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Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Hi all,

I'm new to this board and I'm quite happy that I found it.  I work as electrical engineer for one year now. Until now my main task was data processing but now I've got an new task: Creating HF printed circuit boards (pcb).

Which tools do you recommend for this task? What experiences have you made? At the moment I'm trying to make a small Evaluation Board for an Differential Amplifier. (The it3022 from iterra). My Boss gave me a 9 year old tool: CAM350 Version 5.0 and it's really annoying to work with it. It took me hours only to create the layout for an 16 pin QFN (quad flat no lead) package and to draw some 50 Ohm lines.

Do I need to set flashes on my design?

Have you any suggestions? Links to some HF-Design Tutorials and so on.


RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

There are a few PCB layout packages out there, with prices all over the map. Are you going to be doing this all the time? Will your boss give you a blank PO for purchasing new tools? (Does that ever happen?) Are there other engineers that will be using it?  

If you are working with other engineers that are heavily invested in the old tools, you might have a hard time convincing them to switch.

You might take a look at Altium Designer or PADS Layout for mid-range packages.

RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Thanks for this info.

There is only one other engineer and he only uses CAM350.
I'm going to do pcb-layout 30% of my time. And like most bosses mine don't wants to pay anything for the tools ;).

What about libaries for standard model packages? like QFN?

RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

If you're going to be doing layout 30% of your time, it really sounds like it would make sense to have a decent PCB layout package. However, you'll probably have an uphill battle trying to convince your boss and the other engineer to change.  I'm not familiar with CAM350 as a layout package, so I don't know how it compares.  I thought it was better known as a Gerber viewer/editor.

Most PCB layout tools should have a library of standard parts although there will always be footprints that you'll have to build.  There are also companies that sell libraries (such as http://www.accelerated-designs.com) for different packages.

RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Looking on their website, CAM350 seems to be a verification tool rather than a design tool. Any simple pcb layout package could do what you want, and orobably more easily. You could then import the result (as gerbers) into CAM350 to keep your boss happy!

Try any of these:


RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Wow logbook, you're right! I just looked at the CAM350 site. I think laying out a PCB with a Gerber editor like that would be just barely above doing it with tape and a light table! (for those old enough to remember that)

fwbsys, pretty much any PCB layout package that can output Gerbers would be a step up from what you're using.  

RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Rubylith, baby!  Makes me wax poetic about parametric amplifiers and slotted lines!

RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Thanks@all for the information ... I will post my experiences after I tested some of the tools.

RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

You might consider Eagle by CadSoft. I use it for a few boards a year and have very good luck with it. The cost is reasonable. The Autorouter is very efficient and quick. The support is excellent. I have called/emailed many times with simple or complex questions and had instant to one day responses. There is also the user group that contributes scripts and the like along with libraries and project uploads... my two bits.


RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

I am curious.  In order to do high frequency layouts, the program has to be able to take user defined shapes and easily integrate them with low frequency analog and digital autorouted portions of the board.  For example, there might be a complex set of shapes for a microwave amplifier, filter, coupler, etc, feeding into a digital device.  Can any of these low cost pcb programs easily paste in a shape for such a circuit portion from a file on Geneysis, Microwave Office, etc?  Can you easily modify trace widths and pad details, or do you have to make an individual, hard to draw, library "element" for each of these custom shapes in order to input it.  Does the autorouter and line checker freak out when it hits these microwave portions of the circuit, or does it recognize things such as the ground via is still attached, etc?

RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Greetings es welcome.

I build circuit boards on a regular basis. If HF is your concern you can use pretty well any type of board. UHF is a bit of a different story but don't get caught up on it.
I use a program called Circad ,it's great and with it i can draw my board, print it out, use it as a drilling template, cover the trace with marker pen ink, dry it 10 minutes and drop it in the acid (Ferric Chloride). 30 minutes later I clead the board and propagate it with the parts.
 If the board is a 4 X 6 size I can do all of the above and have it up and running in 4 hrs. Some trouble shooting may be in order as I may forget a trace or have one shorted, etc.

Hope this helps es this group offers guys like you and me a wealth of info.

cheers David ve3bbn

RE: Which Tools for HF-Circuit Layout (to create pcb files)?

Hi biff44,

what tools do you suggest? you are still right with your thoughts about complex shapes. I have heard of Microwave Studio Suite but its a very mighty tool and not so easy to handle for a beginner. It's the same with Microsoft Office I think.


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