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A Comprehensive Guide to the Top Pads Schematics

PADS is a powerful software for PCB design that facilitates the creation of schematics, board layouts, and overall circuit design. With its comprehensive tools, PCB designers can achieve optimal board layouts efficiently. PADS is offered in three different versions to cater to different needs. This tutorial on PADS PCB design is perfect for novices as it guides them through the exploration of the software, from circuit board design to schematic entry. 

What are Pads Schematics?

PADS, a sophisticated printed circuit board design software developed by Mentor Graphics, boasts a robust and user-friendly interface. It is a popular choice among engineers & designers, and its capabilities ensure a successful design. PADS enables you to seamlessly navigate the entire electronic design process, from prototype to production, within a user-friendly environment. With just your desktop, you can connect with multiple industry professionals and collaborate with them to achieve your design goals. 

PADS offers three distinct versions, each tailored to the specific needs of different user groups. The versions are Standard Plus, Standard, and Professional, each with unique capabilities. PADS is a cutting-edge, commercial-grade software package with a broad range of advanced features, such as thermal design analysis, signal analysis functions, & advanced auto-router.

Engineers whose primary focus is printed circuit board design & schematic capture will find that the PADS Standard version is precisely tailored to their needs. This version boasts impressive capabilities, such as robust search & filtering tools, IPC-compliant patterns, & component selection. 

The PADS Standard Plus software is tailored to meet the needs of hardware engineers seeking efficient verification & analysis capabilities. It boasts a centralized parts library and advanced signal integrity features like crosstalk. On the other hand, the PADS Professional software is the ultimate choice for engineers who require a comprehensive software solution.

Features of Pads Schematics

PCB Layout in KiCA
PCB Layout in KiCA

The PADS printed circuit board design software incorporates cutting-edge features that simplify the PCB design process. Moreover, these advanced capabilities greatly enhance the software’s efficiency in accomplishing PCB design tasks.

· Analog simulation

The PADS printed circuit board is a sophisticated model subject to meticulous scrutiny. This layout software is also instrumental in simulating both mixed-signal & equivalent circuits.

· Component data organization

The PADS printed circuit board represents a highly advanced PCB model that undergoes rigorous examination. Additionally, this printed circuit board design software plays a pivotal role in emulating both mixed-signal & equivalent circuits. 

· Broad electrical rule check

Incorporating precise layout rule screening within PADS facilitates the validation and assessment of intricate design rules.

· Variant reprocessing and management

PADS printed circuit board design software enables users to incorporate a single schematic into multiple design layouts & workflows.

· Power-integrity examination

This functionality aids designers in identifying any potential power circulation issues before commencing the PCB layout process. Additionally, it can detect IP drops.

· Design Multi-Trace HSD

By incorporating program tasks and high-speed capabilities, this feature can minimize the time required for design.

· Thermal assessment

PADS offers a thermal evaluation feature that enables you to analyze design concerns and generate temperature maps for PCBs at the board level.

Use Pads Schematics PCB Design Software


· Schematic capture

A schematic is a visual representation of a circuit board’s design that includes connectivity and design rules. This crucial feature enables users to obtain data in multiple formats and gather the necessary information to input into design simulations and plots.

Moreover, the schematic is a dynamic design database containing component characteristics & tolerances. To create a schematic in PADS, navigate to the software’s start page and select the “Create” tab, where you can customize the features of your chosen components. Additionally, PADS PCB software offers a sample and features a toolbar that includes various displays and functionalities.

In addition, you can utilize any of the available features & displays to create personalized designs. Once you have created the schematic, it’s essential to verify the functionality of your printed circuit board design. You can accomplish this by navigating to the Libraries section and selecting “Common,” followed by the Central Library Synchronization, which enables you to check for any PCB parts that may be causing issues. 

· Component management

PADS provides component handling functionality, which grants users access to all component data. The management system eliminates the need to manage multiple libraries or data redundancy. PADS printed circuit board design also seamlessly integrates with MRP databanks, allowing designers to access critical components easily. Additionally, PADS updates the database, ensuring that all information is current.

PADS’ component manager fulfills multiple functions, including the ability to locate specific components by entering search criteria. When a search is conducted, the software displays all available components. To optimize your search, additional details, such as the tristate output, can be inputted. Furthermore, PADS provides the number of components that meet the specified criteria, further streamlining the search process. 

It is important to thoroughly examine the participant elements & their parameters when reviewing a component. One way to access detailed component information is through spreadsheet links, which allow you to view the component datasheets. It can offer you extensive and valuable data regarding the component.

· Include Generic Components in Pads Schematics

When selecting a PCB manufacturer, PADS software displays all available options once you have selected the necessary parts. The software also provides information on different parameters, such as inventory and inventory level.PADS layout capabilities can be leveraged to create advanced circuit boards, regardless of complexity. PADS can handle the whole design process, from production preparation to advanced 3D layouts and physical design reclamation, enabling users to design much more quickly. Additionally, PADS enables users to finish their circuit projects swiftly, providing the necessary information to make informed decisions. The PADS software has a feature called part management that can identify design parts that don’t have a unique brand name and can also help fix mistakes in the property information.

· PCB Layouts

You can expect a high-quality end product with Standard Plus Pads. This version of Pads also provides additional benefits such as fast signal routing and time-saving Design for Test (DFT) reviews. It’s important to note that all versions of Pads include Pads Outline, as well as a complete 3D visualization of the PCB that includes traces, solder masks, pads, and more. This photorealistic view helps to facilitate accurate assessments of the PCB before the fabrication of the end product. 

