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Feb 20th 2013

Easy-PC PCB CAD Design Software Review

Here are some of our thoughts on the Easy-PC PCB CAD design software. We have used versions of this popular system for many years and have completed thousands of designs. It is certainly a low cost and easy to use circuit design and PCB layout system.

New circuit designs are produced within what is called a “Project File”. This project file will contain and manage the schematics, BOM and PCB Layout at the same point of source. The benefit of this is that the whole history for that design is contained in one place. The first objective is to create the schematic design. This requires the user to build or acquire a suitable component library.

Easy-PC is supplied with a basic component library although a more comprehensive one can be supplied for a small additional cost. Creating and adding new schematic and PCB symbols to the library is quite simple.

When the schematics covering the electronic design are complete, by using the “pull down” menu and selecting “Translate to PCB”, the components along with their connection traces are forwarded into a component bin at a new PCB Layout level.

The PCB makeup structure covering the number of layers and the order of these layers is also easy. All design entities such as layers, pad and track sizes plus design spacing’s are contained within the Design Technology dialog. These can be saved and loaded into different designs for fast design start-up.

With over 30 years’ experience of laying out PCB’s the Easy-PC feature we consider to be the best is “Copper Pour”. Under the menu heading “Copper Pour” a boundary can be set across the whole design or just a small area within the design. Users select this boundary and connect it to a particular net, say 0V. When selecting “Pour Copper” you are given the choice of selecting with or without thermal relief, the width of the spokes for this relief and whether you would like solid or hatched poured copper. When happy, select OK and within moments a copper fillis poured leaving isolation around net connections that are different. Brilliant!

You have total control over spacing’s i.e. track to track, track to pad, pad to pad etc, etc. This is particularly important when using the “Design Rule Check” on completion of the layout, because it will highlight where any of the rules have been broken.

Finally back to the benefit of covering the layout within the project file. By running the “Integrity Check” this will compare the final PCB layout against the original schematic and highlight any changes and show up potential errors.

We caution new users that to become competent using the software, they have to learn and apply the general layout rules for analogue, digital, RF, power, mains, and when required, controlled impedance applications. The Easy-PC software allows users to apply these rules but it does not tell users what the rules are. There is a lot to learn and beginners would be well advised to start out on non-critical designs.

With this in mind Newbury Electronics offers a PCB CAD layout design service working from client supplied schematic diagrams, receivable in many formats. We have often helped to set our clients up with Easy-PC. A well-structured relationship can help to meet the tightest deadlines. For example, a design engineer can supply finished schematics to us; we then cover the PCB CAD layout and return the Easy-PC project file when complete.

Newbury Electronics Ltd is happy to provide electronic design and PCB CAD layout support at all levels and as dealers of “Easy-PC” the software can be purchased through us as well.

Give us a call.