We all approach different tasks in different ways and as PCB designers we all have very different ways of working, even though the task at hand effectively requires the same outcome.
Designers rely on a variety of tools to help streamline and complete designs as efficiently as possible, some of which are more regularly used than others.
So, keen to find out what the ‘go-to’ tools within the software are, we spoke to our in-house PCB design team to find out what they felt the most useful or under-used applications available within CADSTAR were.
Here’s what they had to say…
My favourite CADSTAR tool is DXF in.
When faced with drawing a complicated PCB outline with or without height restrictions, which includes the creation of complex shapes, many challenges can occur. So rather than using CADSTAR to draw those complex shapes the ‘DXF in’ tool can help improve the process. Generating the board restrictions as a dxf file means that it can be readily imported into CADSTAR. This imported data needs to be scaled correctly, as incorrect scaling will create further issues.
Firstly you create a new layer specifically for the import and add nothing else on to the layer. This will make it easier to remove and replace if the data is modified at a later stage. Make sure that the imported data is above and to the right of the origin and not too far from it, as you don’t want it to disappear off the margin. Once imported, it can be grouped and moved as you see fit. The benefit being, that by re-using the data there is a reduction in possible errors.
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Automatic Pin Swapping is an often-overlooked tool but yet often garners great interest when I have previously demonstrated it’s functionality during CADSTAR Essentials Training Courses.
Focused placement, as many PCB designers will tell you, plays a major role in successful PCB design.
The feature within the P.REditor routing environment allows you to choose an equivalent pin instead of the schematic assigned pin. The simplest scenario would be to have all your non-polarized discreet devices configured to have ‘equivalent pins’ within their PARTS. As a result, you do not have to spend time rotating these devices to achieve optimal path.
It is difficult to pick one specific tool that I particularly value over all other tools. I have used CADSTAR since its inception and the thing I like about CADSTAR as a package is the wide range of tools available. Placement, routing, checking and finally production of manufacturing data can all be achieved within the CADSTAR software, all of which are critical to achieving an electrically correct and manufacturable PCB. CADSTAR provides an all-encompassing software package, enabling designers to complete PCB designs from initial concept through to manufacture.
One of my favourite tools in the rules by area tool. It allows you to control different design rule attributes for different areas of the design. For instance, when routing a BGA you may require tighter spacing rules than you would necessarily want throughout the whole design.
By creating ‘rule sets’ in the assignments dialog box, you can apply these rules to a specific area of the design. Via and net route codes can also be controlled by these rule sets if something different is required to the overall design.
The high-speed functionality in CADSTAR is brilliant. For length matching and …. For high-speed work, CADSTAR software is one of the best I have used.
Having used CADSTAR for many years, I find one of my favourite aspects of the software is the Quick Access Toolbar.
The QAT is not so much a feature; more an enabling technology. It compiles all your most commonly used tools in one place, saving time navigating menus or typing commands, and enabling more screen area by minimising the menus. Used in conjunction with custom Macros and tools on the User Tools menu means that I have everything I need in order to complete work faster and more effectively.
But what do you think? What are your favourite CADSTAR Tools? Let us know in the comments box below.