Tag Archives: PCB

SnapEDA launches InstaBuild, helping PCB designers build free parts in minutes

SAN FRANCISCO  – September 28, 2017 – Today, SnapEDA – the Internet’s first parts library for circuit board design – is launching InstaBuild, the first free automated part builder.

InstaBuild uses powerful computer vision technology to enable PCB designers to make schematic symbols in mere minutes.

Using a datasheet as the input, it automatically extracts symbol pinouts, understands whether a pin is an input, output or power pin, and auto-arranges the symbols based on SnapEDA’s published symbol standards.

“InstaBuild is based on the underlying technology we use internally at SnapEDA to create parts quickly,” said Natasha Baker, CEO & Founder of SnapEDA.  “We’re opening up access so that hardware designers around the world can benefit from this technology.”

The symbols are automatically mapped to verified IPC-compliant footprints. The designer can then download the ready-to-use symbol and footprint for their desired PCB design software.

Supported formats include Altium, Autodesk Eagle, Mentor PADS & DXDesigner, Cadence OrCad and Allegro, KiCad, and PCB123. For most parts, the process takes less than 5 minutes.

If a part is already available in SnapEDA’s vast component library, then the part can simply be downloaded free from the SnapEDA website instantly, or from within Altium, Eagle, or PCB123 using one of the SnapEDA plugins.

InstaBuild is free, and can be accessed from supported part pages on SnapEDA. To learn more visit www.snapeda.com/instabuild.

PCB Prototyping Is Much Easier Than Before With This PCB Printer

3D printers and other prototyping tools are making it easier and simpler to build prototypes and test ideas. Building circuit boards is fun but difficult. While you could do it at home with  some etchant and some clear plastic, PCB printer hopes to make the entire process much faster and easier.  The success of these tools make them necessary through the different domains of manufacturing.

A desktop PCB printer?

Voltera V-One is a desktop PCB printer that can make two layer circuit boards. It can print onto the standard FR4 boards, and also place small components on the board.

In fact, the Voltera V-One uses a gantry system, similar to a 3D printer or CNC mill, to move accurately in the X, Y, and Z dimensions. The base of the V-One also heats up like a skillet to bake the conductive ink into place and to reflow SMD parts.

V-One has three tool heads that attach magnetically:

  1. a probe to measure the blank PCB and feature locations
  2. a conductive ink dispenser that draws the circuit traces and part pads
  3. a solder paste dispenser that applies solder to pads for surface-mount devices (SMD)

This video shows a brief about how Voltera works, it produced a printed circuit board of a prototype GPS module in about  half an hour.

Voltera V-One is available for $3,500. You can get more information about V-One and its specifications by visiting the official website.

New parts library for Mentor PADS & DX Designer accelerates PCB design

Designers can build circuit boards faster with millions of symbols & footprints on SnapEDA.

July 18, 2017 –  SAN FRANCISCO –  Mentor, a Siemens business, and SnapEDA, the Internet’s first parts library for circuit board design, are announcing new support for Mentor PADS® and DX Designer on SnapEDA.

Whether building satellites or medical devices, hardware designers spend days creating digital models for each component on their circuit boards, a painful and time-consuming process that hinders product development.

With today’s launch, Mentor PADS & DX Designer customers will gain access to SnapEDA’s extensive component library containing millions of symbols, footprints, and 3D models, further enhancing the vast resources available for Mentor PCB design software.

All parts are auto-verified with SnapEDA’s proprietary verification technology, helping to reduce risk and unneeded, costly prototype iterations. This technology answers common questions designers have about libraries, such as “what standards does this footprint conform to?”

As the world becomes more connected, electronic devices are proliferating and diversifying, and time-to-market is more crucial than ever for companies to stay competitive.

How to Route Differential Pairs

Sam Sattel @ autodesk.com discuss about the benefits of differential signals and how to route them in Eagle.

If you’re designing a high speed PCB, then chances are you’re working with the latest and most powerful technologies, like HDMI, USB3.0, Ethernet, or DDR. But with great power comes great responsibility! As a result, you’ll likely be dealing with issues like electromagnetic interference (EMI) and noise.

So what do you do about these problems? When you’ve got a bunch of noisy signals on your board and you need a way to protect the transmission of your data then you need to be using differential pairs. In this blog we’ll be looking at all of the great benefits for using differential pairs in your high speed design project, and how to route them in Autodesk EAGLE.

How to Route Differential Pairs – [Link]

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.

PCB Droid – First Mobile PCB Designer App

The applications available nowadays serve our everyday life well. Would it be the need of our entertainment, business life or lifestyle. However, there is one special field where we could face a serious shortcoming and it is the engineering field. I’ve come across a demand through forums specialized in electronics for a mobile application, designing printed circuits on your mobile device.

The goal was to create an application, which can be used as a designer tool for printed circuits and exporting those into different formats in an Android and Windows 10 environment. The consumption of these mobile devices is a fraction of their desktop sidekicks and an app such makes designing easier, even in your daily commute. This realization gave birth to PCB Droid application. As an electronic hobbyist as far as I’m concerned others engaged in DIY electronics usually don’t utilize the possibilities and professionalism of these programs. In practice, PC printed circuits designers are using circuit diagrams as an input. Hobbyists pretend to prefer designer programs where they can draw the marginal strips themselves and adjust them on the printed circuits. PCB Droid doesn’t require any kind of previously made circuits diagrams. The parts can be drawn onto the printed circuit by the user starting from the basic elements to the most complex components.

PCB Droid – First Mobile PCB Designer App – [Link]

Panelization – using GerberPanelizer on Windows

Arsenijs over at Hackaday.io explains how to panelize PCBs using GerberPanelizer on Windows. He writes:

This tutorial was done on Windows. Authors claim it could also be used on Linux by using Mono, but I haven’t tried and don’t understand a lot about Mono to see what could be done. I am switching to Linux nowadays, so I’d be very grateful to anybody that’d make instructions on how to launch it, however – and I’m sure other fellow Linux-wielding engineers will be grateful, too =)
This is the GitHub issue describing steps to launch it on Linux, half-successfully (thanks to @jlbrian7 for figuring this out

Panelization – using GerberPanelizer on Windows – [Link]

Drag soldering SMD parts with a flux pen

This video shows how to drag solder SMD parts with a high density package (in this video a Xilinx XC9572XL with VQFP 64 pin package is used).

Drag soldering SMD parts with a flux pen [Link]

PCB Design for manufacture [PDF]

SeeedStudio has published a PCB design manual to help makers and engineers design better PCBs. The guide covers many aspects of PCB design for manufacture summarizing the experience of their PCB service over the last 9 years.

PCB Design for manufacture – [Link]

Free PADS PCB packages from Mentor/Digi-Key

by Graham Prophet @ eedesignnewseurope.com:

Two versions of the PADS software package (by Mentor, now a Siemens business) have been made available through distributor Digi-Key. Positioned as design software for “the aspiring innovator” both the free and the $499 versions include access to parts libraries and to a circuit simulator.

Free PADS PCB packages from Mentor/Digi-Key – [Link]