These category of BLOGs focusses on useful information for the PCB designer about the CAD packages EAGLE, KiCAD and Altium.

Eurocircuits ULP for EAGLE users

Eurocircuits ULP for EAGLE users – start calculating prices directly from your board parameters.

Users of EAGLE version 6 or higher can install a ULP from Eurocircuits to allow fast price calculations for their PCB based upon their board parameters.

Board.jpg

The ULP transfers the basic PCB parameters to the Eurocircuits price calculation page and opens it with these parameters filled out in the appropriate fields. The user then only needs to fill in the non-Gerber details to complete the calculation. This can be performed at all times even if the final details of your design are not fully ready yet.

PCB_quote_service.jpg

Order_screen.jpg

To install the ULP download the zip file containing installer via this link. Extract the zip file and Double-click the eurocircuits-button.exe file and the installer will open this screen.

Setup.jpg

Information.jpg

The ULP installs a button in you EAGLE navigation bar.

ULP_navigation_bar.jpg

Using polygons in EAGLE

POLYGONS are needed for a number of different tasks in a PCB design:

  • As a ground plane under RF lines like microstripe or coplanar lines.
  • As a power plane (for example Vcc) and/or groundplane, to create a low resistance connections.
  • Generally to make a low resistance connection for tracks that carry a high current.

To define a valid POLYGON in EAGLE you must follow some rules:

  • The POLYGON outline must be a closed contour. The contour must be drawn in the correct sequence and with one line. It cannot be built up in sections. When you have drawn the complete closed contour, the outline changes from a solid to a dotted line.
  • A valid POLYGON should not overlap itself.

Use the RATSNEST command to calculate and display the surface of the Polygon. Type in the command Line “Ratsnest” or use the Command button.

Ratsnest.jpg

A Polygon which overlaps itself cannot be calculated. An Error Message will appear: “Signal contains an invalid Polygon”.

Signal_1.jpg

Signal_2.jpg

When you have solved the error use the RATSNEST command again, to calculate and display the surface of the POLYGON. Use RIPUP @ ; to switch back to outline mode.

RIPUP.jpg

Polygon options can be changed via the parameter toolbar

toolbar.jpg

Or, under Properties, right click on the POLYGON outline.

properties.jpg


Width
– specifies the thickness of the line used to fill the POLYGON.

TIP: Select the largest possible line width. Too fine lines create unnecessarily large files when you output the data for manufacture. In any case the line used to fill the polygon should never be less than the minimum line width in the layout.

Polygon pour – specifies the fill type. The preferred fill is a whole area (Solid) fill, but you can also select a grid (Hatch) fill. If you choose Hatch fill, make sure that you set a suitable value under Spacing. The combination of line width and spacing must leave openings large enough for production. You can find more information in our PCB Design Guidelines

The special type CUTOUT is used to define POLYGONS that are cut out (subtracted) from all other signal POLYGONS within the same layer. Cutouts are typically used to define restricted areas in polygons on inner signal layers. It is the only case where a POLYGON can be drawn with a line of width “0”. The CUTOUT option is only used to define the open space and therefore it does not generate additional data. Draw a Polygon and set the option in Properties to Cutout. Run again the command Ratsnest and the Polygon with open space is displayed.

cutout.jpg


Isolate
– defines the isolation distance between the POLYGON and all other copper objects that do not carry the same electrical signal or objects in the Dimension, tRestrict or bRestrict layer. Set the value to 0 if you want to use the isolation value defined in the DRC Rules. If there is enough space in the layout, we recommend a minimum isolation between plane and copper of 0.25mm. The soldermask window around a pad is typically 0.1 mm on all sides. An isolation distance of 0.25 mm compensates for any manufacturing tolerance when the soldermask is applied and ensures that there are no exposed areas on the copper plane which could short to an adjacent pad. For tight complex designs, we can accept smaller values. Check our PCB Design Guidelines for Soldermask to choose a tolerance.

