pageClick here to access the BGA Whitepaper now.

You can download Part 1 of this white paper series dedicated to the creation of Molded Body components by Clicking here and Part 2 that covers the  Small Outline Transistor (SOT)  components.

To learn more about the xDM Land Pattern Creator Click here

And to learn more about Library Management, Click here!

Thanks for reading,  and be on the lookout for Part #4: QFP Components soon!

John

4 March, 2015

In part 2 of this 4 part  CAD library white paper series we cover  Small Outline Transistor (SOT)  components.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series that focused on Molded Body components, there are dozens of different things to consider when creating a CAD library including the precision of the part placement, via fanout, trace routing, post processing, fabrication and assembly processes.

SOT 1thru4

This CAD library whitepaper is the second in this series and is dedicated to each aspect that should be considered when creating Small Outline Transistor (SOT) library parts. It also describes the impact each feature has in the PCB process.

The SOT component family includes several package types: the flat lead SOTFL, the SOT23’s in 3, 5, 6 and 8 gull wing lead packages, the SOT143 and 343 packages and the SOT 223. This paper discusses everything from the package types to the silkscreen, and from the placement courtyard to via fanout examples.

WP page sampleClick here to access the SOT Whitepaper now.

You can download Part 1 of this white paper series dedicated to the creation of Molded Body components by Clicking here.

Click here to learn more about the xDM Land Pattern Creator

And to learn more about Library Management, Click here!

Thanks for reading,  and be on the lookout for Part #3: BGA Components soon!

John

24 February, 2015

The CAD Library White Paper Series: Part 1 – Molded Body PartsxDX Molded

The CAD library is the starting point that affects every process from PCB layout through PCB manufacturing and assembly. There are dozens of things to consider when creating a CAD library. Each can directly affect the quality of the part placement, via fanout, trace routing, post processing, fabrication and assembly processes. Yet, they are often overlooked.

This CAD library whitepaper, the first in a series dedicated to CAD library quality, describes each aspect you should consider when creating Molded Body Component library parts. It also describes the impact each feature has in the PCB process.

WP Front pageFrom polarized and non-polarized capacitors to fuses, diodes, inductors and resistors, this paper covers the in’s and outs of one of the most-popular component families on a PCB design layout. This paper discusses everything from the package types to the silkscreen, and from the placement courtyard to via fanout examples.

Click here to access the Whitepaper now.

Click here to learn more about the xDM Land Pattern Creator

And to learn more about Library Management, Click here!

Thanks for reading,  and be on the lookout for Part #2: SOT Components soon!

John

23 January, 2015

New Designer premium editions with unlimited connections are now available on DigiKey.com! Thats right!, our EDN 2014 “Hot 100″ award winning Designer professional design tools, based on xDX Designer and PADS Layout for engineers are now offered in both 1500 and unlimited connection editions.Top100_Designer Designer products seamlessly integrate with PartQuest, a new component research engine tied directly to Digi-Key’s website of over 4 million parts. PartQuest allows engineers to parametrically search for parts to use in their designs. Over 350K Digi-Key parts have EDA data with them – the schematic symbol and PCB footprint, which will be downloaded directly into the Designer Schematic and Designer Layout libraries for immediate use to speed up design starts. PartQuest will also provide access to reference designs for download and use.

To learn more about Designer products visit the product page on Digi-Key.com.

Thanks for reading!

John

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