Why use Outsourced PCB Prototyping Services?

Outsourcing services to experienced and talented teams, like ours at Quadra, will save you time and money. Our PCB prototyping services remove your frustrations and prevent feelings of stress as we guide you through the process as expertly as we can.

But what if you are an established manufacturer with a continuous production line, broad in-house capabilities to manufacture fully populated PCB’s and have the resources to create your own BOM and manage the process from start to finish?

You’ll still benefit, and here’s how.

Collaborating with us, and deploying our turn-key services, will ensure that your production line runs optimally and doesn’t have to stop to make a small prototype batch of the next big thing. This is crucial to your efficiencies and ultimately to the health of your bottom line.

We have 22 years of experience in PCB design and outsourcing production services. Our skilled engineers work with a broad range of clients amassing real-world experience. The supply partners that we have established are closely managed by our team and are fully approved under industry-standard assessment schemes.

 

You’re an entrepreneur with a vision and need someone to make sense of it?

No problem, we’re all ears. As soon as you can, tell us your plans and we’ll pull your ideas together and turn them into a physical working model.

 

The importance of understanding the PCB Prototype Quote Process

We completely understand that the best part of the process is when our customers take delivery of their manufactured prototype. Getting the quote is all too often seen as a complex and laborious task. But, when you understand the process, and know the elements that go into it, then you may just get excited that bit earlier.

Knowing the purpose of the quote

The purpose of a quote for a PCB assembly is to establish costs, timescales, and details on what to expect when the product is completed. In contrast, the purpose of a quote for a PCB prototype is to identify the design’s manufacturability and any modifications that may be required prior to the circuit boards being mass-produced.

The three stages of the PCB prototyping quote process

When you break the process down, you’ll discover that there are three main phases: the Design Generation phase, the Design Package Evaluation phase and the Quote Generation phase.

The first two phases require collaboration from both parties as there are essential back-to-back communications to ensure the desired outcome. This is where knowledge of the process comes in handy to accelerate the process and to experience fewer challenges along the way.

  1. The Design Package Generation Phase: This is where you, the client, provide us with as much detail and documentation as possible. The more detailed data you have the better. Our experts can then check the feasibility of the request, ask for more information if necessary, and then start work on designing your prototype and draw up a draft.

Example data:

  • Schematics, or PCB layout if they already exist.
  • Footprint details of the desired finished PCB if applicable.
  • Connectivity and any constraints, again if applicable.
  • Approvals that must be met.
  • Any RFI or other environmental considerations.
  • (BOM) bill of materials.
  • Will anything be free issued and how (on reels) or loose, etc.

You’ll receive preliminary plans at this stage for approval. Once approved we move onto phase 2.

  1. Design Package Evaluation: This stage sees us deep-diving into the feasibility of the end design. Using our team of experienced engineers and planners with industry-leading software such as CADSTAR and Autodesk our team have the tools and the skills to quickly evaluate the whole project. If there are any errors, they will be identified during this phase and be addressed. Our team can also pressure test the supply chain and costing models for your BOM.
  2. Quote Generation. This is the final phase.

 

How to get an accurate quote with less stress

  • Effective communication is key. To realise your vision there must be regular communication. Plus, you’ll gain clarity during each stage of the quoting process and stay in control of your design.
  • For additional clarity, all documentation is kept up to date with dates, terms and conditions, expenses and the components used.
  • Gain confidence by doing some research yourself if you feel it necessary. We’re more than happy for you to do your own fact-finding to check the quality of the materials and components that we propose.
  • If you need to chat through your initial requirements for PCB prototyping and see if we’re a good fit for your needs, please get in touch with us.

Want to know more about PCB Prototyping? Contact us now

pcb design rulesQuadra Solutions | PCB Design Professionals

We specialise in PCB design software and solutions. Quadra is one of the largest PCB bureaus in the UK and helps support hundreds of businesses throughout the UK and beyond with PCB design projects. We have the knowledge that helps companies embed, enhance and extend their design flow.

Find out more about our PCB Design Services

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New Functionality in eCADSTAR 2021 – Creepage Checks

The creepage check within eCADSTAR’s PCB editor is a powerful tool and is so much more than a basic clearance check.  The voltage difference can also be changed based on requirements for a voltage difference range.  The flexibility and sophistication is down to the user control.

