PADS Desktop PCB Design

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

19 November, 2014

Technology companies have been using 3D printers for years now for everything from rapid prototypes, product development and data visualization. Models for everything from industrial electronics, to fashion jewelry to teeth have been 3D printed. Since 2005, versions of 3D printers have even become available and affordable for the serious hobbyist.  Imagine, instead of having to run to the store to buy a holiday cookie cutter, simply downloading the desired 3D model and print it out at home. All of the sudden that magical “replicator” that I thought was so cool as a kid watching the Star Trek TV series doesn’t seems so far-fetched.


                                    “Yep! Just finished the PCB design, its printing now!”

Utilizing 3D printing for circuit boards is no longer in its infancy with significant progress made with printing designs on different materials including plastic, glass, ceramics and paper. Items like wearable electronics, paper circuits and even printed computers have been successful. We can expect to see support for even more substrate materials as these 3D PCB printing companies continue to advance the technology.

3D images                                                  Photo courtesy of Cartesian Co.

If you are interested in learning more about 3D circuit card printing check out the now fully funded EX1 project here on Kickstarter by Cartesian Co.  They have some really neat examples of fully functional PCB assemblies printed on fabric along with the more familiar substrate materials mentioned earlier. if you’d like to see some fun paper circuit board assemblies in action, check out Printoo, an Arduino-based platform of paper-thin, low-power boards and modules that enable you to bring power, even solar, to 3D products using internet and Bluetooth connectivity, including modules for motorization, light and motion sensing.

Thanks for reading!


12 November, 2014

Raleigh, NC — The premier show for printed circuit board design and manufacturing in the Southeast, PCB Carolina Conference & Exhibition, returned to the McKimmon Center at NC State University on November 5 and what an eventful day it was!PCBCaro_Blog_graphic

The standing-room-only keynote address was delivered by Dr. Eric Bogatin whose talk entitled “The Future of Circuit Boards in the 28 Gbps Regime: Is the end in sight?”  provided compelling insights on the decisions designers should make to increase the chances for success in their next high speed product design.

PCBC 2014 exhibit

Exhibitor products ranged from printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturers, PCB test equipment makers, PCB design tool vendors, and design services bureaus.  There was even one-stop shops to take PCB products from design conception to product delivery. I had the opportunity to talk with engineers and designers from industries ranging from lighting to computers, and from consumer electronics to Mil/Aero.   Conversations included topics like high density, multilayered boards, blind and buried vias, Xpeditions 3D design and integrated flows.PCBCPhotos1

I’ve enjoyed watching this events growth over the years. The exhibit floor once again was sold-out early and conference organizers jam packed this event with fun, food and technology for all. I can assure you no one left empty handed.

My hat’s off to the RTP Chapter of the IPC Designers Council for all their hard work and dedication for making this a successful event year after year!

If you did not make it this year, bookmark this site:  and save the date.  I hope to see you at PCB Carolina 2015.

Thanks for reading,


6 November, 2014

Did you hear the news? On Tuesday, Digi-Key announced the availability of Designer Schematic and Designer Layout. These are professional design tools, based on xDX Designer and PADS Layout for engineers who need the quality of high-end PCB schematic capture and layout, but at a very affordable price. The Designer products seamlessly integrate with PartQuest, a new component research engine tied directly to Digi-Key’s website of over 4 million parts.DK_BLOG

Unlike other free and low cost EDA tools targeting these engineers, Designer does not limit users to a specific technology, use a short list of manufacturers, store the design files on the Cloud, or have limits so low that you can only design smoke alarms! Most common design platforms/reference designs such as Beagle Bone Black, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi are easily designed in Designer (1500 connections, 6 layers, 50 square inch board). And, if your requirements grow, your designs can always be imported into PADS!

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, such as the ones mentioned above, for download and use.

The Designer products are available now on the Digi-Key website. 90 day introductory pricing begins at $199 for Designer Schematic and $449 for Designer Layout (one-year subscription). An unlimited connection version will be available by the end of the year.

Thanks for reading!


3 November, 2014

PCB design is a complicated task, partially because each design task has an effect on the outcome of the rest of the design stages.


Get your ducks in a row !

Of course, you need to design your schematic, make sure you have no signal- and power-integrity issues, place your components, route your board, make sure your design can be manufactured, and so forth. But how much more complicated is it when the very basics, the library upon which you build your design, are poorly planned and poorly implemented?