Picture below shows the standard soldermask window around a pad – 0.1 mm on all sides.

soldermask.jpg


Rank
– set values in this box to prevent overlapping POLYGONS from creating shorts. The Rank value determines which POLYGONS are to be subtracted from others. A POLYGON with rank = 1 has the highest priority in the Layout, so no other POLYGON drawn in the layout is ever subtracted from it. A POLYGON with rank = 6 has the lowest priority. If it is overlapped by a higher rank polygon the overlap area is cut out from the lower ranked POLYGON. POLYGONS with the same rank are checked by the DRC to ensure that there are no shorts. The rank property works only for POLYGONS with different signals. Overlapping POLYGONS with the same signal names are simply drawn one over the other.

Thermal – determines whether pads and drill holes in the POLYGON are connected using Thermal relief pads, or if they are connected directly to the copper plane. This applies to vias as well if the via option has been activated in the design rules.

Thermal.jpg

The width of the thermal connectors should normally be set as half of the pad”s drill diameter, with a minimum value of the wire width of the POLYGON and a maximum of twice the wire width. The length of the thermal connectors is defined by the Thermal isolation value in the Design Rules” Supply tab.

Error.jpg

TIPS:
1. Don”t set too fine a wire width for the POLYGON, or the thermal connectors won”t be able to handle the current load. The DRC will warn if this is the case (see illustration).
2. This also applies to necked POLYGONS. The minimum width of the copper area (neck) is determined by POLYGON’S wire width.

Orphans – Determines if a POLYGON may contain areas (islands) which are not electrically connected to the POLYGON”S signal. If Orphans is set to Off, such un-connected areas won”t be drawn.

New major EAGLE software update

Today, CadSoft released a major update for its EAGLE CAD software. Version 7.4 not only solves bugs but also introduces important new software functionality. All new features in version 7 can be viewed here in chronological order.

CadSoft takes this opportunity to offer interesting conditions to purchase new licenses and upgrades.

NEW licenses

10% on new licenses. Customers who do not have a paid license will receive a 10% on new licenses purchased before 30th September 2015.

Upgrade campaigns

V6 customers

  • 20% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 30th September 2015
  • 15% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 31st October 2015
  • 10% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st and 30th November 2015

This offer is valid for license owners of EAGLE version 6 licenses. Discount not combinable with other discounts and only applicable for the existing license. The discount cannot be applied on the purchase of additional modules, users or a bigger edition.

V5 customers

  • 40% discount on upgrades purchased between 1st September and 31st December 2015

This offer is valid for license owners of EAGLE version 5 licenses. Discount not combinable with other discounts and only applicable for the existing license. The discount cannot be applied on the purchase of additional modules, users or a bigger edition. Offer valid until 31st December 2015.

New MAKE rental licenses

On top of this CadSoft releases a new product portfolio, called “EAGLE Make”. For now EAGLE Make includes two license schemes: EAGLE Make Pro and EAGLE Make Personal. EAGLE Make Pro is a rental license and EAGLE Make Personal is the license previously known as the Hobbyist version.

They are both released with a promotional 20% discount. The campaign runs till 31st October 2015.

All prices and discounts mentioned here are reflected in our EAGLE license calculator :

  • Prices mentioned here are excluded from any taxes. The prices including the correct taxes are only presented in the calculator as only there we can establish the correct country depended values for the taxes. And only from there can one order.
  • Discounts can only be granted when the order and payment are received before the discount specific expiring date.

EAGLE Light

EAGLE Standard

EAGLE Professional

EAGLE Make Personal
(previous known as EAGLE Hobbyist)

EAGLE Make Pro

License Model

Perpetual

Perpetual

Perpetual

Perpetual

Annual license

Use

Commercial

Commercial / Educational

Commercial / Educational

Non-commercial

Commercial

Seats

Single seat

Multiple seats possible

Multiple seats possible

Single seat

Single seat

Modules included

Layout, Schematic, Autorouter

Possible variations:

  • Layout,Schematic & AutoRouter
  • Layout+Schematic
  • Layout+AutoRouter
  • Layout
  • Schematic

Possible variations:

  • Layout,Schematic & AutoRouter
  • Layout+Schematic
  • Layout+AutoRouter
  • Layout
  • Schematic

Layout, Schematic, AutoRouter

Layout & Schematic

Layers

2

6

16

6

4

Sheets

1

99

999

99

99

Board size

100x80mm

160x100mm

4mx4m

160×100 mm fixed

1.6 dm² variable

Price (excl. taxes)

62 €

Use our online calculator

Use our online calculator

140 €

250 €

Upgrade prices

(excl. taxes)

Depends on your purchased modules. Use our online calculator to check for possible upgrades.

