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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Migrate CADSTAR designs to eCADSTAR – Part 2

This demonstration will show how to migrate classic CADSTAR designs into eCADSTAR using eCADSTAR’s migration tools

Migrate CADSTAR designs to eCADSTAR

eCADSTAR
eCADSTAR

This demonstration will show how to migrate classic CADSTAR designs into eCADSTAR using eCADSTAR’s migration tools. Firstly, in Classic CADSTAR open both the PCB design and the Schematic. With the PCB design file open navigate to File > File export and export as a PCB archive or .cpa file. Press okay.

Now we need to do the same again for the schematic file. So open the schematic and the same again File >File Export and make sure the format is schematic archive or .csa file and you want to export the whole design… then click okay!

Now in the design folder we will have both archive files that we need in order to do the migration. eCADSTAR design migration tool is available in both the schematic editor and the PCB Editor so open up either or and lets begin the migration. From eCADSTARs start page navigate to Home> Migration>CADSTAR design. Then locate both of those exported archive files. Click next.

Here I have specified a mapping file, if we click on edit then a new dialogue appears where we can completely customize the migration mapping. Here I have checked eCADSTARs default mapping setup this will automatically map the layers using their CADSTAR subtype. Then specify an empty directory for migrated eCADSTAR design.Once we have clicked next eCADSTAR will then begin the migration process. Once the migration is complete take note of the log and click finish. eCADSTAR will then open the migrated PCB design and the schematic design. Lets take a look at the result!

I am just going to turn off the view of some of the layers and inspect the electrical data. Now I am going to deploy a filter to turn off the view of the area fills. As you can see in just a couple of minutes eCADSTARs done a great job at migrating this design. I am now going to go to the Schematic Editor and take a look at the migrated schematic. You can see that the format and the colour settings have migrated as close to the original classic CADSTAR design as possible.

In the migrated design folder eCADSTAR has created a local library for this design this gives us the option to have a functional stand-alone design or once the master library has been migrated, we can link the design to that library instead. For more details please refer to the library migration video which details how to migrate your CADSTAR library into eCADSTAR.

For more information about to help you migrate CADSTAR designs to eCADSTAR, Contact us

Is it a good time to evaluate alternative PCB software options?

Is it a good time to think about your PCB software?

If you are like me, you have now been home for the longest time since you started employment.

The last time I spent this much time in one place was revising for my finals at University. Granted it is a different setup. There is a lot less paper, a lot less tea and coffee breaks and a lot less sitting in my bedroom. But otherwise, there are some very obvious parallels.

And during my final exams at University, as you would, I started to think quite seriously about the future and what that might look like; what career might I have, what things might I learn, where will my 15 years plus of education take me.

So when I started thinking back to 21-year-old me, looking towards the future it reminded me that, everything changes. Our aspirations change, our expectations change and we, in turn, must change with the times. Which brings me to the subject of this weeks blog, Change.

Want more information? Contact us now

Change is huge

No one has ever suggested change is easy.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” -Charles Darwin

Here’s a great article about changing PCB Design software from the team at Zuken

So how do you go about making a change?

Now is the best possible time to evaluate your PCB software choices!

eCADSTAR is all about making a complex and demanding world easier. With eCADSTAR, everything is at your fingertips.

  • Connect detached and dispersed team
  • Seamless internet connectivity
  • Advanced technologies and tools to help streamline and simplify your design process

It’s different, it’s modern, it changes your perspective, your experience, it will delight you in surprising ways. eCADSTAR will make you amazing, successful and profitable.

Want to experience it for yourself? Request an online Virtual demonstration with our team.

Will COVID affect you? | PCB Design & Manufacturing

As the number of Coronavirus cases in the UK continues to climb, it is becoming highly likely that Coronavirus will wreak havoc on PCB design and Manufacturing cycles and manufacturing over the coming months.

Whilst we are doing everything we can to support our software customers so they can continue working remotely, our PCB design team is here to help deliver your project on time.

At Quadra we offer a complete PCB design to manufacture service. You may only require us to deliver a quick layout job for you or you may have a whole project that is falling behind schedule. However Coronavirus is affecting your business, we are here to help.

 

PCB Design Services from Quadra Solutions

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. 

Our 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 

 Quadra PCB design and Manufacturing Services

  • Data Preparation 
  • Library Creation
  • UKAS-ISO-9001-1-150x150Circuit Board Design
  • PCB Layout Service
  • PCB Assembly and Manufacture
  • PCB Reverse Engineering
  • Reverse engineering
  • High-Speed PCB Design
  • Post PCB Layout
  • ECAD / MCAD Integration

 

Contact us now

eCADSTAR – PCB Routing – Positive Thermal Connectivity Options

PCB Routing

In this video we’re going to take a quick look at the versatility eCADSTAR offers designers with respect to PCB Routing and Thermal Connectivity.

