The first step in any hardware project is to first create a prototype to assess whether the project is workable and realistic. To move your project from the breadboard to workable circuit, you have to go through PCB design. The type of PCB design software you pick will differ based on the types of projects your work on. It will have a direct impact on how successful and how easy your work will be as a PCB designer. Let’s take a look at some of the main features you should be looking for when choosing PCB design software.
Assess your Needs
Before you pick a PCB design software, you have to know what type of design technology the software will be used for. Will you be working on multi-layer, two-layer or single layer boards? Will they be for analog, mixed-signal, power, RF or high-speed applications? You might be able to get by with a simpler tool if you’re going to work on a single-layer analog design, but if you’re looking to make more complex multi-layer high-speed designs, on the other hand, you might need PCB CAD software that has a more complete design toolset.
Take a Look at the Library
Every power circuit board project starts with the schematic. But to create one, you should have a library in place to work in conjunction with your CAD tools. While there are plenty of CAD library services and design service bureaus that allow you to buy layout footprints and schematic symbols, it’s always better to go with a tool that already has an extensive library or gives you access to one when getting started.
You’ll also have to be able to get information on the specific parts you will be using in your design. Good CAD design tools will allow you to connect with part suppliers through the cloud and get real-time information. You’ll then be able to make choices based on performance, cost, and availability while creating your schematic.
Ease of use is also very important, so make sure that the PCB design software you choose has a schematic editor that is simple enough to be picked up fast, but powerful enough to work on more complex designs later on.
Look at How the Different Tools Work Together
One of the most important things you should be looking for when picking a PCB design software is how the different tools work together. Ideally, you want to pick one with tools that were meant to work with each other. Layout and schematic tools can look completely different in some cases, which can cause confusion. You want to pick a tool with a unified design environment where all the tools share some commonalities and look like they were actually meant to be used together instead of picked from different sources and packaged. This will allow for more seamless movement between applications and facilitate the whole design process.
Choosing the right PCB design software tool will have a direct impact on your productivity and how efficient you will be as a designer. Make sure that you take our recommendations into consideration if you want to find the best tool for your needs.