Depends on your purchased modules. Use our online calculator to check for possible upgrades.

AutoRouter (150 €)

Need to be online

No

No

No

No

Yes

Version updates included

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

No. Updates according to the strd. CadSoft policy

Yes

Upgrade Path

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Get more from EAGLE CAD!

Whether you are a new user or an old hand, our new EAGLE CAD web area now includes CAD experts’ tips how to get more out of EAGLE, part of our ongoing campaign to help PCB designers get their projects to market on time and on budget.

The first section “EAGLE schematics to layout basics” has advice and tips for new users on getting the best from the basic elements of EAGLE:

  • How to set-up using the Control Panel
  • How to build your schematic
  • How to find technical data, availability and price for your chosen components
  • How to layout your PCB

The second section “Cutting costs for fine-line PCBS” explains how to design lower cost PCBs. Our experts show how to reduce the price of a 4-layer PCB with BGAs from €750 to €230 by using the right grid, the right design rules and the right via-pad sizes.

Of course, if you are looking for a new CAD system or planning to upgrade your existing EAGLE software, the EAGLE web area sets out the powerful new features in EAGLE V7 and guides you towards the licence best suited to your needs.

PCB design to PCB manufacture

We have worked with CadSoft, the developers of EAGLE, for many years to develop a fast, smooth and risk-free transition between PCB design and manufacture. Features include:

  • Direct input of EAGLE .BRD data files. Users can upload their job files directly into the Eurocircuits website to check their data for manufacturability using PCB Visualizer and get a price or to place an order.
  • Download of EAGLE DRC files (.DRU files) and additional component libraries from major manufacturers. The free-to-download DRU files incorporate the most cost-effective parameters of our pooling services, helping you to achieve the best possible balance of technology and price.
  • Supply of EAGLE CAD packages. Eurocircuits are EAGLE Value-Added Resellers.
  • Workshops on using EAGLE for beginners and for advanced users.

CAD workshops

If you would like to attend a workshop, or if you run a design team or university electronics department and would like to arrange a tailor-made workshop, please contact us via euro@eurocircuits.com.

How to reduce the costs of fine-line PCBs

In this section we will show you how the right component placement and routing can reduce the cost of 10 4-layer BGA PCBs from 740€ to 233€, and deliver a more robust finished product.

Our customers regularly call us to say that they have laid out a PCB with fine-pitch BGAs. The layout looked OK in EAGLE, but when they uploaded the data onto our website they got a message that there were too many DRC errors so we couldn’t produce the board, or, if we could, only at a higher price.

What has gone wrong?

Most designers start their layout using the PCB manufacturer’s standard specification for the smallest standard track and isolation widths and the smallest drill sizes. For Eurocircuits these are:

Example:

– 150 µm Track/Gap and 0,25mm Drill End-diameter

– Or for a small but affordable extra charge 125 µm Track/Gap und 0,15 Drill End-diameter

So the designer typically uses the smallest standard drill size, 0.25 mm, for the via holes, routes the tracks in accordance with the standard DRC values and makes sure that tracks are centered between pads.

The results on screen looks OK. So the designer uploads his data right away into the online data checker, PCB Visualizer, but then he finds that there are errors everywhere. He can start to work his way through the list but will soon find that it is nearly impossible to solve all errors. The only solution is to change to a more expensive service.

Typical results for a BGA PCB in PCB Visualizer are:

If the designer accepts the violations, the PCB classification changes to class 9E. The outer/inner layer annular rings (restrings) are so small that he has to reduce the final hole size from 0.25 mm to 0.1mm. Similarly the isolation distances are too small, so he must decrease the minimum track width. We can still make the board, but the price has increased to:

What is the problem?

The designer has not noticed that his components are placed off-grid. Tracks can only be routed on grid so they will automatically snap to grid, causing spacing violations. If the designer doesn’t run a DRC before he uploads his data he is unlikely to spot the violations.

