Ian Wilson wrote:

> They did offer Adv Route3.  I bought it.  It was not worth the price.  The
> router did a reasonable job on some boards and a shocker on others. It had
> very poor copper sharing, so it would run a stringer from virtually every
> SM to gnd and a separate pad even if they were right next to each
> other.  Then at other times it would run massive great power nets across
> the board even though it was a multi-layer board (with internal
> planes).  These would block routing channels and it would choke.  I found
> in one design that was moderately complex that it achieved good completion
> but required masses of manual clean-up to look any good at all and to allow
> a few changes.

Some of these problems were due to the router not being fully integrated
with the PCB package (a problem we still suffer from).  The router was
extremely sensitive to the setup (routing rules) given to it, which is pretty
much the way it has to be.  Certain operations had to be done in just a
certain way to get the power and ground planes properly prepared (with
nets assigned to the planes or split planes) and that has not changed
very much, either.  Protel 99SE makes it a little more convenient to
check all the split planes and net classes, but you still have to go through
and make sure they are all assigned correctly.  The failing to use power
planes is caused by not assigning the nets to the planes, and there are
several things that have to be right for it to work.  I have seen it often,
it shows up on the screen within seconds, and you kill the router and
go back and fix the net-plane assignments.  You still have to do this,
but the whole mechanism is different.

> I have no idea whether I have already upgraded against this license (Protel
> would be able to tell me). If I have it is not for sale. If not I can
> upgrade to the a full current suite on this license.  So the price for the
> router alone would be the discount between a full current version Protel
> and the upgrade price.  This is quite a few thousand.  You can do a fair
> bit of simple manual routing for that esp when you consider that you will
> have to spend a lot of time cleaning up anyway.  You may find that some of
> the very cheap PCB packages have better routers these days, anyway, that
> could be integrated into your design flow.  You may also find that someone
> with a copy of Specctra will run the job for you (for a price) - there are
> companies offering this service. This saves you the considerable learning
> curve and iteration I found necessary to get AdvRoute3 working.   Or just
> lay them out manually.

The auto router in Protel 99SE is really not very good.  If you can
afford Specctra, it is probably a good way to go.  I certainly can't,
so I struggle with what I have.  Actually, I think the old Tango
autorouter was better than the current Protel in terms of quality
of the routing paths, but there were so many problems with Tango
we had to abandon that software.  But, we manage to autoroute
most of the boards, spend a few hours cleaning up the wreckage, and
then finish the rest of the nets.


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