Before your first schematic symbol ever touches the first sheet of your design, you need to set up your project library. Read this article to learn more about the twelve component properties you really should pay special attention to, to make your life a lot easier down the road.

To read the full article click here.  Also, if you want to learn more about how to ensure your design library content is accurate and reliable – download this whitepaper entitled “Six Things You Want to Have in Your Desktop PCB Design Library

Thanks for reading,


27 October, 2014

We all know creating and managing part libraries is not an easy task; it’s time consuming, error prone, and requires constant maintenance.  If you have ever tried using a library that you built with one design tool in a different design tool, you probably got an additional set of problems, starting from schematic parts that don’t reference the correct footprint name, to schematic parts that don’t have correct part numbers, and missing information. And how about L libraries that are provided with different design tools? Too often they’re low quality and unusable, causing consistency and integrity issues down the road.

Over the past year working alongside the PADS engineering team, I’ve identified three elements that can reduce some of those issues, and make the library creation and maintenance a lot easier.


#1 – Your design tool

The first thing that impacts the complexity of your library creation process is your chosen design tool. Having a design tool that allows easy and efficient library management is really what you’re searching for. For example, having the design tool support a central library concept, can save you time and eliminate errors and duplications, by gathering all your library information in a centralized location. Also, you want your design tool to have a really efficient and high-quality part creation wizard, to minimize part creation time and manual work.

#2 – Library translation

Find a good solution for translating old libraries into your current design tool, to avoid having incorrect parts in your library. A common problem people have with translated libraries is mismatches between schematic and layout data. Not aligning this information can cause consistency issues in your library, so you need to make sure you choose the correct part name, ref-des and cell name, and apply it in both sides. PADS for example, along with the translator, provides a script to automatically do this process for you. The result is reliable and complete library data.

#3 – Well-documented component properties

The third element is what really takes stamina! Make sure that for every part you create, you always take the time to update the important component properties – not just for now, but for all stages of the design flow. For instance, try to keep all the information related to the identity of the part (part number, manufacturer name), and always make sure to include links to part datasheets to have easy access to additional information about each part. It also can be helpful to keep information such as voltage for later use in simulation. Keep in mind that the more you put into the quality of the parts you create now, the easier it will make each and every stage of the design cycle, and with less issues down the road – from search and selection of parts, to layout design, simulation, and even manufacturing.

To find out more about library management in PADS, check the Library Management page. See how our starter libraries, the central library concept, best-in-class component management, and high-quality land-pattern creator can improve your library management process and make library creation and maintenance a little less exhausting.

Thanks for reading,


22 October, 2014

If you’ve never attended the PCB Carolina electronics trade show – you have been missing out!

This FREE event will be held Nov. 5th at the McKimmon Center at NC State University in Raleigh, NC. Organized by the RTP (Research Triangle Park) Chapter of the IPC Designers Council. This show offers education, networking, and a vendor exhibition presenting components, products, software, and services for the Electronics Industry.


This full day event host:

– A SOLD OUT vendor Exhibition floor with over 50 Vendors
16 Technical session speakers include: Eric Bogatin of Be the Signal, Dr. Douglas Hopkins of NC State, Dr. Bruce Archambeault of Archambeault EMI/EMC and Mentors own Steve McKinney presenting “Crazy Layout Rules and their Origins”.

Clck here to: REGISTER NOW640_PCBC2012_68

LIKE FREE STUFF ?    As if the free admission, technical sessions and exhibition floor weren’t enough, register and you’ll receive:  a Show Bag, a Show Shirt, a Show Pen. If you Opt In, you will be entered in the drawing for over 100 gifts donated by the vendors valued at $25 min. More giveaways at vendor exhibits too.

Free Breakfast: 7:30 – 9:30
Free Lunch: 11:30 – 1:30
and a Free Reception from 5:00 – 6:00  Sponsored by Mentor Graphics with Live Music by Ewes’ Tree

foodTo learn more, visit

Stop by the Mentor exhibit and say hello!     Hope to see you there,


13 October, 2014

Hosted by EE Journal’s Amelia Dalton, this PADS Chalk Talk series of webcasts delivers an informative and engaging  question-and-answer session with Jim Martens, PADS Product Marketing Manager on some popular PADS topics. Each webcast listed below is accompanied by a white paper that you can download now!

PADS VX: Redefining Productivity: When it comes to PCB Design, the giant companies don’t get ALL the cool toys. Desktop design tools are now getting impressive capabilities that rival their enterprise-scale big brothers. Download the White paper now.