In short:

  • The component grid and the layout grid do not match
  • No account has been taken of component geometry.

“So how do I place and route my BGAs to avoid these issues? I want my design to go through PCB Visualizer and DRC Check without any errors and without having to use a more expensive service.”

First, set the right grid

  1. When you switch from Schematic to Layout the layout grid is set as standard to 0.5 inch. The first step is to check your components. If the finest component is on a metric grid then select mm grid. Then set the grid value. In our example we are using a BGA with 0.8mm pitch, so set the matching grid in EAGLE to 0.2mm.TIPAlways set a grid value that is a half or quarter of the component grid.
  2. Always place the components on the grid. To do this, first display the grid. Then show the center cross of the component by switching on layer tOrigins or bOrigins. If a component center is not on grid, snap it to grid.
  3. To do this, activate the MOVE command. Click on the center cross with Left-mouse button. The center cross will snap to the nearest grid point.
  4. Pads and center cross are now in the correct position. As you route the tracks they will snap automatically to grid, so you can route exactly between the pads without violating the design rules.

Second, select design rule values to reflect the geometry of the components.

Check the geometry of your BGA. In our example the BGA has a pitch of 0.8mm and a pad diameter of 0.4mm. The space from pad edge to pad edge is 0.4mm. Use a track width of 0.125 mm and multiply 3 times this value (= insulation + conductor + insulation). The space required is 0.375mm. So you can safely route a track on grid between two pads.

On the diagonal the center distance pad to pad is 1.1312mm (= sq.rt. (0.802+0.802)). So pad edge to pad edge is 0.7132 (= 1.1312 – 0.4 mm for the pads).

This allows a pad size 0.450 mm with minimum isolation 0.125 mm, minimum annular ring (restring) 0.1mm and drill size 0.25mm. This meets our design rules (DRU file):

You have now selected the right grid size and the right design rules. So your finished design will meet the requirements of classification 8D.

TIP

EAGLE does not run an automatic design rule check while you are routing tracks (otherwise you’d get too many errors when you tried to move a track). So from time to time run a DRC manually. That way, there is no risk of errors.

PCB Visualizer displays no errors or remarks.

And the price of our original batch of 10 4-layer PCBs drops from €740 to €233 :

Summary:

Tip 1: Set up the grid in Layout to match the BGA

To avoid spacing errors set the right grid in Layout. A good value is a half or a quarter of the component pitch. Then place the center cross of the components on the grid.

Tip 2: Set up the via pad and drill sizes to match the tightest BGA pitch.

Here the overall diameters are critical. In our example the best values are:

The inner layer pads require a larger annular ring to accommodate any movement during bonding. This difference between inner and outer layers is already set up in Eurocircuits’ design rules.

EAGLE-V7.0

THIS OFFER EXPIRED 31.12.2014

Buy EAGLE Version 6 and upgrade to Version 7 for FREE + a PCB order discount of 30 Euro netto

CadSoft’s EAGLE software is one of the most popular CAD packages in the market today.  Whether you are an experienced PCB designer or looking for your first CAD package, EAGLE CAD is easy to learn and easy to use.  It offers powerful PCB design solutions, including Schematic Capture, Board Layout and Auto router, all at affordable prices.  Thanks to a full range of support options, switching to EAGLE is fast into use and stress-free.  Find out more.

Watch the EAGLE introductory video.

Switch to EAGLE offer.

EAGLE V7 will be released in July, but you can start getting the benefits of EAGLE right away.  Purchase EAGLE V6 before the V7 launch date and you will get V7 for FREE as soon as it is released. On top of that you can still profit from our Eurocircuits 2014 EAGLE campaign and receive in your Eurocircuits customer account a PCB order discount key of 30 Euro netto to be used with your next PCB order. Terms here.

Order EAGLE V6 from Eurocircuits here.

V7 – new features

  • Hierarchical schematic design, which allows the designer to create structured schematic drawings.  The top sheet  can contain module boxes representing parts of the schematic.
  • Improvement of the autorouter: A new router algorithm pre-routes the layout.  The result is smoother tracking with fewer angles.
  • Support for multi-core processors. This will allow EAGLE  to route simultaneously several jobs (with different settings).