 

 

Creepage Check in Action

In this design I have maximized the input voltage to 600V at the power connector of our demo PCB Design, The first thing we need to do is define the voltage of the signals in the constraints browser. This is used in combination with the design rules to create the appropriate spacing to avoid creepage issues. In this demonstration, we will be focusing on the 600V signal.

pcb Creepage

Then in the Rule editor, there is now a new “voltage difference” tab Here is where we define the creepage rules. Here I have defined 3 clearance tables External_Coated, External_uncoated and Internal. These Rules are based on IPC standards which provides a formula for adequate clearances regarding creepage, you can use the formula or enter a defined value. This is therefore a clearance that varies with voltage difference but can also vary within a range of thresholds, making this a sophisticated solution for creepage rules. it is also a decision for the user if the voltage values are defined as RMS or Peak, as it is to define the voltage thresholds and values within the formulae.

Creepage Checker

From the report tab we can invoke the creepage checker. You can set a search distance around what is selected for a creepage check. eCADSTAR will check-in X Y & Z and even around the edges of the PCB

Once you have selected a signal, net, or the entire board a results dialogue will appear where you can filter by caution and fail results.

We can see from the results, creepage issues exist, creepage distance on the same external layers, for the 600V signal. 

The error line is helpful as it is a guidance as to where we need to rectify the creepage failure, in this example we will take the traditional approach of inserting a slot in between the signals, Using eCADSTAR’s slot command. You can see that this slot is not long enough to rectify the problem and the error line now shows a different path signal to signal. We can easily increase the slot length from the properties tab.

We can now see those violations have been resolved, we can also check the creepage path through this slot from layer 1 to 4.

 

So, what are the Key Benefits of the Creepage checker?

  • Powerful and advanced creepage design and check
  • Design right and with advanced creepage design rules
  • Reduce iterations and design re-work
  • Powerful rules specified to voltage difference, beyond traditional clearance
  • Clearance varies with voltage difference, as opposed to discrete values
  • Creepage design consideration integrated within design rules
  • Efficient and productive design environment
  • Improve design review efficiency
  • Creepage checks reduce overall design time and improve quality
  • Design and verify to IEC 62368-1 from the outset and during design process

For more about eCADSTAR 2021 click here

eCADSTAR – Built to Help You Deliver Results

  • PCB DE64-bit computing
  • Mouse and touch screen operation
  • Powerful graphics, enabling users to design in a native 3D environment
  • Advanced Collaborative design, allowing design activities to occur concurrently
  • 2D and 3D environments
  • Multi-core processor

For more information about eCADSTAR please contact us

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Quadra Solutions’ guide to PCB track length matching in high-speed design

To maximise the performance of a circuit design, the implementation of track length matching is key. In any circuit design, an electronic signal takes a certain amount of time to travel along the conductor to reach its end destination. It is crucial to identify the sections of a printed circuit board (PCB) design that requires length matching to guarantee that the signals arrive with accurate timing.

 

Track length matching is normally thought of as in pairs, but it also applies to buses with single-ended signals and differentially-driven buses. As CPU peripherals and other digital systems require faster-operating speeds, the propagation delays in a high-speed system, places tight tolerances on the allowed track length in a conductor carrying digital signals.

This article explores Quadra’s best practices for applying track length matching.

PCB track widths

So, what is Track length matching?

As the name suggests this is the laying out of a design that matches the lengths of two or more PCB tracks, also known as traces. These groups could be one of the following:

  • Single-ended tracks routed in parallel.
  • Differential pairs.
  • Multiple differential pairs in parallel.
  • Clock signals in either single-ended or differential pairs in parallel.

 

PCB tracks carrying digital signals do not necessarily need to be perfectly length matched. With copper surface layer tracking there will always be an amount of jitter on the rising edge, preventing signals routed in parallel to be perfectly length matched. The end goal is to reduce the length or timing mismatch below limiting values. The allowed length mismatch and timing mismatch are related to the signal velocity.

 

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eCADSTAR – PCB Design Software

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How do you know what track length is optimum?

Component datasheets, signalling standards and interface standards are key. There is so much standardisation these days that most high-speed components use one of the many signalling standards. Manufacturers should always have impedance and routing specifications available.

A length mismatch can also be converted to a timing mismatch using signal velocity, although extreme care must be exercised when selecting the velocity of a digital signal. Modern digital signals, generally run with edge rates much less than 1 ns, will have bandwidths reaching into the high GHz, and will only tolerate very small mismatches. Dispersion in the PCB substrate causes the signal velocity to vary with frequency. For example, FR4 exhibits normal dispersion below ~1 GHz, so lower frequencies will arrive at the receiver earlier than higher frequencies.

 

Clock Signals

Using system clocks to trigger every device in a chain of components is extremely difficult in large designs. This is, in part, due to the fact that each integrated circuit has different logic gate delays and rise timing. Typically, modern digital components use source synchronisation or embedded clocks. For embedded clocks signals it is best practice to route a track alongside the parallel data track. The clock tracks also need to be length matched to other data tracks.

