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Altium vs Orcad

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Jon Slaughter, Oct 16, 2007.

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  1. If you can afford Altium Designer for home use then you can afford to
    get a double sided plate through board made! Heck, you can afford to
    hire someone to lay the board out for you.
    Do you board double sided plated through and get it manufactured by
    someone if single sided is turning out to be such a big problem for
    you. The novelty of making your own boards wears off pretty quick now
    that professional boards are pretty cheap to manufacture.
    Use Futurlec, PCBcart, or one of the other cheap prototype places and
    get a nice double sided plated through solder masked board made, it
    won't cost you all that much, and you get a nice silkscreen and solder

  2. Actually I'm playing around with a friend of mines that uses it for work.
    (He does power stuff but just got out of college and doesn't really
    Well, I will do that eventually but I kinda like the feeling of doing things
    myself at this point. Its a good learning experience and once I get the hang
    of it I can get a simple board done in a day(I've etched about 5 boards with
    about 30 components on each). I used the pcb express software thats free and
    doesn't have autorouting or a large footprint library.

    I mean, its not so much that I'm looking just to get the board done but to
    prototype. I have several designs and once I prototype them I'll probably
    send them off all at once and get several made. At this point the designs
    are fairly simple that I can do them myself and I don't need it
    professionally done. Nonetheless I still want to strive for for the best I
    can do.

    I guess the problem is I just thought you meant that doing it in 10 mins
    means doing it very well and getting a pretty good optimized layout. If you
    just mean routing the thing so it works then I can do that in probably 15-20
    mins(cause I don't know the hotkeys to altium and there are still a lot of
    features that I end up playing around with(alignments and stuff)).

    So what I'm going to do now is route it and probably etch it today. not
    going to worry about perfection. (going to use larger traces just encase I
    have problems with etching it). There are some fears I have of the smt
    because they are so small which is why I want to reduce the number of
    jumpers and pads so its just easier to debug and work with in general. (to
    many jumpers might get in the way or cause problems if they are close to
    smt's and I misjudged the size). Hell, my soldering irons tip is probably 40
    mills so its not going to be easy to work with them. (I was thinking about
    using a hot air gun but not sure how well that would work)

    Anyways I'll try and get that stuff done today if I have done. I don't
    think routing will take more than an 20-30 mins if I don't run into trouble
    or try and perfect things. (in fact I could just place 0-ohm resistors on
    all the ports and net aliases and probably get away with autorouting doing
    it if I wanted to be lazy about it).

  3. I've never used one that would work worth a damn, although I once saw
    a Japanese (?) one that was supposed to work well. The only way I've
    found with SS boards is to use quadrille paper (preferably light blue
    5 squares to the inch) and a pencil. Placement and orientatation are
    way more important than with 2 or more layer boards, and I used to go
    through a lot of paper before I was happy with the layout.

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  4. No, it's an extremely easy problem. Your trouble is that you're fighting an
    uphill battle against geometry. Your circuit does require a certain number
    of crossover points, period. You need the jumpers. There's no way to
    minimize the number of jumpers by redistributing the parts on the board.
    It's either possible or imposssible, and it's very easy to figure out which
    It shows.
    With your simple N-fold circuit, the solution is immediately obvious
    depending of whether you can route between 0603 or SOT-23 pads.
    Of course it is. Buy by now you must have realized that each intersection
    you avoid by repositioning a part will create another.
    With SMD and realistic design rules, yes. Actually I've never seen a
    single-sided SMD board, with or without jumpers. Double-sided PCB is a
    reality with SMD.
    What I said was easy is to figure out how many, if any, jumpers the design
    needs per repeated block. After you've figured that out it's easy to route.
    To you the problem seems difficult because you're stubbornly insisting on
    doing the impossible.

    Here's a simple experiment: You seem to have an autorouter. Now lay out your
    components on a BIG board. Plenty of space everywhere. Make vias extremely
    expensive for the autorouter. Assuming that the autorouter will try to
    brute-force its way through the board (which is what it's designed to do),
    it'll find the solution with a minimal number of jumpers. Using that number
    of jumpers you can start improving (shrinking) the board.