This is a great example. Here we have a net with 4 different pad sizes. The smallest being the QFN package Rectifier. You can see that the output is being decoupled by two caps and then it transitions from layer 1 to layer 2. At the transition point we have a device that appears to be shorted out. But it’s going to be used as a current sense device. We’ll look at this closer in a moment.

The same thermal spoke width is not going to suit all these different pad sizes so outside of flooding them all what options do we have?

Well, in the first instance the thermal connectivity preference is assigned to the copper flood. To the shape. In the settings for the copper flood we can define thermal or flooded and we can also isolate Vias from pads. But this setting is then applied to all pads that make contact with that particular copper flood.

If I change the settings you can see the impact on the pads. Here the smallest dimension on any of the pads on the QFN @ 0.3mm. So I will set my minimum spoke with for that copper flood to 0.3mm

Now let’s review the impact if I decided to flood all those pads and have no thermal relief.
I’m not happy with that result so I’m going to CTRL Z and undo it.

But eCADSTAR offers another level of flexibility that is really easy to configure. We can override the shape, the flood connectivity preferences by defining them at the next level down which is at the device pads directly.

I’ve just changed the two large decoupling capacitors to have flooded connections.

Now focusing on our current sense device I’m going to change one pad to flooded and the other pad to isolated.

I also need to replicate the isolated connection at the QFN device.

Now we can see both of those pads are connected to the same net, the output net but they are now isolated from the copper flood.

The reason we’ve isolated these two pads is because the rectifier has an inbuilt current monitoring facility. If the pad that measures the current is connected directly to the copper flood then the measurement will be inaccurate. We need to measure as closely as possible to the final output stage before the conductor travels around delivering its power to the receiving circuits.

eCADSTARS flexibility regarding the thermal, flooded and isolated connections makes this really easy for us.

We are not just limited to overriding the copper flood connectivity with flooded or isolated connections. We can also define different thermal connectivity.

So in this example I can pick a pad, change to a really thin spoke width and specify any number of spokes. Up to a max of 12. Where possible it will add as many spokes as it can. In this instance it achieved 5.

Just for fun lets see if one of the larger pads can handle 12 connections for us.

So there you have it. A huge amount of flexibility regarding thermal connectivity in eCADSTAR.

 

For more information about PCB Routing with eCADSTAR contact us

CAM350 2018 Release now available

CAM350 Release 2018 now available

DownStream’s most ambitious release to date, Release 2018, is now available.

Verification, optimisation and output generation with CAM350

CAM350 is the industry de facto standard for verification, optimisation and output generation to efficiently and effectively drive PCB fabrication.

Problems arising during PCB fabrication can drastically impact product schedules, result in costly design re-spins, and require modifications to the design that might compromise the design’s integrity and intent.

CAM350

CAM350 offers a complete suite of tools, from design through fabrication, streamlining the transition of engineering data into successful, physical PCBs. Inspecting, preparing and validating the PCB design prior to release can result in a significant increase in efficiency, less risk of design re-spin, and, most importantly, successful and efficiently built electronic products.

Key Features for Release 2018 include:

  •  3D manufacturing data visualisation – Allows modelling of imported Gerber, Drill, ODB++, or IPC-2581 data into a 3D PCB facsimile as well as model the 3D PCB on a fabrication or assembly panel.
  • 3D Design View Port – Quickly switch between 2D and 3D views using the new 3D Design View port.
  • New 2D/3D PCB Stack UP visualizer – A “What if” sandbox to orientate artwork layers, insert construction materials, define via technologies, and add thickness and other material attributes in a stack up environment to ensure the 3D rendering has been implemented.
  • 3D documentation – Use the 3D PCB model in documents to further clarify design intent or augment traditional 2D documents.
  • Support for 3D objects in PDF export – Users can export the 3D model or 3D document in Adobe PDF format.
  • Cross Product Integration – Release 2018 creates an integrated 2D/3D manufacturing data preparation environment that allows CAM350 and BluePrint to easily share data between manufacturing data optimisation and analysis with PCB documentation.
  • Major GUI facelift to CAM350 and DFMStream to streamline menus and dialogs as well as increase overall ease-of-use and productivity.

For more information on CAM350 contact us

The Process for Good PCB Design

The process of PCB design and manufacture of printed circuit boards is a complicated and extensive process and it’s sometimes easy to forget the variety of tasks that are completed as a result. In this blog we take you through the core stages that our PCB designers undertake and the tasks associated and talk through some of the challenges they encounter as a result.

Stage 1  – Feasibility and evaluation

First we must consider the mechanical housing versus SCH circuit area study and establish how much board space is needed to optimally place and route the circuit. Establishing density and working out how many routing layers might be necessary is also crucial at this stage. Here we can sometimes have a trade-off; depending on circuit density it can be possible to route a board on fewer layers but it will take longer. Then we need to consider whether that fits in with the product launch or is that something that can be revisited for cost down / product development in the future.

