Tag Archives: Autodesk

EAGLE Autorouter, When & How To Use

Designing a PCB layout is a work of engineering art, includes placing components and routing them through different layers. So when you assign the same job for different engineers, each one would make it in his own way. But sometimes when working on a complex design some help may be necessary to finish the work. Autodesk EAGLE provides an autorouter feature which may assist you in many cases.

The autorouter is a useful tool that creates many routing variations for the current component placement. However, it is not a completely replacement of manually routing method. It can help you in specific situations to augment your abilities, not replace them.

When to use the autorouter?

There are three main uses of the autorouter:

  • Optimizing Placement
    While there is no rule for placing the components of the circuits, you need to evaluate your placement to ensure that you can route all parts. Autorouter completion result could be used as an indicator of your parts placement, if it was 85% or greater this means you did a good job. If not, consider pushing your parts around.
  • Discovering Bottlenecks
    You can also use the autorouter to identify bottlenecks and other critical connection points that you might have missed when placing your components. Maybe you packed a couple of ICs too close together. Your autorouter can show you where you might need to leave more space between components.
  • Getting Inspired
    When you are stuck on a section and don’t know how to route your parts, then you can call the autorouter to see how it takes care of the job, then try routing that same spot yourself with your new perspective. You might just find a strategy for your traces that you didn’t see before your autorouter gave it a try.

Using EAGLE Autorouter

Now when you find yourself stuck on some area or you feel that you need to optimize your placement or discover the bottlenecks, it is time to launch the autorouter. Follow these steps to know how it works:

  1. Open your PCB layout (.brd) file from your Autodesk EAGLE Control Panel.
  2. Select the Autorouter tool on the left-hand side of your interface to open the Autorouter Main Setup dialog.
  3. There’s quite few settings here that you can adjust:
    You’re in complete control of the autorouter setup with settings for effort, CPU threads, and routing directions.
    • Preferred direction: if you need a specific direction of the route, like vertical or horizontal, select it for each layer or you can set it to Auto. N/A means that the autorouter will not use this layer.
    • Effort: this option defines how the autorouter will work, higher effort will take more time and will provide more more routing variances.
    • Number of threads: how many threads of the CPU you want the autorouter to use? This surely will affect the time it takes to finish.
      After selecting your settings, press the Continue button.
  4. Within the Routing Variants dialog, you’ll see a list of all the routing variations the autorouter will attempt. Select the Start button to begin the autorouting process.

    Eagle Autorouting with five potential routing variations
    Autorouting on a low effort mode produced five potential routing variations that the autorouter will attempt.
  5. Once the routing is complete, select the Evaluate button, and you’ll see your completion percentage in the bottom-left corner of the interface.

If you want to unroute your board you can use the Undo (Ctrl + Z), or use the RIPUP command. Just type RIPUP ; in the command line and all of your routed traces will convert back to airwires.

To learn more about routing and autorouting you can read this tutorial, it is a part of series about Autodesk EAGLE features and how to use it. You can also view the previous tutorial about placing components.

How to Read Your First Autodesk EAGLE Schematic

Back to basics. Here is a tutorial on autodesk.com blog on how to read schematics:

The schematic forms the building block of every electrical circuit, and even if you aren’t designing one yourself, knowing how to read one is invaluable. And with some schematic reading knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to design, build and ultimately troubleshoot your way through your design logic before heading on to your PCB layout.

How to Read Your First Autodesk EAGLE Schematic – [Link]

EAGLE Is Now Released By Autodesk

After acquiring CadSoft in June 2016, Autodesk released a new version of EAGLE with new features that improve program functions and a new pricing plan.

The new version of Eagle added a modular design blocks feature to the schematic editor that allows you to quickly replicate sections of circuitry between multiple projects. Even better, any change you make stays synchronized between your schematics and PCB.

The route engine comes with new, interactive routing features that make it easy to design beautifully precise PCB layouts. It includes a whole set of trace clean-up tools that makes it much easier to tidy up your board and make adjustments to existing paths. There is also an automated loop removal, cornering for super-smooth tracks, quick and easy via placement while routing.

Autodesk said that upgrading EAGLE will be available as a monthly or yearly subscription, providing continuous updates and better support, and it said to be budget friendly. Which means that users will get more consistent and frequent updates backed with dedicated support from the PCB design pros at Autodesk, and cheaper than buying a cup of coffee every day for a year.

