Manual Brush Strokes

PCB Design – Manual Routing with Broader Brush Strokes

This post is dedicated to the PCB designer who logs hundreds of hours each year manually routing complex PCB designs while wishing the activity was not so detailed and stressful.

You know who you are?  If not, let me describe a situation that may jar your memory.  Do you remember the last time you were manually routing two or three 64 bit busses and had just a few more traces to complete. Then  you realized that for every trace you manipulated the modification probably required 20-50 miniscule moves just to obey the design rules.  It seemed like one step forward 20 steps backward.  These situations used to result in a stiff neck and what is now known as restless leg syndrome but throughout my entire body.  Sound familiar?

A reason that we feel this physical stress is perhaps due to the micro-mundane nature of manual routing.  It is caused by all of the small  narrow brush strokes of moves and corners and tweaks and errors until we get the routing right.

Reducing the physical stress of manual routing

Many of you are familiar with the manual routing features in CADSTAR’s Embedded Place and Route, P.R.Editor and CR-5000/Lightning Physical Editor.  One feature in particular, called Activ-45, has been used for a few years now to reduce the number of those brush strokes making it less stressful for the PCB Designer.

If for some reason you did not use this powerful feature, you might want to check it out again.  CADSTAR users will see a new version of Activ-45 in CADSTAR 14.0.3, and in a forthcoming release for Lightning users.

  • The new version of Activ-45 incorporates a pusher that remembers. When routing you have the ability to control the behavior of the routing using your mouse and your other hand on the <ctrl> key to toggle the new tidy mode on and off depending on your immediate requirement.
  • Activ-45 now makes escape routing from BGA fan-outs so easy that you may consider letting your kids come in and do it for you.
  • There are several other conditions that have been considered such as:
    • Routing adjacent to pre-lengthened signal traces will not impact others around your cursor. (A much broader brush stroke.)
    • Flipping several traces over pads, fixed micro vias and stacked vias with a dragging motion of the cursor.
    • Changing directions while routing will return every trace segment that was impacted by the routing back to their previous position.
    • The overall behavioral reaction speed has been increased greatly.

Since I have been using the new Activ-45 routing function I am now using brush strokes that are much broader than ever and routing has never been easier and faster.

Rediscover manual routing using Activ-45 and see how broad your brushstrokes will become and check out the new video!

Written by

Andy Buja supports many disciplines of the Zuken Solutions family. In addition to providing both post and presales support to Zuken Customers and Partners, he focuses on crafting Zuken Solutions to meet emerging technology requirements. Mr. Buja has been a member of the Zuken team and its predecessors since 1985.

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