 

Track length matching to prevent skew on parallel data buses

pcb tracks

Skew simply refers to a timing mismatch between the rising edges of two or more digital signals in a parallel bus. The signal propagating on the shortest trace will arrive earliest, triggering a downstream gate before the other signals on the bus. eCADSTAR allows you to define buses and differential pairs at the schematic stage, enabling you to enforce track length matching your layout which will keep any skew within tolerable limits.

 

Length matching in multiple single-ended nets is straightforward. Adding tuning structures to all tracks on the bus ensures they are the same end length.

If you have multiple differential pairs carrying parallel data, each differential pair must be matched, and the pairs then need to be matched to each other.

 

What About Analogue Differential Signals?

Analogue signals can also be routed as differential pairs; however, it is less common even at very high frequencies. Some manufacturers offer differential op-amps for high GHz bandwidth allowing for easier routing of analogue signals around a board.

Analogue differential signals require accurate length matching, just like digital differential signals. The difference is that analogue differential signals resemble 3-phase AC wiring, where an adjacent analogue ground plane is used as a reference for both ends of the pair. While digital signals do not explicitly need a ground plane, placing a ground plane adjacent to the digital differential pair is beneficial for the reasons outlined above.

eCADSTAR – Built to Help You Deliver Results

  • PCB DE64-bit computing
  • Mouse and touch screen operation
  • Powerful graphics, enabling users to design in a native 3D environment
  • Advanced Collaborative design, allowing design activities to occur concurrently
  • 2D and 3D environments
  • Multi-core processor

For more information about eCADSTAR please contact us

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Did you miss the “What’s New for eCADSTAR 2021” Webinar?

Did you miss the “What’s New for eCADSTAR 2021” Webinar?

eCADSTAR PCB design software 2021 release is here. eCADSTAR 2021 benefits from greater functionality and efficiency-enhancing tools to help support your PCB design. Join the webinar to find out more about how eCADSTAR is adding to its time-saving tools and providing with you more functionality and improved features to make your designs better.

What’s New for eCADSTAR 2021  – Webinar

The webinar will cover:

  • New Creepage Check feature
  • SPICE Controller feature to enable the Schematic application to interface with LTspice
  • RINF & EDIF Import
    • and many more exciting enhancements

Fill in the form below to catch up here with the on-demand recording

eCADSTAR – Built to Help You Deliver Results

  • PCB DE64-bit computing
  • Mouse and touch screen operation
  • Powerful graphics, enabling users to design in a native 3D environment
  • Advanced Collaborative design, allowing design activities to occur concurrently
  • 2D and 3D environments
  • Multi-core processor

For more information about eCADSTAR please contact us

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What’s new for eCADSTAR 2021 | PCB Design Software

This has been a time of change for everyone. In 2021, some things will be as they were before, but some will be different. In the world we live in now, you need fully-connected, efficient PCB Design Software.

What’s new for eCADSTAR 2021 | PCB Design Software

Check Creepage Rule Compliance in 3D

 

eCADSTAR2021 2D clearance

Check for creepage in 3D based on voltage differences and standards (eCADSTAR Advanced 3D and Ultimate only).2D clearance is always less than or equal to 3D clearance; but working to 3D creepage rules means you can design more densely, because clearance is measured by its true path. For example, making a slot in the PCB can allow other components to be placed more closely to a high-voltage avalanche diode bias supply.

electrical safety_eCADSTAR2021

Check electrical safety. Particularly important for designs with high-voltage routing such as LIDAR. Cross-probe to the canvas and view in 2D or 3D with traffic-light Pass, Caution, Fail color coding. 
Did you miss the “What’s New for eCADSTAR 2021” Webinar?

Fill in the form below to catch up here with the on-demand recording

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SPICE Simulation Control

Control SPICE simulation from Schematic EditorThe eCADSTAR SPICE controller will provide a tightly integrated engineering solution for easy simulation of analog circuits within eCADSTAR Schematics, making eCADSTAR a single point for PCB design and simulation. Engineers will be able to view graphical waveforms, conduct what-if analysis, change discrete component values and sweep simulation parameters using an embedded version of the free high-performance simulation software LTspice from Analog Devices.

eCADSTAR PCB Design Software | Productivity Improvements

Integrate external applications, adding them to the Quick Access Toolbar, so you can launch them without leaving eCADSTAR. eCADSTAR_2021.0_reportNow, if you select “Open Report in Excel”, a report in Comma-Separated-Values format called “report.csv” is opened as a spreadsheet, replacing multiple steps with just one.
You could already configure your own reports. Now make them accessible directly from eCADSTAR.Once you add the path to a user report parameter file (.prgx), you can select it for generation from a dropdown list.

user report parameter file_eCADSTAR2021.0

You can decide where to access user commands, both when you create them and when you edit them.
When you add or edit a user command, you can decide where to make it available for selection.
Now you can select power, ground, sheet connector, hierarchy connector and global signal symbols directly on the ribbon.hierarchy connector_eCADSTAR_2021
You can select symbols directly on the ribbon in Schematic Editor – a great time-saver, because engineers use these symbols a lot – often many times, even on the same sheet.