The next stage is to establish PCB fabricator Design Rules & limitations. We can only really communicate with the PCB fabrication team for their recommendations when we’ve done our own assessment on what we think the product will need.

The designer will then establish PCB assemblers design rules & limitations and identify critical circuits and power mapping. These will determine component distribution at placement.

 

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Stage 2 – Component Placement/Floor planning

At this point, we begin to place critical components. i.e Core processors, interconnects that interface with other boards/products & any other ancillary mechanical features and then we review. Regular reviews are continuous throughout the design phase and the interaction with the Mechanical team is critical. Working with the responsible engineer(s), we then establish exact routing requirements, current, high speed and impedance matching etc.

Stage 3 – Prioritise layout order / divide design

At this point we need to establish which circuits need routing first, such as any that are subject to lengthy approval processes. Starting with these, a sample board of that circuit can be made and qualified whilst the remainder of the design continues. Depending on your software functionality it might be possible to divide the design into sections and have multiple designers working on separate areas in parallel, in effect, saving time. After placement and prior to routing is the best time to do this.

Stage 4 – Routing

The routing of the board requires evaluation with all responsible engineers to ensure the timely inclusion of findings from any circuit simulation/circuit changes. This includes providing copper shapes to high current circuits and ground planes for return current paths. The frequency of via stitching or reinforcement between duplicate copper shapes depends on the circuit requirements and material stack up balance. Some consideration to thermal balance needs to also be applied because too many copper connections over multiple layers on the same hole can inhibit the soldering process

Stage 5 – Design Rule Checks

We are now at the stage where we carry out a routing completion check is done, often run throughout the routing phase. A DRC element to element check and a 3D mechanical alignment check are also performed to ensure the layout not only satisfies the design rules but is mechanically compliant.

Stage 6 – PCB Design Simulation and Partner review

Having already prioritised the routing order in the previous stage based on our product and our project plan then typical stages of the PCB design could include:

  • High speed and impedance matched tracks that might require a clean path from A to B should probably be a high priority.
  • Power distribution: If your component placement stage (stage 2) has any flaws then you need to know soon so make a start on the power distribution, don’t leave it until the end. Have you created a bottle neck?
  • Routing of small signals, analogue and digital.
  • Other routing tasks will also include adding large copper shapes for high current rails, ground return paths and via stitching.
  • Test point allocation.

All of the above can intermingle and are often concurrent/parallel tasks. An experienced designer will have a good feel for the priority based on the placement stage but one tip often overlooked is as simple as asking the design team if they are aware of any pending changes. There may be a significant design change in the pipeline that the design team are working on which would mean time spent routing that particular area would be wasted effort.

Stage 7 – PCB Design Output / Finalisation

At this stage final checks and evaluations take place. DRC checks are repeated, all required outputs are processed, the information is distributed to all relevant recipients and the design is locked down as ‘released.’

Stage 8 – Incoming Engineering Queries

Hopefully by pre-releasing data to the PCB fabricator any engineering queries that might delay production will have been eliminated. However, if there is a query that does require design intervention then the severity needs assessing with management. It might be necessary to step back to Simulation & review stage.

Stage 9 – PCB Design Prototypes

This is when the first prototypes are built and tested.  Any information from PCB fabrication or product assembly that could cause process issues should be fed back to the designer asap.  Depending on your product development strategy its common to start the next iteration of a PCB immediately after the release of the first prototype and because many issues don’t present themselves until late in the testing stage, PCB designers can be under a lot of pressure to incorporate last-minute changes and hit deliverable time frames. This is when good change, review, release methodology needs to be applied.

 For more information about PCB design and potential outsourcing for your next job, contact or 01254 301 888

 

CADSTAR, Let’s talk efficient circuit replication

CADSTAR is a well-established EDA tool with a comprehensive, generous feature list even at the entry-level license option.

CADSTAR

This month I want to talk about efficient circuit replication and how CADSTAR can easily replicate circuit blocks, providing a quicker path to completion, an increase in productivity and a reduction in possible errors. In just a few easy steps we are able to quickly replicate circuit placement and tracking.

Starting with a completed donor circuit, group the devices and select replicate circuit. The next stage is to define your required matrix in the replicate circuit dialogue and click ok.

Once this has been completed transfer the circuit to a routing environment. Then window select the copper elements, copy them and paste them onto the awaiting placed circuits.

Note that you do not have to be accurate with the paste feature as the routing tool will snap the copper elements onto the pins for you. It also ‘intuitively’ inherits the net name from the pin automatically, saving time and effort.

Or Click here to watch it on YouTube.

In the next Blog we will continue to focus on efficient circuit replication but this time focusing on a feature that enables a designer to have a source or donor design which automatically feeds satellite designs that are already in situ as part of a main design.

For more information about the capabilities of CADSTAR PCB Design software click here

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