PADS Desktop PCB Design

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

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!


23 January, 2015

New Designer premium editions with unlimited connections are now available on! 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

Thanks for reading!


14 January, 2015

Cool Earth Solar designs and develops solar products to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. The company has created a scalable, low-cost solution to develop industrial power plants using concentrated photovoltaic technology. “We strive to reduce the most expensive part of the solar collector — the solar cell itself,” says Scott French, Senior Electrical Engineer, “by increasing the power output from the cell.”


French uses PADS to develop monitoring and communications hardware used for a solar tracker — an electromechanical system used to track the sun, monitor output, and process and transmit data. Scott appreciates how productive a designer can be in PADS. “When I want to do something, it’s easy to do. It’s not always easy in other tools.”

Click below to read the full story on how Scott French at Cool Earth Solar relies on the ease of use, tool advancements and the power of PADS to meet design requirements and save time!

To try PADS for yourself, click here.

downloadThanks for reading !


5 January, 2015

6keysLong gone are the days of manually backing up and archiving PCB design data or running scripts or routines that bundle-up a targeted set of design files in a time-stamped zip file. Proper archives are essential, not only to back up design data but to manage, share and leverage the design data as well. The latest design archiving tools provide a powerful design-driven storage methodology that not only promotes effective data backups, but also increases productivity by efficiently creating, indexing and restoring design archives within the vault.

In my recent article in Printed Circuit Design & Fab. entitled Beyond the Vault: The Evolution of PCB Design Archiving I discuss these 6 key areas of functionality for modern design archiving:

1. 1keyNeed to easily store all design data.

2. key2Ability to perform what-if? scenario testing.

3. key3Bidirectional cross-probing capabilities.

4. key4Need to accommodate collaborative design reviews.

5. key5Support for design cloning to create design templates for new PCBs or the next generation of the legacy design.

6. key6Full design reporting capabilities.

You can learn more about archive management with PADS Design Archive in this white paper entitled: Design Control, Data and Comparison with PADS Archive Management. Additionally, you can watch this on-demand web seminar entitled Beyond the Vault: Introducing PADS Archive Management to learn more about the power of design-driven storage and how it addresses the entire PCB creation process.

Thanks for reading !    John

29 December, 2014

2014 glasses

2014 was a very busy and exciting year for PADS. Here is a look back at the top 3 PADS blog topics of 2014!

NEW – In 2014 the website was launched. Now it is easier for everyone–from existing PADS users to interested explorers–to gain access to everything PADS!


NEW – PADS VX Release ! The PADS VX release brings the industry a complete approach to desktop PCB design, offering smarter productivity, higher quality, and greater speed and accuracy to individuals and small teams than ever before.

Including features like: New libraries and library tools for faster design starts. Easier schematic design with xDX Designer. Spreadsheet-based constraint management for increased productivity. Real-time notification of design changes. Automatic assignment of differential pairs. Color highlighting of design rule violations. Design archive with graphical and data comparisons and MUCH more!

PADS VX Release


NEW – Designer Schematic and Designer Layout design tools! The affordable 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.

Designer Schematic, Designer Layout


Thanks for an incredible 2014 & there’s a LOT more to look forward to in 2015!

Wishing you all a very Happy and prosperous New Year !


18 December, 2014

The old saying is, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” Well, consider this story. I was teaching a schematic capture class and in that class were a number of people who had used the tool in question for six or more years. As I showed one really good feature, one of those people responded with, “If I had known that two weeks ago, I would have saved myself two days’ worth of work.” He had taught himself how to use the tool, and he could get the job done, but not knowing one little feature really did hurt his productivity.training_class

Mentor Graphics offers a wide range of PADS training to help you come up to speed, not just on the functionality of the tools, but also on the how and why of special features.   If you are simply the person doing schematic capture, if you are responsible for PCB layout, or if you have responsibilities in both areas, consider that training can help you be more aware of the how and the why of the use of your tool.

In the schematic capture world, there is a class on PADS Logic, the native schematic capture tool for use with PADS Layout. We also have a class on DxDesigner, targeted specifically for users who are taking designs into PADS Layout for PCB Layout. When registering for DxDesigner make sure you mention that you are using PADS Layout, so you can be directed to that class. There is also a specific DxDesigner class for customers using the recently released PADS VX Integrated flow into PADS Layout.

In the world of PADS layout, we offer the basic PADS layout class, for those who are just getting started or those who need to be more familiar with the basic usage of the tool.   There is also a one day PADS Layout Advanced class that deals with managing attributes, design reuse, split planes and more.

Probably the most neglected tool in the PADS Layout suite is the PADS Router. Many people think of it only as an autorouting environment and don’t understand the full functionality of that tool. We offer a two day class to help you be proficient not only in how to use the tool, but also how it can be a powerful benefit in your design tasks.

Check our PADS training offerings out at And if the current scheduled classes don’t meet your needs, contact us at and let us help get you a few steps better in your PADS Layout skills.

Because, in the modern design world, what you don’t know really can hurt you.

Thanks for Reading!


