PADS Desktop PCB Design

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

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

20 May, 2014

This is the 3rd 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. Part 1 and Part 2 of my PADS LP Creator blog can be found on our new website here:

Fun Fact #3: Did you know that once you’ve created a land pattern, like a typical 0603 capacitor, that you can quickly add all the different part numbers and parametric data for that vendor part like the capacitance range and tolerance quickly in the LP Creator? That is because library editing in LPC has functionality similar to an Excel spreadsheet.

For example, below I’ve created a basic 0603 capacitor manufactured by TDK and saved it to my library.


At this point I may decide to add the rest of the 0603 part numbers as well. In the Library > Edit mode I can select the far left box to select the entire row, then RMB to Copy and then RMB again to Paste the data adding as many rows for part numbers as I need for the land pattern.


By simply altering the Part Number for the different voltages, it has taken me only a few seconds to add each new part and expand LPC to search for these specific part numbers for these components. Finally, I can use the tools wizard command to quickly generate the parts with the all the manufacturers attributes and any other data that I’ve entered.


As you can see, the Excel-type features within the LP Creator help you to create, duplicate and edit a land pattern with different parametric data to represent as many manufacturers part numbers as desired very quickly.

Tip/Trick #3: Since we’re on the subject of the Excel spreadsheet-like functionality in LPC, you can also select parts individually using the CTRL key, or a range of parts by selecting one while holding down the mouse key and dragging the cursor over the desired parts, or select a larger range by selecting a part with the shift key and then scrolling down to the desired location to select all part numbers in-between. But let’s say you have a large library and want to select all of the land patterns to either change or build decals using the wizard without having to use the sift key or having to scroll. Similar to Excel, selecting every land pattern can be done with a single click in the rectangular box to the left of “Land Pattern” column where circled below.


Feel free to comment or send me any tips or tricks you may have for LPC. 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.


9 May, 2014

This is the 2nd of my 5-part blog series focusing on fun facts, tips and tricks that will enable you to get the most out of the PADS LP Creator, now included with every seat of PADS VX.

In Part 1 I showed you one example of how a single calculator accommodates all the different lead styles and component families within a single calculator. I also showed you a different way to create non-standard SMT components using the LP Calculator.

In this blog I’ll take that a step further by showing you how you can apply the exact manufacturer datasheet recommended land patterns dimensions to create a 1:1 land pattern quickly and easily in the PADS Land Pattern Creator.

Fun Fact #2: Did you know that we’ve included several designer utilities right inside the LP Creator? Below you’ll notice a Hole Size Calculator, Hole Pad Stack Calculator, Via Calculator and a unit converter right at your fingertips.


A great advantage of the Hole Pad Stack Calculator is that it does all the padstack calculations for you! You enter the hole’s lead shape, type, diameter and fabrication level desired and the calculator does the rest. It even generates the IPC 7251 compliant padstack name for the hole in a copy/paste field for easy use.


I’d encourage you to explore all these great time-saving utilities included in the LP Creator!

Tip/Trick #2: All of the IPC 7351B calculations are built right into the LP Creator. That includes all the settings for the Most, Nominal and Least environments too. You can also create your own custom “User” calculation settings utilizing you company’s best practices if you should ever need to deviate away from the IPC-compliant calculations, even if for just a single calculator setting.

Now I’ll show you how you can apply the manufacturers’ recommended land pattern dimensions supplied in datasheets to create a 1:1 land pattern quickly and easily with the PADS Land Pattern Creator. For this example I’ve selected a typical capacitor footprint.

I’ll start by opening the tool “preferences” and creating a new set of calculator settings. I’ll use the name One_To_One.xml and save the preference file to my desire location. For the next step I’ll go into each calculator that I’d like to use for 1:1 land patterns and change all the calculator settings to “User” instead of “Default” and then change all the setting and ENV values within the calculator to 0.00. This will cause the entered data to stay 1:1 when “OK” is selected. Make sure you save and close the preferences file. NOTE: I’ll retain all the global settings for rules and drafting. See below.