DXF drawing data

Now you can import DXF drawing data created by mechanical CAD systems in both Library Editor and Schematic Editor.DXF is a widely-used industry format in mechanical graphics applications. You may already have logos or symbols in that format. Now you can import them instead of redrawing them.

unique design-related information

Keep design information directly within schematic design data for reliable future reference. Enter unique design-related information directly with automatic recording of creation and modification times.
Customize sheet number format. Customize sheet numbering format and reflect block hierarchy.

enriched cross-reference information

Configure and display enriched cross-reference information on sheet connectors.You can configure the cross-reference format from the ribbon.
 

Optionally omit “I” and “O”

Optionally omit “I” and “O” from zone letters to conform to standards or to avoid confusion with one and zero.You can omit characters “I” and “O” from zone letters if you wish.
Import EDIF schematic data.Import EDIF 200 data so you can re-use IP from more external sources.

 

eCADSTAR PCB Design Software | Usability Improvements

Save and load views in Schematic Editor

 

Measure true 3D distances_eCADSTAR2021

Change angled trunk corners into curves and adjust radii on the PCB Editor canvas.Curved trunk corners can improve stress resilience and smooth-out track-to-track coupling discontinuities. Direct interactive editing means you can see exactly what kind of corner you are getting in real time.
Move (or duplicate move) trunks with full corner and via pattern retention.Move, flip and rotate trunks with no loss of via patterns or trunk geometry. You can do the same with duplicate-move, providing fast, easy re-use of trunk patterns for maximum PCB design consistency and symmetry.
Measure true 3D distances without extra calculations.Measure it like it really is in your PCB design.

eCADSTAR PCB Design Software | Power Integrity Analysis Enhancements

 

high-current vias

Override package-based parasitic models.Decoupling capacitors come in many package styles and all of them create different parasitics. Experiment easily, by swapping package-based models without the need to change design data. A bit close to the voltage limits with that decoupler? How about changing it to a 25V? That’s in a bigger package, but will its parasitics give you a problem?
Easily identify high-current vias. High-current vias harm power integrity. Need a bigger via? Need an extra via? The high DC current in this via is revealed by sorting the column on via current. You can then adjust or add vias in PCB Editor (shown above the Power Bus window in this image).
Configure cell buttons.Radiation windowThis button in the Radiation window has been configured to display the spectrum. Alternative functions are still available on the right-mouse-button menu.
Set impedance masks to check and measure against expected power bus impedance in PCB design.
impedance masks to check and measure_eCADSTAR_2021Impedance masks enable you to check potential local impedance hotspots against the expected impedance over a range of frequencies.
Reduce aliasing noise with windowing. Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) sampling is designed to work with a round number of complete waveform cycles. This is not always the case and aliasing can make results unreliable. Windowing techniques like the Hann window function counter this effect.
And when you have some frequency domain results, you can now configure a cell button in Analysis Result Viewer to view them more easily.
Configure a cell button for frequency-domain mode.

eCADSTAR PCB Design Software | Design Rule and DRC Enhancements

Choose PCB layer stack directly from Schematic Editor.PCB layer stack PCB layer stack
Layer stack decisions are often made before or during schematic entry. You can make those decisions right here in Constraint Browser as your design takes shape.
DRC options are saved and selected by default next time you work on a schematic.

DRC options_eCADSTAR_2021

As schematic entry progresses, the DRC check options usually progress. Now you don’t have to reselect those options each time you launch Schematic Editor.

For more information about eCADSTAR PCB Design Software please contact us

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Effective PCB design | How to ensure your PCB Trace Widths are Effective

Sarah Santangelli takes us through the importance of Trace Widths and what they mean for your PCB design.

What is Trace Width?

Trace widths

Trace width is an important design factor in PCB design. PCB trace could be analog, digital or power, from one junction to another.

The junction can be the pin of a component, a branch off of a larger trace or plane, or an empty pad or test-point intended for probing. Trace widths are often measured in mils, or thousands of an inch. A standard trace width for an ordinary signal (no special requirements) may be in the 7-12 mil range and be as long as a few inches, but there are many things that should be considered when defining the width and length of a trace.

Efficient Trace Width

To ensure effective operation in transmitting signal and power the importance of PCB Trace Width and resistance is crucial. So, what steps do you need to take?