11 December, 2014

NASA logoCongratulations to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, United States

Category: Military & Aerospace  – End Product: Spacecube Processor

DESIGN TEAM: Dave Petrick, D.Albaijes, Banks Walker


This design is used in a multitude of applications for solving complex science data processing requirements as well as those that require a radiation hardened and reliable solution, including space systems.

Design goals and challenges:

  1. To improve performance by 10-100X over ‘state of the art’ space flight processors while lowering power consumption, size, cost.
  2. Most complex components on the board were back-to-back FPGAs which drove the stackup-up, via architecture, routing, signal integrity, power integrity, thermal design, structural design, and manufacturing requirements of the board design.
  3. 4 voltage rails with tight tolerances drove the layer stackup and PDN design (mirrored)
  4. First board manufactured with via-in-pad for a high-pitch column grid array. This was necessary to achieve fan-outs with 1mm pitch BGA’s. This was also required to achieve IPC quality certification and meet reliability requirements.
  • Multiple high-speed I/O protocols required extensive pre/post layout SI analysis
  • Tradeoff studies:

              -Stack-up: Routability (CGA fan-out) vs. manufacturability/reliabilty vs.

               PDN & SI performance

              -Placement (Dense design, need to leave room for vias, mechanical devices, etc. )

  • Design for space environment: thermal analysis to validate conduction to baseplate and placement of high-power   components; required extra stiffening for back-to-back components; rad-hard components and circuitry
  • Right-first-time: Eliminate manufacturing re-spins by analyzing and correcting problems throughout the design process.
  • Signal integrity analysis (pre- and post-route) was used to perform placement studies to arrive at solution to fit all of the components. Easily able to add layers based on design changes.
  • ICX and HyperLynx LineSim (pre and post route) were used to eliminate/optimize termination schemes in order to free up board area real estate and routing resources.
  • Used HyperLynx stack-up editor to validate manufacturer-provided material parameters
  • Power integrity analysis was required to ensure that the power distribution net (PDN) design would meet the electrical requirements on each of the voltage planes from DC to high frequency. The analysis was critical to the design process as it provided a means to identify and correct power distribution problems prior to manufacturing.
  • Performed IBIS-AMI channel analysis to validate 3Gbps data rate without having to back-drill vias (lowered mfg costs, accelerated delivery schedule)
  • Modeled multi-board scenario to ensure electrical specs could be met.

Be sure to check out all of this year’s winning design teams and see the electronics industry’s most leading-edge designs here: 2014 Technology Leadership Awards

Congratulations to all!



9 December, 2014

PCB design engineers have had the front row seat to the evolution of touch screen technologies. In this HMI (human machine interface) driven world inwhich we now live, touch screens continue to replace buttons and keyboards in nearly every industry. Today’s “Generation Z”, carry around smartphones and have likely never had to press keys to make a call or to text a message. Many of today’s laptops are equipped with touch screens and even detachable keyboards as consumers define their balance for computers as both a PC and a tablet.

Touch screens are showing up everywhere from the evening news and sport shows to your favorite game show and from restaurant menus to life sized directory listing in shopping malls. Here in the EDA world it only seems natural to wonder how or if this technology will find its place in designing PCB’s.


Imagine a large touch screen has replaced a conference room whiteboard and the design engineer meets with ECAD engineering and perhaps other team members to work collaboratively to explore component placement by touching and dragging components from the schematic over to the PCB outline with just a fingertip.  How about signal integrity or thermal engineers helping to sketch out an optimal routing strategy? Imagine design reviews where NPI engineers and design team members identify areas of concern like DFM and DFA and capturing any mark-ups and comments in real-time. Could you envision product reviews with all product team members where the PCB design is mated in a multi-board system, sub-assembly or mechanical housing in full 3D?

But what about all those Fingerprints?: If you’ve ever said (or wanted to say) “Don’t touch my screen!” you are not alone. Fingerprints are messy but technology has already been working on that too. In a recent television commercial, Intel®, is giving a glimpse into their new RealSense™ technology that includes technology that eliminates the need for the user (or others) to physically touch the screen. This means you no longer have to touch the touch screen to work, you just need to be close enough. Problem solved?

What do you think about using touch screens for PCB design?

Thanks for reading,  – John

30 November, 2014

Today, it’s hard to imagine a GPS that doesn’t list landmarks, street names, or even exit numbers. Every bit of visual information we can get from map symbols and text makes navigating easier and faster. The same is true for a PCB, yet we often overlook a great opportunity to provide a wealth of information about our PCB’s design on the silkscreen. The information we can, and should, supply on PCB silkscreens should go beyond component outlines, reference designators, and pin 1 indicators.SS_blog_1

In this white paper I’ll describe and display some of the enhancements you can make to your PCB designs’ silkscreens that can add value at both the bare board and assembly levels and from the test bench to the installation.WP_Click

Silkscreen items covered in this paper include:


I’m looking forward to hearing from you about the different ways that you’ve taken your PCB silkscreens from ordinary to extraordinary!

Thanks for reading,


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 seem 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!


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