Eagle Pricing Table

Many Eagle users found it a bad deal, because having the old Standard option will cost $100/year instead of the one-time $69 payment. Autodesk also killed the lower cost options for non-commercial use, what used to be a $169 version that was positioned for hobbyists.

“We know it’s not easy paying a lump sum for software updates every few years. It can be hard on your budget, and you never know when you need to have funds ready for the next upgrade.”

You can download the free version from here, but for anyone using Eagle for commercial purposes this is a big change. Even if you agree with the new pricing, a subscription model means you never actually own the software. This model will require licensing software that needs to phone home periodically and can be killed remotely. If you need to look back at a design a few years from now, you better hope that your subscription is valid, that Autodesk is still running the license server, and that you have an active internet connection.

KiCad appears as the alternative software for Eagle users, and many of the PCB designers planned to start using it as it has been improving steadily in the past years.

Introducing Autodesk Circuits Simulator For Beginner

Circuits.io is an online platform created by Autodesk for hardware hackers. It provides a browser-based application for designing, simulating electronic circuits and creating PCB boards. Autodesk circuits simulator can simulate Arduino-based projects for testing designs and programs before creating them in real life.

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The simulator allows you to learn electronics using a virtual Arduino board and breadboard without blowing up capacitors or burning yourself with solder on your work table. It is free to use, but more features are available with premium accounts. To start using circuits.io just go to the website, create an account, and start building your circuit.

This instructable guides you to get familiar using the simulator through three different projects. You will only need a computer with internet access, and you can build these projects in real if you have the components.

In this tutorial you will work with these parts:

  • Arduino Board, the brain of your circuits.
  • Breadboard, the board where you will connect the elements.
  • Breadboard wires.
  • Resistors.
  • LEDs.
  • Potentiometer.
  • LCD.
  • DC motor.

The first project is simple and easy, it is about making a LED turn on and off continuously. The circuit consists of only one resistor and one LED connected with the Arduino, which will turn the LED on and off for a period of time defined in the code.

blink

Another simple project is based on the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) which receives information from Arduino and displays it. You can program the Arduino to display a message you want, control its location, make it blink, or move the message on the screen. You will also use a resistor and a potentiometer to control the brightness of the backlight.

lcd

In the third project you will control DC motor speed and its spins in Autodesk Circuits. The motor must be fed by an external power source, and the Arduino will control the current flow to the motor through the TIP120 transistor.

motor

The full instructions and guides are available in this instructable. When you finish making these projects you can explore the simulator features and components, and start building your own projects.

Eagle 7.6.2 – First Beta Release After Autodesk’s Acquisition of Cadsoft

It has been one month since the Autodesk’s acquisition of Cadsoft.

After the acquisition, they redesigned the website and changed the domain name from cadsoftusa.com to cadsoft.io. It seems that Autodesk is going very fast toward sharing with community what they intend to do with Eagle CAD tool after a lot of debates about the future of Eagle CAD.

Now and after about one month of the acquisition, they announced the release of EAGLE beta (7.6.2). “A number of items are “in development” but we’re looking for feedback, so it was better to push these early!” stated by the announcement.

The new features in this beta release include net names on tracks in the PCB editor.

net names on tracks in the PCB editor- Images courtesy of eagle.io
net names on tracks in the PCB editor- Images courtesy of eagle.io

The 7.6.2 beta version introduced a new button. It’s called MAKE button.

MAKE button produces the necessary outputs for fabrication, assembly, test, etc and upload your design files (including schematic, PCB, BOM, etc) to your user profile on Autodesk’s Circuits.io site.

MAKEButton

Another new button is called MCAD. This button will upload your design to ECAD.io which is an online Electrical CAD (ECAD) to Mechanical CAD (MCAD) file converter.

Visit eagle.io to see the announcement and to download the new beta version.

The video below demonstrates how MAKE button works.

Build an Arduino boost converter

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Lucas Reed has a tutorial on how to build a boost converter using an Arduino.

Have you ever needed to power a project that’s not near an outlet? Have you needed to test using different voltages? Are you curious about analog circuits and power? Using Autodesk Circuits and a lead-acid battery, you can create a circuit that will act as a variable power supply, outputting a range of voltages from 5V to 20V.

Build an Arduino boost converter – [Link]