Design Control, Data & Comparison with PADS Design Archive: This chalk talk video discusses how a solid design data archive and management system can make a world of difference in your PCB design productivity. A good strategy enables re-use, eliminates costly errors, and allows you to get the most from your team’s engineering efforts.  Download the White paper now.


Overcome the Challenges of Highly Constrained Designs: Many of today’s high-performance board designs have complex timing constraints, and meeting all those constraints can be a significant design challenge. Download the White paper now.

Constrained designs

Verify Design Performance with PADS Best in Class Simulation and Analysis:  It really isn’t important to simulate your PCB design – as long as you don’t care about re-spins, signal integrity, cost… OK, actually, there are many good reasons to simulate your board.


Maximize your Power and Efficiency with PADS Interactive Placement and Routing: For the engineer doing desktop PCB layout, efficiency is important. You don’t want to waste precious time fighting with your PCB tool, and you don’t want to end up with lousy results because you and your tool weren’t getting along. Mentor Graphics PADS provides an efficient, high-productivity interactive placement and routing environment that lets you get great results quickly. Download the White paper now.

Place and routing

Thanks for reading!


8 October, 2014

In today’s competitive marketplace companies cannot afford to have PCB production delayed because of slivers, unintended copper exposed by soldermask, testpoint-to-testpoint spacing, or other issues that should be identified and solved early in layout and long before manufacturing. Catching DFM issues at the design stage is critical because, at each successive step of the production process, the cost of rectifying a problem increases tenfold over the previous step.  This paper offers 100 ways to analyze for design for manufacturability in the PADS PCB design flow.


Learn more about how DFM analysis helps you to eliminate costly manufacturing delays by minimizing supplier “call-backs” and design re-spins by downloading this white paper today !

Click HERE to Download



1 October, 2014

This week I had the pleasure of  meeting and talking with engineering students along with our recruiting staff at the NC State Engineering Career Fair! This 2 day event is sponsored by the NCSU College of Engineering and is held yearly.


This event draws talented engineering students from colleges all over the Carolinas and beyond. The attendance was unbelievable and the students were dressed to the nines with polished resumes in hand. I had the pleasure of talking to students that ranged from freshman looking for internship opportunities to expectant winter and spring graduates looking for their dream job. More than 360 employers filled nearly every room at the McKimmon Center with displays and recruiting staff eager to meet candidates and fill immediate job openings and internships.

NC CF bannerUp next, the Mentor recruiting team is on their way to the Syracuse University Engineering Career Fair to find more great engineering talent. If you are unable to attend an engineering career fair in your area this fall be sure to visit us at to learn all about the exciting job openings and internship opportunities that are available here at Mentor Graphics.

Thanks for reading!


17 September, 2014


bellaag_logo“Most cattle are healthy most of the time; it’s the ones that aren’t that you need to know about.”

We can never overstate the importance of cattle in our lives. Cows are not raised just for their meat, milk, and leather. The fact is, there are more products produced from cattle that are used in our everyday lives than many of us can fathom. Medical and pharmaceutical companies for example, use insulin from the livers of cows for diabetics.

Cattle, as living creatures, are healthy most of the time; it’s the ones that aren’t that you need to know about. This is where Bella Ag comes in. Bella Ag has developed a device called the 3.0 Bolus. The Bolus is a temperature monitoring collection system that enables cattle operators to detect health issues early. The collector wirelessly transmits the data it collects to a wireless gateway. Data is collected and processed with Bella TempSoft software and is used to establish a baseline for every individual cow.

LI Graphic_Bella AG

The Bella Ag Bolus wirelessly monitors the cattle’s temperature and automatically sends alerts that enable cattle operators to catch illnesses like mastitis, metritis and pneumonia 3 to 5 days sooner. This Patent Pending design utilizes the latest in micro transceiver technology and is designed for optimal performance from the inside of the animal out.

The PCB’s within Bella Ag’s advanced electronic system were designed using PADS PCB Design tools. Bella Ag’s CTO, Stephen Weilnau stated that “The PADS suite gives us a real value added tool that enables us to be small but work big”. Bella Ag collaborates with various independent PADS contractors that work on different projects.  Weilnau stated that, “As a small shop we found it useful to have access to the same development tools, be able to open the working files, provide much needed feedback, and even make modifications later when parts are obsolete.

Bella Ag Systems patented technology is currently running in 11 countries around the world, shaping the future of animal health and the agriculture industry.

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