Determine the standard track width to be used

  • It is important to balance the standard track size to be used within the design. Too narrow and too close means there is a higher chance of it shorting. If they are too wide and far apart, it can restrict the number of tracks in a given area and this may force the use of additional planes in the boards to ensure the PCB design can be routed. It is a balancing act that needs to be right.

 

Consider track size for lines carrying current

  • The thin tracks used in today’s printed circuit boards can only carry a limited current. Consideration needs to be given to the size of the trace for any that carry power rails rather than low level signals. The table below gives some track widths or a 10degree C temperature rise for different thickness copper boards.

 

RECOMMENDED MAXIMUM CURRENT FOR PCB TRACE
CURRENT
(AMPS)
WIDTH FOR 1 OZ BOARD
(THOUS)
WIDTH FOR 2 OZ BOARD
(THOUS)
1105
22015
35025

Fix the printed circuit board pad to hole ratio and size

  • At the beginning of the PCB design it will be necessary to determine the pad and hole dimensions. Typically a ratio of about 1.8: 1 (pad : hole) is used, although sometimes a pad 0..5 mm larger than the hole is used as the measure. This allows for hole drilling tolerances, etc. The manufacturer of the bare PCB will be able to advise on the standards that are required for their process. The ratio becomes more important as the size of the pads and holes reduces, and it is particularly important for via holes.

Determine PCB pad shapes

  • Component libraries associated with PCB CAD systems will have libraries for the schematic and PCB footprints for the different components. However these may vary according to the manufacturing process. Typically they need to be large for wave soldering than for infra-red reflow soldering. Thus the manufacturing process needs to be determined before the design starts so that the optimum pad sizes can be chosen and used on the PCB CAD system and hence on the printed circuit board itself.

 

Need Support with your PCB Design?

Qyadra Solutions have been designing, assembling, and fabricating PCBs for over 20 years and our ability to design and manufacture the highest quality PCB designs and prototypes means the world to every single member of the Quadra team. You can rely on our highly experienced and IPC CID+ accredited team of PCB Design Engineers to provide a full range of PCB Design Services that leave you free to focus on the design concept and product strategy.

Our PCB Design Services

UKAS-ISO-9001-1-150x150Our ISO 9001 accredited team deliver complex, high-speed multi-layered circuit board design layout, testing, library management and manufacturing services for hundreds of happy customers each year, using a wide range of PCB design software packages including;

 

  • Altium
  • Mentor
  • eCADSTAR and CADSTAR
  • PADS
  • Cadence

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Quadra PCB design and Manufacturing Services

  • Data Preparation
  • Library Creation
  • Circuit Board Design
  • Layout Service
  • PCB Assembly and Manufacture
  • PCB Reverse Engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • High-Speed PCB Design
  • Post PCB Layout
  • ECAD / MCAD Integration

 

What’s New for eCADSTAR 2021 – Live Webinar

eCADSTAR PCB design software 2021 release is here. eCADSTAR 2021 benefits from greater functionality and efficiency-enhancing tools to help support your PCB design. Join the webinar to find out more about how eCADSTAR is adding to its time-saving tools and providing with you more functionality and improved features to make your designs better.

What’s New for eCADSTAR 2021  – Webinar

The webinar will cover:

  • New Creepage Check feature
  • SPICE Controller feature to enable the Schematic application to interface with LTspice
  • RINF & EDIF Import
  • and many more exciting enhancements

What’s New for eCADSTAR 2021 Webinar  |  17th June 2021, 10am |

 

 

More about eCADSTAR

eCADSTAR

  • Fully manage your design process from start to finish in a consistent environment.
  • A common user interface and centralized unified library.
  • Define design constraints and variants in the schematic and propagate it throughout the PCB design and routing process.
  • Identify library changes and designs updates with powerful library functionality.
  • A modern, intuitive and fully-customisable user-interface to help delivery design efficiencies

eCADSTAR – BUILT TO HELP YOU DELIVER RESULTS

  • PCB DE64-bit computing
  • Mouse and touch screen operation
  • Powerful graphics, enabling users to design in a native 3D environment
  • Advanced Collaborative design, allowing design activities to occur concurrently
  • 2D and 3D environments
  • Multi-core processor

For more information about eCADSTAR please contact us

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PCB Library Management | What is it and Why does it Matter?

PCB layout design is not rocket science, but it does take time to do right. By taking the time to review your designs before you create your layouts, you can resolve issues early enough to lower costs and production time. PCB Library Management is a critical part of this.

What is PCB Library Management?

Data preparation and library management are time-consuming activities. They are however a crucial part of the process and if not done correctly can severely impair the success of the project. From the inclusion of library parts to the collation of datasheets for each item, the importance of appropriate data preparation and library management cannot be overstated. Some PCB design bureaus will offer this service, but some won’t so it’s important to understand what is required before work commences. Some companies will expect fully CAD-generated schematics, but many can also work from hand-drawn sketches if required. This initial planning plays a very important part especially when it comes to communicating your plans.