Eurocircuits and EAGLE.

We have worked with CadSoft over the last 5 – 6 years to integrate EAGLE into our workflow.  EAGLE users can upload the .BRD data files directly into PCB Visualizer without the need for conversion.  Designers can download free EAGLE DRU files from our website.  These come with built-in component libraries to speed your design process, as well as design rule parameters based on our order-pooling services.  Use these parameters and you can be confident that your design has the optimum price – and will go into production without any delays caused by data issues.

EAGLE V7 upgrade offer terms and conditions, defined by CadSoft Computer GmbH.

new CadSoft EAGLE DRU files for EAGLE V6

New as from 25/05/2013.

EAGLE dru files have been adapted to our new service definition and PCB classification effective May 25, 2013 : ec-eagle-design-rules-29-03-2013.zip

We provide DRU files for the following Eurocircuits services :

New in EAGLE Version 6

In the new EAGLE Version 6 format, the EAGLE brd-file is saved in XML format. Also new in EAGLE version 6 is that the used Design Rules Settings (used DRU-file) are embedded and saved in the EAGLE board file (EAGLE brd-file).

In the previously released EAGLE design rules of Eurocircuits (eC-EAGLE-design-rules-24-06-2011.zip) the DRU file description contained quote-characters (“), which are not supported as such in the XML format.

Using these “old” eC-EAGLE-design-rules in EAGLE Version 6 will lead to errors when trying to load a Version 6 EAGLE brd-file which has been saved with the “old” eC-EAGLE-design-rules. The eC-EAGLE-design-rules have been updated to correct this problem:

ec-eagle-design-rules-29-03-2013.zip

When you downloaded the eC-EAGLE design rules earlier and you did not upgrade to version 6 yet, you do not need to install these new DRU files. When you upgraded to version 6 of EAGLE we advise to use these new design rule files.

Design Rules


During the design of a PCB and certainly at the end of the PCB design, it is imperative that you check your layout against some technology rules in order to be sure that you design a producible PCB layout.

The basic items to check in a design are related to the “copper image” of the PCB, these are:

  • the track widths
  • the isolation distance between different tracks and/or component/via pads
  • and the annular ring (or restring) on component/via pads.

Next to these basic items, other items that can be checked are for instance related to:

  • soldermask (eg Soldermaskpad oversize),
  • items related to the mechanical outline of the PCB (eg distance of copper to the PCB contour),etc…

All these different checks to be made we call the “Design Rules”.

“Design rules” can be specified in most of the CAD-PCB design software. In some they arevery basic, in other the possible settings are more extended.

For CadSoft EAGLE we have made different “Design Rule Settings” (DRU-files) which contain the specific minimum design rules for a specific service of Eurocircuits.

Eurocircuits-CadSoft EAGLE workshop for electronics engineering apprentices

Eurocircuits and CadSoft run their first EAGLE workshop for electronics engineering apprentices.

On 29 – 30 January 2013 Eurocircuits and CadSoft organised a joint workshop on PCB design for engineering apprentices at SMA Solar Technology AG in Kassel, Germany.

SMA Solar Technology leads the market in Germany for solar power installations. After surveying the market, they decided that all their electronics engineering apprentices should be trained on the EAGLE PCB Layout package.

Uwe Doerr from Eurocircuits started the January workshop with an illustrated presentation to the whole group of first and second year apprentices. The presentation showed how we make 4-layer multilayers at our factories in Eger, Hungary, and Baesweller, Germany. To make it even clearer and easier to understand, Uwe had brought along sample panels taken from the various production stages.


Richard Hammerl from CadSoft was in action on both days. On day 1 he gave basic instruction to a group of first year apprentices who had only limited experience of the layout program. This part of the course provided basic information to help them get started with schematic capture and PCB layout. On the second day, Richard provided more in-depth instruction to 17 second year apprentices.

All in all, more than 30 young engineers joined in the sessions. Their keen interest, individual feedback from their practical sessions, and a host of questions on a wide range of topics ensured that the two days were both educational and highly entertaining. Everyone, including Helmut Fligge, Team Leader for Technical Training, agreed that the two days were a great success, and should if possible be repeated in future.