    Don't try to fight mathematics.
    We were, and probably still are, talking on completely different levels
    here. You're facing a problem that no amount of intelligence will solve.
    Once you've realized that you'll see that it is a very simple problem

  5. Guy Macon

    Guy Macon Guest

    I have found a use for an autorouter on small designs.
    I let it route everything that is a straight shot then
    hand-route the rest, ripping out the occasional straight-
    shot connection as needed. This saves time; I don't need
    to hand-route a connection betweel two adjacent pins on a
    DIP or between two resistors right next to each other.
    Other than that, I manually route everything.

    Guy Macon
  6. LOTS of single-sided boards these days have SMT components on them.
    Particularly when there's one big ASIC, but also there are a lot of
    SMT passives as well. Of course the SMT parts are on the opposite side
    of the board from any through-hole parts.

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  7. I had not done a single sided board for 10 years, but I did one a few
    weeks ago for a simple power supply. I had forgotten how crappy they
    can be - plated through holes provide a lot of strength that you don't
    get with single sided. You have to be very careful not to apply a side
    load when trimming component leads after soldering, otherwise the pads
    move and crack the trace. Same for external strain on connectors and
    (large parts in general).
  8. Some of my projects have ended up using single-sided SMD
    boards, but those were boards with quantities in the
    millions where every fraction of a cent matters.
  9. How ironic, that you ended up doing this with a name like yours!

    I mean, what are the odds of that!?
  10. Guy Macon

    Guy Macon Guest

    Now *that* was a funny mistake!

    While composing the post, I accidently erased my sig, so I cut
    and pasted from the header. Looks like while doing so I pasted
    whatever snippet of text I had last selected.
  11. Actually, not retired in a sense. Today's programs don't use dongles
    - thankfully Altium doesn't believe in them - and the users have an
    immortal license to use the program, which works very well right now,
    so no problem. Furthermore they've made some nice improvements to it
    recently, and promise at least one more before they're done. Also,
    not only can we keep on using PCAD, but we all got free licenses to
    Designer, and of course are encouraged to "switch," but even after
    starting to use Designer we can continue to use PCAD, of course.

    I've noticed a few nice features of PCAD are missing from Designer,
    but I've also noticed some of these showed up in the latest update.
  12. Joel Koltner

    Joel Koltner Guest

    That's too bad -- I agree with Win that, while it had its warts like all EDA
    tools do, PCAD had evolved into a pretty good package.

    Their emphasis on the "problem" with P-CAD being a "point tool" is greatly
    exaggerated, I think... from a business perspective I'm sure they love the
    idea of their selling you everything from schematic capture to logic synthesis
    to C compilation to analog or RF simulation to PCB layout to electromagnetic
    simulation, but from a practical perspective no vendor has ever managed to
    pull this off in a respectable fashion -- it's just too broad of an area for
    any one company to try to cover. The best approach, IMO, is to make the
    @#$%#$% tools OPEN in the sense that the netlist (or whatever) formats are
    well-documented, so all the "point tools" can cleanly communicate with one
    another. (AWR took this approach with Microwave office, and at least from
    their returns, it seems to be working well for them.)

  13. qrk

    qrk Guest

    PCAD had a very well documented netlist format (PDIF) before the mid
    90s. I still have a copy of the PDIF reference. I think Altium is
    trying to emulate Cadence in killing a product meant for the mid to
    small size company. Now folks are forced into their expensive big-boy
    suites so they can get more money. It's a shame that nice tools get
    swallowed up by the bigger players so they can kill them.

    We've never had any problems with "point tools" involving designs with
    programmable devices. It seems that 70% of our boards have some sort
    of FPGA on them these days, including analog boards. Some crappy
    integrated suite sure isn't going to make it any easier when you're
    stuck in some convoluted methodology. Weenie managers are easily
    lured into enticing terminology like "integrated" and "IP". They
    should be forced to use it!