Moreover, 3D visualization enables users to obtain a clear and unobstructed view of the PCB’s internal stack-up, providing the necessary information for designing customized boards. Additionally, one can gauge the minimum distance between objects to determine their relative positioning accurately. Furthermore, PADS allows for including features such as heatsinks & covers.

With PADS design feature capabilities, designing high-performance printed circuit boards is made easy and efficient, regardless of the complexity of the circuit involved. PADS layout is a regular part of Altium’s Select Design feature for all PADS settings.

 Import a Circuit Design From Pads Schematics Layout into Altium

esp32 pcb design
esp32 pcb design

· Install the Importer

The initial step is to set up the PADS converter alongside any other necessary exporters & importers. Afterward, activate the exporter & importers functionality by enabling it. Additionally, if required, support for PADS can be added from the customize the Platform page.

· Import PADS Files

To access the layout file importer in PADS through Altium’s Import Wizard, select the PADS ASCII Design & Library Files option. Then, you will be directed to the Type of Files to Import page, where you can import both schematic design files & library output files.

· Net Name Options

In PADS, establishing net connectivity can be accomplished through the utilization of net names, which are assigned as a property of the wire. Wires without a net name are automatically given an automatically generated name. Furthermore, Altium Designer offers a unique method of identifying nets that do not have a manually assigned name.

When importing a PADS schematic using the Wizard, an option to “Do not localize” hidden net names” is presented. 

Typically, all layout work in PADS commences on the logic page, which serves as the logical working area. PADS schematic layout files can comprise multiple schematic pages. In Altium, the virtual workspace begins with a document, and each document has a corresponding file saved on the computer’s hard drive.

· Check for Net Shorts in Pads Schematics

The wire possesses a characteristic called a net name, and when using PADS, a net name designated by humans is shown at the midpoint of the wire. If you import a PADS schematic into Altium, the net name marker may be located at the intersection of two nets. Therefore, it’s important to review the schematic and confirm the location of each label. You can relocate the netlabel by clicking & dragging it to an appropriate position, ensuring the corner connects to the wire of a corresponding net.

Limitations of Object Translation

· PADS Layout

When using a PADS layout, it is necessary to split physical design reuse blocks into individual parts as the software does not support them.

· PADS logic

Individual pin-type connectors are not supported by PADS logic. As a solution, It is possible to transform them into block-style connectors, resulting in all pins being included in a single schematic component.

Design a PCB with Pads Schematics


This section will cover finishing a PCB using a PADS design.

· Select components

First, select the components that you require for the project. Once you have a list of components, gather their datasheets and check the recommended footprints mentioned in the datasheet.

· Design a footprint

For every element used in the PCB, it is necessary to create a corresponding footprint, which is the physical representation of the component. In most cases, the required footprints will already be available in the design library and can be reused multiple times within the same PCB. However, you may need to create new footprints for any unique components. It is crucial to verify that the existing footprints in the design library align with the mechanical dimensions of the used components.

Reference designs are available from certain companies like Texas Instruments and Freescale. 

· Schematic view of PCB

In this process, different components will be added to the PCB and connected using wires. To achieve this, Orcad can assist in creating schematics.

· Netlist and import it to PADS.

After creating the schematic, the netlist must be in PADs. The next steps involve defining the ground & power planes. It is essential to thoroughly check the printed circuit board for any potential errors at this stage.

· Generate Gerber files

Once the PCB layout has been designed, it is necessary to create Gerber files. PCB manufacturers use these files to produce the board.

To create the Gerber file, navigate to the “File” menu and select “CAM.” Typically, the Gerber file includes the following components:

  • NC Drill file
  • Silkscreen files
  • Drill drawing
  • Solder mask for top and bottom
  • Four routing layers

To begin, press the “Add” button and proceed to choose the document type. Next, select “routing” and choose the top layer for layer association. Give the document a name and click on “preview” to see a preview of the top routing layer. Review the preview carefully to verify that there are zero errors.

Firstly, navigate to the “layers” option and choose “Top.” Additionally, select “Board Outline.” Clicking on “preview” will display the board outline. It is important to note that the circuit board outline must be in a file and should not be in either the top or bottom layer routing.

Follow the same steps for the bottom layer and the inner layer. However, it’s important to note that the board outline should not be added to the inner layers.

Once completed, the next step is to generate the “solder mask gerber”. Click “Add” and select “Solder Mask” under the document kind. Next, select the appropriate layer association and give the document a name.

Next, click “preview” to preview the upper solder mask coating. Review the preview carefully to confirm that all necessary details are present. It’s worth noting that there are multiple ways to display reference descriptions in silkscreen.

It’s also essential to confirm that the silkscreen includes additional text, logos, and serial numbers. This verification should be for the top and bottom layers to complete the silkscreen generation process.

To proceed, you need to generate a drill drawing. First, click on “add,” then choose “drill drawing,” and select “layer association.” To view the drill blueprint preview, click on “preview selection.” The preview includes three components: fabrication blueprint notes, a drill blueprint & drill table.


PADS is a professional software suite that caters to the needs of PCB designers. It has advanced functionalities that make it stand out in the market. In this article, we not only guided novices on how to integrate PADS into their printed circuit board designs but also delved into its essential tools. 




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