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82 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2020 Carpenters have hammers, bricklayers have trowels, and painters have their brushes; for PCB designers, the tool that defines us is our CAD software. Designers spend hours, days, or weeks in their CAD tool for each circuit board design, examining each connection, plotting each through-hole, and carefully placing each specific component. They discover quickly that not all CAD tools are created equally. How can designers find the right CAD tools to fit their particular methodology and needs? Not every designer spends the same amount of time immersed in a CAD tool. Some design- ers may just work on a few designs per year, which means there is limited opportunity to learn the ins and outs of complex CAD soft- ware. They definitely won't have the time to invest in heavy customization. Sporadic use can also equate to a limited software budget to invest in an expensive CAD package or heavy customization of the one they have. Some designers go right from one design to the next with barely enough time to catch their breath, making that high-priced CAD tool a bargain due to its versatility, customizability, and sheer raw power. No names here, but we've worked with some real hotrods. What's Available in the CAD World? A quick search reveals that the world of PCB design is flooded with tools. We read one article [1] , promising "46 Must-Have Tools to Streamline PCB Design." The average PCB designer is too busy to evaluate more than a handful of tools. To narrow the field, we need to look at some basic criteria. Price For hobbyists and part-time PCB designers, the price will most likely be the most important How to Know If a CAD Tool Is Right for You Connect the Dots by Bob Tise and Matt Stevenson, SUNSTONE CIRCUITS

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