In order to understand what a good PCB library administrator can do for you, you need to know what they can’t do, as well. The primary features are time savings, and guaranteed accuracy. If you’re a smaller shop or freelancer, saving time by paying a librarian may not be in your best interest. If you’re with a service bureau juggling multiple designs, outsourcing parts for creation saves you time and money.

PCB libraries are supposed to help you do this, but the wrong library setup can turn the PCB layout process into a sponge that absorbs your R&D time and resources. Good PCB library administration can prevent your great board designs from becoming nightmares, but what is PCB library administration?

What does PCB Library Management involve?

When you hear the word “components”, it’s natural to think about ICs, LEDs, resistors, and all the other electronic hardware that goes into building a PCB. But in terms of PCB design software, there is a lot of information that goes into any component. Every component has an associated symbol, footprint, pin arrangement, and other properties that are used by your PCB design software. With so many components available on the market and with electronics companies producing new components, managing a component library becomes one of the important duties of a PCB designer. Designers commonly create customized components for use in their designs, including footprints and simulation models.

Bringing this information together so that you can take your PCB from design to production requires the best design software on the market. When you work in a unified design environment, your design software will seamlessly integrate your components libraries with your schematic library, and updates to your components libraries are easily passed to your schematic.

Managing Your Digital Libraries

Library management is a broad term that refers to managing component, supplier, life cycle, and schematics for use in your design. With the massive number of components on the market, no one has time to compile information in these libraries on their own. There are many companies that specialize in creating software that compiles this information for you, making you more productive and allowing you to spend more time on your designs.

Component libraries contain more than just a long list of part numbers. A great component library should contain associated schematics symbols, footprints for your layout, SPICE models for use in simulations, and electrical specifications. These libraries also include 3D models for use in a 3D viewer. When all of this information is compiled in a single interface, it greatly streamlines the design process. Component libraries also need to contain associated supplier information, including costs, lead times, and suitable replacements. This gives you the information you need to generate parts lists and a bill of materials for your manufacturer.

Why is it Important to Manage your Digital Library?

pcb design

Managing your digital libraries takes more than just maintaining lists of components and schematics. Your libraries need to synchronize with component supplier information and life cycle management tools. Life cycle management tools give you the information you need to replace obsolete components with suitable replacements. All of these tools work best when they are integrated into a single environment, rather than being separated into different modules.

Some PCB design software packages allow you to create new libraries that contain a specific list of most often used components. When you have a library that grows to 1000’s of components, updates to components are almost never seamless. Especially when you use software that operates with disparate component models. Digital libraries should be created with users and user-intention in mind, with access to the resources and knowledge required from the library.

Badly prepared data and library management can also create added complexities when locating appropriate elements and parts for the design. Many companies will do the hard work for you – collating datasheets for each device where library parts don’t exist and verifying them to ensure there are sufficient legible dimensions for the new part to be created.

Translating between updated versions of your software can wreak havoc on your component library. An update can change the file structure of your component library, forcing you to organize and update your components manually. Some software packages have a components information system that helps you manage your libraries, but you have to purchase this as an add-on. There is no reason such a critical tool shouldn’t be included in your PCB design software.

PCB Library Management is about more than just updating footprints and symbols in schematics. You need to leverage supply chain availability and lifecycle information to ensure your designs remain up to date. Imagine opening up that PCB you created 6 months ago and sending deliverables to your manufacturer, only to find that half of your parts are unavailable or obsolete. Lifecycle states allow you to catch and replace obsolete parts in your designs.

Unified Digital Library Management

Outsourcing pcb design

Working in a unified design environment means more than just presenting all the tools you need in a single piece of software. Data management in a unified design environment uses unified component models that can be reused when you define new components. These component models should serve as templates for new components, saving you time.

Your design software should also help increase productivity by providing updates to component libraries and supply chain information. Designers shouldn’t have to spend time scouring the internet for component updates or supply chain information. They shouldn’t have to rely on an unreliable 3rd party service for these critical updates. A unified design environment allows you to seamlessly transfer any updates onto your schematics.

If you need to make revisions to the footprint of a unified component, your PCB design software should present a visual side-by-side comparison of footprint changes. Any symbol, pin arrangement, and schematic changes should be easy to compare as well. The same idea applies to component templates. This ensures that component changes within your library will be accessible to everyone in your organization.

