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What is PADS Layout?

This article is for those new in the design of printed circuit boards that hope to finish a board making use of the PADS layout. Note that this was formerly referred to as the PADS PowerPCB tool.

Anyone who  has already had some experience regarding the use of at least one PCB design tool shouldn’t skip this article, as you may have one or two things to learn here. For those new to the process, you will surely get the best view of the entire design process.

What is PADS Layout?

PADS is known as a package for PCB design. Mentor Graphics was responsible for its development. The PADS Layout appears in three different trim levels. From the highest to the lowest level they are: Professional, Standard Plus, and Standard.

PADS is widely regarded as a commercial-grade high-end software package. Furthermore, it includes some high-end features. These include functions like analysis of signal integrity, advanced auto-router, analysis of thermal design, and support for different functions for project management.

PADS comes in three versions, and all three possess different capabilities and are created for different users.

How to Use the PADS Layout?

Below are simple steps to follow when using the PADS layout. This is as follows:

First, choose the components you’ll be making use of on the board, which includes sockets, capacitors, etc. Immediately this list is ready, get the datasheets and then check the footprints, which include the pads or hole sizes in all those datasheets.

Furthermore, in true practice, the components’ major categories used include:

  • Capacitors, Resistors, Ferrite beads, and Inductors
  • LEDs, FETS, Transistors, Diodes
  • Headers, Connectors
  • BGA ICs, ICs
  • Others

Importantly, you must be extremely careful when it comes to the connectors, which are seen as the component that is electrically simplest. Furthermore, make sure that the physical part is obtained in hand. This will help in verifying the pin number dimensions and orientations.

Footprint creation

Furthermore, for every component, make sure that a footprint is created. If you don’t know what footprint is, it is the components’ physical view, which includes the presence of holes via your pads or board for components of the surface mount. Also, note that you can reuse footprints in one board more than once (at least a few times).

Practically, you’ll have the majority of your footprints available. To create a brand new design, you may only need to create a few more footprints. Also, you’ll have to be very careful, ensuring that the current footprint present in the design library has a match with the component’s mechanical dimension, in line with the datasheet.

Reference designs are available from different companies such as Texas Instruments. It is possible to get the company’s pads design, then export their footprints, which you can make use of after making no or minimal changes.

Schematic View of the Board

Next, there is a need to create your board’s schematic view. What this means is the addition of different board components and then making use of wires to connect them. The creation of Schematics will be achieved making use of Orcad. However, you may need to take some tutorial on Orcad if you’ve never used this before or you have just little knowledge on it.

As soon as the schematic is ready, then you should create the netlist and then import it into the PADS. With the aid of this tool, you will be able to define ground and power planes, place components, as well as route the physical wires. In the end, the board has to be properly verified for any possible errors.

Immediately the board layout is ready, then some files have to be generated, which we refer to as Gerber or artwork. PCB manufacturers make use of these Gerber files to manufacture or produce the board.

Color Settings for the PADS Layout Design

When making use of PADS layout for your PCB design, you should set different colors for every layer to ensure easy viewing.

In PADS, note that the top (bottom) has its default as blue while for the bottom (bottom), it has a red default. Furthermore, this contrasts the color found in the default of the Altium Designer. Every layer is made up of many traces, devices, copper foil, and more.

Also, note that you can decide to set the colors for all these elements in a separate way. This makes it very easy for you to distinguish.

Setting the Colors

For the layout design, just click “settings, then click “display color”. You can also make use of the shortcut Ctrl Alt C. The window for the color setting will come up.

Check the section “selected colors”, where you can select different colors. However, if you cannot find your desired color, you can select Palette, or customize the color you want in the palette.

After you modify the color making use of the “Color Palette” you can easily restore it back to the initial default color by clicking on “Default color palette”.

Next, click on “Assign All”. This will give different colors automatically to each type or layer. Furthermore, in the center or middle, you will find the section “color allocation matrix.” The rows help in indicating the specific layer, while columns on the other hand, tell the objects that are present in every layer.

If you want to assign some colors, all you need to do is select a specific color in the “selected colors” section. Other options, which are seen in the left corner, is the default black color that forms the background. When you select, the color is default white, while when you highlight, the color becomes default yellow. Also, the frame’s color is default gray, while the flying line’s color is default gray as well.


We hope that we have been able to explain what PADS layout is and how to use it. PADS is known as a package for PCB design. The PADS Layout appears in three different trim levels. From the highest to the lowest level they are: Professional, Standard Plus, and Standard. If you have any questions regarding this topic, please ask us here.

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