  14. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    Orcad Layout can do single sided autorouting / manual routing with
    pre-defined standard size jumpers. Jumpers can be converted to
    components afterwards so you can use 0 Ohm links.
  15. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    They even bought PSpice so they could scuttle it.
    A Cadence single license runs around $38K.

    I recently got tossed from a project because I wasn't speedy enough
    using Virtuoso/Composer (that program is SO bad, and so klutzy to use
    (*) it must have been written by a leftist weenie ;-) Nevermind that
    PSpice simulates 11X faster and matches the results exactly.
    (*) Can you imagine having to write a script (OCEAN) just to obtain
    corner simulations?

    ...Jim Thompson
  16. PCB design is 90% placement. If you get that right at the start, the
    actual routing becomes trivial. That is why I said routing 100 nets
    takes no time at all, and the use of an autorouter for such a task is
    just silly. I was not implying a really good job all up would take 10
    minutes, but it almost could if you were practical about it and used
    copy and paste for a multichannel design like this (as another poster
    demonstrated). The figures were designed to demonstrate how easy this
    problem is if you approach it correctly.
    You said above that you wanted to "strive for for the best I can do",
    and now you say you still might use an autorouter???
    If you *really* want a single sided board with no holes it is possible
    by using 1206 0 ohm resistors as jumper links. 1206 would allow you to
    route two tracks underneath each "jumper" if you are careful.

    Also, why are you going 0603? If you want the absolute smallest board
    possible then fair enough, but in that case you shouldn't even be
    considering a single sided board. It seems like all the stuff you are
    saying is contradictory. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

  17. or do what I did - a one-time upgrade to P-Cad 2006. No dongle.
  18. life is full of contradictions. First off, I can only use what I got. I
    have 603's because thats what I ripped of a motherboard and I brought some
    SOT23's. So sure it looks ike a contradiction to you but its cause your not
    working within the parameters of the problem I have created.

    Heres the difference between what you say,

    "If you want the absolute smallest board possible then fair enough,"...

    Its not that I want the absolute smallest board possible.

    Its that I want the smallest board possible that I can do that works for my
    application(obviously if its to small then its useless). I also want to
    minimize jumpers because its more work to have more jumpers. Actually I
    don't care to much about having the smallest board because its already
    probably going to small enough.

    So actually I'm just trying to minimize the work. You say, then why not just
    get someone else to do it? Thats not the point(and infact doesn't minimize
    the work because then I have to work to pay them). I just remember when I
    had to drill about 100 holes will a dremel and it wasn't any fun. So I want
    to try to say as far away as drilling as I can. I also want to get a little
    work in with SMT because I have not done any.

    So if you want my "rules" its,

    1. minimize jumpers
    2. minimize holes
    3. small size(not necesssarily smallest because it doesn't matter to much
    after a certain point. I don't want something to be 10'x10' when 99% of the
    area is not used).
    4. minimize jumper length(actually probably use a standard length)


    BTW, each channel has 5 "ports" so its much more difficult then channels
    with 3 or 4 ports. Think of a square. If you have a component in a square
    then you cannot route out that component and it takes 2 jumpers or 2 vias.
    Now no matter how I route, because I have 5 connections that must connect to
    each channel, and there are 8 channels, there will be "squares" formed
    around some components. Now they are not complete squares and maybe one
    could find a way not to box in the components but I doubt it will happen in
    10 mins... although maybe I'm wrong and maybe with enough experience one
    easily sees how one can connect things as to minimize those issues. (But
    just from the shear number of variables it seems like its much more

    Anyways, I forgot I have to add some more components and do some other
    circuits before I etch.


  19. Chip resistors, etc. do not fare well when "removed" from old
    equipment, generally.

    Did you hand remove each one, or mass reflow the whole board and bang
    'em all off at once?

    Ceramic chip caps are even worse. The terminations (there are several
    on each end) detach from the ceramic end tie points beneath the
    termination end caps. Very bad.

    Hell, dude, you can get on E-bay, and buy loose SMD parts by the bag
    full that have never been used!


    You are not constrained by anything other than you own mind.

    Try trimming a few hundred lines off your posts ITF.
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