Many components share common properties, such as capacitance, mounting style, and rated voltage. When you work with a great component manager, you can assign these properties to individual components easily within a single interface. As well as adding them individually to each component, you can also use the Attribute Manager tool to add them to multiple components. Your circuit board and your digital libraries can be managed into effective content creation and storage.

eCADSTAR

PCB Library Management in eCADSTAR

ecadstar header
Click here to watch the on-demand webinar

The eCADSTAR Library Editor provides a complete solution for creating and editing symbol, footprints and part information for PCB design. Integrated into the eCADSTAR framework, Library Editor shares the same set of user interface and configuration settings as other applications in the Zuken family. This makes it easy to learn and maximises productivity during product development.

Working in a unified design environment links your component libraries, schematic libraries, component models, simulation tools, bill of materials, and layout tools within a single design interface.

eCADSTAR has partnered up with many Suppliers & Electronic Component Information Providers such as Findchips, SamacSys, Ultra Librarian & SiliconExpert. These services are fully integrated into eCADSTAR. Spend more time designing and less time searching for parts and supply chain risk information.

eCADSTAR’s database library has excellent searching capabilities allowing you to filter by Part Name, Class, attributes and much more. The search features allow you quickly sift through a massive component library. As a result, you will only locate the components you need for your design including previews of symbols and footprints. Manage your circuits better with a stronger digital library system.

More about eCADSTAR

eCADSTAR

  • Fully manage your design process from start to finish in a consistent environment.
  • A common user interface and centralized unified library.
  • Define design constraints and variants in the schematic and propagate it throughout the PCB design and routing process.
  • Identify library changes and designs updates with powerful library functionality.
  • A modern, intuitive and fully-customisable user-interface to help delivery design efficiencies

eCADSTAR – BUILT TO HELP YOU DELIVER RESULTS

  • PCB DE64-bit computing
  • Mouse and touch screen operation
  • Powerful graphics, enabling users to design in a native 3D environment
  • Advanced Collaborative design, allowing design activities to occur concurrently
  • 2D and 3D environments
  • Multi-core processor

For more information about eCADSTAR please contact us

eCADSTAR Case Study – Driving Innovation for EA Technology

eCADSTAR

When looking to upgrade their existing PCB design software, EA Technology looked to eCADSTAR to support their business objectives and their ongoing design and development projects.

EA Technology, headquartered in Chester, is recognised globally as a leader in their field; enhancing the performance of power networks and providing clients with tailored asset management solutions. After an upgrade to their PCB design software, the result provided their PCB engineers with an improved high-speed design platform with limitless possibilities.

“eCADSTAR helps us generate reports quicker and easier, providing us with more comprehensive manufacturing checks, enabling us to ensure we Design for Manufacture efficiently.”

Graham Poll, CAD Consultant

Electronic Design Automation meets internet connectivity

EA Technology is able to benefit from eCADSTAR’s high-speed automated and assistive functionalities in an easy-to-use environment such as PCB Design Editor, Library Editor, Schematics Editor and design rule checking. This innovative internet-connected PCB design platform combines all the power of EDA software with the flexibility of the internet.

“Our engineers were impressed with the new look and feel to eCADSTAR. The library search is a real strength of the software. It will help limit the amount of time spent searching for parts and help streamline our workflows. The ongoing technical support was also a major decision-making factor. By having access to a vastly experienced technical support team available whenever required, helps our team move forward quickly and efficiently whilst getting to grips with a new tool,” said Graham.

Click here to access the full case study

 

More about eCADSTAR

eCADSTAR brings together the latest advances in collaboration and connected engineering in a borderless electronic design environment, connecting the engineering desktop with comprehensive design and manufacturing services.

eCADSTAR’s advanced and connected features include:

  • Unified design environment
  • Enhanced online part search
  • Visualisation and collaboration tools
  • Advanced 3D design
  • Design migration and design re-use

INTERNET-CONNECTED DESIGN

  • Fully manage your design process from start to finish in a consistent environment with a common user interface and centralized unified library.
  • Define design constraints and variants in the schematic and propagate it throughout the PCB design and routing process.
  • Identify library changes and designs updates with powerful library functionality.
  • A modern, intuitive and fully-customisable user-interface to help delivery design efficiencies

PCB DESIGN SOFTWARE – BUILT TO HELP YOU DELIVER RESULTS

  • PCB DE64-bit computing
  • Mouse and touch screen operation
  • Powerful graphics, enabling users to design in a native 3D environment
  • Advanced Collaborative design, allowing design activities to occur concurrently
  • 2D and 3D environments
  • Multi-core processor

For more information about eCADSTAR please contact us

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8 PCB Design and Layout Tips You Should Know

8 PCB Design and Layout Tips You Should Know

PCB’s are all around us and we are probably never more than a metre away from a PCB at all times. Your smartwatch/fitness tracker, your laptop or your mobile. We can’t go a day without relying on a PCB somewhere! And as a result, PCB design is more important than ever. In this post, we explore some of the most important elements of successful PCB design and our top 8 layout tips that you should know.