Now I’m ready to build my 1:1 land pattern. I’ll launch the SMT “Chip” calculator and select “Demo”. Notice that when you select the “Calculator Settings” tab, all of the Users settings are now 0.00. Switch back to the “Component” tab and replace the demo calculator dimensions with the dimensions provided in the datasheet as seen below.

LPC_blog_2_image4Should the input format and/or units require a min and a max, enter the supplied value for both as seen below.


When complete, clicking the “Land Pattern” tab will display the 1:1 land pattern with dimensions. You’ll also want to make sure that you rename the new 1:1 land pattern as desired, like I’ve done below.


When you’re all done, run the Wizard and add any part attributes you desire and then immediately create the land pattern for use in PADS. You can also open the decal and make further custom edits to the land pattern as desired.

I hope you find this series interesting. Feel free to comment or send me any tip or tricks you may have for the Land Pattern Creator.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMc_Mentor to be the first to know when I post my next blog!”


1 May, 2014

In this 5-part blog series I’ll focus on cool features and tips and tricks that will enable you to get the most out of the LP Creator, now included with every seat of PADS VX.

It’s been great to hear all the positive feedback for the new PADS VX release.  PADS Land Pattern Creator (formerly LP Wizard) is an extraordinary productivity enhancing tool that helps you create IPC 7351B compliant component land patterns and land patterns from your own user defined preferences up to 90% faster than traditional land pattern tools.

Cool Fact #1: When you launch LP Creator and then select “SMD Calculator” you’ll see 28 different SMD component families represented. Did you know that each family also includes unique calculators for each component type and lead style for that family ?  For example, selecting the Chip Array component family, like below:


You’ll see that this calculator supports all the different lead styles and component types for chip arrays. Toggling these lead styles and families will dynamically update the calculator to the appropriate settings.


Tip/Trick #1: Did you know you can also use the LP Creator calculators to help you quickly create unique SMT land patterns by using different approaches?

Let’s take a look a pulse transformer for example. The package is similar to an SO type body but with a unique pin configuration as well as some non-populated pins. With the LP Creator I can create the custom land pattern with a few simple steps. Below is a default SO style land pattern.


I can simply select a new pin for the pin 1 location and with one click, switch the pin order.


Next, I’ll select and remove any unpopulated pins to match the part.


The calculations can be customized as much as desired in the user settings.  When you’re all done, run the Wizard to name the part, add any part attributes you desire and then immediately create the land pattern for use in PADS.

I hope you’ll find this series interesting. Feel free to comment or send me any tip or tricks you may have for the Land Pattern Creator. To learn more about the LP Creator visit our Land Pattern Creation page on

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMc_Mentor  and be the first to know when the next blog on this LP Creator series is posted!

2 April, 2014

TechValidate, an independent third-party survey company, recently surveyed over 15000 verified PADS users with real-world questions about their PADS experiences. This survey includes responses to questions that all EDA vendors should be asking their users.

Questions like:

Why do you choose PADS over competitive products?

Would you recommend PADS to a friend?

What PADS features save you the most time in PCB design?

TechValidate also collected dozens of use cases that provided detailed results of how named PADS accounts were able to conquer design challenges with PADS. The survey also includes a collection of customer testimonials and users quotes.

Here are a few quotes:

“The benefits of PADS include ease of software use with great depth of functionality. Vast market place usage and customer base. Many well trained users.”   Mike Creeden, Owner/President, SAN DIEGO PCB INC TVID: 759-61F-D78

“My current company uses Altium, and it’s not nearly the package for layout that PADS is. It tries to be everything to everybody, and the layout functions suffer. Only the 3D features save it. PADS is much better at PCB layout. I trust PADS; I always worry about Altium.”   Tom Miller, PCB Designer, Miller PCB Services TVID: 02A-B92-ED6

To review all the PADS survey results go to the Tech Validate Research on PADS web page. All of the survey data is ready for you review, share, or download as you desire.

Feel free to submit questions or comments !

John     Twitter: @JohnMc_Mentor

PADS® is the most widely used desktop PCB design environment in the world, giving electronic engineers everything they need to get the job done.

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