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PADS PCB design tutorial – how to design PCB PADS

PADS – is a compelling PCB design software from Mentor graphics. The PADS electronics design software enables hardware engineers to easily turn a PCB prototype into a production design. The software comes in multiple versions to suit different engineering needs. Packages include standard, standard+, professional edition, and more… While the standard version of PADS electronic design software provides all the necessities for PCB design, the professional edition offers an all-in-one integrated PCB solution.

In this pcb design course, we'll cover PADS PCB design features and how to use the basic elements of the PADS software.

PADS PCB versions comparison

There are different suites of design software available for different needs. Whether you are an individual designer, a startup, or a corporate organization – PADS PCB has a package for each demand.

Below are the basic packages available when purchasing the PADS design software:

  • 1. PADS Standard version – includes the core features such as PCB schematic and layout abilities. Suitable for engineers looking to create basic, non-complex designs. Package features include components documentation, easy filter and search capabilities, IPC compliance, and the ability to create custom patterns.
  • 2. PADS Standard+ (plus) – Includes everything that the standard version has with advanced verification capabilities. Especially useful for engineers looking to do verifications and analysis operations. Features include circuit signal integrity verification, thermal simulation, analog and digital simulations, and instant access to a great library of components.
  • 3. PADS professional suite – suitable for corporates or companies with multiple hardware engineers. This special PADs PCB version includes everything the standard plus version has but with extra benefits. It comes with additional powerful features such as the ability to design in multiple workgroups and share design files across teams, higher automation abilities, the ability to verify and test complex designs and FPGAs, and much more…

The version you will need will very much depend on what you are planning to do. The standard version will be more than enough if you are just starting with PADS PCB software. Suppose you are looking to integrate design into a medium-large team of engineers. In that case, the professional version could benefit your team by ensuring design quality and saving valuable time using advanced automation tools.

Downloading PADS PCB software

When it comes to different PADS designer download options, there are a couple of ways to go:

  • 1. Purchase the license and download the license-activated version
  • 2. Download a free trial and later activate it using a license

Either way, you'll get the full version of the software, although the trial version might be limited until a valid license is entered. PADS PCB download links are found in the downloads section of Simen's website. Always download PADS software from the official website and avoid using third-party links or untrusted copies.

Capturing schematic with ease

All the PADS versions include the ability to capture, modify and deploy schematics quickly. To get started with this feature, select the "Create" button on the initial page to enable schematic capturing:

pcb schematic

Once you've pressed the button, you can set parameters for the chosen parts. A sample of the selected piece will be available on the bottom right side of the design software:

PCB design software

The footer bar enables an overview of the current circuit's different abilities and customization tools. By choosing other options or implements, you can customize the schematic, the components, or the layout according to the design specifications:

PCB design software

Once you have finished customizing your design with the schematic capture tools, you can verify the design using a verification tool. By choosing "Central Library Synchronization Tool" from the libraries menu, a label will indicate whether the plan is problematic. If you get yellow warning messages, pay attention to what they say and correct your project accordingly.

Designing a custom PADS PCB layout

The PADS software comes with the capability to design advanced circuit schematics and layouts. Some designs are more complex than the others, such as Analog, RF, high-frequency designs, and FPGAs. Those designs require special precision CAD tools. Good design software can easily design, test, and verify the PCB layout. Using PADS PCB layout design abilities, this process couldn't be more straightforward.

CADS layout abilities include 2D and 3D layout capabilities and automated audits and tests. The software uses a high-speed auto-routing algorithm to route your layout in seconds. The basic pcb layout design features of setting planes, traces, vias, and pads are also available for convenient use. A realistic solder mask and silkscreen view will accurately present the final product. 3D view enables to strip off of the PCB layers to detect faults and design issues easily.

All the above features are just a tiny bit of what PADS PCB layout software is capable of. The layout software provides an easy-to-use distance check feature to verify the accuracy of location and component sizes. This is extremely useful when designing a PCB enclosure or industrial case. The software also supports importing ".stp" files for 3D visualization of components.

PCB layout software

We covered the essential features of producing a PCB layout using PADS. Premium versions of the software will come with more sophisticated and powerful features. To learn more, refer to the official PADS documentation for more information.

Managing components using PADS designer

The PADS component library comes with a tremendous amount of built-in components to choose from. This is especially useful regarding rapid PCB design and verification needs. The ability to quickly replace the out-of-stock or faulty components with a new one without the need to manually draft the schematic and footprint.

Another great feature is the ability to easily integrate into ORP/MRP and other similar databases and software through commonly used standards. A well-known standard for such use s the Open Database Connectivity standard or "ODBC". By connecting to such a database, the PADS PCB designer enables the user to quickly refer to previous designs and schematics, sync between multiple projects, and avoid re-creating available designs.

There are many ways to use the PADS PCB components management system, such as:

  • 1. Searching by component name, by criterion
  • 2. Filtering by parameters
  • 3. Even the PADS PCB design name

Another helpful feature is the ability to select a generic component and paste it into the pre-existing PADS PCB schematic.

Ensuring Design Integrity

PADS specialty is the ability to produce circuit integrity and quality checks. By the time all the right components have been chosen, you'll have the option to check for design integrity and ensure the quality of the PCB design before submitting it for production. This feature will provide the schematic is well defined, the layout is properly wired, and the components have been annotated properly.

PADS design Summary

Success is assured if you follow the steps above for the PADS PCB layout and design technique. We've learned about the different software versions and features. We also learned the PADS PCB designer's layout and schematic design abilities.

If you are in doubt or need help designing your next PCB project, PCBasic is here to help. We have over 20 experienced in-house engineers with years of experience using the PADS design software. Contact us for information, consultation, or quotation.


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