1. Node Location Is Critical

Perhaps the most important tip on our list is this – Node accessibility. This could help solve your design issues and solve issues when testing. If nodes aren’t accessible, testing will be even harder whatever type of nodes you have used. If they are easy to probe then they are easy to test.

2. Space Matters

Today’s circuit boards support far more components per square centimetre than ever before. That’s great from an end-user standpoint. The more components on a board, the more functionality it supports, and the more users can do with the device. However, what is an advantage for end users can be a challenge for designers.

Simply put, the more components you add to a board, the more cramped they become within the design. And, make no mistake, component spacing matters a lot. Why is that? You’ll find several reasons. One of those is that without the appropriate amount of spacing, you lack room for wire routing. Another challenge is that those components create heat, and the closer they’re packed, the more heat builds up in the board. In some cases, that might be enough to compromise the board material itself, particularly if you’re using something like FR-4 rather than a material designed to handle high levels of heat.

3. Feeling the heat

Heat will always be a problem, but it is not insurmountable. One quick tip to help you get around high-heat-related issues is to add extra copper around surface mount components. This creates additional surface area and helps dissipate more heat, faster, effectively turning a portion of the PCB design into a heatsink.

4. Pay Attention to Arrangement

Sometimes, rotating your components is simply not enough. When that happens, it’s important to come at the situation with a bit of strategy in terms of component arrangement. How, though?

Cascaded Components: Cascaded components play a vital role in many PCB design options. However, they can be challenging to arrange correctly. Keep them near one another, and make sure that they are in sequence on the board. That will immediately remove the challenge of trying to route traces all across the board to connect cascaded components located in different areas.
Consolidate: Why use multiple smaller resistors when a single higher resistance one will work better? Consolidating your design ensures that there’s more room for components and traces, as resistors will take up less of your available space.
Cascade from the Edge: When laying out your PCB design, identify any component that must be attached via a connector placed on or near the edge. Locate those components as close to the connector as you can. The rest of the chain should cascade away from that point, grouped into functional blocks near one another and in sequence.

5. Making space

Does the following situation sound familiar? You’re staring at your PCB design, struggling to fit each component in and route traces between them. No matter where you put them, you’re left with problems, particularly if the board is smaller.

The answer? Rotate your components and find the best arrangement that allows you to route traces directly between them while maximizing the use of space across the entire board. This can take some time and effort, but it’s well worth the minimal investment you’ll make.

6. That Shrinking Feeling

Struggling with an unrouteable board? Use smaller components. By going with a smaller footprint, you leave more room for copper traces to pass each component. Proper spacing is easier to maintain with smaller components, too, helping you avoid overcrowding the board and the other problems that go hand in hand with stacking components too close to one another.

What should you do? While quad flat package components might be your first option, you might want to consider going with ball grid array components, instead. Of course, there is a trade-off here – smaller components make repair work more challenging.

7. Dense Boards

If you are struggling with PCB design, chances are good that the space required for traces, vias, and clearance is a problem. You can get around that by going denser. With HDI, you can create very dense boards with very dense traces, clearances, and vias that still deliver performance. However, you do need to consider controlled impedance routing, differential pairs, and check creepage, clearance, and width when it comes to high-current and high-voltage design.

8. Keep the Noise Down

Signal noise can be problematic when it comes to some traces. However, placing high-frequency signal carrying traces too close together can couple those signals, ratcheting up the noise and possibly creating problems with traces where no noise is desired. Make sure that you keep noisy digital traces away from analog traces to avoid this problem.

 

More about Quadra Solutions PCB Design Service

We have been designing, assembling and fabricating PCB’s for over 20 years and our ability to design and manufacture the highest quality PCB designs and prototypes means the world to every single member of the Quadra team.You can rely on our highly experienced and IPC CID+ accredited team of PCB Design Engineers to provide a full range of PCB Design Services that leave you free to focus on the design concept and product strategy.

UKAS-ISO-9001-1-150x150Our ISO 9001 accredited team deliver complex, high-speed multi-layered circuit board design layout, testing, library management and manufacturing services for hundreds of happy customers each year, using a wide range of PCB design software packages including;

 

  • Altium
  • Mentor
  • eCADSTAR and CADSTAR
  • PADS
  • Cadence
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Quadra PCB design and Manufacturing Services

  • Data Preparation
  • Library Creation
  • Circuit Board Design
  • Layout Service
  • PCB Assembly and Manufacture
  • PCB Reverse Engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • High-Speed PCB Design
  • Post PCB Layout
  • ECAD / MCAD Integration

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