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PCB layout software (Orcad versus Pads)

Discussion in 'CAD' started by Tom McAndrews, Jul 1, 2004.

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  1. Hello,
    Thank you in advance for your response.

    I am looking for a new schematic capture and layout program. To date,
    we have been using IVEX (www.ivex.com) tools. Due to the complexity
    of our new designs, we need to upgrade to more advanced tools.

    I have been looking at the Orcad (www.orcad.com) and Pads
    (www.pads.com) suites which seem to be reasonable priced for our
    budget. Most of our designs are 2 or 4 layers, but we will be getting
    into 6 and 8 layers soon. I have never used an autorouter but would
    like to implement such a device for non-critical traces (both orcad
    and pads have this option).

    I am looking for something that contains the least amount of bugs and
    is easy to learn and use. Does anyone have any suggestions? Does
    anyone have any comments regarding the two packages I am looking at?

    There is a blurb on www.pads.com that the future of orcad is in
    jeopardy. Does anyone know about this? Should this be a reason not
    to go with orcad?

    Thanks again.
     
  2. Leon Heller

    Leon Heller Guest

    You might have a look at Pulsonix: http://www.pulsonix.com

    It's much easier to use than OrCAD, PADS or Protel, and bugs get eliminated
    very quickly. It's also cheaper.

    Leon
     
  3. While you are looking, you might also have a look at:

    Protel (http://www.protel.com/) and Eagle (http://www.cadsoftusa.com/). Protel
    is a direct competitor to the Orcad and Pads suites, is full featured and some
    consider expensive to buy and maintain. Eagle is less full featured, can be a
    bit quirky, but is a lot less costly and has a very active user group.
     
  4. qrk

    qrk Guest

    People have been saying Orcad is on its death bed for many years. It
    hasn't happened yet. Last week, I attended a seminar by EMA
    <http://www.ema-eda.com/> who is the reseller for Orcad in the US.
    They claim that Orcad is still alive and there are no plans to kill it
    in spite of the claims like you mention. The same was said about PCAD
    many years ago - it's still alive.

    Layout isn't the easiest program to use. Other programs are probably
    easier to learn. Manual routing is still goofy, but way better than
    versions previous to 9. The autorouters are ok for non-critical stuff.
    Now that Cadence owns Orcad, you can get the Specctra router which is
    supposed to be a pretty good tool. Specctra may require a bit of time
    to use it effectively. The latest version 10 was almost unusable due
    to the multitude of bugs. Subsequent updates may have fixed most of
    the problems. Version 9.2.0 has been pretty stable. Expect a crash per
    12 hour day. As with any program, save often and save your work to a
    different filename a few times per day so you can back track. Once you
    get used to Layout, it's an ok program. If you also use Capture, you
    can do some nifty reuse stuff for multi-channel designs.

    Layout doesn't support macros, so you need a third party product like
    Macro Express <http://www.macros.com/> to make life easier.

    If you have the time, try get demos of the programs mentioned. Things
    to consider are making new parts, netlist importation if you use a
    different brand schematic program, porting changed netlists into a
    fully/partially routed board (it should only rip up the stuff that has
    changed), manual routing, handling multiple nets on a plane layer,
    autorouter (hard to get a feeling for this in a limited time span),
    DRC, and post processing (Gerber plots, pick & place reports, assembly
    documentation, ...). Macro capability, or remapping the keyboard is
    also nice. All of these should work with minimal cursing. Also
    consider add-on tools like Gerber viewers/editors. Some programs come
    with third party tools. Layout comes with GerbTool
    <http://gerbtool.wssi.com/index.php>. It's nice to verify your Gerber
    plots with a third party tool.
     
  5. Leon Heller

    Leon Heller Guest


    [deleted]

    .. Some programs come
    Not when GerbTool has a bug! This happened to me last year: a PCB supplier
    kept insisting that my PCB violated his design rules. I eventually found
    that he used GerbTool, got an evaluation copy of it and found that it was
    incorrectly reporting the violation. Wise eventually admitted there was a
    bug in their software.

    Leon
     
  6. R.Lewis

    R.Lewis Guest

    A point to seriously consider is how often the software is to be used.
    If the software is to be used by one person for 2 or more days every week
    then that person becomes well versed in the advantages and idiosyncrasies of
    the software and will learn to drive it with some alacrity and assurance.
    If the software is just used once a month, software with a steep learning
    curve will *never* be fully mastered, and it will seriously slow down the
    design of the pcb.

    In my travels I have come across more than one site where the purchase of
    'flagship' cad has forced the design output to progress at a snails pace
    but, with no common reference, they were oblivious to this fact - they
    thought that it was always thus difficult and time consuming.
    Furthermore when the tools become too complex, engineers design what they
    are able to do with the cad rather than what they want to do.

    If in doubt get a simple cad package - its also cheaper.

    Also do not worry too much about 'bugs' in the software - in the well known
    ones anyway.
    Serious bugs are generally fixed asap - else their reputation and customer
    base soon disappears.
    Minor bugs are frequently more 'quirks' that an inexperienced
    (non-frequent) user thinks the cad should do in a particular way
    but in fact is executed alternatively.
     
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